The red-hot scene at STK San Diego, downtown’s newest steakhouse, is providing just as much sizzle as the premium cuts of beef hitting their kitchen grill. Executive chef David Burke (formerly at Pacifica Del Mar and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse) is serving up steaks so succulent that even the hardest-to-please carnivore will be lining up for a taste.
Part of The ONE Group hospitality company, STK runs a consistent steak program across all of their restaurant locations, spanning Los Angeles, Las Vegas and beyond. While creating the menu, Burke keeps the brand’s aesthetic in mind, which he describes as playful, beautiful and—above all else—worthy of being posted on social media.
While some think that traditional steakhouses are becoming a thing of the past and being quickly replaced by lighter, healthier fare, Burke is quick to note: “We aren’t a modern American steakhouse. Diners can expect the unexpected here.”
In their new home, STK has street-level, floor-to-ceiling windows and sleek, minimalist decor, with surreal artwork sprinkled throughout. The lights are dimmed in the dining room, but pops of colorful accent lighting give the feeling you have just been transported to an enticing Las Vegas lounge.
The atmosphere is ripe for after-work cocktails to become late-night parties, and thanks to the in-house DJ who begins nightly at 7pm, that transition is made easily. The crowd at STK is a mix of hotel guests, working professionals and, later, those hoping to be spotted on the scene. As such, those seeking a more exclusive experience can request one of the eatery’s lush private dining spaces.
Dinner begins with a pull-apart loaf of house brioche bread served in a skillet with melted blue cheese butter and a side of olive oil with chives for dipping. This is a satisfying way to help soak up a cocktail like the refreshing Cucumber Stiletto with Ketel One Citroen, St-Germain, muddled cucumber and mint.
I go straight to the beef with STK’s wagyu carpaccio starter, a lighter dish served with two different cuts of meat, drizzled with Temecula cold-pressed olive oil and topped with purple watercress, fried capers, truffle-Parmesan crisps and grated Parmesan cheese. As the dish makes its way to the table, I can instantly smell the hint of mouthwatering truffle.
For someone who usually doesn’t care for tentacles, I find the octopus appetizer prepared to tender perfection. It’s braised for six hours, then charred and served over roasted fingerling potatoes and heirloom cherry tomatoes with a flavorful black garlic aioli.
But it’s STK’s menu of small, medium and large steaks that really is the star of the show. This top-of-the-range beef doesn’t need any masking or dressing up—it is meat eaters’ dream realized. But for those who can’t help but dip, STK offers an array of sauces, including au poivre, bearnaise, red wine, chimichurri and blue butter. Steaks come sprinkled with sea salt, but can be ordered Oscar style, with a peppercorn crust, or with decadent add-ons such as lobster, Alaskan king crab, shrimp or truffle butter.
It takes some seriously thoughtful sides to match the clout of STK’s steaks, and with dishes like their rich mac and cheese (lobster optional), roasted Brussels sprouts with a bacon jam, or the housemade tater tots with Gruyere cheese and chili remoulade, they certainly hit the mark. But these aren’t your average fast-food tater tots. The kitchen cooks the potatoes Argentinian style, then peels and fries them (this process takes two days) with the final product boasting a crispy exterior and a mouthwatering creamy filling.
I leave dinner immensely satisfied and feeling more than a little indulgent after devouring the showstopping truffle-topped, 35-day dry-aged 14-ounce Delmonico ribeye. The verdict? STK definitely stands out as a cut above the rest.
600 F St., 619.354.5988
HOURS Brunch: Sat.-Sun., 11-3pm Dinner: Sun.-Thu., 5-10pm Fri.-Sat., 5-11pm