New York City is home to legendary steakhouses dating back to the 1800s as well as former speakeasies that stand shoulder to shoulder or chop to chop alongside newcomers with more eclectic approaches. Some of the new arrivals don't even try to break the mold, yet others are investing in extravagant decors in a nod to the finer sex with expense accounts.
When choosing which restaurants to include on our list of the top ten steakhouses in New York City, we looked for delectable, mouth-watering hunks of meat, an almost cult-like following of regulars, and enough staying power or innovation to draw crowds the world over. Also we went for those that have grown their wine lists.
What we've uncovered is a list that mingles traditional with inventive. Take Peter Luger, for example, one of the oldest steakhouses in the city, it is still turning out fantastic meals from its vantage point under the Williamsburg Bridge. Or, the nearly 90-year old Gallaghers Steakhouse that has recently emerged from a dramatic makeover yet still featuring that unmistakeable storefront meat locker. At the same time, the sophisticated Porter House Bar and Grill in the Time Warner Center overlooking Central Park is celebrating its 10th birthday with a carefully cultivated wine list, Benjamin Steak House is still feeding us three times and day and St. Anselm is still a neighborhood place with great steaks.
Décor ranges from your grandmother’s basement at Sammy’s Roumanian that blends oh-so-New York Yiddish, Borscht-belt humor with delicious Romanian steaks, while relative newcomer Strip House is decked out in bordello siren red.
If there's one thing New Yorkers know, it's steak: from Manhattan to Brooklyn, prime cuts reign supreme. Now, if you're ready to get started, let's not waste any more time. Below, the ten best steak joints in the city.
Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse
Think you know Jewish comfort food? Not until you have traveled to the Lower East Side to Sammy's Roumanian where the steaks are sizzling and the vodka is frozen. All of it is served up in a basement dining room, studded with photos, and a bowl of schmalz on each table. To be fair, 55-year-old Sammy's may not make the cut on a fancy steakhouse list because it is not just a steakhouse, it is a cultural time zone in a category all its own.
The steaks and cutlets are to die for and sometimes the entertainment will kill you, too if you have not been a little exposed to Borscht belt humor. And if you are new to all this, get the cameras rolling, and the shutters snapping. Shell steak, mush steak (bet you will never find this on any other steakhouse menu) and don't forget egg creams and chopped chicken liver. A skirt steak with potato latkes (or ordinary mashed potatoes) will run you about $40; be ready for a hefty plate-sharing charge of $9. (212-673-0330, 212-475-9131)
Since opening just 10 years ago, Benjamin Steak House consistently finds itself listed as one of New York City's premier steakhouses. Just south of Grand Central Station, Benjamin Steak House is the place to go when you've either: one, just arrived to the city, or two, are on your way out. Helmed by two former Peter Luger chefs, the restaurant has been serving up three well-balanced, meat-heavy meals a day to New Yorkers ever since it opened its doors. Soaring ceilings, clubby feel and the fireplace offers spectacular ambiance – perfect for cozying up to a big piece of beef that's been dry-aged in Benjamin's own aging box. Just like their alma mater taught them, steak here is served up for two, three, or four, though sirloin, rib-eye and filets are also available for solo scavengers. Benjamin's Westchester branch is opened for Sunday brunch. (212-297-9177)
Angus Club Steakhouse
Regulars of Angus Club declare this the best steakhouse in New York City. Located just north of Midtown on the east side, it's consistently honored with the kind of 5-star reviews and accolades typically reserved for Thomas Keller, or Beyonce. Fare here sticks to the basics – shrimp cocktails, iceberg wedges, classic beefsteak tomatoes and onions – though don't be surprised to find that Angus has a few tricks up its sleeve. The seafood, for one, is actually worth ordering, and the veal chop has converted vegetarians to the dark side for years. Ok, maybe we made that last bit up, but this double cut beauty, served on the T-bone certainly makes carnivores swoon. (212-588-1585)
The Strip House has been described as a carnivore's delight set inside a brothel-like siren red interior. tickling your fancy with titillating photos and even more sensual steaks. Executive Chef Michael Vignola's perfectly charred cuts aren't the only thing to write home about, you'll be impressed with the innovative sides and the original Studio Manasse prints of 1930s burlesque stars. Mother ship to the wildly popular adjoining Strip House Next Door, Strip House Midtown (44th St.), and the Strip House at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, select your spirits wisely. At $20 a pop, these posh cocktails pack a punch: the Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned for instance, combines McKenzie Rye, Rhum Clement, Luxardo Maraschino and Bourbon Cherries. But even the Strip Tea with a base of Oolong is infused with Rye, Amaro and Chocolate Bitters. No doubt about it, the star of the show is the meat – from table-side carvings to chops to dried-aged rib eye and of course the New York strip – but what is rare is that even the sides compete for your attention – just try the creamed spinach dressed in truffles. (212-328-0000)
American Cut Steakhouse
About a minute ago, "Iron Chef" Marc Forgione debuted the 180-seat American Cut in Midtown at at 109 East 56th St. in the Lombardy Hotel. Signature dishes include the Chili Lobster; the "OG" 1924 Hotel Caesar; and the 42 oz. Tomahawk Rib-Eye, not to mention a show-stopping 52 oz. Porterhouse complete with flaming bone marrow butter prepared table side. Likewise, the décor is meant to impress: original stain glass windows, ornate crown moldings and the original fireplace all create an opulent atmosphere.
American Cut Midtown daytime menu includes a three-course prix-fixe for $28, as well as a la carte offerings featuring lighter options like salads and fish, as well as a pastrami sandwich with brisket, brined and smoked with the option to add Russian Dressing and slaw. The TriBeCa location is still the best place to catch celebrities and to swill in its rock and roll spirit, while the Midtown venue embraces an art deco glamour. (212-388-5277)
St. Anselm doesn't call itself a steakhouse, and it doesn't much look like one either. A chalkboard as you enter assures all guests of the "natural," hormone-and-antibiotic-free pedigree of its menu entries. The dining room is small, tables dwarfed by a long bar with metal stools, and green-slatted shutters closing out the hipsters on Metropolitan Avenue. What's coming out of the kitchen, however, will convince you that not only is St. Anselm a meat haven, it's one of the best ones in town. An ideal meal looks something like this: grilled Halloumi with pea greens and string beans, grilled Shishito peppers and the butchers steak with compound garlic butter. The best part? It's affordable. That steak I mentioned? Yeah, that's under 20 bucks. (718-384-5054)
Porter House Bar and Grill
Michael Lomonaco, Chef and Managing Partner of Porter House Bar and Grill, has pretty much dedicated his life to the American kitchen; his New York steakhouse being the expressions of that passion. Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, Lomonaco has shown up on NBC's Today Show, on the Food Channel and has been a repeat guest on the Beat Bobby Flay show. Set in the heart of Columbus Circle, steps from Lincoln Center and across from Central Park, Porter House New York is located on the fourth floor of Time Warner Center, and features sweeping views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. You don't have to dine on half a cow and break the bank if you sip an enervating Manhattan or an Old Fashioned with a side of Lomonaco's "blend" of a delectable hamburger on a bun with fries for under $25 or throw caution to the wind and go for the Porterhouse for two for $124. A three-course prix fixe luncheon is just $28 for a soup or salad, a petit filet mignon and dessert. (2128239500)
Bobby Van's Grill - 25 Broad St.
Bobby Van's Steakhouse NYC, a Downtown Wall Street establishment, is located on Broad Street, with its formal dining room set in the lobby of the old JP Morgan Bank, while the more casual Vault Grill is below in JP Morgan's antique bank vaults. The elegant atmosphere of this classic fine dining, American restaurant, harkens back to the old days of banking with dark wood accents, original vault doors and walls lined with bronze deposit boxes. From Colorado lamb chops served with mashed potatoes and mint jelly reduction to those 28-day dry-aged prime steaks or a noontime repast of a 12 oz. New York Sirloin. If steak is not what you came for, try the horseradish-encrusted salmon, the twin crabcakes or the three-pound Maine lobster. And for vegans, pray tell, a grilled portobella sandwich. Whatever you choose you will be blown away and come back for more. ((212) 344-8463)
It's hard to mistake what Gallaghers Steakhouse is about. If the name weren't already enough, then the meatlocker that greet diners at the storefront is a dead giveaway. Rescued by Central Park Boathouse operator Dean Poll, Gallaghers (minus the apostrophe) is now as one visitor said: "Old New York lite:" wall mirrors sparkle, white linens invite as do wine-colored banquettes and the ceiling has been rehung with its 14 famous hickory chandeliers. Originally, a "speakeasy" launched by Ziegfeld girl Helen Gallagher in 1927, and according to its own legend, Broadway's first steakhouse, Gallaghers promises a New York experience from start to finish. Fine steaks grilled over blazing hickory coals, rubs from coffee to porcini mushrooms and an affordable lunchtime menu with a giant Porterhouse going for $49 per person. Theater-goers, New Yorkers and HBO Vinyl fans will want to see Gallaghers' recent cameo. (212-245-5336)
Peter Luger Steakhouse
Voted NYC's No. 1 steakhouse for the past 32 years, this circa-19th century Williamsburg establishment is a time-honored tradition for locals and visitors. Is this cash-only steak icon touristy? Yes. Old school? Absolutely. But sometimes, things are popular for a reason. Peter Luger has been serving up mammoth porterhouses and fried German potatoes on a nondescript corner in Williamsburg since 1887. The two-story structure has seen a lot of changes outside its doors – remember when Williamsburg was better known for vaguely sinister empty lots than pricey high-rise apartments? – but, inside, the tune remains the same. The hyper-masculine interiors and no-nonsense wait staff give the place and old-fashioned vibe, and the epic steaks keep customers coming back for more. Luger's has since opened a second location in Great Neck, Long Island, but come to the Brooklyn original for the full, meaty Monty. (718-387-7400)
About Maria Lisella
No matter how many countries Maria Lisella has visited (62), this native New Yorker finds the world at her doorstep in amazing Queens where its residents speak 138 languages.
Maria writes about New York and other destinations for outlets including NYC & Company, AFAR, Travel and Leisure, Wells Fargo Conversations, and others.
As the Queens Poet Laureate, 2015-2018, she observes, listens and captures the urban energy of NYC in poetry and prose.
Her book Thieves in the Family has been described as “… a collection of postcards from the Global Village…”
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