At Virgils’s Barbecue in Times Square in New York City, they do thousands of pounds of meat each and every day. Maybe more barbecue than you will do in your lifetime, or at least one busy summer.

The question arises: how do I know if my meat is done, especially if I want it rare or medium rare or … The table below gives the suggested temperatures from Virgil’s along with the recommended USDA temperatures. The USDA is safe. Virgil’s is delicious.

And, as you can see, USDA does not distinguish among all the “doneness” levels that we consider “natural.” With all that volume of meat, Virgil’s approach is scientific. They do not use folklore to test doneness, no “does it feel like some part of my hand” business. At Virgil’s everything is checked with an instant read thermometer.

If you do not have one yet, it’s a small investment. After all, that steak you are eying is going to cost you a fortune. 

Steak State  Virgil’s Recommends  USDA Recommends
 Rare  125 145
Medium Rare 130 145
Medium 140 145
Medium Well 155 160
Well 160 160