Have you ever had a steakhouse experience that was memorable in all the wrong ways? For a true steak lover, this is one of the most disappointing things that can happen. The anticipation of an excellent steak dinner builds, but from the moment you walk in the door, you’re not impressed. The service and atmosphere might be flat. The seating might be uncomfortable. And most importantly, the steak and sides leave you unsatisfied. You remember quality steakhouse experiences you’ve had in the past, and how far off the mark this one is.

Even those of us who really love steak don’t go to the steakhouse every single day. When we go, we want to make it count. We want our money to go toward a professional, high-quality experience that leaves us satisfied and eager to come back for more. So how do we avoid those “undesirable” steakhouse experiences and make sure we get the most for our time and money?

Well, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research before hand. There’s no shortage of steakhouses out there, and some are definitely better than others. Here are five ways to recognize a steakhouse that’s worth its salt.

1. They tell you about the meat

One big difference between a high-end steakhouse and a middle-of-the-road establishment is the description of the various cuts of meat on offer. If a steakhouse simply offers you a porterhouse, a T-bone or a filet mignon—and leaves it at that—it’s anybody’s guess how it will turn out. When a steak house tells you where the steak comes from and why it’s one of the best cuts out there, you know the owners and chefs take their steak seriously.

2. They don’t confuse you with too many options

This is an obvious one, but people often forget it. The best steakhouses actually focus on steak. They may offer a few alternatives such as lamb or chicken—or even a vegetarian option—but they certainly won’t offer you a bewildering menu with foods of all types. Steak is a speciality, and the best steakhouses are specialists.

3. They don’t treat sides as an afterthought

The best steakhouses put a lot of pride into their side dishes. They offer a limited set of simple, flavorful options rather than a broad array of eccentric choices. They know it would be a shame to put beautiful cut of meat, cooked to perfection, next to a side dish that didn’t enhance the flavor of the steak.

4. They focus on the food

Many high-end steakhouses are considered fine dining establishments, and for good reason. But when a place puts too much energy into fancy appearances, the quality of the food can suffer. A steakhouse ultimately develops a reputation for the quality of the food on the plate and the comfort of the experience—not necessary for the fancy furniture and cutlery.

So make your steakhouse experience count!

What’s the use of saving a few dollars but having a lunch or dinner that ranks way down on the scale? Value for the money is important when it comes to steakhouses, but so is quality. In the end, service and atmosphere can be sacrificed if the steak is incredible. Ideally, all of these elements will be working together to give you an experience that’s memorable in all the right ways.