Well, I'm over the beef craving. Thanks to those who offered suggestions. In return, here are some things I learned on my limited journey. Please, this is by no means an exhaustive report of beef offerings in SF, just what I was able to learn in three days.
Prather Ranch beef burger from Ferry Building Night Market. Gotta say, I couldn't taste the difference between their beef and great restaurant beef. Granted, usually when I think a burger is great it's Niman Ranch. The guys at the Prather Ranch grill do know how to grill up a smokey burger, but what's the point of having such high quality beef if you're going to flatten the patty and not leave the middle a little pink? $7 for a good-sized, smokey, lean but juicy burger isn't bad for the Ferry Building, but I wasn't overly impressed. It's a better deal than Taylor's, but that's about it. Incidentally, BF went to Grumpy's the next day (which appparently almost no one on this board has visited in recent history) and said the burger was just as tasty, bigger, and came with fries for $1.50 more.
Last night, we did a home cooked showdown between a .9lb veal steak from the Golden Gate Meat Company and a 1.5 lb slab of ribeye from Costco. I procured a 6 lb. ribeye roast and cut it into four (photo). The marbling wasn't perfect, but it had to do . The veal was $11. The roast was $48 divided by four, so $12 for the steak.
Since it wasn't a direct comparison, I won't say that GGMC or Costco was "better," but I will say that after this, I'm sticking to the ribeye.
Continuing with my very unscientific, uncontrolled experiment: I patted each steak dry, smeared with freshly cracked peppercorns and coarse kosher salt, grilled each steak for two minutes per side on a cast iron, then put it in the oven at 300 degrees for however long it took to become medium rare. I like to eat my meat the moment the center isn't cold anymore, but I usually reserve that level of rareness for when restaurants do the cooking. BF likes it closer to medium (bleh!) so I had to compromise. I then put a little Euro-style butter on each, and had some Maldon salt on the side.
The veal steak was fine. It was tender, it was tasty, it was a t-bone. The cut we had had a fairly large tenderloin portion, but it just didn't impress me. Maybe it wasn't a great veal steak. The store was selling it for little more than $12/lb, which is unusual for the FB. I think if I ever buy veal again, though, it would be a stewing cut like osso busco.
The ribeye almost made me cry, in the good way. I've been wanting a big, juicy, manly steak for so long. The veal was more tender, but where was the beefy taste? I'm more than willing to spend more time chewing the ribeye, when what I'm chewing is oh-so-tasty. And the ribeye does have plenty of fat throughout, so it's not like chewing on a strip steak.
Conclusion: it took me three very different types of beef to satisfy my craving, but I think I'm done for now. When I want beef, I want a good old ribeye for $8/lb, seared on the outside and red on the inside. Maybe one day I will go and buy that $15/lb ribeye at Whole Foods just to see what the difference is, or to get a better marbled piece of meat. Better yet, maybe it's time for my friends and I do to a ribeye showdown for the Home Cooking Board.
Delmonte Meats only sells to restaurants. I guess they'd sell to you if you were throwing a party, but they were not interested in selling me a steak or a single roast. If anyone has had different experiences, please share!
Urban Harvest Market will cut you a ribeye to your requested thickness, but you have to call them a day in advance. $13/lb
Whold Foods will do the same, no phone call necessary $15/lb
Golden Gate Meat Company will cut a ribeye to your specifications. For the natural variety, $17/lb for either bone-in or bone-out.
Prather Ranch's meats are all vacuum-sealed and dry-aged, but the cuts looked small and thin. I didn't bother to ask the price, but it's up there in the $17/lb stratosphere.
Costco has pre-cut ribeyes about an inch thick for $6/lb, and they're four to a pack. A roast is about 6 lbs, and the price is $8/lb