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Minetta Tavern’s cote de boeuf
Minetta Tavern’s cote de boeuf
Nick Solares

NYC’s 26 Most Iconic Meat Dishes

From the humble pastrami sandwich and hot dogs to dry-aged meat feasts

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Minetta Tavern’s cote de boeuf
| Nick Solares

New York City masters meat. There’s of course the classic steakhouse, a genre endemic to NYC, as well as Uzbek skewers, humble pastrami on rye, and barbecue aplenty. These are the original menu items that diners keep ordering time and time again, and the dishes that have been copied endlessly in New York and across the rest of the country. Take a look at the dishes that best define New York's vast, jus-splashed meat landscape.

Note: This is an updated version of a map originally published in 2015.

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Chopped cheese at Harlem Taste (Hajji’s)

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Somewhere between a Philly cheesesteak and a patty melt, there’s the chopped cheese, a sandwich that originates from bodegas in Harlem and the Bronx. A hero is stuffed with griddled ground beef, melted onions, and melted American cheese, plus lettuce and tomatoes. It’s a simple, affordable, and very satisfying meal that one particular bodega is responsible for: Hajji’s, which now goes by the name Harlem Taste. Former employee Carlos Soto invented the chopped cheese — also sometimes called chop cheese — here in the ’90s.

Chop cheese at Harlem Taste Robert Sietsema

“Recession special” at Gray's Papaya

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Gray’s Papaya doles out one of NYC’s best-known franks. The dependable and crisp-skinned hot dogs are a part of the Upper West Side restaurant’s renowned “recession special”: two hot dogs plus a papaya drink or soda, for $6.45. The Midtown outpost offers it for an even cooler $4.45.

The Gray’s Papaya sign shines in its bright yellow color while patrons inside order hot dogs. Nick Solares

Beef rib at Mighty Quinn's BBQ

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Pitmaster Hugh Mangum’s Mighty Quinn’s has become known for the “Texalina style” — a fusion of the barbecue traditions found in Texas and the Carolinas — served at each location of the chain. The style is apparent in the show-stopping brontosaurus rib. Vaguely reminiscent of the Flinstones, the long slab of tender meat is rubbed with spices and smoked for 12 hours until it falls off the bone. Along with the brisket, it’s a defining menu item at Mighty Quinn’s.

Charcuterie at Bar Boulud

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Bar Boulud offers a wide selection of cured meats and pâtés from master charcutier Gilles Verot and his protégés. Standouts include the country pâté with foie, the head cheese, and the beef cheek terrine. This is the place to taste classic French charcuterie in New York City.

Photo: Bar Boulud

Combo over rice at the Halal Guys

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The Halal Guys began as a Midtown West food cart that spawned brick-and-mortar locations and international franchising plans. The original cart is still there, and at first glance, looks pretty indistinguishable from the ubiquitous kebab-grilling carts around — save for the long lines that queue up at all hours. The combo platter means not having to choose between chicken and lamb gyro, both of which are heaped over rice, piled with fresh toppings and pita, and doused in white sauce and hot sauce. It’s a reliably delicious meal that’s cheap, filling, and satisfying.

Mutton chop at Keens Steakhouse

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This gamey, gargantuan piece of meat is just one of the many reasons to love iconic Midtown steakhouse Keens. Although mutton was certainly served at this restaurant many moons ago, Keens now uses meat that is not technically "mature" enough to classify as mutton. It's actually a 26-ounce saddle of lamb with a liberal amount of fat that's roasted and served with an escarole salad and jus.

Pork larb at Thai Diva Cuisine

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This compact Sunnyside restaurant focuses on the Isan region of Thailand, resulting in ultra-spicy fare of which the pork larb is a standout. It’s unusual to find a pork version, and Thai Diva’s is seared to be extra-crunchy. Served with cucumbers, sticky rice, and crunchy fried pig skin, the herbed and spiced ground pork meat salad is full of different textures and tart flavors to mix and match for a full meal.

Pork larb at Thai Diva Cuisine Robert Sietsema

The Shackburger at Shake Shack

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The secret to the Shackburger's ever-lasting popularity is the patty, which has big beef flavor and just a hint of funkiness. It proudly packs more of a meaty wallop than In-N-Out’s burger, and might very well be New York’s favorite hamburger.

Butcher’s feast at Cote

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Cote melds Korean barbecue and American steakhouse experiences and flavors in one inspired, modern package. The butcher’s feast is the best move at this Michelin-starred spot, where several cuts of USDA Prime and American Waygu beef, banchan, two types of salad, savory egg souffle, a duo of stews served with rice, and soft serve for dessert all comes for $54 per person.

Lamb barbacoa at Cosme

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There are a lot of buzzed-about dishes at Enrique Olvera’s acclaimed Mexican Flatiron restaurant, where the kitchen is helmed by Daniela Soto-Innes. The duck carnitas and husk meringue with corn mousse get the lion’s share of the attention, but the sleeper hit here is a meaty large-format lamb barbacoa. The brunch item is served family-style with shishito peppers, thinly sliced avocado, onions, and multiple salsas to be folded into DIY tacos. It’s not cheap, at $69 (nor is the rest of the increasingly pricier menu) but it’s a juicy, funk-filled, delight that feeds up to four.

Duck carnitas at Cosme sits in a cast iron skillet underneath onions Daniel Krieger

Bo ssäm at Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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This is one of the dishes that kicked off the large-format feast trend, and it’s still one of the most epic feasts available in New York City. The $250 bo ssäm at David Chang’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar is a whole roasted pork butt with banchan, rice, lettuce, and oysters, for six to 10 people. Accept no imitations.

The bo ssäm pork butt at Ssäm Bar sits surrounded by oysters on the half shell, multi-colored sauces, and lettuce leaves Momofuku [Official Photo]

Côte de boeuf for two at Minetta Tavern

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The côte de boeuf at Keith McNally’s Village steakhouse has endured as one of the most popular splurge dishes in this city. Now priced at $152, it’s an elegantly arranged heap of funky dry-aged beef slices that are crowned with roasted marrow bones. McNally has given New York a lot of amazing steaks over the last 30 years, but this one beats the rest, hands-down.

Meat plate at Veselka

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East Village diner icon Veselka has been dishing up reliable Ukrainian fare since 1954. Besides the popular pierogies, Veselka is home to one of NYC’s best deals: the meat plate. Just $17 affords a hearty spread complete with those pierogis, meatloaf, borscht, and mushroom gravy-smothered stuffed cabbage. It’s delightful whatever the hour — Veselka is open all 24 — though it’s particularly satisfying at 4 a.m. after a long night out.

A photograph of a spread filled out with pierogi, a slice of white bread, and a side cup of borscht Photo by Ryan Sutton

Bone marrow with oxtail marmalade at Blue Ribbon Brasserie

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Eric and Bruce Bromberg’s signature dish at Blue Ribbon pairs rich, gooey bone marrow with a mixture of salty braised oxtail, vegetables, and herbs. The Village bistro is the Bromberg’s first in a now-empire of over a dozen places in NYC that paved the way for chef-driven, late-night restaurants. Eating the bone marrow here after midnight is a uniquely New York experience.

Pastrami sandwich at Katz's Delicatessen

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Katz's serves New York's favorite pastrami sandwich. It's not a sloppy pile of beef, and as Robert Sietsema noted, "the flavor is richer and emphatically smokier" than other popular versions served around town. It's a dish that New Yorkers have craved and relished for over 100 years. In 2017, the Jewish deli opened a second location for the first time, in Downtown Brooklyn's DeKalb Market.

Big-tray chicken at Spicy Village

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Wendy Lian’s big-tray chicken is a cult obsession for those who know it. The huge pot is filled with a teeming, aromatic stew of chicken braised with potatoes, chiles, chile oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and cilantro. Despite the restaurant’s name, it’s not terribly spicy. Do be sure to add in the chewy and tender hand-pulled noodles.

A big metal bowl with stewed chicken and noodles, topped with a pile of cilantro Eater Video

Roast pork over rice at Great N.Y. Noodletown

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There are plenty of places in Manhattan's Chinatown to score mounds of succulent roasted meats over rice for very little cash. But Great N.Y. Noodletown stands out because of its ultra-late-night hours, open nightly until 4 a.m. The roasted suckling pig over rice does not disappoint, especially at that hour.

Peking duck at Peking Duck House

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Big, festive group dinners are a hit at Peking Duck House, thanks to its BYOB policy and best-when-shared namesake main attraction. It’s all about a large-format, very hands-on experience at this top Chinatown spot: whole ducks with spectacularly crispy skins are sliced tableside. The roast fowl comes with matchstick-sized cucumber sticks, fresh scallions, and hoisin sauce to wrap in thin pancakes and devour.

Porterhouse at Peter Luger

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Many meat lovers in the New York area believe that Peter Luger's porterhouse is the greatest steak ever served by man or machine. The beef hits the table in a pool of hot butter and blood, with the filet and sirloin pre-sliced. The beef has a prominent char on the exterior, and if ordered rare or medium-rare, each piece has a perfectly rosy interior. Although many, many restaurants across the city now serve similar porterhouse steaks, Luger remains one of the best places in New York to eat dry-aged beef.

Roast brisket with gravy at David's Brisket House

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A long-running Jewish deli with an unusual lineage, David’s Brisket House began as a kosher sandwich spot until the ’70s, when Muslim ownership took over and began serving halal meat. The menu is still the same, though, including the area’s best roast brisket sandwich. Served on rye or a club roll with a cup of gravy for dipping, the beef has a fatty caramelized edge offset by the half-sour pickles served alongside.

A meat-filled sandwich with pickles and a cup of gravy on the side. Robert Sietsema

Skewers at Nargis Bar & Grill

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Charcoal-grilled skewers are the calling card at Uzbek Park Slope restaurant Nargis Bar & Grill. Whether it’s veal liver, lamb leg, chicken heart, or any of the other meaty varieties, Nargis nails the kebab. “Skirt steak bursts with concentrated beefiness. Lamb chuck exhibits a restrained funk, a marked tenderness, and beguiling sweetness. The heat transforms chicken hearts into springy, snappy saltiness, with little sinew or offally tang. And chicken wings stun with their technicality; the gentle cooking renders out all the schmaltzy fats, leaving the skin with a blackened crispness whose texture recalls phyllo and whose complex aromas evoke porcini,” Eater critic Ryan Sutton writes in his review.

Nargis Gary He

Smoked meats at Hometown Bar-B-Que

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Head to this popular Red Hook destination from pitmaster Billy Durney, arguably home to the very best barbecue in NYC, for excellent smoked meat across the board. The mix of traditional and unexpected cuts and types of meat are all deftly spiced and smoked, from lamb belly to Korean pork ribs to beef ribs. But the brisket is the biggest winner: Creekstone Farms beef, sporting incredible texture and pepper-packed, sweet char.

An up close photo of Hometown Bar-B-Que’s brisket Nick Solares

Lamb haneeth at Yemen Cafe

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Besides the marag, an exceptional, tangy lamb broth served with entrees before the main event, the lamb haneeth is the must-try at Yemen Cafe, proven by its appearance on seemingly every table. The tender meat is stewed for many hours in salta, a mild tomato-based vegetable stew that doesn’t obscure the meat’s musky flavor. Eat it on its own, or tuck hunks of lamb into pieces of the freshly baked rounds of puffy, crispy edged bread which are plunked on tables as soon as supply begins to dwindle. There’s another location on Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill.

Hot beef at Brennan & Carr

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The signature dish at this beloved Gravesend institution is a roast beef-filled Kaiser bun that's liberally doused in a thin, salty liquid known as "the broth." Many customers choose to get this sandwich double dipped, while others order this same sandwich with cheese whiz. Both modifications certainly require a knife and fork.

Spleen sandwich at Joe's of Avenue U

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The vastedda (also known as pane ca meusa) sandwich features a dollop of snowy ricotta, firmer grated Caciocavallo cheese, and slices of cow spleen that have been boiled and then crisped in lard. It tastes something like rubbery liver, and inside a vastedda cloaked in cheese, the organ comes alive. The sandwich is fantastic, and it doesn’t take more than one to satisfy. For the offal-adverse, a version of the vastedda featuring chickpea fritters instead of spleen is also available; ask for a panelle special. It’s almost as good.

Photo: Joe's

Hot dog at Nathan's Famous

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Feltman's is credited with introducing the hot dog into the American food ecosystem. But Nathan's is the place that serves New York's favorite frank, now and forever. Although Nathan's slowly evolved into a boring fast food chain for more than 100 years, the original Coney Island location still serves a damn fine snappy grilled hot dog on a toasted bun.

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Chopped cheese at Harlem Taste (Hajji’s)

Somewhere between a Philly cheesesteak and a patty melt, there’s the chopped cheese, a sandwich that originates from bodegas in Harlem and the Bronx. A hero is stuffed with griddled ground beef, melted onions, and melted American cheese, plus lettuce and tomatoes. It’s a simple, affordable, and very satisfying meal that one particular bodega is responsible for: Hajji’s, which now goes by the name Harlem Taste. Former employee Carlos Soto invented the chopped cheese — also sometimes called chop cheese — here in the ’90s.

Chop cheese at Harlem Taste Robert Sietsema

“Recession special” at Gray's Papaya

Gray’s Papaya doles out one of NYC’s best-known franks. The dependable and crisp-skinned hot dogs are a part of the Upper West Side restaurant’s renowned “recession special”: two hot dogs plus a papaya drink or soda, for $6.45. The Midtown outpost offers it for an even cooler $4.45.

The Gray’s Papaya sign shines in its bright yellow color while patrons inside order hot dogs. Nick Solares

Beef rib at Mighty Quinn's BBQ

Pitmaster Hugh Mangum’s Mighty Quinn’s has become known for the “Texalina style” — a fusion of the barbecue traditions found in Texas and the Carolinas — served at each location of the chain. The style is apparent in the show-stopping brontosaurus rib. Vaguely reminiscent of the Flinstones, the long slab of tender meat is rubbed with spices and smoked for 12 hours until it falls off the bone. Along with the brisket, it’s a defining menu item at Mighty Quinn’s.

Charcuterie at Bar Boulud

Bar Boulud offers a wide selection of cured meats and pâtés from master charcutier Gilles Verot and his protégés. Standouts include the country pâté with foie, the head cheese, and the beef cheek terrine. This is the place to taste classic French charcuterie in New York City.

Photo: Bar Boulud

Combo over rice at the Halal Guys

The Halal Guys began as a Midtown West food cart that spawned brick-and-mortar locations and international franchising plans. The original cart is still there, and at first glance, looks pretty indistinguishable from the ubiquitous kebab-grilling carts around — save for the long lines that queue up at all hours. The combo platter means not having to choose between chicken and lamb gyro, both of which are heaped over rice, piled with fresh toppings and pita, and doused in white sauce and hot sauce. It’s a reliably delicious meal that’s cheap, filling, and satisfying.

Mutton chop at Keens Steakhouse

This gamey, gargantuan piece of meat is just one of the many reasons to love iconic Midtown steakhouse Keens. Although mutton was certainly served at this restaurant many moons ago, Keens now uses meat that is not technically "mature" enough to classify as mutton. It's actually a 26-ounce saddle of lamb with a liberal amount of fat that's roasted and served with an escarole salad and jus.

Pork larb at Thai Diva Cuisine

This compact Sunnyside restaurant focuses on the Isan region of Thailand, resulting in ultra-spicy fare of which the pork larb is a standout. It’s unusual to find a pork version, and Thai Diva’s is seared to be extra-crunchy. Served with cucumbers, sticky rice, and crunchy fried pig skin, the herbed and spiced ground pork meat salad is full of different textures and tart flavors to mix and match for a full meal.

Pork larb at Thai Diva Cuisine Robert Sietsema

The Shackburger at Shake Shack

The secret to the Shackburger's ever-lasting popularity is the patty, which has big beef flavor and just a hint of funkiness. It proudly packs more of a meaty wallop than In-N-Out’s burger, and might very well be New York’s favorite hamburger.

Butcher’s feast at Cote

Cote melds Korean barbecue and American steakhouse experiences and flavors in one inspired, modern package. The butcher’s feast is the best move at this Michelin-starred spot, where several cuts of USDA Prime and American Waygu beef, banchan, two types of salad, savory egg souffle, a duo of stews served with rice, and soft serve for dessert all comes for $54 per person.

Lamb barbacoa at Cosme

There are a lot of buzzed-about dishes at Enrique Olvera’s acclaimed Mexican Flatiron restaurant, where the kitchen is helmed by Daniela Soto-Innes. The duck carnitas and husk meringue with corn mousse get the lion’s share of the attention, but the sleeper hit here is a meaty large-format lamb barbacoa. The brunch item is served family-style with shishito peppers, thinly sliced avocado, onions, and multiple salsas to be folded into DIY tacos. It’s not cheap, at $69 (nor is the rest of the increasingly pricier menu) but it’s a juicy, funk-filled, delight that feeds up to four.

Duck carnitas at Cosme sits in a cast iron skillet underneath onions Daniel Krieger

Bo ssäm at Momofuku Ssäm Bar

This is one of the dishes that kicked off the large-format feast trend, and it’s still one of the most epic feasts available in New York City. The $250 bo ssäm at David Chang’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar is a whole roasted pork butt with banchan, rice, lettuce, and oysters, for six to 10 people. Accept no imitations.

The bo ssäm pork butt at Ssäm Bar sits surrounded by oysters on the half shell, multi-colored sauces, and lettuce leaves Momofuku [Official Photo]

Côte de boeuf for two at Minetta Tavern

The côte de boeuf at Keith McNally’s Village steakhouse has endured as one of the most popular splurge dishes in this city. Now priced at $152, it’s an elegantly arranged heap of funky dry-aged beef slices that are crowned with roasted marrow bones. McNally has given New York a lot of amazing steaks over the last 30 years, but this one beats the rest, hands-down.

Meat plate at Veselka

East Village diner icon Veselka has been dishing up reliable Ukrainian fare since 1954. Besides the popular pierogies, Veselka is home to one of NYC’s best deals: the meat plate. Just $17 affords a hearty spread complete with those pierogis, meatloaf, borscht, and mushroom gravy-smothered stuffed cabbage. It’s delightful whatever the hour — Veselka is open all 24 — though it’s particularly satisfying at 4 a.m. after a long night out.

A photograph of a spread filled out with pierogi, a slice of white bread, and a side cup of borscht Photo by Ryan Sutton

Bone marrow with oxtail marmalade at Blue Ribbon Brasserie

Eric and Bruce Bromberg’s signature dish at Blue Ribbon pairs rich, gooey bone marrow with a mixture of salty braised oxtail, vegetables, and herbs. The Village bistro is the Bromberg’s first in a now-empire of over a dozen places in NYC that paved the way for chef-driven, late-night restaurants. Eating the bone marrow here after midnight is a uniquely New York experience.

Pastrami sandwich at Katz's Delicatessen

Katz's serves New York's favorite pastrami sandwich. It's not a sloppy pile of beef, and as Robert Sietsema noted, "the flavor is richer and emphatically smokier" than other popular versions served around town. It's a dish that New Yorkers have craved and relished for over 100 years. In 2017, the Jewish deli opened a second location for the first time, in Downtown Brooklyn's DeKalb Market.

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Big-tray chicken at Spicy Village

Wendy Lian’s big-tray chicken is a cult obsession for those who know it. The huge pot is filled with a teeming, aromatic stew of chicken braised with potatoes, chiles, chile oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and cilantro. Despite the restaurant’s name, it’s not terribly spicy. Do be sure to add in the chewy and tender hand-pulled noodles.