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So how awful is Peter Luger's these days?

Friends form L.A. insist on going there and I don't want to be a party pooper. I also hate going overseas (Bklyn). I'd rather go to Blue Ribbon Bakery and have the NY strip. After enough beers, it's hard to tell the difference, I imagine, and I don't have to call a car service afterwards.

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  1. Peter Luger's is not divine, but i laugh at the suggestion that Blue Ribbon's NY Strip is better than Peter Luger's.

    But then again, some people prefer Fillet-O-Fish to the seafood at Le Bernardin. They just usually don't post on here

    1 Reply
    1. re: JohnnyBooy

      funniest reply i've read today, thanks JohnnyBooy

      1. How awful? Not so awful that you can honestly refuse to go there based on the quality of the food. If having a good time close to home is more important to you than having the best possible hunk o'cow tell your friends that straight. It's a legitimate point, especially since (I think that is what you are implying) you are the host. Just don't look for excuses that aren't there.

        6 Replies
        1. re: inuksuk

          there are plenty of good steak places in Manhattan.

          1. re: ceasar11

            steak for steak, lugers is far and away the best in nyc.

            1. re: inuksuk

              my suggestion is that they skip LUGERS and go to THE STRIP HOUSE instead and have a nice steak, also, the place itself will impress them enough. afterward you and they can carouse for beer nearby all nite. if they happen to be craft beerfans BLIND TIGER is a good one to head over to -- a much easier itinerary for visitors.

              1. re: mrnyc

                Ew, ew, ew, Strip House is terrible. I've made better steak at home. The quality of the meat at Strip House is just not that good, and it's burnt on the outside, raw on the inside, and oversalted. It's the Mrs. Fields/Crispy Creme of steak.

                1. re: KateC.

                  If you think a nice char on the outside is "burnt" and rare is "raw" then in indeed you should stay away from most any steakhouse. Strip House is excellent and a good alternative to Lugers.

            2. Take them to Ludwig's or one of the other Luger clones

              1. Again, anyone who refers to Brooklyn as "overseas" probably doesn't deserve a Luger's steak. And certainly shouldn't be troubled to leave Manhattan anyway.

                1. So awful, you should stay home; no visa hassles that way, either. Just send your friends.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Poindexter

                    On a strict food related note, I went to Peter Luger's in mid-June and had a superb meal with excellent, and perfectly cooked, steak. I'd love to know where this idea that it is "awful" came from, honestly.

                  2. People who need to assert their faux foodie knowledge need to knock a place like Lugers and claim they have an inside track on something better. It's still the best 80% of the time (steak, even the most carefully chosen, will vary). Was just there a couple of weeks ago and had the best steak I ever had, and like other people on this board I've been to almost all of the steak houses. If your concern is the problem created by the current infamous "porterhouse shortage", that's a different issue.

                    1. PL has always known how to prepare steak. At most steak places I regularly have to send steaks back because they are un cooked, even when I order medium. PL does little more than taking excellent cuts and cooking them. No secret sauce, to fancy whatever.

                      The problem is they are having trouble getting the best cuts, or customers that are willing to pay for them. That is a bad sign, especially with their signature dish. The lack of top notch cuts puts them in the same class as Outback et al. and beneath the places that, for a price, have all the expensive cuts.

                      For a NY steak experience try Keen's (my pick for best) or Palm (less traditional but 100% NY). The new Argentinian places are also interesting, but have no experience either way.

                      BTW, if you have a reservation PL might be a great deal. I suspect the are selling the porterhouse at or even bellow costs.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Geo8rge

                        sorry, but saying that Luger is "in the same class as Outback, et al," due to a slight downturn in ability to get the best cuts in the known universe -- having to settle for the 98th percentile is such a shame -- is like saying that Gisele Bundchen getting a zit suddenly puts her "in the same class as "lyle lovett, et al."

                        1. re: david sprague


                          I have had only one steak better than Peter Luger, and that was kobe beef in Kobe, Japan. Heck, it was on the top floor of a Sheraton, but hands down it was the best single piece of meat I have ever eaten. Number two and three on my list are the two times I've been to Peter Luger.

                          And to compare PL to Outback, and then go on to recommend Palm, well, that's certainly bold. (I like Keen's, so I'll let that slide, though I don't think that they come anywhere close to PL.) I would avoid Palm as a "NY steak experience", unless of course you're at their branches in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, or *gasp* Mexico City.

                        2. re: Geo8rge

                          I am in the minority in that I don't worship Luger's. However, on their worst day they are so many heads and shoulders above Outback it isn't even funny. In my opinion, you can get as good or better steak at Keen's and a couple of other places. Hell, $ for $, I'd recommend Del Fresco's over most places.

                          1. re: Geo8rge

                            Re Geo8rqe's comments above:

                            "The lack of top notch cuts puts them [Peter Luger] in the same class as Outback et al..."

                            "...PL does little more than taking excellent cuts and cooking them..."

                            "...I suspect the are selling the porterhouse at or even bellow costs..."

                            I thought that one day I might die of a heart attack because of Peter Luger steaks. I just didn't realize it would be caused by the comments above.

                            1. re: BrookBoy

                              I think a little bait and switch is going on. The rib eye and other cuts are about the same wherever you go assuming the cooking is done right, which it often isn't. In general I have found Outback does not start off with the best cuts, but they do a competent job of cooking them. PL on the other hand brought porterhouse to the masses, until this the year of the shortage.

                              Some people think highly of PL side dishes and deserts, I only find them ok. In general my only comment is while PL is worth going to, if you are from out of town and do not have a reservation, go somewhere else, that is until the great porterhouse shortage has lifted.

                              1. re: Geo8rge

                                Sorry, but I don't agree with your assertion that the rib eye and other cuts are about the same wherever you go and that it's simply the cooking that makes the difference.

                                There are at least three major factors that have an impact on the steak before it even hits the kitchen.

                                One is how the restaurant purchases its beef. Some order their beef through commercial suppliers, and others have their own buyers who actually go out and inspect each side of beef prior to purchasing it. For many years (until she died a couple of years ago) one of the matriarchs of Peter Luger’s was widely known in the industry for her talents in selecting top beef. I don’t know if her successor has her talent, but PL has always had its own buyer inspect the beef prior to purchase.

                                Another is how the steer was fed throughout its life. If the beef comes from a steer that spent the last portion of its life in a commercial feedlot being fed corn, that steak will have different marbling, texture and taste than steak from a steer raised on a ranch where it was grass fed.

                                Finally, most top steak houses age their beef after it arrives. There are two types of aging, wet aging and dry aging. The following two paragraphs are from the GoodCooking.Com website:

                                “Wet aging is the aging of meat in vacuum bags (usually the middle meats) under refrigerated conditions of 32-34° F. Obviously, humidity and air velocity are not necessary requirements for proper wet aging. Because most beef is vacuum packaged at the site of carcass fabrication (cutting), wet aging is the predominant method of postmortem aging today.

                                “Dry aging is the traditional process of placing an entire carcass or wholesale cut (without covering or packaging) in a refrigerated room for 21 to 28 days at 32-34 degrees F. and 100-85% relative humidity, with an air velocity of 0.5 to 2.5 m/sec. All three conditions, although varying widely in commercial practice, are extremely important in the proper postmortem aging of carcasses, as well as beef ribs and loins.”

                                Dry aging is considered by many, if not most, food professionals to be superior to wet aging, and it increases the cost of the steak that comes to your plate because it reduces the moisture content and some of the volume of the beef, it takes time, and it takes space. Peter Luger’s dry ages its steaks, as do many top steakhouses.

                                Once you consider these factors, then it’s the cooking that makes yet another difference.

                          2. I just went to PL's after five years, with some trepidation after reading some negative posts and about the porterhouse shortage... Lucky for me if there is such a problem I had a reservation so was able to sink my teeth into, as remembered, the most delicious porterhouse, bacon, fried potatoes, and creamed spinach I've ever had... and I've never never had a problem with waiters or bartenders there, I find them to be completely charming

                            1. Back to the question at hand -- the simple answer is to skip the ride to Brookllyn and head west my son. Best steaks in the city, hands down, are at a place called Robert's Steakhouse. Decor is a LITTLE different from PL, but I think you're friends will enjoy, and in all seriousness the steaks are the best.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: McDoyle

                                You may want to inform them about the strippers at Roberts as well though.

                                1. re: elecsheep9

                                  Roberts served me a steak (the huge NY strip) that tasted slightly spoiled smelling. They gave me a new one when I complained (as they should) but there was no excuse. Overpriced also....go figure, it's in a strip club.

                              2. Here's the thing. I like steak. A lot. I'm not as well versed as BrookBoy, but I know good steak when I see one and I have my preferences. But the question is, "So how awful is Peter Luger's these days?" The answer is simple: it's not even remotely awful. It is, in fact, delicious. As always. The poster was hoping there would be a resounding "it's gross now, don't go" so he could tell his friends Luger's is over and stay in Manhattan. Which is fine; I'm a Manhattan snob too and Brooklyn is a pain in the ass. But if the LA friends insist, it's always worth the car service. That is some good ass steak and it's a great experience for out of town folks who want some old New York in their mouths.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: bluestone

                                  I think PL is the most over-rated crap out there when it comes to steakhouses.

                                  I do not see the appeal at all.

                                  Old Homestead, Strip House, Gotham Bar & Grill- wayyyyyyy better steaks.

                                  Also, the atmosphere in PL sucks worse than a $2 crack whore trying to make rent.

                                  DOWN WITH PL !!

                                  1. re: Justin2323

                                    Old Homestead has better steaks than PL? Having been to both many times all I can say is #%*&^%@#&)&^!! (Though I'll admit Gotham gave me a great tasting steak, beautifully prepared, and depending on the kind of experience you are looking for I can almost see why you would prefer it).

                                    1. re: Justin2323

                                      "I think PL is the most over-rated crap out there when it comes to steakhouses."

                                      Once upon a time in NYC there were only expensive snobby Manhattan steak houses, Peter Lugar's, and really crummy places, I would ride my bike 8 mi to get a burger at PL.

                                      Today there are many great burgers in NYC, including PL. There are also many great steaks including PL. The problem is that PL is no longer able to get the same quality raw material, porterhouse, while the Manhattan places can. At the same time there are many places that do the lesser cuts competently, such as Outback. I do not claim Outback is a wonderful culinary experience, but it is competently run.

                                      PL is very dependent on ingredients. They are not a Thai place that can cook mystery meat in a wonderful curry. They take meat and heat it until it is medium rare. No rubs, secret sauces, just meat cooked properly. The problem is that currently, certainly not in the past, there are many places that can do the same thing at more or less the same price.

                                      1. re: Geo8rge

                                        They got it. They gave me some. I loved it. But they don't have enough of what they are willing to put their name on, so without a reservation they won't give it to ya. I don't believe Manhattan restaurants are having any easier a time getting the same quality stuff- PL's connections into the market are not at a disadvantage because they are over the bridge. But yes, one or two Manhattan places are approaching PL in quality.

                                      2. re: Justin2323

                                        I wouldn't have used the same language as Justin2323 (? a chowhound newcomer), but I share the sentiment. The swooning and rhapsodizing on the dining experience at Peter Luger's has always struck me as a fine example of extolling the wonders of the emperor's new clothes.

                                        1. re: racer x

                                          I have to agree with you...On both points. Justin's rather, uhhh, 'colorful' (and unnecessary) analogy and your sentiment RE: Luger's. I have never, nor will ever, see the justification for the slavish devotion most have when it comes to that establishment. I have to assume it's mostly hype and that pseudo legend thing, but I didn't get that whole Central Park 'Gates' thing either so it may just be me. :-}

                                        2. re: Justin2323

                                          Old Homestead might be the worst steakhouse I have ever been to.. The sides were gross, everything was just bad..

                                          1. re: Daniel76

                                            And I've never had a bad meal there... I guess that's what makes this board so interesting. :-}

                                        3. re: bluestone

                                          "...Brooklyn is a pain in the ass"
                                          We're not talking about traveling to the vast outer reaches of the city here. Luger's is a stone's throw away from Manhattan. On a site called "Chowhound", it should be assumed that traveling to another borough for great food is worth it.

                                        4. I have to tell you straight up. I am a chef who worked in NYC for ten years and now live out of the city. I came into town for the gambero rosso wine event in march and brought three friends with me. They were very excited to eat at Peter Luger's and we made the reservation a month in advance. We endured the car service, the $12 jack and coke at the bar, the discovery we couldn't pay with credit cards ( suprise!) all, all in the name of the fabled Luger steak. And, you know what?
                                          The steak sucked !
                                          The quality of the beef was definitely lacking-particularly in the dry aging dept. There was none of that wonderous enveloping perfume, richness of flavor or fullness on the palate that
                                          great dry aged porterhouse should have.
                                          When we left Peter Luger's $ 400 later, it was a very quiet car ( service ) ride back across the Brooklyn bridge ! Months later, my friends still muse about how dispappointing the meal was. Not exactly the way I like to show people the splendor of life in NYC!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: eppicurean

                                            Sounds like the car service screwed you also, because you shouldn't have had to take the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan from Lugers.

                                            1. re: eppicurean

                                              I don't mean to sound unkind but If you worked as a Chef in THE City for 10 yrs, I would have thought you would have known from your time here NOT to buy into the hype that is Luger's.. Of all the gazillion places to go, you fell into one of the biggest tourist traps around. As a Chef, or former Chef, I would think you'd be looking to treat your friends to some of the more cutting edge cuisine or the earthy old fashioned cuisine that makes NYC so unique. I sincerely hope your next trip provides a better experience.

                                              1. re: Tay

                                                Luger's is precisely the "earthy old fashioned cuisine" (and atmosphere) you're extolling. I'm not a huge fan (primarily because I'm not a porterhouse lover - give me a good ribeye and I'm happy), but that's what it is, and why - besides the beef - people love it.

                                                BTW, I totally disagree on Old Homestead, which I would never recommend given the many other Manhattan steakhouses to choose from. I've dined there twice in the past and on neither occasion was it any better than mediocre.

                                            2. For me, Luger's has been erratic but never poor. On occasion it has been fabulous and reminiscent of the greatest chop house New York ever saw, Christ Cella (but do not confuse Cella's with the limping imitation of greatness that attended its last years). Never been fond of The Palm but never had a bad steak there. Luger's still just slings out the hash the way it should be done. No S&W pretension, no Spark's wine list(and these both have decent beef). Just a chop house, the way God intended. My last meal at Luger was very good although I admit it fell short of the spectacular one eight months before. Well, that's life for you......

                                              1. I had two bad experiences at Luger recently, both at the Brooklyn location and the Great Neck location. The steak was very average. When the steak is excellent you can forgive all the other crap they put you through (no credit cards, bad service, etc.), but all that starts to look really awful when the steak is disappointing. I haven't been, but a friend of mine swears by Craftsteak these days.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: thecurdnerd

                                                  #1: it's literally under the bridge. no different than any other cab ride.
                                                  #2: cabs are easy to get when you leave. i've never had to call a car service there.
                                                  #3: it is worth the "hassle" you speak of.

                                                  1. re: thecurdnerd

                                                    um...just for reference, you CAN pay by debit card at peter lugar's (or sign up for their credit card, no charge). you don't have to pay with cash.

                                                  2. Since I visited PL for the first time on Friday, I thought I'd chime in.

                                                    First, the service was outstanding. Our waiter was courteous, friendly and helpful. He was very efficient, but not in an imposing way. He took the time to answer every question we asked. The bartender was sort of a jerk during pre-dinner drinks.

                                                    Second, the food was great, but not earth-shattering. We had the slab bacon and tomato/onion apps. It's hard to mess up bacon and this was very good.

                                                    The main course was the steak for two. It was cooked exactly as we ordered it and tasted exactly like I expected. Nice char on the outside, pink and tender in the inside. I prefer steak without sauce, but I did enjoy the horseradish bite of the house sauce.

                                                    Desserts were pecan pie, sundae (forgot the name) and cheesecake with a heaping pile of shlag. Wonderful. Probably the best part of the meal.

                                                    The tab for two with drinks came to around $180, which I thought was a little high for the meal. I would definitely go back to PL, but probably only for a special occasion.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Ralphus

                                                      The Steaks at PL are the best that the market has to offer. The aging & the cooking are key. You have to know how to order at PL. Order a steak for two, three or four. Order german fries, cream spinach. Order bacon or a chopped or ceasar salad. The pecan pie & whipped cream rocks. The wine list is functional at best. Have a beer, a martini or a glass of cabernet. Go home happy. Brooklyn vs. Long Island PL ---- it doesn't matter.

                                                    2. Having travelled to Tulsa with work numerous times, I can honestly say I have not had a great steak in NYC. For those who think PLs is the best, they just don't know steak. I actually live in S Williamsburg and given our lack of dining alternatives I would love to boast and say it's the best....but it's very average. I actually had a better steak in STK the other day....which really surprised me (although it was a bone-in rib eye which may be an unfair comparison to Luger's porterhouse).

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: nitsujwolrah

                                                        Maybe you should post a Tulsa travel report. With the markets tanking, many of us might be looking for work in Tulsa.

                                                        BTW, Rib eye is the new porterhouse.

                                                        "Pit Stop" on Columbia in Brooklyn has a nice grilled hanger steak in a kid friendly environment for $22 prixe fix including appetizer and dessert.

                                                        1. re: nitsujwolrah

                                                          Gee, I dunno... I've eaten steak all over the United States (I used to be a long-distance truck driver for Allied Van Lines), and in Europe and Canada. My parents both grew up on cattle and sheep farms in Ireland. I've been around steak, good and bad, all my life, so I really think I know something about the subject. And I still maintain that the best steaks I've had in my life have been at Peter Luger's.

                                                          Different flavors for different folks, I guess...

                                                          1. re: BrookBoy

                                                            Not to question your experiences which sound pretty extensive, or anyone else's but I can't help but think the PL steaks somehow seemingly taste better just b/c of the psychological hype factor. People expect to live the 'Luger Experience' and so they do . It's the restaurant equivelent of those ridiculous "Gates" that were put up in Central Park a few years ago.
                                                            People, who really thought it was a foolish, non art event somehow felt
                                                            as though they would be missing something if they didn't 'ooh' and 'ahhh'
                                                            Peter Luger's is a steak house that serves very good steaks. Nothing more Nothing less.

                                                        2. All the hassle around Lugers -- the cash only, the wooden chairs and flooring, the hubbub, the lack of menus (tho the last time I was there, they passed out menus) -- is what makes it so impressive. You can get better steaks, especially if you don't care for porterhouse. If you want good food and one-of-a-kind dining, go. For the best steak in the known universe that you can put on a credit card, there are plenty of recommendations below. If you can't leave Manhattan (L-ser), I like Keens.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Zumbi

                                                            Went recently--first time. Four of us had the steak for 4, perfectly cooked, spinach, German fried potatoes, one tomato and onion salad, bottle of decent Sonoma cab, coffees, a shared cheesecake. Steak was superb, memorable; sides nice, dessert very very good. Service was professional, friendly, attentive, at the right pitch. $295 w/out tip, and a good deal.