New York is a carne-loving town—just look at the best BBQ, best butcher shops and best burgers in NYC for proof. But one area we truly excel in is steakhouses and steak restaurants, those temples of dry age and mineral funk, those celebratory confabs that demand to be marked with a napkin tucked beneath your chin, a steak knife clutched in your fist and a juicy slab of beef in a pool of its own juices on your plate. From old classics that peddle in porterhouse to new-wave meateries where you can get your sirloin with a side of gnocchi, these are the best steakhouses in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC
Best steakhouses in NYC
Although a slew of Luger copycats have prospered in NYC, none have captured the elusive charm of this stucco-walled, beer-hall-style eatery, with its well-worn wooden floors and tables, and waiters in waistcoats and bowties. The famous porterhouse for two—36 ounces of sliced prime beef—is a singular New York experience that’s worth having.
Sirloin and porterhouse (for two and three) hold their own against any steak in the city at this 130-year-old slice of history. The ceiling and walls are hung with smoking pipes, some from such long-ago Keens regulars as Babe Ruth, J.P. Morgan and Teddy Roosevelt.
Opened in 1868 as a dockworkers’ chophouse, this clubby establishment draws a laid-back New York crowd (MePa’s glamazons need not apply). But even those finicky eaters would be impressed by starters such as a tender-as-sashimi seared yellowfin tuna, and by ever-fresh raw-bar selections. Still, folks come here for the beef. Spring for the flavorful strip steak or a well-seasoned prime rib. Any way you carve it, this place stands the test of time.
Michael Stillman, the son of Smith & Wollensky founder Alan Stillman, shuttered Manhattan Ocean Club, a seafood palace in midtown, and replaced it with this highly stylized industrial theme park complete with meat-hook light fixtures, wooden butcher blocks, white tiles and exposed brick. Lespinasse-trained chef Craig Koketsu nails the steaks and breathes new life into traditional side dishes. Pudding-like corn crème brûlée and the airy “gnocchi & cheese,” a clever take on mac and cheese, are terrific.
It was a gamble for Wolfgang Zwiener, a former Peter Luger waiter, to open his own steakhouse in midtown in 2004 and riskier still for him to attempt an offshoot of his offshoot. But this is one of the best (albeit priciest) restaurants of its ilk. The steaks kick ass: They’re thick, juicy and charred enough to be flavorful without tasting like carbon. Big groups can order porterhouses for two, and solo diners can dig into a filet mignon, rib eye or sirloin and not feel like they’re getting the second-best item on the menu.
Walk into this LES rathskeller on a crowded evening, and you may think you’ve stumbled into a bar mitzvah—Yiddish sing-alongs and folk dancing are ignited by the live synthesizer and further fueled by icy shots of vodka. The very Eastern European menu includes saline chicken liver, garlicky karnatzlach sausage and enormous beef tenderloins, all of which are hearty enough to slow down the hora. The sparse decor may be dated, but the prices aren’t: Order carefully, or you’ll lose your dowry paying for your meal.
Photograph: Flickr/CC/Evan Kane
This restaurant from chef Michael Lomonaco (Windows on the World) is part of the all-star lineup at the Time Warner Center. Inside the sexy interior, portions are large, and prices are fair. The steaks get a glorious char, and the wine list offers 500 labels to choose from, including a selection of half bottles.
Grilling may be the ultimate American art form, but New York restaurants rarely explore its greaseless, flame-licked potential. With St. Anselm, Joe Carroll delivers one of the city’s most impressive exceptions. The well-rounded menu, heavy on veggies, combines Mediterranean, Asian and all-American flavors, but head chef Katrina Zito uses the simple cooking method to tie it all together—from smoky slabs of halloumi to miniature fire-roasted eggplants with fried goat cheese and honey. Main-event proteins include a charred hanger packed with an earthy flavor—as fine a slab of beef as is available at any hoary steakhouse in town.
A spin-off of the Atlantic City original, it’s a playpen for high-rolling carnivores, suffused with wafting scents of singed fat and smoke-laced bourbon. Burnished rosewood tables big enough for a poker game await hedge-funders eager to go all in on beef and booze. The menu caters to lily gilding, inviting you to top any of its wet- or dry-aged steaks with bacon, foie gras or an entire Singapore-style lobster. If you’re keen on embellishments, you’ll want the bone-in rib eye that’s Katz-ified into a smoky, spice-crusted pastrami steak topped with caraway butter.
If you want to get close to the source of your steak, take a stroll past Gallagher’s glass-enclosed street-side meat locker. Inside, the mustily masculine restaurant attracts a largely male clientele with its huge wooden bar and photos of celebrities on the walls. The uncomplicated menu holds few surprises, though patrons are pleased to discover that the aged beef is flamed over hickory logs. The sirloin was better marbled and more flavorful than the touted porterhouse; the creamed spinach was watery and bland. But quibbles are for wimps. Stare down a few sides of beef in that locker, and keep eating.
Looking for more great restaurants?
The Brooklyn Tree
This casual American eatery in Bushwick churns out burgers, sandwiches and plates that will please both veg heads and carnivores alike. The grass-fed burger with white cheddar and smoked tomato aioli or confit tuna melt on parmesan-crusted bread (both $13) might hit the spot for meat lovers. Vegetarians can also swap in garbanzo bean loaf for the meatloaf ($13 for a sandwich, $15 for a plate) and tofu for the chicken schnitzel ($12 for a sandwich, $15 for a plate). Don’t forget the sides: You’ll want to taste the cheese puffs ($6), red pepper hummus ($6), quinoa-kale salad ($5) and mac and cheese with caramelized onions, shitake mushrooms and pretzel crust ($8). Come for brunch to try the avocado toast with sunny side up eggs and roasted peppers ($11), or just to take advantage of the two-for-one deal on Bloody Marys and mimosas.
Venue says: “The best Happy Hour in Williamsburg! Mon-Fri 3p-7p $2-$4 beers, $3 shots & $5 margaritas. Sat & Sun 11a-4p bloody's and mimosas buy 1, get 1”