Big Business and big money means superb, enormous and often quite expensive steaks. If you’re a vegetarian, move along; there’s nothing for you here. Carnivores, come right in! By Valerie Stivers.
Operating since 1885, Keens has an atmospheric, wood-paneled dining room hung with decorated with old clay pipes once used by the patrons, portraits and documents in ye olde script. Along with Sparks and Peter Luger’s it’s considered one of the best, most reliable old-school steakhouses in the city for all cuts of meat. The 26-ounce mutton chop (actually a saddle of lamb) is a specialty as well. (Editor’s note: Their Chateaubriand is also unbelievable, competitive in itself for the best steak in town).
Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse NYC
The most discriminating steak purists might not endorse Michael Jordan’s as part of a best-steakhouses list, but its excellent 16oz slab of New York strip should please mere mortals, and the location, looking out into the serene, arching vault of the great hall in Grand Central Station is one of the city’s most spectacular.
It’s not officially a steak house, but Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern might serve the best slab of meat in the city at the moment—it has its pick from Meatpacking district supplier Pat LaFrieda, who also supplies the secret blend in its black-label burger. Too bad the restaurant is so white-hot that it’s difficult to get a table.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
This bastion of tradition, perhaps the most renowned steakhouse in the world, sits in a developing section of Brooklyn by the Williamsburg bridge. The signature porterhouse steak is known for being excellent (some might say peerless) and perfectly charred—though the competition now gives Luger’s a run for its money. Gruff service and sides like creamed spinach or half-inch-thick bacon slices are part of the experience.
Smith & Wollensky
797 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10022
The dark green-and-white building on Third Ave is an NYC boys-club landmark and always a packed midtown lunch destination. There’s a formal white-table cloth dining room and a less-expensive grill room in front. Steaks are hand-cut and dry-aged in-house and filet Mignon comes in classic variations like au poivre and with Roquefort cheese.
Sparks is relatively young as far as steakhouses go, but its classic patterned carpet, red-and-white plates, white tablecloths and lovely spindle-back chairs make it feel much older. Debate rages over just how excellent the steaks really are—sublime? splendid? merely delicious?—but there’s no doubt it’s a great old city venue. Some of the sides may be plain to today’s palate.
13 East 12th Street
New York, NY
The glamorous red-flocked room is only ten years old but has a timeless old movie appeal—maybe it’s all the framed photos on the walls. We recommend the thickly crusted 20-ounce strip steak on the bone as well as the porterhouse for two and the crunchy-crusted goose-fat potatoes.