8325 SE McLoughlin Blvd., 231-9611, acropolispdx.com.
Google "strip club steak" and you'll find the "A-crop," the old-school standard for sirloin and sleaze in Southeast Portland. The family that has owned this Sellwood institution since 1976 is also in the cattle-ranching business, which is where they get the 8-ounce sirloin ($6) served with fries and Texas toast. The steak is gently seared on the outside, but tender and vivid pink inside. You can tell it's good because there's no crusty scabs of burnt seasoning that the Ponderosas of the world use to dress up flavorless cuts.
217 NW 4th Ave., 224-8472, magicgardenpdx.com.
Everyone loves Magic Garden! But not for the steak. It's $6.50 for a heap of fries and a filet a tad smaller than what Acropolis had to offer. Cutting the meat was a chore, the interior was bloody and tasted like iron, and the whole thing smelled like it was prepared in a dorm-room George Foreman grill.
5021 SE Powell Blvd., 772-2907, dv8.cc.
Steak here ($6.50 for 6 ounces with fries and salad) is miserly, with only two quality bites surrounded by burnt chunks of gristle or mouthfuls of fat. The salad was fresh and crisp, but no one goes to a strip club for salad.
4523 NE 60th Ave., 288-9771, clubskinn.com.
Having won the noble title of "Best Strip Club Steak" at the 2013 PDX Strippies, Club Skinn is something of a destination for meat lovers. However, on our visit the petulant barmaid, alone and swamped with orders, bristled at my request for the steak special ($7.95 for an 8-ounce sirloin with fries and garlic toast) before eventually tossing my sirloin on the broiler. The charred, crusty top layer was expertly seasoned, but the bottom was a tad undercooked. A more attentive chef may have righted this wrong, but Club Skinn had no such luxury on a ho-hum Tuesday night.
17939 SW McEwan Road, 726-2403, starscabaret.com.
Bridgeport Village's Stars sells its 8-ounce sirloin for $8 with house salad and fries—a tasty price, at least. Unfortunately, it has stamped-on grill marks and an arid top layer that cried out for A1 within a few bites.
Spyce Gentlemen's Club
33 NW 2nd Ave., 243-4646, spyceclub.com.
If "best costume" was a category in a steak contest, Spyce would be the consensus champion. For $16, you get a handsome spread featuring mashed russet potatoes, sauteed green beans and a Marsala mushroom-glazed ribeye. The accoutrements popped with rich, hearty flavors that could easily hold their own at any other establishment. The centerpiece isn't so good. The textures swerved radically between fatty and flaccid, sinewy and saggy.
3000 SE Powell Blvd., 231-9199, safarishowclub.com.
This meat's only flavor came from charred clusters of fat and seasoned salt around the edges. The steak ($6 for a generous cut of sirloin) was tender, but I had trouble getting through the last half without a dollop of generic steak sauce. When "Fergalicious" queued up on the stereo for the second time in an hour, I officially gave up.
WINNER! BEST VALUE
5145 SE McLoughlin Blvd., 236-8559, blushgentlemensclub.com.
The steak ($5 for a 16-ounce sirloin) is big enough to choke a horse. The bar was too dark to allow close inspection, which might be an advantage. But while the texture was wildly inconsistent from one bite to the next, I was giddy at the size of the cut alone. As I crammed the last bite down my gullet, a dancer wearing glasses told me the bartender, who doubles as a performer on weeknights, had cooked the steak herself.
WINNER! BEST STEAK
927 SE Morrison St., 231-1606, sassysbar.com.
Sassy's ain't cheap: It's $16 for a top sirloin with fries. For that price, you can get three steak specials at Blush. This is the Mercedes of strip-club steak—the fact that it was served during a dance by a woman named Mercedes was a happy coincidence. Either way, this was a mildly seasoned, melt-in-your-mouth cut of heaven. In strip-club terms, that ranks somewhere near El Gaucho. If you feel like you deserve a rare treat while a tattooed woman gyrates to Cannibal Corpse, this is the place.