Clubby steakhouses — with their mahogany fixtures and power-suited patrons — are New York City icons. Gotham is dotted with old-school, 19th-century chophouses where Teddy Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan donned shirtsleeves and indulged appetites. In recent years, new-wave steakhouses with broader menus, seasonal sensibilities, and modern interiors have joined their ranks. Now, there's far more than red meat to ponder. Will you start with lobster bisque or tuna tartare? Grilled cauliflower or creamed spinach? Aged steak or line-caught salmon? In a city that knows how to sear its beef and wedge its iceberg, the world is your raw bar oyster. Here are eight iconic options for traditionalists and modernists alike.
With a wedge salad that ditches blue cheese for sesame tofu dressing and a shrimp cocktail spiked with gojuchang, Cote proves there's a whole new world of steakhouses that doesn't involve bacon-wrapped filets. For first-timers to this Flatiron restaurant — which was just awarded its first Michelin star — go for the Butcher's Feast. A series of traditional banchan and soups accompany four cuts of dry-aged prime beef that diners sear over the coal-fired grills built into the tables. Just don't forget to leave room for soft-serve.
2. American Cut
Those seeking a sultry protein fix need look no further than Marc Forgione's swanky Tribeca chophouse. The $145 tomahawk rib eye for two provides arguably the city's most elegant meat cut and is the perfect centerpiece for the OG 1924 Caesar salad and outstanding seared foie gras. Cap things off with one Cracker Jack sundae and two spoons, and prepare to fall in love (with New York at least) all over again.
3. BLT Prime
Filling up on bread is usually considered a rookie move. Not so at this Gramercy Park-adjacent steakhouse, where light, buttery popovers share equal billing with house cuts like the Kansas City, a 20-ounce, 28-day dry-aged bone-in strip. The lobster bisque and lardon-studded wedge salad, like the navy-suited diners, are old-school New York power players, though no one will raise a manicured eyebrow if you opt for the sautéed broccolini, onion rings or aptly named Hipster Fries, dotted with Parmesan, shishito peppers, and beef jerky.
A clubby institution since 1885, Keens epitomizes old-school Manhattan beefsteak dinners. If the wood paneling doesn't win your heart, the thick-cut bacon, throwback wedge salad and mutton specialty most certainly will. Those without a reservation in the cozy dining rooms can sample pub service, a convivial front-of-house option that offers first-come seating and the entire menu, plus some additional gently priced options, such as a burger and steak-topped Cobb salad.
5. Peter Luger
On an inauspicious stretch near the on-ramp of the Williamsburg Bridge, a few short blocks from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, sits a bona fide New York City legend. The 1887 steakhouse is timeless, from the clubby decor to the charmingly gruff service to the bacon-slab appetizers gracing nearly every table. The creamed spinach gets unexpected edge from notes of anise, but the star here is always the sizzling plates of butter-drenched steaks for one, two, three, and four. If you're able to locate your second stomach, the ice cream with homemade schlag, or whipped cream, is a house specialty.
6. St. Anselm
Though this perpetually packed Williamsburg spot does not self-identify as a steakhouse, its beefy selections are among the city's best. The butcher's steak is a solid, economical option, but the superstar here is the ax-handle rib eye, available by the ounce (ask your server for recommendations). Add surf to your turf with the stellar salmon steak, and then take it home with the coconut cream cake, which is basically heaven on a six-inch plate.
7. Strip House
Proof that New York's best chophouses are more than just pieces of meat, this loungy fleet with three locations in Manhattan and one in Las Vegas prides itself on excellent cocktails. Kick things off with a warming rye Manhattan or crisp gin martini, then settle into a sexy red banquette and steel yourself for some tough decisions. Jumbo shrimp cocktail or tuna tartare? Oysters or littlenecks? New York strip or dry-aged rib eye? Whatever you decide, consider complementing it with goose-fat potatoes and chocolate cake — and maybe another round from the bar.
If one defines a neo-steakhouse by the combination of high-quality cuts and contemporary aesthetics, Quality Meats provides a case study in the next wave. The hip, industrial chophouse occupies a behemoth Midtown Manhattan space, where the clientele is nearly as well dressed as the green goddess salad. The menu spans crowd-pleasing standards like waffle fries and dry-aged porterhouse, as well as seasonal vegetable dishes, riffs on classics (such as corn crème brûlée), a 350-bottle wine list and house-made ice cream for dessert.
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