USDA Prime Beef: Is the absolute highest grade level for beef. Prime Beef is produced from young, well-fed cattle and steer. The beef has abundant marbling, which is why it is found to have such a juicy and notable buttery flavor. The beef is tender, and the texture allows for easy cutting. USDA Prime beef is best for grilling and is usually found only in very few retail grocers. Only about 2% of beef in America is certified USDA Prime and are usually found in specialty butcher shops, such as Anteri Brothers & Sons, and at high-scale restaurants only.
USDA Choice: Second highest graded beef. It has much less fat marbling than Prime Beef, and is usually found at most restaurants. Choice is a quality steak, particularly if it is a cut that is derived from the loin and rib areas of the beef, such as a tenderloin, filet or rib steak. Generally, USDA Choice will be less tender, juicy and flavorful than Prime. It is also slightly more coarse texturally, making it slightly harder to slice than Prime.
USDA Select: Lowest graded level. It has slight marbling through the cut, but is significantly lower than both Choice and Prime, making it the leanest. It has a coarse texture in comparison to that of Prime or Choice. Select is much less tender and more likely to be tough. Select is found mainly in grocery stores. It is typically served in lower-end steak houses and has much less flavor than the higher grades. It is usually not ideal for dry grilling, and is best when wet-cooked or braised. If you desire to grill Select, make sure to marinate the cut to increase its tenderness.