We hate to be the ones to pull back the curtain on this steak trend, as tomahawks have brought so much joy to thousands on Instagram while they gleefully swing around their steaks like Danny Trejo in Machete. But really, someone has to address this as a scam.
See, it's not unusual to drop a cool $100+ on a tomahawk, and we want you to know that you're paying a $50 to $80 upcharge for nothing more than a cool photo op, as tomahawk steaks are just over-glorified ribeye steaks.
You're not getting much more meat or extra flavor, you're literally paying for an extra foot of bone that you can't even eat.
"Essentially, you're just buying the bone," Chef Michael Puglisi of Electric City Butchers said about the tomahawk. "It's more about aesthetics than anything."
Puglisi and his partner Steven Sabicer run a whole animal butcher shop in Santa Ana, California, and they were a little reluctant in letting the cat out of the bag. But as skilled butchers who work closely with beef on a daily basis, they kept it real with us.
They definitely don't mind selling the tomahawk at their butcher shop, as the meat that's cut off the bone just gets sold as pieces of short rib, so there's no loss on their part.
"We will always honor a guest's wish to get it cut like a tomahawk," Sabicer said with a chuckle.
If you're not convinced, just take a look below, as I've carefully illustrated the subtle difference between a tomahawk steak and a bone-in ribeye steak:
The steak on the left is a glorious tomahawk, ready to be grilled up and used in battle. To the right is your usual bone-in ribeye — just as delicious, just not as flashy. They both look pretty similar, though, don't they?
Now, let's get some price comparisons rolling.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse typically sells its bone-in ribeye for about $54, easily feeding at least two patrons. If you go for their Tomahawk ribeye, though, you're looking to spend $119 for that bad boy.
Lock and Key in Downey, California does it right, as the ounce gap between their bone-in ribeye and monstrous tomahawk at least feels like you're getting your money's worth. Their 18-ounce ribeye goes for about $55, while their 40-ounce tomahawk more than doubles the ounces for $99. There is a good chance that about 10 to 15 of those ounces are bone, though.
Ok, so we won't completely bash the tomahawk. You are getting a little bit more meat on the tomahawk, but you are absolutely not getting double the meat. If you were, it would be worth the doubled mark-up price, so as it stands, you're paying for that bone, baby.
Of course, some of the best things about eating at a good restaurant is the pageantry, presentation, and overall feeling of joy that comes from a dish, but the casual diner probably doesn't think about a tomahawk ribeye and a regular ribeye being the exact same cut of beef.
We just want to inform those who may not be steak connoisseurs. Surely, hardcore steak lovers know the deal, but for everyone else, when you're dropping that Benjamin on a tomahawk, at least be aware that you're doing it for aesthetics, and not necessarily for a better cut of meat.