Choosing the best rib eye steak can depend on the way you plan on preparing it and your personal taste preferences. The main way to come to a decision is to examine the level of marbling, or fat content, in the steak. A high level of marbling is typically associated with the best rib eyes, and there should also be a small section of fat on the top. If you live in the United States, you can also look for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) label. An excellent rib eye steak will be marked with a "USDA prime" classification, though steaks that are marked "choice" will typically be good enough for a barbecue.
Rib eye steak is a cut of beef that is located at the top part of a cow, in front of the loin and behind the chuck. The main defining characteristic of these steaks is a strap of white fat on top, which is where the "eye" in the phrase "rib eye steak" comes from. This is cut of meat is typically very tender, though lower quality rib eyes can be tough and stringy. That makes it important to know what you are looking for when selecting good rib eye steaks.
The first characteristic to look for when choosing a good rib eye steak is a high level of marbling. If a rib eye has a lot of white flecks in the meat, that means the fat content is high and the steak should be tender and flavorful after it has been cooked. Lower quality cuts of rib eye have less marbling and will tend to be tougher and have less flavor; of course, if you are trying to cut back on fat and cholestorol, this may actually be a preferred characteristic. In the United States, the USDA has three different categories that can also help you choose steaks. "Prime" cuts are the best, while "Choice" cuts are still good for the grill, and "Select" cuts are usually better for stews.
There are also a few other factors that can help you choose the best rib eye steak. If you like beef ribs, then you may want to choose a rib eye that comes on the bone. These steaks tend to be more tender when you cook them, and have the same bone that is present in beef ribs. It can also be a good idea to choose a steak that comes from the middle portion of the ribs, since that is typically the most tender cut. Cuts that come from the ends, rather than the middle, tend to have a rougher texture, which you should try to identify and avoid if possible.