When is the last time you had a really memorable and satisfying steakhouse experience? If it was recently, do you remember the particulars? What made it special? What were the things about it that stood out at the time, and continue to stand out in your memory?

The interesting thing is, a lot of people will actually come up with specific answers to these questions. There’s just something about a proper steakhouse experience that stays with you. And if it happens to be a negative experience for some reason — well, that stays with you regardless of the industry or situation you’re in. If you’re paying good money for something, you expect value in return. When it comes to steakhouses, that value really is the complete experience.

Here are five elements of an unforgettable steakhouse experience.

1. Service

This is definitely an underrated aspect of the steakhouse experience, even though it should be near the top of everyone’s list. Too often the service feels faked, or not genuine, or perhaps the waitstaff didn’t really understand the steaks they were serving or how to explain them. Really, a top-quality steakhouse experience depends on service as much as anything else.

2. Steak

Really, this should be number one. But you would expect establishments with the other qualities on this list to turn out good steak. And they should. But that’s not always the case. We’ve all been to a steakhouse that looks great, has a cool name, and even a great ambiance and waitstaff. But if they aren’t serving you extremely high quality cuts of beef, prepared with expertise, then you’ll probably get better value for your buck elsewhere.

3. Friends

Although you could go it alone at some of the best steakhouses in America and really not feel like you’re missing out on anything, the classic steakhouse experience is always better with friends. As a matter of fact, the bigger the table, the more rousing and invigorating the experience of a good steak dinner can be.

4. Celebration

Steak dinners are great for celebrations — and everybody knows it. Whether it’s a bachelor’s party, a graduation or a wedding rehearsal, an excellent steakhouse is that perfect combination of formal and fun.

5. Dessert

If you’re going to go for it, why not really go for it? Nothing tops off an indulgent steak dinner like a dessert, even if it’s just a bite you share with someone else. Your top quality steakhouses won’t make desert “just an afterthought.” They’ll have options that will complete the experience in a very satisfying way.

Where’s your next steakhouse experience?

Going out for a really good steak is something you can do after a game, before a game, at a party, even at a formal business dinner. There are so many life situations in which the steakhouse could play a perfect role. Even if you just want a great dinner out, steak is a classic option. So choose wisely, and make the most of your next steakhouse visit!