You’ve probably heard the terms USDA prime, choice, and select before, but what do they mean? Each category of beef is ranked according to specific markers put in place by the USDA. Understanding what each ranking includes helps you know what you’re purchasing at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant. 

USDA Prime

This is the highest grade of beef ranked by the USDA and the most expensive. This beef begins with young beef that is fed only the highest quality food. USDA prime beef contains abundant amounts of marbling throughout, giving it a fantastic flavor. Prime beef is most commonly found at hotels and in restaurants, but it can be purchased for use at home as well. This beef is tender, juicy, and delicious nearly any way you cook it. 

USDA Choice 

USDA choice beef features slightly less marbling than prime beef, but it is still very flavorful. These cuts range in tenderness depending on where they come from. Cuts that come from the ribs and loin area will be extremely tender, while those from the round will be a bit tougher. Cuts from the round should be braised or roasted with a liquid to help keep the beef juicy and tender. 

USDA Select 

USDA select beef is typically the type of steaks you would buy to cook at home. These cuts need to be marinated to have a good flavor since there is little to no marbling in the meat. They are also less tender than prime or choice cuts. If you’re looking for beef that’s lean with the lowest fat content possible, USDA select beef is the way to go. 

Next time you’re at a restaurant or grocery store, take a second to look at the USDA grade of the beef you’re eating. What you’re cooking or the type of flavor you desire should influence what grade of beef you’re purchasing. If the grade of beef isn’t listed on a menu, ask the serving staff before you order. 

If you’re looking to get a taste of some of the best USDA prime beef around, reserve a table at Strega Prime today. Our expert chefs have mastered the art of cooking this tender and juicy beef to order. Our serving staff can help you choose the perfect wine and sides to pair with your USDA prime beef to optimize your dining experience. 

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