Steakhouses in New York evoke the archetypal version of the genre: They’re old-school American fine dining, often with warm service and simple menus featuring cuts of dry-aged rib-eye, paired with oversized portions of creamed spinach. The city used to be stacked with vintage steakhouses, particularly in Midtown, but many have closed. These restaurants remain, with historical charm that is part of the appeal.Read More
The Classic Steakhouses of New York City
Where to experience old-school NYC, via steak
1. Uncle Jack's
This is the original location of a duo of steakhouses run by the larger-than-life William “Jack” Degel, a reality star and restaurateur who also owns a location in Hell’s Kitchen. It first opened in 1996, with wood and leather furniture evoking old-school steakhouses. The rib steak here is dry aged for 28 to 35 days, but even so, Degel — an outspoken Trump supporter — says the current president prefers the New York strip, likely ruined to well-done.
2. Gallaghers Steakhouse
This legendary NYC restaurant first opened as a speakeasy in 1927 — truly a Prohibition-era bar that didn’t turn into a steakhouse until the ’30s. Long Island-born restaurateur Dean Poll bought it in 2013 and revamped it shortly after. Still, he maintained the restaurant’s meat cooler that can be spotted from the street, one of the rare steakhouse dry-aging rooms still available for public view. It’s also one of the few steakhouses in the city to grill over charcoal.
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3. Frankie & Johnnie's Steakhouse
First opened in 1926, Frankie and Johnnie’s is a staple whose original location started as a speakeasy and is one of the Theatre District’s longest surviving restaurants. It moved one block north in 2015 and now boasts three locations total, including one in Westchester.
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4. Smith & Wollensky
This Midtown East steakhouse dates back to 1977 and remains one of the most consistent and celebrated beef houses in the city, even as it’s grown into a chain. It offers a classic, refined look and still delivers on a finely cooked dry-aged steak. Colorado rib steak is a signature dish, and the prime rib, pictured here, ranks as one of New York’s best.
5. Bobby Van’s
This first Manhattan location of Bobby Van’s opened in 1996, but the original in Bridgehampton dates to 1969. Although Bobby Van’s is now a chain, the restaurant named for its original late owner and piano player nonetheless succeeds at steakhouse classics like shrimp cocktail, a 28-day dry-aged porterhouse, and creamed spinach. Businesspeople frequent the dining room at Bobby Van’s, which is bedecked in warm mahogany wood and white tablecloths.
6. Sparks Steak House
Sparks first opened in 1966 and moved to its current location in the ’70s. It’s famous for being the site where Gambino family mobster Paul “Big Paul” Castellano was killed in 1985 — a detail that owner Michael Cetta has called part of the restaurant’s mystique. Sparks is also one of the highest-grossing independent restaurants in the country.
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7. The Palm Too
This Murray Hill steakhouse first opened in 1926 and ended up becoming an international chain. Owners Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi, whose families still run the company, started the Palm Too as an Italian restaurant and added steaks due to demand. The original location closed in 2015 and this location opened in 1973. The restaurant is known for all the caricatures of celebrities and regulars on the wall, a holdover from when cartoonists frequented the restaurant and paid in drawings.
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8. Keens Steakhouse
Keens is packed with history, and not just because it opened back in 1885. This Midtown steakhouse used to be home to a famous theatre and literary group, and after that, it was home to a pipe club. Dozens of pipes still line the restaurant, giving it a warm, unique vibe unlike any other restaurant in the city. The signature order here is the mutton chop, and a pro-move is to ask to pick from the bar menu, where a smaller portion of the mutton chop is available, as well as a formidable prime rib hash.
9. Old Homestead Steakhouse
This Chelsea steakhouse dates back to 1868, making it one of the oldest steakhouses in the city. It’s recognizable from the outside by a giant neon sign and a sculpture of cow declaring that the restaurant is “the King of Beef.” It’s a classic that’s since been replicated in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
10. Wolfgang's Steakhouse
Opened by Wolfgang Zwiener after decades as a server at Peter Luger, Wolfgang’s is now a global chain with its roots in NYC. Much is similar to Peter Luger here, including the thick-cut bacon appetizer, sizzling porterhouse, and whipped cream “shlag” for dessert. The location, though, is a closer to Wall Street, meaning it’s usually full of the finance crowd.
11. Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse
The Lower East Side steakhouse with live entertainment has been around since 1975 and has an enthusiastic Jewish bent that makes it kind of a non-stop bar mitzvah. Skirt steak slathered with garlic or chopped liver are go-to orders, but it’s the lively and raucous setting that draws people back to the historic restaurant. In a 2014 review, the Times called the unchanging spot “the most wonderful terrible restaurant in New York” — just as special as it’s always been, even if the food is only okay. Be prepared for many vodka shots.
12. Peter Luger Steak House
All the steakhouses on this list are classics, but Peter Luger is probably the most quintessential version of a New York City steakhouse. The South Williamsburg restaurant has drawn people from across the five boroughs since it opened in 1887, and some say it’s the best version of a steakhouse in the world. The dry-aged porterhouse, which arrives with a sizzle, is the flagship dish, and the bacon and lunch-only burger are famously charming, too. Not everyone’s so sure, though. In October 2019, Times critic Pete Wells gave the Williamsburg steakhouse a brutal zero-star review for its “inconsistency.”
This FiDi restaurant claims to be first true fine-dining restaurant and steakhouse in the country. It opened in 1837 with plush, opulent interiors and a unique addition to the dining out experience at the time: white tablecloths. The restaurant also claims to have invented several iconic dishes, including the “Delmonico cut” (a rib-eye), the baked Alaska, and eggs Benedict.