Our culinary zeitgeist can change from month to month, but there’s no denying New York is a Red Meat City. Even as we witness a boom in ambitious omakase parlors and thrilling vegetable-forward fare, hundred-year-old steakhouses and chophouses rank among the city’s most popular restaurants. If one could think of an apt symbol for our great metropolis, it wouldn’t be a shiny apple: It would be a slab of beef on butcher’s paper, a pile of halal lamb slathered in white sauce, or a rare duck breast dripping so much jus into the Hudson that the mighty river turns red.
It’s worth recounting how the city’s red meat culture appears to show signs of changing for the better. As inflation rages on, a small but growing number of meatcentric brasseries are eschewing cumbersome strips and ribeyes for smaller. more affordable skirt or bavette steaks. Offal appears to be making a Euro comeback, while organs and offcuts continue to draw in crowds at Chinese, Mexican, and South Asian meat havens. Operators hoping to open up yet another classic steakhouse should take note of these trends; they should also dive deeper into more flavorful and sustainable cuts of lamb and goat, instead of defaulting to beef.
The Best Steaks, Chops, and Red Meat Dishes of 2022
Steak au poivre at Lord’s and Corner Bar: Restaurants often use au poivre to enrich a lean filet or a hefty strip. But at these two hotspots, the resident chefs are more interested in showing off gelatinous, wobbly, and sometimes slithery bovine textures. At Lord’s, chef Ed Szymanski deploys a bavette steak ($44) that’s nearly as marbled as brisket, grilling it to a preternatural sweetness over apple wood chips. He also throws pig trotters and calves’ feet into the pepper sauce, a combination that yields a supreme level of stickiness; it’s like coating the beef with savory caramel. Spicy horseradish cream sauce adds even more fat, because, why not? 506 LaGuardia Place, near Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village
At Corner Bar, chef Jason Pfeifer also renders down a calf’s foot into his au poivre, creating a luscious texture that’s only slightly more runny than syrup. The kitchen builds on that richness with a jiggly wagyu skirt ($50). The steak’s levels of bright, peppery seasoning is sometimes so intense the meat almost tastes cured, like a soft jerky. Dredge fries ($13) through the sauce, then use your finger when the frites are gone. 60 Canal Street, near Allen Street, Lower East Side
Lamb tongue skewers at Rule of Thirds: If a cow’s intensely beefy tongue lacks the representation it deserves on New York menus, lamb’s tongue is even more of an endangered species. Enter Rule of Thirds in Greenpoint, a sprawling Japanese brasserie that knows its clientele can handle the extra flavor. Cooks singe the ovine tongue ($8) over binchotan charcoals, turning the muscular cut tender. It packs a sweet, unmitigated wallop of concentrated lamb funk. 171 Banker Street, at Norman Avenue, Greenpoint
Wagyu beef tartare at Joomak Banjum: The raw wagyu with tomato jam and mozzarella was distinctly bland after my first bite. Then I added a togarashi seasoning packet — including the wrapper itself, made out of dehydrated barbecue sauce — and everything came to life. The supple beef popped with notes of saltiness, nuttiness, and restrained sweetness. It’s easily the beef tartare of the year. 312 Fifth Avenue, near West 32nd Street, Midtown
Steak hache at Le Rock: Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson practically swore off burgers after their Black Label at Minetta Tavern patty kicked off a luxury burger craze. But at Le Rock, the duo serve a masterpiece of a bun-free burger ($36). Chef Walker Stern uses a nice hot plancha to put a serious char on a hand-cut blend of dry-aged ribeye, chuck, heart, and bone marrow. The result is a straightforward beefiness and a coarse, tartare-like texture. A side of slow-cooked shallot and dressed lettuce might make some diners crave a bun. 45 Rockefeller Plaza, near Fifth Avenue, Midtown
Beef sott’olio at Jupiter: For one of the city’s lightest and most balanced steak dishes, visit this sophomore effort by the King crew. Chefs Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer put a nice sear on filet mignon, marinate it in olive oil, and pair the sliced flesh with a sharp, horseradish-spiked watercress salad. The tenderloin, packing a beguiling sweetness, is so rare and floppy it sits on the plate like a silk handkerchief. This $27 appetizer is your new Midtown power lunch. 20 West 50th Street, Rink Level, Rockefeller Center, Midtown
Pastrami at S&P: A pastrami on rye is the porterhouse for two of the sandwich world, in terms of what New Yorkers will pay for this extravagant, shareable delicacy. The butchers at Katz’s ask $26. Hometown commands $28. But here at S&P, the successor to Eisenberg’s, a smaller, lunch-sized affair is just $16. Show up early before the meat runs out, ask for the fatty cuts, and enjoy the fragrant, coriander punch of this new member of the pastrami club. 174 Fifth Avenue, near 22nd Street
Goat keema at Masalawala & Sons: If you can actually get a reservation at this Park Slope hotspot, consider the goat keema ($19), a dish that will keep you warm for three days after consumption. A pile of minced goat and soft liver — without much of an iron-laced tang — functions as a conduit for punchy cloves and sinus-clearing chiles. Pile onto pao for a messy, meaty Sloppy Joe. 365 Fifth Avenue, near Fifth Street, Park Slope
Lamb loin at Gus’s: Chef Chris McDade marinates two T-bones ($43) in herbs and anchovy and sears them on the plancha. The meat is highly aromatic and quite tender; a pool of brown-butter jus sloshes around on the plate, allowing for even more savoriness. It’s a nice substitute for the Keens mutton chop if you’re in Brooklyn. 215 Union Street, near Henry Street, Carroll Gardens
Brisket kebabs at Laser Wolf: Many folks think of brisket as smoked or braised; Michael Solomonov instead grinds the fatty cut, shoves it onto a metal skewer, and grills it over coals. Enjoy this juicy, medium-rare hamburger on a stick with salatim, the restaurant’s assorted pickled vegetables. 97 Wythe Avenue, near North 10th Street, Williamsburg
Skirt steak at Skirt Steak: Skirt steak is the only steak on the menu here. It’s powerfully gamy, with a touch of liver, served with salad and fries. Price: $39. 835 Sixth Avenue, near 29th Street, Midtown
Rump steak Hawksmoor: The British-based steakhouse doesn’t quite shine with its more expensive beef, but that’s really not a problem because its $32 rump steak is a heck of a deal. It’s a rare sub-$40 steak that boasts both traditional steakhouse heft and a noticeable dry-aged aroma. Consume with musky beef-fat fries. 109 East 22nd Street, near Park Avenue South
Scotch egg at Lord’s: There are a lot of run-of-the-mill Scotch eggs out there, but this Greenwich Village British spot ups the flavor. In place of the pork casing, there’s grassy lamb farce surrounding a jammy egg. And that meat bursts with house curry paste, packed with notes of ginger, garlic, and onions.