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Restaurant Review

Is Williamsburg's Peter Luger Steakhouse worth the hype?

You may have heard about this famous steakhouse by reading The New York Times famous zero-star review, or perhaps you saw it in a glossy mag behind a celebrity who was emerging from it's doors. Either way, Peter Luger Steakhouse divides fans and our travel editor gives his take.

For a carnivore, eating at Peter Luger is a bit like someone of Catholic faith visiting the holiest sites in Christendom; countless pilgrims have been before you, and probably will continue to do so. You will not have an original take. But does it really matter that the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela is the headline of every guidebook, is the headline of every regional guidebook, and isn’t the most spectacular you’ve ever seen? If this sort of thing is important to you, you should still see it (and the seafood there is spectacular, but that’s for another day).

The famous, Peter Luger has been around forever, and continues to pack in the punters despite some negative press reviews (it’s not a favorite of the New York Times) and transition to inauthentically accept forms of payment other than cash, and the Peter Luger’s card, whose holders are almost certainly retargeted for Google Ads on gout medication. It is invariably full of tourists, like many places in New York, and may not make you feel ‘cool’. If this is a concern, you’ll be pleased to note that it’s located in Williamsburg, and there are a multitude of impossibly cool places you can go afterwards to distance yourself from some of the last people on earth who still have Fodor’s guides to New York. That is, if you can walk at all.

You see, the steaks at Peter Luger are enormous, which is the cornerstone of its appeal, other than the fact that it’s just fun. The Porterhouse arrives: bloody, buttery, salty, and massive. This is more about riding the wave, and not getting pulled under. To survive, and to retain even a tenuous hope of finishing your portion (they will often serve one steak for the table - ‘Porterhouse for four’, etc) perhaps wait for another time to conduct the critical comparison of the steak’s finer points with all the dry-aged beef you’ve sampled over the years. The only accompaniment you may need is red wine, to break down the enzymes. People say the fries and salad aren’t the best - but honestly, how could you possibly have an appetite to eat any of those things? After eating the steak, you might feel like having a green juice...the following day...and then return to eating other solid food after a satisfactory 48-hour hiatus.

You can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing the steak, if substantially lighter in the wallet, assuming that you haven’t applied for and received pre-approval for a Peter Luger’s Card by this point.

Here’s a random suggestion for the rest of the day, since eating will clearly not be in the cards, and you probably will need to kill a couple of hours before mercifully allowing yourself to go to bed and focus your body’s energy on digestion. Walk across the Williamsburg bridge into Manhattan, to Chinatown, and get a foot massage at Zuyuan. You will need it. 

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