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Peter Luger or Old Homestead?

  • t

Okay, it's the Mt. Everest of steakhouses, but I'm only in town for two nights (staying at 9th and West 34th) and the cons do seem to outweigh the pros for PL. Number one, the "cash only" requirement. Our party of six is supposed to be walking around with $600-odd of cash? Also, the surly-waiter rep. And no online menu.

Old Homestead is in the neighborhood and I heard their Kobe burger is fairly outrageous . . .

Any recommendations one way or another (or even other)? Sparks?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. About Peter Luger... the cash requirement is a bit of a pain, but everyone else is doing it. You and your bulging pockets will hardly stand out in that crowd. I've never experienced rudeness, brusqueness or surliness, exactly. I find the staff there lovably and good-naturedly gruff, never unpleasant.

    And why would they have online menus when, when their paper menus are virtually useless? As you may have heard, everyone orders the same thing; everyone leaves happy.

    To me, other than the out-of-the-way location, the only con is the long wait (despite the fact that everyone there has reservation). The bar area is cold and uncomfortable, but the bartender is total hoot and will help you and yours pass the time amiably. Service is efficient, and they'll instantly call you a car if you don't feel like stumbling around Williamsburg at night with a belly full of beef, butter and red wine.

    It's definitely an "experience"--a net positive one. And, yeah, the steak is as good as you've heard.

    I've never been to O.H. but heard nothing but terrible things.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Yaqo Homo

      i could tell you more negative things about luger. holmestead is amazing. better sides, no wait for res., and the steak is as good.

    2. Peter Luger no online menus bec. everyone knows that there all about the steak(porterhouse) but their sides and desserts (cheesecake/pecan pie with schlagg/sundae) are worth the extra calories too. Definitely worth the schlep to Brooklyn. To save a bit from the cab ride you can take the A train from 34th/8th Ave. to West 4th St. and transfer to the downtown F/V to 2nd Ave. and take a cab from there (by then you'll be near Williamsburg Bridge) never had bad service there as well...I actually find the waiters rather charmingly funny. BTW, I used to lived on the bldg on the corner of 9th Ave. and 34th (B&H Bldg) and for some reason never ended-up heading down to the Old Homestead.Your better off trying the better non-steak options located mostly on 10 Ave. and the lower 20's (Cookshop, Red Cat etc).

      1. Agreed. I was just there 2 weeks ago and the service was very friendly. Even 5 years ago, they were always friendly and liked to play "pretend-gruff". The steak medium rare is delicious. Add a side of creamed spinach and whatever encarnation of potatoe fries you like and you'll be in heaven. Finish with cheesecake mit schlag and be ready to die happy.

        1. old homestead all the way. peter luger is past its prime (no pun intended). old homestead is the original "meatpacking" district steakhouse. plus, if you want to have a drink afterwards there are plenty of options. why go all the way to brooklyn? but if you do...lugers is now accepting credit cards (they just won't tell you).

          1. Yeow! Now I'm seriously conflicted! Peter Luger has been my Holy Grail for many years now . . . but I'm also in search of the Ultimate Burger on the planet, so Homestead beckons . . . let's see what the consensus is with a few more weigh-ins . . .

            2 Replies
            1. re: tonbo

              I've read some brutal reviews of Old Homestead's very expensive burger... it's late now, but I'll try to dig them up for you at some point

              1. re: Yaqo Homo

                old homestead's burger is definitely not on anyone's best burger list!

            2. Hmm . . . that could be a problem. But then the steak must be good . . . ?

              1. LUGER!!!!!!!!!!!!! surley waiter is exaggerated. best steaks around- great burger too (burger only till 3 pm, amazing deal for that quality meat). enjoy fb

                1. I even *like* the OH but PL is better period.

                  1. Luger is the best steak in NYC, hands down. People from out of town may be a little put off by the waitstaff, but they aren't really surly, just good ol' NYC-style gruff/playful/efficient. It isn't fancy at all (it started out a German-American bar, after all) and there is no decor to speak of, and yes you will probably have to wait in the bar even with a reservation, but it's all in the interest of great meat. The cash thing is really no problem, unless of course you don't have it.

                    As for menus, who needs them? Almost no one ever asks for one there since pretty much everyone orders the same thing: steak for 2 (or however many people you have), and some other stuff like tomatoes & onions, shrimp cocktail, a strip or 2 of bacon (A MUST), some fried potatoes, maybe some creamed spinach. But, if you must see it, there's a link to an on-line menu here: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

                    I used to work near Old Homestead and the execs would take us out to lunch there occasionally. I was never impressed with the place and thought it waaay past its prime and pretty pedestrian. There are several better steakhouses in Manhattan. As for the burger, it's pretty bland and I could name at least a dozen bar burgers in the city that are more flavorful, better, and much cheaper. Very much including the wonderful burger served at lunchtime at Luger's. OH is OK if you're in the area, but it's really not comparable to Luger's.

                    In response to a couple of comments above, if you really want to save on the cab you don't have to take the F/V to 2nd Ave., you can take the J/M train to within a couple of blocks of the restaurant, meaning no cab at all. Get off at Marcy St. (the first stop in Brooklyn), exit towards the back of the train and walk down Broadway (the Brooklyn version) towards Manhattan (the giant Williamsburg Bridge plaza will give you a clue that you're going in the right direction). Luger is a few blocks down on your left. And you certainly can get a drink before or after dinner in Williamsburg. There are a few places nearby, but Dressler on the north side of Broadway is particularly nice.

                    1. tonbo,

                      go to peter luger. while i don't think old homestead is as bad as some people here will tell you (i've had more good than bad experiences there), it doesn't match up to luger even on its best days. this, coming from a guy who feels that luger isn't as consistently amazing as it once was (although there's no denying that it's still good).

                      not to mention, the burger at luger (served until 3pm) is terrific, and the bacon (served all day) is tremendous. in contrast, i've heard that the burger at OH is wretched (never tried it myself).

                      if i were you, i'd actually go to luger at *lunchtime*, since you can sample both the burger and the porterhouse, assuming that you and your dining companions are willing to share. plus, it's a lot easier to snag a lunch reservation, as you only need to call a day or two in advance, as opposed to weeks in advance for a dinner slot.

                      as for ordering:
                      some people i know insist that the porterhouse for two at luger is slightly better than the porterhouse for three or porterhouse for four. i'm not sure if this is always the case, but the last time we were there we decided to put this theory to the test - and we did go away feeling that the porterhouse for two was, in fact, slightly more juicy and expertly prepared than the larger portions. take that for what it's worth. regardless, the steak has to be prepared medium-rare, as you undoubtedly know.

                      the wine list is atrocious for such a big-name steakhouse and the sides are weak compared to the competition, but this is the mecca of steakhouses in nyc, even if it isn't quite as consistently good as it once was.

                      1. If, for some reason you don't decide to shlep to Luger's (and you really should), don't restrict yourself to the binary decision "Luger or OH". Manhattan has a substantial number of good steak houses, and OH has never been high on most lists. I'm a Sparks fan myself (great steaks and veal chops, awesome wine list), but there are plenty of others including Keen's (an atmospheric favorite), BLT Steak, Strip House, and many more. A search on the boards will lead you to innumerable posts on the subject.

                        But do try to get to Luger's!

                        1. Okay, I'm convinced. Peter Luger it is. OH is just gonna have to wait for the next trip. Yeah, I know the old "surly waiter" rap--it's usually just a mask for a gruff but kindly waitstaff who actually enjoy their reputation (hey, in France they're probably truly insufferable.) We have a couple of places here in Montreal who pretend to be jerks but who really aren't. One guy in a Chinese place who I thought was the biggest jerk in the world started playing with my 5-year-old son's toy plane one day we were in there and my son was transfixed. The waiter was giggling and cooing with the best of them after a while. I'm pretty sure most of these supposed waiter "jerks" are all softies at heart.

                          Yep, okay, the Mt. Everest of steakhouses will be visited--and reviewed--by moi. It'll all be on montrealfood.com with pics pretty soon after.

                          Oh--lunch it will not be, since I've hyped this restaurant visit to my pals as the ultimate steakhouse experience--expense be damned. I might just pass on the bottled wine, however . . . (I will arrive heavily fortified, but do they have good martinis?)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: tonbo

                            never had a martini there, but i was surprised by the huge pours and reasonable prices of the whiskey/bourbon our party had on the last visit.
                            have a great time. you've been given great advice on this thread, and the only thing i can think to add is that the cost might not end up being as fearsome as you're expecting if you don't go buck-wild. i've gotten out of there for well under $100 a head.

                            1. re: tonbo

                              Luger makes a good stiff drink, just like a steakhouse should. That's actually one of my dinner strategies there - a couple of whiskeys with a few glasses of water. Or supplemented with a beer if I'm feeling happy (or thirsty). The wine list is indeed pretty awful, but then, as befits their German barroom origins, they didn't even have a wine list until relatively recently.

                              Luger's may not quite be what it once was, but then neither is any other steakhouse in the U.S. The demand for prime beef has soared in recent years at the same time that the production and shipping methods have changed to produce less of it, and produce it less well. Also, I've often thought that since most of the beef sold and consumed in the U.S. now is not aged the way it used to be, that many folks are no longer used to the taste and consistency of aged beef like Luger's uses and find it, strangely, unbeef-like.

                              1. re: tonbo

                                Not only is the lunch menu the same as the dinner menu, but you have more choices (eg. prime rib, burger, chopped steak).

                                Don't forget the bacon as an appetizer!

                              2. Definitely PL over OH. The two really are not comparable in my opinion.

                                My boss is taking me and a couple of business associates to PL next week. I keep reminding him to bring cash, lol.

                                1. Peter Luger w/o a doubt BUT if u cant get out of the city for whatever reason, try Capitol Steakhouse or Ben Benson. Bring $, lots of if. They take cards too.

                                  1. How should I broach the credit card thing? Is it hush-hush or can I just whip it out at the end of dinner? How are they about separate checks? (No steak for you!)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tonbo

                                      No need to broach it, Lugers does not take any regular credit cards- only cash and their own credit card. I don't know about separate checks. I agree with everyone here, Peter Lugers is a great experience that cannot be recreated anywhere else. It is definitely worth the trip to Brooklyn.

                                      That being said, if you really want to stay in Manhattan and want great steak with a terrific old NY steakhouse atmosphere, check out Keens on west 36th street. But that is for another board.

                                    2. An alternative to Lugers (thanks to Arturo if you read their History): http://www.benjaminsteakhouse.com/med...

                                      I'm putting them on my list for lunch.

                                      1. I have never had gruff or rude wiaters at PL...just efficient, no bull types. GET THE BACON oh my god it is good. I heard on one CH thread that they make an app called "lamb poppers" but with just two we couldn't get that and bacon. Just bacon, creamed spinach, porterhouse for two. Just go for the cheapest cab or drink beer--the martinis are huge, too. With your party of six get three steaks for two, not two for three, the cuts will be better. Someone also has to order a sundae. You can't go wrong there. They have free parking across the street. And they do have a machine so you can pay with a debit card if you don't want to carry cash.

                                        1. Kenito,

                                          Brilliant! (the rest of youse guys also.) I guess I'll be bring lotsa cash. I'll be ordering that fabled bacon, and great suggestion on the ordering three "steaks for two." I'd never have though of that. My 5-year old son can have the sundae (what's left after I've disposed of it! In the interests of science!)

                                          And I'll be blogging the hell out of it.

                                          1. Luger......please. Luger is to Giselle what Old Homestead is to Rosie O'Donell.....OK, don't mean to be that extreme, but Luger is better....if you are looking for an alternative in Manahattan that would be acceptable and less of a pain getting to, then I would suggest ordering the porterhouse at Bobby Van's.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: El Chevere

                                              This analogy can be misleading. One might be inclined to side with Rosie being she carries more meat.

                                            2. Get real,,,, been to both places recently and always get the same Strip.... cooked the same way..... OH is slightly thicker allowing more meat to be rare and med rare temps. The waiters are funny / pleasant at both places.... had room for desert at OH but not at PL so no comparison there.... i will say the spinach is better (only slightly) at OH......

                                              PL is overrated on this Blog as both places serve up a decent steak and the bashing going on here are prob from management,,,,,, ha typical NYC....

                                              PL is a pain to get to .... and a crappy area,,,,,, the meat packing district is renewing itself and lots of cool pubs to crawl to on the walk back home in the city....

                                              it is easy to see that OH will beat PL every time when you want to actually eat,,,,,, like very short wait , and reservations can be had in the afternoon for a steak that is unforgettable ..


                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: RNengnr

                                                Gotta love Luger's being in a "crappy area." When was the last time you were there? Can't touch anything in Williamsburg for less than a million or so these days. Got priced out of the neighborhood myself.

                                              2. In all fairness, both PL and OH are excellent choices for steak AND burgers. PL only has burgers at lunch time and in my opinion, is is just better strictly in terms of beef. It's all about the juice baby.
                                                If you do go to PL's, order the bacon, baby lamb chops, potatos & creamed spinach. Spinach can sometimes be a bit watery, but mostly it's fantastic.
                                                Old Homestead really is great also and has more ambiance. I was just there for my birthday and we had the porterhouse for two, spinach, seafood tower and dessert of chocolate cake. Everything was great but OH is more expensive than Luger's.

                                                1. At the recomendation of my hotel, I gave Old Homestead a try. The first glass of wine, a shiraz, was oxidized and they graciously replaced it. I started wtih a lumb crab cake. It tasted more of red bell pepper than crab and too much breading.That was paired wtih a nice pinot grigio. The first steak, which I ordered med. rare, came med well. It was replaced with a very rare - fridge cold in the middle and gristley. I gave up. They were very gracious and appologetic, but still, the steak was awful and the rest was just ok. The cheesecake was very good.

                                                  1. nothing compares to luger's. surly waiter rep a pro, btw.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: rarely

                                                      I've yet to hear authoritative praise of Old Homestead. I'd rather go to the nearby Hog Pit for their unsmoked, slow-roasted, yet very good ribs and pulled pork.

                                                      Peter Luger's menu is now officially online:


                                                      And here's my photograph of it from last year (as a 1.5-meg GIF; click on your browser/viewer's magnifying tool if the image has been reduced to fit your screen):


                                                      The fantastic smoked bacon has gone up from $2.50 to $2.75/slice since my visit, but I'd still order some.