1. Though NYC is no longer famous for its cheesecakes, or even its deli fare (with some exceptions), for red meat it still reigns supreme. The city brims with top-notch steak joints—doable for those on expense accounts, a little daunting for the rest of us. Still, if you’re in the mood for a perfectly aged rib-eye with a side of creamed spinach and crisped potatoes, one of these places will do you right:
Peter Luger Steakhouse is the original and still in many ways, the best, though because of its Brooklyn locale it’s not as convenient as some others listed below. But I’d argue that the commute’s worth it.
Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse: Opened by two former Peter Luger staffers, it shows— they learned their trade well. It’s at 219 E. 44th Street between Second and Third avenues (www.benandjackssteakhouse.com; tel. 212/682-5678).
Cote: An upscale Korean resto with a new take on the center table grill.
Ikinari Steak: There are now four Manhattan outposts of this popular Asian chain (www.ikinaristeakusa.com; tel. 917/388-5646). All serve beef of as high quality as any steakhouse on this list—for half the price. How do they do it? By eliminating chairs at some outlets. Diners walk up to a butcher, choose cuts, and then wait at assigned counters for the grilled meat (and whatever sides they’ve chosen). The Times Square one is at 368 W. 46th St. (btw. 8th and 9th aves.).
Keens Steakhouse: Not far from Macy’s, it is a wonderful time capsule back to when men wore bowler hats and ate their steak bloody.
Quality Meats (www.qualitymeatsnyc.com; tel. 212/371-7777) is set in a stunning, bi-level space at 57 W. 58th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The food is of equally high quality, including some nontraditional steakhouse menu items such as pan-roasted lamb T-bones with figs and mint, and a flatiron steak with blackberries.
Sparks, at 210 E. 46th St. near Third Avenue (www.sparkssteakhouse.com; tel. 212/687-4855), reputedly used to be a Mafia favorite, and its “ye olde steakhouse” decor, crammed into a low-ceilinged modern building, still has that Cosa Nostra air, part of the fun of coming here. The other part (along with perfect hollandaise sauce and aged meats) is the wise-cracking waitstaff, with their “dese, dem, and dose” accents. They deliver the type of service that was once de rigueur in NYC, but alas, rarely exists anymore. Take a look at the wall of cigars before you head out; you can’t legally smoke them in here, but they’re still big sellers.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.