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Keens vs. Peter Luger's

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I will be in NYC next week on business but I'm flying my boyfriend up this weekend as a birthday gift. We've been before but we've never been to alot of the quintessential NY restaurants and this time around we're determined to change that. I have a small list of places we HAVE to visit (Katz's deli for one) but I definitely want to take him to a steak house for his birthday dinner either Saturday or Sunday night. What's the major differences between Keen's and Peter Luger's that you fellow CH's would describe and which in your opinion is more highly recommended?

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  1. Tough call, but the big thing at keens is the mutton chop, while at Luger's it's all about steak. If it's steak you're looking for I think that Luger's steaks are better than Keens.

    1. difference in location as well - Peter Luger is in Brooklyn, Keen's is in Manhattan proper.

      if you do go to PL, be forewarned that it's *cash only*

      1. go to keens...its just the better steakhouse these days...maybe lugers will retake the thrown but keens has fantastic steak, great sides, the history, the scotch list, and the atmosphere that lugers has been slowly losing these last few years.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sam1

          Keen's has a more elegant atmosphere than Luger's does. For a birthday meal, I would do Keen's...Though I would hit up Luger's for lunch on a diff day for their out-of-this-world burgers and onion rings.

          www.thelunchbelle.com

          1. re: LeahBaila

            I was going to say the same thing about the atmosphere - Keen's is far more civilized and enjoyable to be in. It also wins my vote for the best filet mignon I've ever had, I usually don't order that cut but I had their filet skewers from the pub menu and it was downright amazing.

            1. re: pellegrino31

              ditto...Keens rocks...the mutton chop and the prime rib are awesome...and they also have some of the finest oysters in the city...

          2. re: sam1

            Ok Scotch list?!?!? Thats right up his alley so we might be sold on Keen's then. I do like the idea of venturing out to Brooklyn for lunch at PL. Might give us an opportunity to try the pizza at difara if we can make a day out of it. thanks!!!

            1. re: desertdweller

              FYI, Luger's is nowhere near DiFara's. It is easier to get to either from Manhattan than it is to get to one from the other.

          3. Differences:
            Location (Brooklyn - Lugers vs Manhattan - Keens);
            Cash (Luger) vs. Credit Card (Keens);
            Variety of menu - Keens has the amazing mutton chop, lamb chops, and a greater selection of steaks. Lugers you are pretty much ordering a porterhouse and bacon
            Drinks - Keens has an amazing scotch list; Luger's wine list is pretty poor.

            Similarities:
            Prime, dry aged steak
            Prices are similar.

            My opinion, go to Keens. Their steaks are as good, if not better, than Lugers. The mutton chop is amazing too. If your boyfriend loves scotch, the list will blow him away.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ESNY

              I have to say we've had one trip (out of a handful) at Keens where the steaks were disappointing (both the prime rib and the porterhouse.) But, for location, atmosphere, bar, and service, Keens is fantastic.

            2. Keen's and Luger's: two of my favorite establishments of all. My wife and I have been to both many times over the past 25 years, and we still don't know which we prefer. Rest assured that no matter which you choose, you will have a memorable time and get some great meat.

              Luger's wins all kinds of honors and has for years, although some think it has coasted in recent years. I'm not one of those. We go two or three times a year and I cannot recall ever being disappointed. But Luger's is really all about those steaks. You simply order steak for two (or three or four, but for two seems to be the best they serve). Luger's is not about great wines or superb sides (other than their amazing bacon, which you definitely should try as an appetizer if you go). The whole reason for going to Luger's is the steak.

              But Keens has its own strengths, including the show-stopping mutton chop, which I just cannot get past. I order it every time I go. Keen's has history, texture, old-time NYC ambiance, and probably the best Single Malt Scotch menu outside of Scotland. They have a full and roomy bar, a somewhat casual pub room for dining, a more formal dining room, and upstairs seating that is very attractive.

              As already suggested, you could try one for dinner and the other for lunch on a different day. Then you can post here and tell us your thoughts.

              But your choice may also be determined by whether or not you can get a reservation at this late date.

              In any event, here's hoping that you and your BF have a terrific time in our town this weekend. Enjoy your steaks (and maybe lamb)...

              1. I'm just realizing I never reported back on my experience so I'll do that now. We decided that summer (2009) to go to Keen's for his birthday and I must say I was not disappointed. I wish I would have been brave enough to try to the mutton but now I have an excuse to go back. I had the filet mignon and the boyfriend went with prime rib. I also remember loving the shrimp cocktail which seems so basic but I hate when it isn't done right.

                As for PL, well I was just there for the first time this summer. I make it back to NYC a couple times a year for business and this time we treated a business partner. Other than the bacon I really don't get the big deal. I like to my steak cooked to order and thats not easy when 5 people are sharing a slab of meat. I'm a medium-rare/medium kind of girl so we went with MR but I swear it was beyond rare...barely seared and thats about it. Also, it was really loud and touristy that night. Not sure if it always is or not. Oh and I think they take Visa now if I remember correctly.

                I wouldn't say PL isn't worth the experience at all but given a choice I'd have to go with Keen's every time. I can say I've been to both now.