Millions of steak dinners will be enjoyed this year, just like last year and the year before. Steak is a strong tradition — not only in the landscape of American cuisine, but throughout the world. Everybody has a story about a fantastic steak dinner they had at such-and-such a steakhouse — or a steak dinner that wasn’t very good at all.

Given the prevalence of steak, and the number of steakhouses open for business any given year, it only makes sense that a number of myths would develop about steak and steakhouses. Let’s take a closer look at three of the most common myths and misconceptions about the time-tested tradition of good steak.

1. You should let a good steak come to room temperature before throwing it on the grill

Most master steak chefs disagree with this common piece of advice. By letting your steak warm up to room temperature, you create a situation where the meat cooks more quickly. Often times, it will cook too quickly and you won’t be able to control the cooking as well. If the steak is nice and cold, and the grill is nice and hot, you’ll create ideal circumstances for a good char on the outside without overcooking the inside of the steak.

2. You should cut or poke your steak to see if it’s done

Many people use knives or forks to poke their steaks and check to see how well they’ve been cooked. This is a common practice for people who have an aversion to red or pink meat, or people who have an aversion to overcooked meat. The problem is, piercing the steak in any way will allow the juices to escape. You want to lock that juiciness in. Cooking a steak to perfection without seeing the middle may take some practice, and practice is what steak chefs definitely have. But if you want a really juicy steak, poking holes to check if it’s done will not do you any favors!

3. Your should marinate steak before you grill it

Many people enjoy creating marinades for steak, chicken and fish — especially during the warmer months. But when it comes to steak, simpler is usually better. Ask any experienced steak chef about marinade and they’ll probably shake their heads. It’s common to use salt on the steak before it hits the grill, but other spices and marinades will burn on high heat and alter the flavor of the steak in unwanted ways. Steak sauces and seasonings are better left for after cooking, according to most steakhouse chefs.

Creating your steakhouse experience

Your steakhouse experience will be so much better if you select carefully from the steakhouses available in your area, and ask questions of the staff in order to get a sense of their knowledge. Generally speaking, the more your local steakhouse knows about good (and not-so-good) steak, the happier and more satisfied you’ll be with what’s on your plate. And if you use these tips for grilling steak at home, you’ll advance in your ability to cook the perfect steak.