The Best 5 Cuts of Beef


  1. Bone-In Rib Eye for the Ultimate Cut

  2. Filet Mignon When You Don’t Care About Price

  3. Strip Steak (or Club Steak, or New York Steak, Etc.), Whatever You May Call It

  4. Skirt Steak for Your Grill

  5. The Flat Iron for the Discerning Steak Man (or Woman)

Bone-In Rib Eye for the Ultimate Cut

For many self-appointed experts on cuts of beef, the flavor is the single most important factor in determining the best cut of beef. And the flavor comes from the fat, which is why marbling is so important. “Marbling” refers to the streaks of fat on meat, which resembles a marble pattern.

And when it comes to marbling and flavor, nothing beats the Rib Eye. This is the cut of beef that many recommend when you’re out to celebrate a great sale or promotion. Normally, the bone is removed from this cut from the upper ribcage, but many like having the rib bone still attached. Somehow the meat is much more enjoyable when you gnaw it off the bone.

Pick a cut that has the streaky fat distributed throughout. If you’re grilling this piece of meat, start with high direct heat. Finish with indirect or medium heat. That should get you a red-pink color on the inside while the outside has that ideal char.

Filet Mignon When You Don’t Care About Price

Of course, not everyone is enamored of the current preoccupation with rib eye. Some still cling fervently to the concept of the filet mignon, which comes from the tenderloin. This is usually the most expensive piece of beef per pound, even though the lack of marbling doesn’t quite offer the same intensity of flavor. Still, its tenderness is unsurpassed.

Its leanness is why many order or prepare filet mignon with wrapped in bacon. Serve it with peppercorn sauce based on cream or béarnaise sauce with lots of eggs. You can top it with truffle butter or foie gras.

Strip Steak (or Club Steak, or New York Steak, Etc.), Whatever You May Call It

This cut comes with so many names that it can be confusing. Some just call it strip loin, but you may even hear or read about Kansas steak, which are all the same thing as well. This is the cut from the short loin, and for the best you should get the center cut. The marbling is ample, the flavor is quite rich, and it’s tender but not overly so.

If you get your beef from the supermarket, you may find strip steaks with a “first cut” label. That seems to imply that it’s a first class cut, but that’s not actually the case. On closer inspection, you’ll be able to see a line of gristle threading through the meat. It’s for that reason this first cut only costs half as much as the center cut.

It’s also for that reason you should really go to a proper Vancouver butcher shop for fresh meat instead of going to the frozen foods section of your supermarket.

Skirt Steak for Your Grill

This is a long and slender belly cut, and you’ve probably already had a taste of it if you’ve had an authentic soft tortilla or a fajita. “Fajita” in Spanish actually means girdle, and this cut is a traditional part of the dish. Many have discovered that its beefy flavor is quite rich, and it offers a fulfilling chewing experience. It doesn’t take long to cook, as you only need about 2 to 4 minutes per side over high heat. Just make sure that you slice thinly on a diagonal.

You can ask for the whole skirt, which should be about 16 to 18 inches long. But if you want something smaller, get the outside skirt and not the inside. The outside is thinner, and its marbling is more generous for richer flavor. It’s becoming much more popular so its price is not as low as before, but it’s still a bargain nonetheless.

The Flat Iron for the Discerning Steak Man (or Woman)

This cut is from the shoulder, and it is distinguished by its line of connective tissue. The flavor is surprisingly intense due to its marbling, and what’s more its tenderness is surpassed only by the fabled filet mignon. Even when it’s well done (perish the thought!) it remains tender.

For grilling it’s virtually foolproof. It’s great when marinated or simply seasoned with pepper and coarse salt. However, it’s not as easily found as other cuts. If you want it, you may have to order ahead.

To learn more about cuts of beef, find our page and further details here:

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Market Meats is located at 2326 W 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6K 1P1.

Market Meats can be phoned on (604) 737-0905.