Two words currently dominate the food world: “plant” and “based.” But look around the New York these days and the most crowded dining rooms are the ones that specialize in beef.
Maybe it’s because meat feels like a forbidden luxury in an increasingly green world. Or that, after a couple of tough years, a fat prime rib oozing with juices feels like a much-deserved splurge.
It’s hard to find an empty seat at Hawksmoor, the handsome British transplant at which the bone-in rib chop tends to get crossed off the chalk board menus almost as soon as it’s written.
What makes New York’s steakhouse scene especially compelling right now is the different directions it’s taking carnivores.
Sure, there are still plenty of old school temples of porterhouse where you won't hear the word wagyu uttered. But that’s mixed with a growing list of spots at which you can revel in the eye-catching marbling of Japanese beef, the decadent succulence of a Korean short rib, or the outrageous flavor of an Italian blue cheese-infused steak.
Some of these places go even further to offer diners the option of a cauliflower steak. But if you’re here for the beef, read on to find the 12 best places to dig in.
One of New York’s best deals is the only dish on the menu at this minimally decorated space near Penn Station. The US$28 price gets you an eight-ounce skirt steak, well seared and chewy, with unlimited fries and a nicely dressed green salad. (Fans of the old-school chain Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote will recognize the model.)
Not included in the price, but absolutely worth loading up on, are selections from the dessert trolley that include a world-class Paris-Brest, the praline cream-stuffed pastry. Chef Laurent Tourondel, who co-founded the BLT Steak chain, recently introduced a wagyu tasting for an additional $30. 835 Sixth Ave., Manhattan
The first U.S. branch of the popular U.K. steakhouse chain has a busy bar and a dining room that seats more than 140.
The steaks, cut from beef from local farms, include notably tender rib-eyes, cooked over charcoal. Chalkboards announce the availability of such in-demand cuts as a 70 oz. Tomahawk chop that goes for US$5.50 per ounce and porterhouses in sizes ranging from 26 to 32 ounces.
Before steak, it’s worth having the bone marrow-roasted oysters; the cocktail list includes a retrospective of 50 years of bar life in New York, including the Beefeater gin-fueled Broadway & Thomas. 109 E 22nd St., Manhattan
In a cavernous pair of dining rooms, Cote combines trendy steakhouse with luxury Korean barbecue. Chef David Shim's $64 Butcher's Feast features four cuts of American wagyu and prime beef, cooked in courses by servers on the tabletop grill and served with lettuce leaves and the spicy dipping sauce ssam jang.
An array of other meat is on offer, with the chance to try three kinds of rib-eye, crowned by the melt-in-your-mouth A5 wagyu reserve cut. Victoria James’s wine list goes long on Champagne from well-known producers and little-known growers alike. 16 W. 22 St., Manhattan
4 Charles Prime Rib
Down a few steps on a quiet West Village street is this compact supper club with just a few tables and the vibe of a bordello.
The 4 Charles Cut is a monumental double-bone prime rib (US$145) roasted for 12 hours, with plump pink meat and a crusty salted exterior and plenty of jus.
For a more modest take, the English cut is thinly sliced and half the price. The menu also boasts one of the city’s best burgers, a double patty wagyu beauty that calls to mind Chicago’s famed Au Cheval burger; the same group, Hog Salt, owns both places. 4 Charles St., Manhattan
When it comes to old-school dining rooms, Keens holds the keys to the time travel machine. The dark, wood-paneled space that’s been around since 1885 has walls decorated with ancient photos and a ceiling lined with pipes smoked by the likes of J.P. Morgan, Albert Einstein, and Babe Ruth.
As iconic as the décor is Keens’s signature gamey, fatty mutton chop. Someone at the table should get it, but also pay attention to the prime porterhouse – for two or three, a feast of juicy sliced meat with a comfortable dry-aged funk. 72 W. 36 St.
Yoon Haeundae Galbi
Just down the block from Keens, the menu at Yoon includes a daily Chef’s Cut of American wagyu and a 28-day dry-aged rib-eye. But what makes the place stand out among the surrounding Koreatown barbecue spots are the short ribs, which feature the Haeundae cut.
The cross-hatch pattern cuts through the grain to tenderize the meat. It was pioneered by owner Bobby Yoon’s grandfather Seok Ho Yoon at his restaurant in South Korea in the 1960s. The fatty rib meat, which comes marinated or not, is quickly grilled at the table, so it’s charred at the edges and outrageously succulent. 8 W. 36 St., Manhattan
Gage & Tollner
Movie sets don’t have better decor than the long dining room at Gage & Tollner, a resurrection of the chop house that opened in the same location in 1892. It’s decorated with rows of antique brass light fixtures and giant arched mirrors.
The steak and chop menu is modest: Among the five selections are T-bone sirloin sold by the ounce and an unremarkable US$57 NY strip. But the accompanying dishes are outstanding, including yeasty Parker House rolls, crisp onion rings, and baked clams topped with kimchi and bacon. The pork pot pie, in a crispy flaky pastry with chunks of falling apart tender meat, is a masterpiece. 372 Fulton St., Brooklyn
This Theater District mainstay is old-school enough to have a suggested dress code: Shorts are discouraged and sports jerseys and tank tops are strongly discouraged.
The sensational mahogany horseshoe-shaped bar is the star of the space; also on display is the USDA prime beef aged-in-house in a windowed locker. The kitchen cooks the beef over hickory, which imparts a firm, smoky flavor to cuts such as the supple porterhouse (US$65 per person for two, three, or four). 228 W. 52 St., Manhattan
In a space that feels like a spaceship capsule, the specialty is wagyu in multiple guises. The premium beef restaurant, in the former Jewel Bako space, has an entire Wagyu-tizers section: Wagyu sashimi? Check. Wagyu omelette? Check. A hand roll stuffed with just cooked wagyu tataki? Check – and a must-order.
To go deeper on the subject, the steak section offers a few kinds of wagyu grades and cuts: The market price wagyu flight offers the opportunity to taste a few of the ostentatiously marbled pieces. The US$128 A5 Ozaki strip loin is blow-your-mind fatty luxury. 239 E. 5 St., Manhattan
A steakhouse that delivers tremendous bang for your buck, St. Anselm offers beefy New York strip with pink peppercorn sauce for a reasonable US$47; the rib-eye is priced at less than US$4 an ounce.
The cozy, brick-walled space has a far-ranging menu of grilled specialties, from halloumi cheese to clams dripping with garlic butter and shoulder-blade lamb chops. The vast wine list ranges from heavy hitters such as Sine Qua Non Syrah to idiosyncratic bottles like the Australian Riesling Fowles Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch. 355 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn
The space conjures up a luxury liner, with brass lamps and dark honey-colored banquettes, and chef and co-owner Andrew Carmellini offers an over-the-top Italian chophouse menu.
Molten mozzarella sticks are topped with caviar; terrific crab-stuffed lettuce cups are drizzled with spicy Italian chili crisp. Beef cuts represent about one-third of the menu, from a meaty center-cut petite filet (US$56) to the voluptuous wagyu striploin that’s been cured with Gorgonzola for several days and on to the over-the-top, 40-oz., 30-day, dry-aged tomahawk chop (US$180). 89 South St., Manhattan
Peter Luger Steakhouse
One of the world’s most famous steakhouses sticks to the basics. There are a half-dozen appetizers, including extra thick bacon that demands a knife to be cut and onions with tomatoes that always taste out of season. (Most steakhouses have room for vegetarians; non-meat eaters are challenged at Luger’s unless they stick to the towering hot fudge sundae.)
Still, decades in, the USDA prime beef that’s dry-aged in-house continues to be superb. The porterhouse steak for two, three, or four (starting at about US$104) has notable funk and chew, served as rare as you want, with buttery juices pooling on the plate. 178 Broadway, Brooklyn
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