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Peter Luger vs. Keens

My parents are visiting from Asia & they LOVE to eat steak when they're here (it's very expensive in their home country.) So I'm thinking I'd like to treat them to one of the legendary steakhouses when they arrive, like Peter Luger or Keens. There are a couple things to consider. They're staying in UWS & I don't know if they'd want to travel all the way to Brooklyn, especially after a 14-hour flight. Also the cost also matters as *I* would like to treat them, not the other way around -- I'm thinking around $100/person but would like to go cheaper if it's possible... (factor in cab cost from UWS to Peter Luger too, which I imagine would be $30+) They're moderate drinkers & I don't drink at all. And of course I would like them to have a memorable, classic NY experience and GREAT steaks -- if Peter Luger is THAT much better than Keens, being farther away, more expensive, etc. could be overlooked, and vice versa.

What do you guys think? Your opinions are MUCH appreciated -- my husband ONLY eats organic meat and not a red meat person so I've never been to either, but been wanting to go to both for a while...

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  1. I personally would just go with Keens instead of traveling all the way to Peter Luger. But is your husband going with you? I don't know if any non-beef items on the menu that's really organic at either place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kobetobiko

      Oh no, he won't be going with us. Just meant *I* never get to go to either places since I eat out with him 99% of the time...

      1. re: uwsister

        Peter Luger is immediately the other side of the river. In a cab, it might take fifteen minutes longer to get there, and the meter will run. Is it better than Keens? Yes, much better.

    2. This very topic has been discusses ad infinitum on the boards, but since you have some pretty specific circumstances, I would just go to Keens and save myself the following annoyances:
      - going to Brooklyn - not so bad, but Keens is half the distance from the UWS
      - bringing piles of cash - Luger's only takes cash or their own propietary credit card
      - Luger's waiters - notoriously salty
      - the "exotic derivative product / ridiculous Christmas bonus / never-ending testosterone fest crowd : the rest of us who got to bail them out" ratio, which is not so noticable at Keens

      Ok, the last one is a little contentious. But although on meat quality alone Luger's wins, the difference is marginal at that level, and IMO more than made up for by the other considerations I listed.

      6 Replies
      1. re: snaporaz

        >This very topic has been discusses ad infinitum on the boards, but since you have some pretty specific circumstances

        Yes, exactly the reason why I made the new thread (after browsing many threads about them.)

        How about cost? Are they about the same at both places?

        I have since found out about the scotch collection at Keens -- knowing my stepfather, he may prefer Keens for that very reason... but probably not good for my wallet!

        Leaning towards Keens at the moment, but I would LOVE more opinions!

        1. re: uwsister

          Been to both several times. My vote would be Keen's.

          1. re: steakman55

            i grew up going to peter lugers...it was my grandfather's favorite restaurant. ive only been going to keens since 2004 but i feel that it has surpassed peter lugers in every way. the service, the selection, the atmosphere...and most importantly, the porterhouse...is better at keens.

            1. re: sam1

              This is good to know, sam1. I've only been to Peter Luger once and enjoyed it. Have always wondered about Keens after reading generally good reviews and getting friends recs. It certainly wouldn't be difficult for Keens (or any number of other steakhouse restaurants) to surpass Peter Luger in terms of service and atmosphere. But if you say that the porterhouse is better at Keens, it sounds like a no-brainer. Just out of curiosity, price-wise do you feel that the OP is also better off at Keens?

              1. re: Gigi007

                yr pretty much paying $40-50 per entree at either place...pretty much $100 per person sounds about right at nearly any of the top steakhouses these days.

                the only way keens may leave you with a bigger bill is if you enjoy the lagavulin 25 yr distillers edition...my favorite scotch they serve...$25 a glass.

                1. re: sam1

                  Thanks, sam1. That's what I was thinking re: cost. The OP would be fine at Keens and would save herself the extra expense of cabfare to Brooklyn.

                  Must give Keens a try soon!

      2. keens would be my choice. the main room is pretty impressive and the steaks (porterhouse) are aged in house. sometimes you get a clunker: no problem, just let the waiter know and you'll be made whole almost immediately. keens is serious about meat and scotch (best single malt selection in manhattan). sides? average at best.

        1. Lord knows this has been discussed time and again on these boards, but It is amazing to see how Keens has come from the dark horse to the favorite. I have eaten at Luger's three times, and Keens many, many times. To me the steaks are BOTH great, but Keens is a far superior RESTAURANT.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tbear

            I agree with this. Luger's has a beerhaus kind of vibe and while the steak is fantastic it's not very much fun whereas Keen's is clubby and atmospheric and a much better overall restaurant experience. But I must say I do love Luger's meat!

          2. Due respect to the other posters, I think that not going to Luger's under these circumstances would be a pretty serious mistake. Almost like going to Spain to see a bullfight and only watching one on tv at a disco or going to Chicago to see the Sears tower and only hanging out at the newsstand in the airport looking at postcards. Plus... the bacon alone is worth a 14 hour plane trip.

            2 Replies
            1. re: StheJ

              I too love the bacon appetizer at Peter Luger. Does Keen's not have one, or are you saying that it doesn't compare to Luger's? Just curious.

              1. re: Gigi007

                Not that I remember. In terms of comparison, I've never had better bacon... If anyone knows of bacon that compares to PL I'd love to hear about it.

            2. I know the OP asked about Keens vs Lugars... but no love for Wolfgangs downtown

              1. My vote would also be for Keens. The scotch collection is impressive (or so i hear... i don't really drink it much). I've been to both a few times, and honestly I'm not enough of a steak expert to feel disappointed by Keens. It's a somewhat nicer atmosphere, and it "feels" more like old NYC. Oh yeah, and the steak is very good too.

                I've never had a bad experience with the waiters at Luger's, but they did make me wait almost 90 minutes once for a table for 6, even though I had a reservation. No apologies from them, either.

                Lastly, it doesn't happen often, but every once in a while you encounter a cranky cab driver who refuses to go to brooklyn. It would be unfortunate if that happened to your parents. Also, sometimes at the end of the meal trying to get a cab home may also be a bit of a chore.

                1 Reply
                1. re: egit

                  I think the cab problem is a non-issue now that there are so many fares on the way back from WIlliamsburg.

                2. I have decided on Keens. Thank you SO much for all the opinions! I'm sure they will love it.

                  1. Peter Luger is worth it. MUCH better food, IMO.
                    Keen's is definitely the winner in terms of atmosphere and comfort, but I think that food reigns supreme at Luger's.

                    www.thelunchbelle.com