C+G Picks: The Five Best Steaks in Lahore
I’m often petty to the point where I think no one does a better steak than I do. But I realize that my culinary prowess may not be available on wholesale, and since we’re in the business of writing food reviews, I decided to leave you with some Lahori alternatives to my tomahawk steak. In no particular order, here are my go-to restaurants for five of the best steaks in Lahore (not all of them are steak houses). All you meat hounds, look no further! Also there’s no chicken on the list so do with that what you may.
Looks can be deceiving
Don’t get me wrong, Covo at The Pearl Continental Hotel Lahore is a dump (as steakhouses in Pakistani hotels often are), and that’s me being lenient. Dingy, gaudy, and smoky (seriously, lots of cigarette smoke everywhere), Covo is the (d)evolution of Jason’s Steakhouse. But while Covo’s ill-fated decor and general griminess detract, the main event attracts.
Covo does wonderful, steakhouse-style beef steaks, that are probably among the best steaks in Lahore. Imported USDA Angus beef shapes the core of the menu, which means going medium-rare with your beef steak in Lahore is certainly a safe if not encouraged option. The t-bone is juicy and extremely flavorful, and the porterhouse is generous, and then some. The crusts would be photogenic, but with lighting so dim, this will be a personal memory rather than a viral social media post.
My advice? Skip the pizza and pasta. Though Covo is technically marketed as an ‘Italian Restaurant’, it should only serve as the source of your steak. I can guarantee that your wallet is going to be smarting after this one. Worth it.
Cosa Nostra Gulberg
If it looks like a steak and moos like a steak.
Cosa Nostra often makes fine dining look like a piece of cake; it’s no wonder that they’re the current catering kings of Lahore. Though often empty, the first-floor fine dining Mecca in the heart of Gulberg is traditional, formal, and absolutely delicious. Though the pastas and the small plates are enough to make a grown man cry, the steaks are bringing love back, once and for all.
The usual suspect makes a not-so-surprising appearance here: USDA Angus beef. A tenderloin, sirloin, and ribeye are the only steak cuts available. Served on a stone hotplate, the steak remains warm as the night progresses, and this kind of attention to detail can shape the way you think of enjoying steak. You can pair any of the steaks with a sauce of your choice, though in my experience that’s sacrilege: let the steak speak for itself. The sides, however, are quite another story. Cosa Nostra does the best creamed spinach in the game, and if you double-down on sauteed green beans, you’re looking at a meal fit for royalty.
My advice? Don’t overthink it. Your best bet is a medium-rare ribeye with oodles of sides. If you’re feeling extra peckish, skip the sides and order the Aglio e olio to accompany one of the best steaks in Lahore. A bit extra? Absolutely. A bit necessary? You called it.
Okay, okay – I’m guilty of the occasional Café Aylanto visit too. Aylanto is many things: simple and complex, traditional and modern, exclusive but only for the lounge area. But when I’m not frequenting this uber-exclusive-dining-club for endless appetizers on social calls (posh, I know), I find myself warming up to their extensive offering of choice steaks.
Cafe Aylanto has steaks ranging from local to USDA to New Zealand. But the trump card follows: Wagyu Beef. It’s no secret that I am an avid Wagyu researcher and advocate. Fatty, salty, and divisible by spoon, the Wagyu steaks at Café Aylanto are no different than what you’d expect from the top-notch breed of cattle. Try the ribeye on for size and I’m certain you’ll beg for more. Better yet, try their tomahawk steak for an on-table carving experience with the chef. Aylanto, too, does a mean creamed spinach.
My advice? Go big or go home. I realize Café Aylanto is not for everyone, especially considering the price. But my Aylanto philosophy is simple: break the bank for the Wagyu ribeye and you’ll feed a man for a day; break the bank for the tomahawk and you’ll feed a man for a week.
Local players with international claims
How did this manage to sneak in there? You probably thought this list would only cater for imports, but you thought WRONG. Howdy, a restaurant I only knew as a cheap Gunsmoke knockoff, is doing some serious beef R&D with what is undoubtedly the best local steak in Lahore. While the Gulberg rooftop looks and feels like something out of a bad parody movie, the service, at least for the steak, is killer.
The steak in question is a very lean local tenderloin, wet-aged for upwards of ten days, prepared sous-vide-style and served on a hefty platter. Accompaniments include a handful of pickled mushrooms, asparagus, a whole bulb of roasted garlic, creamed spinach, a house salad, and a very average mac n cheese. Oh, and the bone marrow. Smack center of the platter is a parmesan-crusted, oven-roasted bone marrow that serves as the fattiness. The steak is smoky, with thin grey lines around the crust and a deep saltiness that can only come with the combo of sous vide and wet aging. Buttery smooth. If someone told me this was imported, I would believe them in a heartbeat.
My advice? Sit back and enjoy the show and come hungry. The bone marrow will be worked out by the waitstaff, and once you have your platter ready to eat, you won’t be looking up anytime soon. The Lotus Three Milk Cake that follows (included in the price) requires ambition, so you may want to skip lunch. That is if you can get a reservation. Average wait times for reservations at the time of writing this article are 10-12 days!
No, it’s not what you think
Gaia has been trying to up its game since the minute it started up, and I take that as a positive. The restaurant has diversified its once-limited menu with additions including Wagyu sushi, Wagyu sliders, and Brazillian and Argentinian steaks, to name a few. What’s more, Gaia now hosts themed events like a High Tea and Maki Mania to get a bit competitive on the pricing front. That’s not to say it’s cheap. That’s also not to say I’m here to talk about any of the items I’ve mentioned yet. Unbeknownst to you, Gaia offers up some of the finest beef steaks in Lahore.
The Chili Beef Steak at Gaia is a marvel. Sweet, spicy, peppery, smoky, and the complex, this Angus offering makes a good thing better. Pre-cut into adorable little nibbles and decked with smoked peppers and microgreens, the plating is delightful. Sure, it’s no Wagyu, but it doesn’t really need to be. This is entirely different. It comes with roasted garlic slivers, and Purnea will attest to the fact that no matter how angry you are prior to eating (she often is), this steak will melt your worries away.
My advice? Do your own version of a surf ‘n turf. I usually order the rock shrimp to precede my steak, because those are the only two things on the menu I’ve never been disappointed by. Also, sharing is caring, and the pre-cut pieces make it hard to hog this bad boy. Better yet, order two for two, or two for one, depending on your risk appetite.
Once you’ve checked these restaurants off your list, you’ll probably want a repeat. Or two. I don’t judge. But when you’re on a quest to find the best steaks in Lahore, you’re probably going to want to make a trip to the ATM first.
Special Mention: Sheriff’s Cut at Gun Smoke