Catering to carnivores, steakhouses offer high-quality cuts, grilled to the desired level of doneness. From the soft, tender texture of the filet mignon to the rich, savory taste of a well-marbled rib eye, these dining establishments pride themselves on delivering perfectly cooked steaks that satisfy even the most discerning palates.
Two of the most popular steakhouse chains in the U.S., Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Capital Grille, have established themselves as leaders in the world of upscale dining. Both have been around for decades and both are dedicated to providing diners with not just the best steaks, but also quality appetizers, sides, and desserts. Moreover, in addition to their exceptional culinary offerings, both Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Capital Grille boast extensive wine lists curated to complement their menus.
While both Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Capital Grille have been recognized for their top-notch menu items, we decided to delve deeper and analyze what it is that sets them apart. Here's the result.
Read more: The Best Steakhouse In Every State
The Restaurants Differ In Ambience
While Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Capital Grille are both upscale steakhouse chains, they both possess a very distinct atmosphere. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is known for its warm and inviting ambiance. This being said, no two Ruth's Chris outlets are the same, with each one drawing on the local heritage of its specific location. Many of the chain's restaurants, however, feature dark wood accents, plush leather seating, and subdued lighting, creating an intimate and cozy dining experience. However, this isn't always the case, with some locations boasting more chic elements, such as modern takes on crystal chandeliers and contemporary art.
In contrast to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, the Capital Grille offers a more metropolitan vibe, with a focus on elegance and a more formal dining experience. Sophisticated and contemporary, Capital Grille prides itself on an atmosphere that's stylish but not at the expense of comfort and warmth. Among the restaurant's design features are Art Deco chandeliers and mahogany paneling. Additionally, some Capital Grille restaurant locations feature unique architectural highlights. Notable examples include the historic Equitable Building's bank vault turned dining room on NYC's Wall Street and the Las Vegas location with its floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Strip.
The Chains Offer A Variety Of Steak Cuts
What makes steakhouses so awesome is their extensive selection of beef cuts, each offering a distinct taste and texture. Going beyond the typical sirloin and filet mignon, it's this variety that caters to a wide range of preferences, ensuring that there's a perfect cut for every carnivore.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse serves several different steak options. From the rich marbling and buttery flavor of the rib eye to the T-bone, which features both strip steak and a tenderloin, each cut offers a unique culinary journey. Some of the chain's other steaks include the bone-in cut cowboy rib eye, the New York strip, and the impressive 40-ounce porterhouse for two. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse also serves two "Specialty Cuts," including the butter-soft bone-in filet and the 40-ounce marbled tomahawk rib eye.
While not as extensive, the Capital Grille's selection of beef cuts is also impressive. The chain's bone-in New York strip is a classic choice that's known for its rich flavor and tenderness. For those who prefer a more marbled cut, the bone-in rib eye offers a juicy and flavorful experience. The steakhouse also serves filet mignon, a cut that's celebrated for its buttery texture and delicate flavor. Additionally, Capital Grille's menu features a "Chef's Suggestion" section that focuses on uniquely crafted steak dishes that feature gourmet twists on classic cuts.
The Capital Grille Dry-Ages Its Steaks
While the Capital Grille states that they buy "the very best that's produced," the chain doesn't seem to be very open about where they source their beef. They also claim to be one of the only dining establishments in the U.S. that offers beef that's dry-aged in-house. The chain dry-ages its meat in temperature and humidity-controlled compartments. This process takes between 18 and 24 days, in which time the beef attains better texture and flavor. The beef is also cut in-house.
Capital Grille's steaks are prepared in custom-built infrared broilers to ensure that each cut is crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. The Capital Grille's chef executive partner, Marc Gruverman, told the Fort Lauderdale Magazine that there's more to the process than just placing the meat in the broiler. "[I] really season the steak and place it on the hottest part of the grill. The high heat results in a crust, which allows all of the flavors and juices to be locked in," he explains. So what's the chef's menu recommendation? Gruverma says that you can't beat the Porcini Rubbed Bone-In Rib Eye With 15-Year Aged Balsamic. "The earthy flavor from the porcini rub is balanced perfectly against the sweetness and acidity of the aged balsamic," he says.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Broils Its Steaks On High Heat
Preparing steak is a fine art because the perfect result requires a blend of knowledge, skill, and the right equipment. Luckily, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse has mastered this delicate balance, beginning with their careful selection of the finest cuts of USDA Prime beef. The USDA Prime designation represents the top tier of beef, known for its rich marbling and tenderness.
To lock in that delicious beefy flavor, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse uses a high-temperature broiling method, cooking their steaks at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. This intense heat sears the outside of the steak, creating a crispy crust while sealing in the juices, and keeping the inside of the steak moist and tender. Each of the chain's steaks is delivered to the table sizzling on a 500-degree Fahrenheit plate to ensure that it remains at exactly the right temperature throughout the meal. Additionally, each steak is topped with a dollop of butter and chopped parsley.
The Capital Grille Has A More Extensive Wine List
Renowned for upscale dining, The Capital Grille boasts an impressive wine list that features over 350 options, encompassing a range of rare bottles from various wine regions across the globe. In fact, the chain features drinks from most wine-growing regions, including "old world wines" from Europe and "new world wines" from countries such as Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and Chile. This allows guests to explore a wide range of wines, from well-known favorites to lesser-known vintages.
Capital Grille's guests not wishing to commit to a full bottle of wine can still enjoy a glass or two of the chain's pours thanks to the Coravin pouring technology. This method allows for six-ounce wine servings without removing the cork, which preserves the integrity of the wine.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse focuses on offering a selection of wines that complement the restaurant's menu. While substantial, the chain's wine collection is smaller than that of The Capital Grille. More specifically, Ruth's Chris offers more than 30 wines by the glass and over 20 wines by the bottle, showcasing a variety of both domestic and international pours.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Offers A Lavish Seafood Tower
While both Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and the Capital Grille offer a wide variety of seafood options, only the former serves a seafood tower. Available as a small appetizer for two and a large appetizer for four, the chain's Chilled Seafood Tower comes with Maine lobster, Colossal lump crab meat, and jumbo shrimp. The equivalent of Ruth's Chris' seafood tower at The Capital Grille is the one-level Grand Plateau, which features North Atlantic lobster, jumbo lump crab, oysters on the half shell, and a shrimp cocktail. Another similar, but slightly smaller appetizer, is the Cold Shellfish Platter with one pound of chilled lobster, oysters on the half shell, and a shrimp cocktail.
The Chilled Seafood Tower at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse has received rave reviews from diners. One satisfied patron says that the chain "nailed it," adding "OMG when it came out, my jaw dropped. I was impressed [by] the display of food towering to eye level. Absolutely incredible." Another diner agrees, commenting on the generous portion of the dish. "We had the seafood tower for two and it was really made for four or more. So much food," they say.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Has More Locations
Perhaps the fact that Ruth's Chris Steakhouse has more outlets than The Capital Grille shouldn't come as a surprise, since the chain also has a much longer history. Ruth's Chris was founded in 1965 by Ruth Fertel, who bought a restaurant called Chris Steak House in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fertel retained the restaurant's original name but added her own after a fire necessitated a move to a new location. Meanwhile, The Capital Grille only opened its doors two and half decades later in 1990 in Providence, Rhode Island.
According to Smartscrapes, there were 133 Ruth's Chris Steakhouses across the U.S. on April 26, 2023. The state with the most Ruth's Chris outlets was Florida, followed by California and North Carolina. The steakhouse chain also has dozens of international locations in countries including Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and China. The Capital Grille, on the other hand, has a considerably lower presence in the States, with only 66 outlets as of January 3, 2024 (via ScrapeHero). The chain has the biggest presence in Florida, Texas, and Illinois, respectively. The Capital Grille only has two international locations — one in Costa Rica and the other in Mexico.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Might Be More Child-Friendly
Ruth's Chris emphasizes a traditional, homely feel that's perfect for those seeking a comfortable and leisurely dining experience. In contrast, The Capital Grille tends to appeal more to those looking for a sleek, high-end environment. This makes it the perfect setting for business dinners or adult-only special occasions. Both restaurants feature a dress code that prohibits gym wear and excessively revealing clothing.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse has a special menu for children under 12. The little ones can select between healthy and not-so-healthy entree options such as grilled salmon, filet medallion, hamburger, and chicken fingers. Each main dish comes with either broccoli or French fries. There's also a choice of dessert, with options such as vanilla ice cream, fruit sorbet, and chocolate mousse cheesecake.
While children are welcome at The Capital Grille, the chain doesn't have a special menu that caters to their culinary preferences. When one TripAdvisor user asked the community whether The Capital Grille was kid-friendly, most responses indicated that the chain's ambiance and menu offerings are generally more suited to adult tastes. One user explains: "The Capital Grille is a high-end dining establishment and whilst I'm sure the management would welcome children my own view would be that it would be inappropriate for children under 10 years of age." Another diner agrees, saying, "It's a fine-dining steak restaurant. It will not be a smart choice to take kids there."
The Capital Grille's Capital Butcher Offers Cuts Of Beef To Prepare At Home
While eating at a steakhouse can be very enjoyable, preparing steak at home offers its own unique set of advantages. It allows for a completely hands-on approach, giving carnivores the opportunity to tailor every aspect of the cooking process to their personal preferences. However, no matter how great your cooking skills, your steak won't turn out right if you don't start with the right ingredients. This is where Capital Grille's Capital Butcher can be of assistance.
The Capital Butcher provides an opportunity to purchase the same high-quality, prime, dry-aged cuts of beef found at The Capital Grille restaurants for home preparation. Before being shipped off, each steak is aged for 18 to 24 days and hand-cut in-house. The butcher's prime cut selection includes bone-in prime rib eye and bone-in New York striploin. There are also sides such as mashed potatoes, lobster mac and cheese, grilled asparagus, and creamed spinach. Those who purchase four cuts of steak will also receive the chain's signature steak sauce.
Both Chains Have Signature Dishes
When it comes to chains, signature dishes often embody each restaurant's culinary style, helping to define and reinforce its overall image and appeal. A well-chosen signature dish can become synonymous with a certain restaurant, elevating it above its competitors and attracting repeat business. As such, it's not surprising that both the Capital Grille and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse offer their versions of the signature steakhouse experience.
The Capital Grille's menu features "Chef's Suggestions" that highlight its dry-aged steaks as a signature offering. These menu items combine high-quality beef with imaginative culinary twists. For instance, diners can select from options such as the Kona-Crusted Dry Aged Bone-In New York Strip with Shallot Butter or the Seared Tenderloin with Butter Poached Lobster Tail. Meanwhile, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse features "Signature Steaks and Chops." The menu section lets diners select from classic offerings such as New York Strip, Lamb Chops, and Tournedos and Shrimp.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Has More Dessert Options
Nothing rounds off a sumptuous dining experience like a decadent dessert. Serving as the final touch to a meal, it often leaves a lasting impression that shapes the final perception of a restaurant. On the other hand, for a restaurant, desserts offer an opportunity to showcase creativity and flair that distinguishes this business from its competition.
While chain restaurant menus can vary depending on location, it appears that overall Ruth's Chris Steakhouse boasts a more expansive dessert selection than the Capital Grille. Some of the sweet treats on Ruth's Chris' dessert menu include classics such as Crème Brûlée, Cheesecake, and Warm Apple Crumb Tart. Moreover, the menu includes more innovative dishes, such as the chain's rendition of traditional bread pudding infused with whiskey sauce. While Capital Grille's dessert options are more limited, they are just as appealing. The chain's menu features timeless favorites such as the Classic Crème Brûlée and Cheesecake. There are also more unusual options like the Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake with fresh raspberries and the Coconut Cream Pie with rum and caramel sauce.
The Capital Grille Is A Better Option For Soup Enthusiasts
Soup is normally served as the first course of a meal, especially in formal dining settings. It acts as an appetizer, stimulating the appetite and preparing the palate for the dishes that follow. Soups can also serve as the centerpiece of a meal, particularly if they are hearty and packed with ingredients.
While Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and The Capital Grille aren't known for their range of soups — they are steakhouses, after all — they do offer a small selection of soups. However, if you're looking to add soup to your meal, you're better off dining at The Capital Grille. This is because Ruth's Chris only features one soup on its menu — the creamy Lobster Bisque topped with chopped parsley. The restaurant also offers a rotating soup of the day.
The Capital Grille, on the other hand, serves a slightly broader selection of soups. From the comforting warmth of the clam chowder and the creamy indulgence of the lobster bisque to the cheesy French onion soup, The Capital Grille's soup menu caters to various preferences and palates.
The Capital Grill's Lobster Mac And Cheese Outshines The One Served At The Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
While both Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and The Capital Grill are renowned for their high-quality steaks, they also serve a variety of seafood. One of the more unusual seafood options offered by both chains is the lobster mac and cheese. While you can find the standard mac and cheese at many chain restaurants, you'll probably be hard-pressed to come across a version of the dish that rivals the decadence of what's served at these establishments.
The Capital Grille's Lobster Mac 'N' Cheese stands out thanks to its lavish ingredients and exceptional execution. More specifically, the shareable dish features Maine lobster and a blend of four cheeses. The menu item seems to have impressed diners, with one satisfied reviewer describing it as to die for. Another online reviewer calls the dish the best ever, adding, "[It] doesn't matter what else we order for dinners as long as that is one of the sides!!"
The Lobster Mac & Cheese at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse has received mixed reviews from patrons. While some have enjoyed the dish, calling it phenomenal and even the best lobster mac and cheese they have ever tasted, other diners haven't been as impressed. The biggest complaint seems to be the dish's lack of lobster, with one reviewer saying: "The lobster mac and cheese came in a huge plate, but I couldn't taste any of the lobster, just the macaroni."
The Capital Grille Is Better Overall
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and the Capital Grille share many similarities. Both establishments pride themselves on their prepared-to-order steaks. They both specialize in prime cuts of beef and utilize high-heat preparation methods that render them wonderfully crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Additionally, both chains offer a range of seafood options, appetizers, sides, and desserts that complement their steak selection.
While choosing between the two restaurants boils down to personal taste and preference, it's our opinion that Capital Grille has the edge over Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. The Capital Grille sets itself apart with a more contemporary and sophisticated dining atmosphere, creating the perfect backdrop for a memorable dining experience. Moreover, the restaurant boasts a slightly more creative and diverse menu that includes unique dishes that may not be found at Ruth's Chris. In addition, wine enthusiasts might find the Capital Grille more appealing due to its comprehensive wine list.
When evaluating the two steakhouses, we evaluated online reviews, menu offerings, and pricing, as well as a variety of factors: First and foremost, we looked at the quality of their beef and the preparation process. Beyond the meat, we considered each restaurant's ambiance and decor, assessing how the setting contributes to the dining experience. The selection of dishes other than steak, such as desserts, also played a pivotal role in distinguishing between the steakhouses. Finally, we also considered each establishment's wine list, since a well-curated selection of pours can significantly enhance any dining experience.
Read the original article on Mashed.