Voted best steakhouse in New York for decades, this is where we go forbreathtaking porterhouse, creamed spinach and chocolate mousse cakeserved with homemade schlag. A former boss once asked if they had Swisscheese for their burgers (voted #1 in NYC). The waiter replied, “Swiss cheese? No, we’renot that nice here.” That is Brooklyn charm at its finest.
Peter Luger’s Steakhouse is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and is an institution in the neighborhood. Its building and interior seem unchanged since they opened over a hundred years ago. Inside are unfinished (or worn) wooden tables, antique chandeliers, and even more antiquated waitstaff. Their servers are known for their brusqueness, humor, and downright abrupt behavior. One look at them concludes that they must hire to fit the same mold. This culture is not for the diner who is used to a lot of hand-holding, but make no mistake, the service is good and fast. The menu is very limited and so most guests are regulars and know what they want.
“You guys need menus?” is the first question the waiter will ask, and it’s considered a source of pride to not need one. It tells the waiter that you know your stuff. Regulars always say no, they’re good, and proceed with their order of one or two steaks for the table, and a couple of sides. Nobody orders the fish. And please, nobody orders individual steaks unless you’re really by yourself. This place serves steak family style.
The rolls for the table are really tasty, especially the onion roll. Dip it in Luger’s Steak Sauce while waiting, and don’t be shy in asking for the leftovers to bring home. They’re used to fans of their rolls.
Their bacon is another famous appetizer, but I thought was hardly impressive. They are just thick slabs of smoked pork belly but remind me of pan-fried ham.
The reason to come is their steaks, and the only way to enjoy it is MEDIUM RARE. If you’re not ready for medium rare, it would really be a shame to go to Luger’s. We’ve convinced many hemophobes that the plate comes scorching hot and they are free to sear the rare pieces on the sides to their liking. This approach has worked for many hesitant diners, and helped them transition to a real appreciation of Peter Luger’s steaks. They are not dry aged for you to eat them when they are a dry medium or well done. There will be no flavor. Trust the suggestion of experts who have been doing this for over a hundred years.
Luger’s steaks are served and priced according to the number of people at the table. “One steak for two and another for four” is a typical order, for example. Even with hearty eaters, it’s typical to order for one less person at the table if you’re having sides and appetizers. Don’t be afraid, there will be a lot to go around.
The steak is tender and marbled in the way I haven’t seen, even in places known for their beef like in Argentina. I studied marbling in vet school and spent time in beef cattle farms and studied meat inspection methods. I don’t know where Luger’s beef comes from but those cows must be loved!
Their creamed spinach is of a variety I’ve never had anywhere, as are their fries. Dip the fries in steak sauce or ketchup and mustard (upon request). Do not ask for A1 or any other steak sauce. You will not be forgiven!
The famous steak sauce is so popular that it is now commercially available in well-stocked supermarkets and butcher shops. The sauce is thick and sweet with a blend of tomatoes, garlic, horseradish and tamarind. It’s great on their steak, bread and fries.
The Holy Cow is their signature hot fudge sundae with homemade hot fudge, ice cream, chocolate covered rice crispies, nuts, and schlag on top. It is huge so it’s good enough to share. This is my favorite dessert there, along with their chocolate mousse cake below.
The Peter Luger’s chocolate mousse cake is the perfect level of richness and sweetness on a crispy cookie crust. It’s also pretty big so it’s best to share, not that it would be hard to find takers for this lovely creation.
And their cheesecake on a graham cookie crust. I believe this knocks the famous Junior’s Cheesecake
out of the park. I seriously don’t get the deal with Junior’s, but that’s another story.
There is a lot to be said about the steak wars in New York City, but I think there are very few contenders that can go up against Luger’s as far as dry-aged beef and a secret that’s been successful since the 1800s. I enjoy no-frills places and PL is one of them. The month or two wait for a weekend dinner reservation is proof that their charm has not worn off. And let’s not forget, it’s cash only! Or you can get a Peter Luger’s credit card, a status symbol at this century-old haunt.