In July 2009 Governor Paterson made an urgent call to Richard Ravitch. The State Senate was in the midst of a leadership crisis, and Ravitch needed to be sworn in as lieutenant governor immediately. Too bad for Ravitch, he was just sitting down to dinner at Peter Luger Steak House. But instead of interrupting his meal, Ravitch had his personal lawyer swear him in between bites of porterhouse. The incident is a reminder of the unrivaled cachet of New York steakhouses. Said Ravitch after the fact: "This is my favorite restaurant, and I wouldn't take the oath of office anywhere else."
Williamsburg: Zagat Hall-of-Famer
It's hard to find a press outlet that hasn't heaped praise on Peter Luger Steak House at some point. Zagat, for instance, named it the best steakhouse in New York 28 years in a row. The owners protect its reputation by personally selecting meats on daily market visits and dry-aging them on-site.
Koreatown: Storied Former Pipe Club
Slicing into a thick porterhouse, it's easy to picture yourself schmoozing with the famous clients who have been patronizing Keens since it was founded by a prominent Herald Square theater figure in 1885. Reminders of its chummy pipe club history are everywhere, most notably in the form of thousands of churchwarden pipes that once belonged to Buffalo Bill Cody, Teddy Roosevelt, and other legendary figures.
Midtown Center: Exclusive Cuts
Chef Craig Koketsu likes to request exclusive cuts from his meat suppliers, Milton Abeles and Strassburger Meats. Case in point: the 64-oz. double rib steak, which two people typically share beneath the repurposed market scales and butcher hooks that make up Quality Meats’ lighting fixtures.
Midtown East: Vaunted Wine List
Sparks ages its sirloin with a secret blend of wet and dry methods, which makes it supremely tender. What’s tough, though, is deciding what to pair it with: the seemingly endless wine list has netted the restaurant Wine Spectator’s Grand Award dozens of times.
Greenwich Village: Dry-Aged Ribeye Burger
Trend-setting restaurateur Keith McNally kept his winning streak alive when he opened this neo-speakeasy in 2009. Much of the ensuing buzz concerned two entrees: a heavenly cote de boeuf for two, and a $26 Black Label burger made from a proprietary blend of dry-aged ribeye, skirt steak, and brisket.
Theater District: Swanky Three-Story Space
There’s nothing modest about this pricey three-story restaurant. It was the top-grossing steakhouse in the country in 2010. Peer out at Rockefeller Center through floor-to-ceiling windows while cutting into a wet-aged wagyu longbone or scooping up tangy beef tartare.
Clinton: Rodizio Dining Style
In accordance with the customs of rodizio dining, this restaurant’s meat cutters carve up prime beef tableside and then pass it out on skewers. They also cart around a whole roasted pig, slicing off succulent morsels for diners to devour throughout the prix-fixe meal, which includes a first course at a buffet of Brazilian delicacies.
Greenwich Village: Retro Dining Room
The "strip" in Strip House doesn't just refer to the restaurant’s New York strip steak, whose thick salt-and-pepper crust makes it the menu all-star. It also suggests the Las Vegas strip, the vibe of which the restaurant evokes with neon red lighting that glows over red leather booths and red couches.
Bay Ridge: Small Plates
Before going for the dry-aged rib-eye or the herb-butter-soaked American wagyu strip, diners may want to peruse the list of small plates, which include filet mignon skewers and tempura lobster. Whichever dining style they choose, they'll feast in a retro Vegas setting complete with a neon blue bar and a live DJ.
Bowery: Folk Singing and Dancing
Don't be surprised if half the dining room is celebrating at this old-school Jewish eatery. Given that meals often erupt into folk dancing and singalongs accompanied by live lounge music, a visit here is bound to be a party, even before they break out the Ketel One bottles frozen in blocks of ice.