When it comes to the great iconic dishes of the city, nothing stirs the passions quite as fiercely as a great, bloody, well-charred chunk of beefsteak. The favorites listed below are ranked in accordance with our own (admittedly quirky and debatable) preference for a certain essentially New York cut of meat (the New York strip, dummies, not the fabled and overrated porterhouse), and include downtown faux-speakeasy joints, venerable big-city steak institutions, modest neighborhood hangouts in the wilds of Williamsburg, and even a glamorous midtown Michelin-approved fish house.
240 Central Park S., nr. Broadway; 212-582-5100
The cheffed-up non-steakhouse “gourmet” cut of beef has become its own subgenre in this steak-mad era, and this 50-day dry-aged monster, which Michael White serves at his posh seafood palace on Central Park South, is our favorite. The steak comes from Creekstone Farms, in Arkansas City, Kansas, which is to the haute-beef movement roughly what the Hudson Valley was to foie gras several years back, and White and his chefs use all of their canny skills (the bone-marrow-dripped panzanella bread pudding on the side is a thing of beauty) to make sure you’ll remember every sinful bite.
We’re not wild about some of the upmarket grub at this faux-posh new Stephen Starr hotel establishment, but this expertly aged, 20-ounce Creekstone behemoth is one of the best new steaks in town. It’s drizzled, in opulent continental style, with plenty of butter and garlic, and if you happen to have a couple of tabs of Lipitor in your pocket, don’t miss the triple-cooked potato chips, which are served with a decorous green salad on the side.
4. Bowery Meat Company
9 E. 1st St., at Bowery; 212-460-5255
Josh Capon has long been one of the city’s unsung meat masters. The twirling, deckle-rich Bowery Steak gets all the press at this next-age downtown steakhouse, but we prefer the more traditional New York strip, which is light on age in the Sparks tradition, delicately sized at 14 ounces (and because of this, somewhat delicately priced, at $49), and served unadorned, with a single roasted shallot on top.
5. Strip House
13 E. 12th St., nr. University Pl.; 212-328-0000
This solid, underrated upmarket steak chain serves two well-aged, professionally charred strips — a 14-ounce for lighter eaters, and a 20-ounce for the rabble of loud, occasionally boorish regulars who treat the place as a kind of downtown high-roller clubhouse. We’re willing to put up with the occasional boorishness because the sides are excellent (the truffle creamed spinach, the goose-fat-fried potatoes), and not too long ago, we enjoyed our strip at a table next to Jack White, his band, and his mother, all digging with gusto into giant haunches of beef.
As the name indicates, the porterhouse is the cut to get at Michael Lomonaco’s recently refurbished Columbus Circle restaurant, but the New York strip, which you can get served on the bone, or cut from it, is also worth a trip. The busy new menu has recently been reworked to feature more non-steak dishes, however, and we miss the curving caramel-colored leather banquettes, which gave the place its unique midtown-steak-palace vibe.
7. St. Anselm
355 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 718-384-5054
Elegant French pepper sauce can be used to mask a piece of meat, as well as to complement it, but the solid grass-fed New York strip au poivre at this excellent millennial-Brooklyn beefeater’s establishment stands on its own. There are also many worthy side dishes on the menu (the carrots, the fennel, the iceberg lettuce and blue cheese), and at $39 you won’t find a better price for your slap-up haute-barnyard sirloin dinner.
8. Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-475-3850
There are plenty of things to recommend about this flagship Keith McNally speakeasy, although the quality of the beef seems to have gone slightly downhill since the departure of the two founding cooks, Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr. The thick, bone-in strip is still the thing to get at this seminal post millennial, non-steakhouse, steak destination, and this cut might be a few rungs higher on the list if it wasn’t slightly overcharred the last time we sampled it, at $65, didn’t cost roughly as much as a decent bottle of Scotch.