Storied Steakhouses

Fine dining gets legendary at the city’s best meat purveyors

New York City is well known for its eclectic offering of impeccable cuisine and hotspot restaurants; however, there is perhaps no greater rite of passage than feasting at one of its legendary steakhouses, whose histories are as well aged as their meat.

Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and voted ‘Best Steakhouse’ for the past 28 years, Peter Luger Steakhouse is easily the most famous steakhouse in the five boroughs. Like Serendipity’s frozen hot chocolate, you go for one thing: the porterhouse steak. Each steak is hand selected from wholesale markets to ensure the best marbling and is aged in-house. Bring cash and pair your entrée with well-executed, basic sides like French fried potatoes and creamed spinach. (178 Broadway near Roebling St., Brooklyn)

Wolfgang Zwiener clocked four decades as headwaiter at Peter Luger’s before opening a restaurant of his own, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. More formal both in menu and setting, Wolfgang’s is set in the former Vanderbilt Hotel dining room, which is rumored to have once been Commodore Vanderbilt’s private subway station. Cuts offered are kept to a minimal four – including the porterhouse, which can serve up to four – and are dry aged in the building’s basement, and the seafood selection is pared to four gorgeous choices, as well: Chilean sea bass, yellowfin tuna, wild salmon and lobster.  The cottage fries are rumored to be one of the best side dishes in the city. (4 Park Avenue at 33rd St.)

There’s no ambiguity about what occurred at Sparks Steak House in 1985, when mob boss Paul “Big Paul” Castellano and his underboss, Thomas Bilotti, were gunned down near the entrance before they could even order dinner. Now, Sparks is a spot for power business lunches and slow, luxurious dinners, though its menu still has a flair for the Italian. Veal chops, medallions of beef and beef scaloppini intermingle with the usual suspects, which include one of the best sirloin strips in the City. Reputed for the attentive but concise service, let one of the waiters guide you through their vintage Bordeaux selection – a point of pride for the classic, no-frills steakhouse. (210 E 46th St. near Third Ave.)

Fittingly found in the Meatpacking District is one of the New York’s more trendy steakhouses, which is also the oldest in the City: Old Homestead Steakhouse, founded in 1868. The menu is extensive and extravagant with raw bar caviar, crabmeat stuffed shrimp, an ambitious selection of salads and 13 cuts of meats, including expertly trimmed rib steaks left on the bone. One of the first American steakhouses to serve Japanese Kobe beef, Old Homestead now offers it in indulgent 12 oz. portions for $350 or more modestly as one of their four flashy burgers for $43. (56 Ninth Ave. near 15th St.)

Less contemporary and more cozy, Keens Steakhouse is the last building remaining from New York’s original theater district in Harold Square. Its antiquated charm is bolstered by its collection of over 50,000 tobacco pipes, the largest in the world. Go for its legendary, signature dish of mutton chops, which is to Keens what the porterhouse is to Peter Luger. But if sheep does not appeal, other options are as fantastic as they are expected: the sirloin, the t-bone, the chateaubriand, the lobster and filet. If time is tight, a pub offers moderate prices for upscale pub fare; if you want to take it slow, cozy up next to the fireplace where Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and other famed members of Keen’s Pipe Club once sat and choose from more than 60 single malt Scotches on which to sip. (72 W 36th St. near Seventh Ave.)