Anthony Bourdain's Go-To Steak Cuts For A Satisfying Fat Ratio

The late Anthony Bourdain epitomized the cool celebrity chef as he jetted about making shows about food and the ways it brings people together around the world. His sarcastic quips and globetrotting travel habits painted a picture of a glamorous rockstar with a mental rolodex of obscure cultural references and an addiction to adventure — and adventurous food. However, Bourdain's personal cooking style was all about doing the simple things right. As his friend and world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud told GQ, "He was taking pride in doing simple things, even if it was a steak frites. Tony was quite European in a way, in his thinking of cooking. Even French, I would say."

Steak frites was always on the menu at Bourdain's restaurant, Les Halles. He claimed that the fries they served were the best in New York, and if he had that strong an opinion about the fries, it's not surprising that he also had some things to say about steak. "In my opinion, a true steak frites should be a slightly chewier, more flavorful experience," he wrote in his "Les Halles Cookbook." This means forgetting the filet and swerving the sirloin — for the best flavor and ratio of fat to flesh, Bourdain favored steaks from the top round and ribs of the cow. We are talking about rump steak, prime rib, entrecôte, rib steak, and côte de boeuf.

Why these cuts are more satisfying

Bourdain shifted the discourse on dining by dragging the kitchen into the conversation. He showed diners that behind the curtain, chefs aren't just laughing at your well-done steak order, but they also save meat that's "slightly skanky" for those customers because they won't be able to tell the difference at that point. Likewise, he told Insider that tenderloin, with its low fat content and soft texture, is the most "boring and uninteresting piece of meat," and considered a joke by any professional who knows steak.

Conversely, Bourdain considered the rib cuts to have the perfect mixture of lean meat and fat. These get more work than the filet or sirloin, building muscular toughness and intramuscular fat, but they more than make up for the extra chewiness in flavor. The rib cuts aren't as pricey per pound as the filet, but their merits aren't a secret — the côte de boeuf for two at La Brasserie (the restaurant that took the place of Les Halles in 2022) will set you back $169!

For a more affordable cut that passes the Bourdain test, consider rump steak — a piece from the top round that's lightly pounded and packed with flavor. It's what he advised in the "Les Halles Cookbook." This most tender part of the rump is even called "Bistro steak" as it combines the softness of filet with the flavor of rump .