Steaks 101: Not Sure What Kind of Steak to Order? Know the Popular Steak Cuts.


If you’re a total noob at eating steaks, knowing what type of steak to order at fancy restaurants can be overwhelming or intimidating. Let’s beef up your knowledge so you’ll know how to order the perfect steak.

Meat quality is primarily based on two factors: the cut of the beef and the grade of the beef.

The first step to being able to order a steak is to know the cuts. (Knowing the different grades of beef will be covered in the next article.)

There are many types of steaks and you should at least become familiar with the popular ones.

A steak is a piece of muscle cut from different areas of the cow. Tenderness is affected by location of a particular cut. A general rule is that the less used a cow’s muscle is, the more tender that piece of meat is when cooked. Muscles located furthest from the neck, legs and rear will be more tender. The more tender the cut, the higher the price.

Beef Cuts

The type of steak cut you choose will determine the level of flavor and tenderness of steak, amount of marbling (streaks of fat within the meat), as well as the price you’ll pay.

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon
Also known as: Tenderloin Steak

Description: The most tender beef cut. And the smallest. And the most expensive. Mild steak taste. Buttery texture. Not the most flavorful. The cut should be thick (1.5 to 2 inches). Very little fat so it’s a good option for those watching their weight or fat intake.

Fat content: Low

Strip Steak

Strip Steak
Also known as: Kansas City Steak, New York Strip, Strip Loin Steak, Shell Steak

Description: Juicy “steak” flavor. Available boneless and bone-in. Lean, moderately tender with strong beefy flavor.

The filet mignon might be the most tender cut, but what good is tenderness if there’s no flavor? With a strip steak, you sacrifice some tenderness but get a lot more flavor.

Fat content: Medium

T-bone Steak

T-Bone Steak

Description: If you can’t decide between the filet mignon and strip steak, why not get both? A T-bone steak combines the two steaks. T-bone steak = tenderloin + strip steak connected by a T-shaped bone. If the width of the tenderloin is smaller than a golf ball (between ½ and 1.5 inches wide), it’s usually considered a T-bone.

Fat content: Medium

Porterhouse Steak


Description: A bigger version of the T-bone steak. If the width of the tenderloin is larger than a golf ball (at least 1.5 inches wide), it’s generally considered a Porterhouse. Hai Chix and Mamou are good places to give this cut a try.

Fat content: Medium

Ribeye Steak

Ribeye Steak
Also known as: Delmonico steak, Scotch fillet, Entrecôte

Description: The best all-around cut. The default choice of steak connoisseurs. Fine-grained steak. Rich, beefy flavorful. Considered the most juicy and flavorful of all steaks. The ribeye has more texture (not as tender) than the tenderloin. Price is usually more expensive than a strip steak, but cheaper than a filet mignon (when based on price/oz). Elbert’s Steak Room, Mamou, Prime 101 and Stockton Place are known to serve some delicious ribeyes.

Fat content: Very High

Bone in Meat vs Boneless Meat

Bones make cooked meat taste better. If you’ve eaten sinigang or bulalo, you know the meat between the bones is special. Same goes for steaks. When you cook meat on the bone, the marrow and other substances from the bones flavor the meat, adding succulence and a depth of taste that just does not exist with a boneless cut. The bones also help keep the meat moist, and help conduct heat throughout the meat so it cooks more evenly.

Tomahawk Steak

Also known as: Tomahawk Chop, Bone-In Ribeye, Cote du Boeuf (pronounced COAT duh BERF)

Description: The Tomahawk Steak is a bone-in ribeye steak cut with the entire rib bone intact. This long bone is frenched (trimmed of meat and fat), leaving a handle with the meat that looks like a Native American’s tomahawk.

This thing is a beauty when placed on the table and deserves its own selfie on Instagram. The Tomahawk has the largest amount of marbling, making it the most flavorful cut. It is cut based on the thickness of the bone and is typically two inches thick, weighing in between 30 and 45 ounces! Usually made for sharing due to its size. Places like l’entrecote and Chops Chicago Steakhouse offer this cut.

If you want to bond with your cavewoman (or caveman) on a date, share this piece of meat.

Fat content: Very High

Cowboy Steak

Cowboy Steak
Also known as: Tomahawk, Bone-In Ribeye

Description: Sometimes also called a Tomahawk Steak since it’s basically the same thing. It might weigh a little less, usually around 32 ounces. The biggest difference is that a Cowboy Steak is meant to be eaten alone. Like a hungry cowboy.

The bone serves as a handle, so a cowboy can hold and eat this gigantic piece of meat without a plate or utensils.

If you want to impress your cavewoman (or caveman) on a date, completely finish this steak. Then order a filet mignon for dessert.

Fat content: Very High

Flat Iron

Flat Iron Steak
Also known as: Book Steak. Butler Steak, Lifter Steak, Petite Steak, Top Blade Steak

Description: Well-marbled, tender and juicy. Second in tenderness only to tenderloin and usually about half the cost. A boneless steak that has excellent beef flavor.

Fat content: High

Prime Rib

Prime Rib
Also known as: Standing Rib Roast. Ribeye Roast

Description: Prime rib is a classic roast beef made from the rib cut, usually roasted with the bone in and served with its natural juices (au jus). Rich flavor, juicy, tender, with generous marbling throughout. Prince Albert Rotisserie is known to have a mean prime rib.

Fat content: High

Ground Beef

Ground Beef
Also known as: Minced meat, Hamburger

Description: It’s not a steak cut but used to make burger patties. A combination of cuts from the chuck, round and sirloin chopped by a meat grinder.

Fat content: Low-Medium

Other Cuts

This wonderful infographic from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association from the United States contains everything you need to know about all the beef cuts and how they should be cooked.

Beef Cuts Chart

Want to learn more about steaks?

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About Author

Odell Ramirez

A self-educated Ebonics linguist who aspires to teach Honors Ebonics classes one day. Until then, he works as the clown-in-residence at looloo. He has a B.S. in B.S. and was working on a master's degree in playa hatin, but discovered he can just get a Ph.D.


  1. Adrian Cuenca on


    Maybe I should write a follow up article on the other cuts such as tongue, cheek, tail, tripe, sweetbreads, etc. 🙂

  2. hope you could also post the places where to get the best USDA or Wagyu steaks in town. I mean raw meat.

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  5. Joseph Price on

    The only problem with beef in Iligan City is that it is hard to find…and when you DO find it, somebody has hacked it into meaningless hunks of garbage that you can barely cook with. In Gaisano Mall, I have NEVER seen a single cut of beef that even RESEMBLED a steak.

    Go to Manila, Cebu, Davao, or any other place and you’ll see good cuts. Come to Iligan to see the “freak show” of meat-cutting.

    • Maybe you were looking in the side walks??? There are actually good beef in iligan if you knew a good butcher. Besides iliganons are not particular with cuts because it’s not in their culture. The quality of meat there, however, is better than in manila or any parts of Luzon. Just don’t rely on finding crafty cuts though. And please don’t buy any meat from gaisano. Try Tropic (in front of palao market). They have the best meat. Not sure if they cut beef to your preference, but I’ve always had my pork cut the way I like

  6. Joseph Price on

    The only problem with decent cuts of steak in Iligan CIty…..


    You can’t find it in the stores, the markets, groceries…anywhere. The only beef that is sold in the markets is old, smelly, and tough as hell. Hacked up pieces of the toughest junk I have ever seen in my life.

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  8. Is there another name for a Topside Roast? I can’t find anything that directly shows that particular cut.