What makes a steakhouse great? The definition of this sacred New York dining institution has changed over the years, but most of the places on our list share certain time-honored qualities. The rooms should exude a familiar steakhouse verisimilitude; the side dishes should be numerous, familiar, and generally extremely rich; and the reason to visit the restaurant shouldn’t be the quality of the chicken, or the fish, or even the vegetables, but that of the judiciously aged haunches of American beef. (The bistro classic, steak-frites, has its own set of slightly different criteria.) Here, the absolute best steakhouses and places to eat beefsteak in New York.
The Absolute Best
1. Porter House Bar and Grill
10 Columbus Cir., 4th fl.; 212-823-9500
There are more atmospheric steakhouses in this beef-eating city, and certain kitchens arguably produce better specific cuts of cow. But all things considered — first-class service, opulent side dishes, grand wines, and traditional and trendy cuts of beef — Michael Lomonaco’s Columbus Circle restaurant remains the gold standard for the postmillennial, chef-driven, fat-cat New York steakhouse. Lomonaco is accomplished at producing all sorts of things besides beef; but if you have the resources, fight for one of the tables by the window, and call for a towering stack of those buttermilk onion rings and the double-cut côte de boeuf, which is hoisted to the table on a silver salver, with a pot of red-wine sauce mingled with fatty bits of bone marrow on the side.
2. Sparks Steak House
210 E. 46th St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-687-4855
In our humble, highly subjective opinion, the signature $55 prime sirloin at this venerable midtown joint is the best single cut of beef in the city. Order it at the bar before the dinner rush, while watching the first pitches of the Yankees game, with a goblet of inky red wine from the restaurant’s impressive cellar, and you’ll feel the rumbling, beefeater ghosts of the city — from Paulie Castellano down to the great Diamond Jim Brady himself — rising up all around you.
3. Bowery Meat Company
9 E. 1st St., nr. Bowery; 212-460-5255
In the hectic tradition of many next-generation steak joints, Josh Capon’s downtown establishment offers something for everyone, including strips of “zucchini carpaccio” for vegetarians, an excellent duck lasagna, and one of the city’s best cheeseburgers for the legions of burger loons. But the specialties of the house remain the expertly prepared steaks, which — in variety, quality, and, yes, even price — are hard to beat.
4. Keens Steakhouse
72 W. 36th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-947-3636
No chophouse in the city (and therefore the country) has a stronger pedigree, and none exudes a more pleasingly funky sense of old-fashioned charm. With apologies to mutton-chop lovers everywhere, the dish to get is the imposing “King’s Cut” rib chop, preferably on a snowy winter’s afternoon, in the pub room, by the gently guttering fire.
16 W. 22nd St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-401-7986
There’s some debate among traditionalists as to whether Simon Kim’s hit Korean barbecue-fusion hybrid is a real New York steakhouse at all. But with top-drawer cuts of meat stored in a carefully calibrated “meat locker” downstairs, and a roster of trophy wines to rival any midtown steakhouse, it has to be on a list like this. For maximum beefeater pleasure, order the reasonably priced “Butcher’s Feast,” which combines the opulent joys of prime-quality, corn-fed American beef with the communal pleasures of a classic Korean barbecue feast.
6. St. Anselm
355 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 718-384-5054
“Grass fed” is not a phrase you often hear echoing through the dining halls of ye olde steak joints around town, but the fine grass-fed strip at this next-wave Williamsburg restaurant stands on its own. Pay attention to the side dishes (the carrots, the fennel, the iceberg lettuce and blue cheese).
7. The Grill
99 E. 52nd St., nr. Park Ave.; 212-375-9003
Like several other beefeater joints on this list, the Major Food Group’s glamorous midtown destination isn’t a steakhouse in the strictest sense. But the prime aged steak on the menu is impeccably procured and presented, the steakhouse-style trimmings (ask for the cottage fries) are world-class, and there’s no better venue in midtown than Philip Johnson’s fabled cathedral space to cut into an opulent, high-roller chunk of beef.
8. Minetta Tavern
113 Macdougal St., nr. Minetta Ln.; 212-475-3850
Beefsteak (the côte de boeuf, the bone-in strip) and the increasingly pricey burger are still the things to get at this seminal postmillennial, non-steakhouse steak destination, although the quality of the kitchen seems to have gone slightly downhill since the departure of the two founding cooks, Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr.
9. Beatrice Inn
285 W. 12th St., nr. 4th St.; 212-675-2808
Angie Mar’s celebrated remake of this old West Village saloon isn’t a steakhouse in the strictest cattle-eating sense of the word, but it certainly is a carnivore’s paradise. We’re not big fans of deeply aged hamburgers, but the braised oxtail is a thing of beauty, and if you have the fortitude and the necessary resources, it’s possible to subsist for a good few months on Mar’s elaborate, extravagantly aged cuts, like the côte de boeuf (60 days), the tomahawk rib eye (160 days), and the $375 porterhouse, which is aged for three months, and brought to the table smothered in escargots and gouts of truffle butter.
10. M. Wells Steakhouse
43-15 Crescent St., Long Island City; 718-786-9060
You can get servings of pig’s head at Hugue Dufour’s entertaining, slightly cockeyed, nose-to-tail establishment in Long Island City, as well as a Caesar salad touched with herring, and saddles of lamb rubbed with coffee. The dry-aged porterhouse costs a small fortune, it’s true, but it also comes with enough elaborate trimmings to feed a family of five for a week.
11. 4 Charles Prime Rib
4 Charles St., nr. Greenwich Ave.; 212-561-5992
This diminutive Chicago import isn’t a classic steakhouse, per se, but the few cuts on the menu (the rib eye, several varieties of that Chicago specialty, prime rib) are worthy additions to the city’s great red-meat pantheon, and the burger is one of the best in town.
12. Peter Luger
178 Broadway, nr. Driggs Ave., Williamsburg; 718-387-7400
We aren’t fond of the indifferent service, the unruly mob atmosphere, or the tyranny of cash only or the “Luger Card” option. But during the quieter lunchtime hours, Luger’s can still be Luger’s, especially if you order the burger, or luck into a properly aged, fat-spattering porterhouse.
13. Strip House
11 E. 12th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-838-9197
We’ve long been partial to this gilded downtown beef destination, thanks to the ornate European-style sides, the quality of the New York strip, and also because we happen to live directly across the street. But the chain has been purchased by the same sprawling restaurant conglomerate that runs Bubba Gump Shrimp, which bumps it a few apprehensive notches down the list.
This post has been republished with updated rankings and new information.