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Traditional Steak House

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We live in Jersey, and in the past for my birthday we used to celebrate at a steakhouse that was reccommended here some years ago: Mignon in Rutherford. Sadly, the restaruant is now gone, and though we tried other steak houses in NJ, my wife wants to treat me to a real traditional steak house in NYC. I've heard of the usual places like Smith & Wollensky, Sparks, Peter Luger, and we'd like to try one of them. Although any other suggestion would be appreciated.

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  1. Keen's is the front runner here. It's a fantastic steak in a great space with a real traditional feel. sadly, i've never been to Peter Luger.

    1. When is the birthday? Luger books up well in advance (several weeks).

      In Manhattan, I like Wolfgang's and Keens for an old school feel.

      1. Keens, and maybe Benjamin or Club A.

            1. Everyone loves Keens except me. Just a bit too cramped for my liking.

              2 Replies
              1. re: UES Mayor

                UES Mayor, SO was underwhelmed. We loved the atmosphere (pipe room, etc.).

                He prefers Luger.

                I used to host client dinners at Del Frisco. Always got good feedback.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  Del Frisco's is the new "hip and trendy" steakhouse. It's not the old boy's club steakhouse as many of the NY staple places are. I've been a couple of times, and I can't knock the place, it's just a bit to big, loud and "hip" for me. lol

                  I will stop by and have a couple of cocktails if in the area, but I just didn't care for the dining experience. (Not saying the food is bad, just too large and loud for me, that's all)

              2. Luger is regarded as the great grand-daddy of all NY Steakhouses so a trip there is highly recommended just for the experience. I will warn you it is not "fine dining" by any nature. The accommodations are crude, not welcoming and you can feel rushed as they do try to turn the tables over several times a night. It is also cash only. (unless you have the coveted Peter Luger credit card)

                I personally cannot stand Smith & Wollensky so I would just rule that out.

                Sparks is one of the first NY Steakhouses to try and combine "fine dining" with the steakhouse experience. They have linen table cloth's, dim lighting, and offer more of a true dining experience. I personally find their steaks to be a bit too salty for my taste, but like anything else tastes vary. Bonus tourist points for this is where notorious 80's mafia boss Paul Castellano was killed outside in a plot orchestrated by John Gotti.

                Keens is an excellent choice as well, especially if you are in the mood for lamb/mutton. Only problem with Keens is it's a very eclectic interior. It's rather crowded, dark and old pipes (smoking pipes) adorn most of the walls and ceilings. Not going to knock this place, it just marches to it's own drummer.

                My personal favorite NY Steakhouse is Ben and Jack's, currently only their 5th Ave location is open. To me it does the best job of delivering Peter Luger quality steaks and sides in a very comfortable and fine dining type setting. I've been going to Ben and Jacks since they opened their first location on 44th 10+ years ago. (it is under construction as the building is being converted to a hotel)

                One block away from the Ben and Jacks 5th Ave location is a roof top lounge called 230th 5th Ave. (obviously it's address as well) This is a roof top lounge only a couple of blocks away from the Empire State Building which looms very large in the backdrop of the lounge. Nothing like having a before dinner martini, or after diner cordial in the shadow or glow of the Empire State Building. The roof top is open all year long, in the colder weather like this, they offer large plush robes for customers to wear, as well as having several heat lamps.

                The combination of these 2 places make up the majority of my dinner trips into the city.



                A similar combination to the above would be the Old Homestead Steakhouse and the Gansevoort Roof Top bar/lounge. They are both in the meat packing district which has a nice energy to it most nights. They are about 2 blocks away from each other, another combination I have enjoyed many, many times.


                Good luck and please report back!!

                14 Replies
                1. re: jrvedivici

                  Wow, you seem to enjoy 230 5th a lot. I had the opposite experience. Horrible food and drinks. Even the water tasted bad (came out of a soda gun). Awful crowd.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Just to clarify I have never eaten at 230 5th. It is only for pre/post dinner cocktails when I go to Ben and Jacks to eat. The "crowd" is typical NY Club/Lounge crowd, so when I'm in that environment I know what to expect, although it's not my desired crowd. To be perfectly honest I didn't even know they served food. lol

                    1. re: jrvedivici

                      The music is terrible, the waitresses are wearing demeaning outfits (seriously its like an all-black hooters uniform) AND they charge crazy prices (to be expected) but have only mediocre booze. Its like an airport bar with the nices imaginable location/view.

                      1. re: tex.s.toast

                        "all-black hooters uniform" My mind is racing!!

                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                          It is fine for a beer at the beginning of the night before the non typical NY crowd gets there. The views are really nice.

                          But yes, agree with everything else you said

                    2. re: jrvedivici

                      I think the following comment says it all, really, in a back-handed way:

                      "To me it does the best job of delivering Peter Luger quality steaks"

                      ...So Peter Luger is the reference. And it seems to me, why drink from a reflection when you can go to the font? Luger's really is the best. As mentioned too, it does have a decidedly idiosyncratic atmosphere. Whether you think it appropriate for a celebration really depends upon your expectations. It's not a cosseted experience. But it is a lively, convivial one, and so for people looking for the latter rather than the former type of celebration, it can be very appropriate indeed.

                      However in *Manhattan*, Keens is probably the best choice - again, with a very different type of atmosphere.

                      1. re: AlexRast

                        Let me say this, I sincerely put Ben and Jacks on par with Peter Luger for steak quality (porterhouse) and most common sides.

                        It is somewhat known that Peter Luger has the first right of refusal on the meat they serve. I believe their main supplier is/was Masters Purveyors, rumor had it that Masters opened their doors to the buyers at 6am, however Peter Luger got their first pick privately between 4-6am. (times may not be accurate) So legend has it that Peter Luger does have the first pick of the finest steaks available.

                        From that perspective it's hard to argue that anyone is "as good" as Luger, being they have the inside track on the highest quality meat.

                        I use to travel to Brooklyn about 2x's a month from Monmouth County NJ to pay homage to the "best" steak I have ever had. I never enjoyed the commute, the location, the bar without stools, the crowds, the bright lights, loud noise, crowded table seating, the butcher block tables, rickety chairs, unadorned walls, rude waiters or the rushed "here's your check get out we need the table" experience.

                        Since Ben and Jacks opened in Manhattan I have not been back to Luger, nor do I ever see myself going back. You cannot begrudge anyone wanting to experience Peter Luger, but I do have a hard time actually referring anyone to go there.

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          I don't. I only went once years ago but found it inferior to Luger.

                          1. re: tpigeon

                            Too bad tpigeon, sorry for our varying experiences. Please feel free to share your suggestions with the OP since that would prove to be more productive than just countering mine.

                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              My ideas are very unoriginal but Keen's if you don't want to leave Manhattan, Luger if you do...

                              1. re: tpigeon

                                There you go! I too agree Keens is a worthy destination, not my personal appeal for ambiance (obviously neither is Luger) but can't fault the food!

                                Good recommendation! This forum isn't about who has the most original idea's, just the sharing of info.

                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                          I'm there monthly. (Currently only 5th Ave.)

                          They also have two "sister" locations under the name Empire Steak House. One is near/in Rockafeller Center, they opened a second location last year however I have not been there.

                          1. re: jrvedivici

                            Thanks. SO is going for a business dinner. Couldn't get him into Luger's (Brooklyn, of course).

                      2. I'm not adding any real value to this conversation but I had to throw my vote to Keens, I love the place.

                        1. The Knickerbocker is my favorite and then Smith and Wollensky, Palm.

                          I am no fan of Keen's. I used to book work parties for years in the Bull Moose Room and had such a bad experience last few times with management I pulled their line. Admittedly, except for having a drink there two weeks ago I haven't dined there in years.

                          The Knickerbocker.


                          1. I don't know how Smith & Wollensky's gets any good reviews.
                            I've had several business meals there that were just awful. I was a guest and had no say in the choice.
                            We like: Old Homestead, Peter Luger, Palm (any of them)
                            in that order. Never been to Keens but they seem to get great reviews.
                            Michael Jordan's @ Grand Central looks good but I would not call it "Traditional."

                            1. Thanks everyone for your reviews, however I decided that I want to have the least amount of stress on my birthday, and driving into NYC is stress personified. We decided to go in a different direction and stay in NJ, but have a goregous view of NYC from the window of Le Jardin in Edgewater. We ate there a number of times and never had a bad experience. We're staying with steak, but in a Chateaubriand for two. Thanks again!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ptmph

                                Oy! all this talk about steak and you stayed in Joisy??? Thanks for making me so hungry for a big fat steak now!

                              2. I would say Peter Luger has the best steak, but Keen's is a much nicer place and a warmer feel.

                                The mutton at Keen's is amazing (even if it is saddle of lamb) and the steak is nothing to complain about either.

                                I guess it depends what he means by "traditional". Both Luger and Keens have been around a long long time. Luger has the gruff waiters "How do you want your steak? Rare or medium rare" type of feel(although they do have a menu). Keens has more accommodating waiters.