In our new series of posts called “Worth the Hype?” we’ll trek across the different boroughs, tasting the staples of the New York food and beverage scene and evaluate whether or not they are worth going out of your way to check out for yourself. Let our “Worth the Hype” series be the discerning palate you only wish you had.
Peter Luger Steak House
178 Broadway at Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Getting There: J,M,Z to Marcy Avenue
Eaters far outside the boundaries of the New York area are surely familiar with the name Peter Luger. The legendary Steak House has had its flag planted in Williamsburg long before it was a sought after Brooklyn destination, not to mention the branded bottles of savory meets sweet steak sauce, widely available in any supermarket. Routinely characterized as the country’s finest purveyor of steaks for its mouthwatering selection of perfectly charred porterhouses, it’s the “Luger-Burger” that Is the object of our desire on this day- widely considered to be New York City’s best overall hamburger.
Despite the cash only lunch setting, reservations at Peter Luger Steak House are mandatory. Anticipating as much, we set our date and time a full month in advance and set out to taste the burger for the very first time on a Saturday afternoon. The “Luger-Burger” is served only until 3:45pm every day, so make sure not to bank on having one here for dinner. Having visited the Steak House for dinner on several occasions, the “Luger’s Sizzling Bacon” ($3.95 per slice) is perpetually a no brainer. Described as “Extra Thick by the Slice,” the marbled caramelized bacon is similarly unparalleled around the City, despite a preponderance of notable imitators. The roughly ten inch strip is deliciously tender albeit a bit fatty (hey, it’s bacon), and oozes with sweet and salty richness with each of the seven bites it takes to polish off a slice.
Admittedly the “Luger-Burger” ($11.95) looks rather ordinary. Topped with two slices of bright yellow cheese (for an additional $1.50), the fresh sesame seeded bun is served off to the side atop a sliced raw onion, it’s top portion stabbed with a placard indicating the burger’s temperature. Anything other than medium rare is clearly unacceptable here. The burger patty is thick and juicy, overstuffing more than a half pound of the Steak House’s USDA prime meat on the fluffy bread bottom. Additional accoutrements like French fries ($1.95) and bacon ($3.95) are available to compliment the “Luger-Burger” should the mood strike you.
Grabbing most of the sliced raw onion, we top the burger off and enclose the sandwich with the top bun and hang on with both hands for a mouthwatering rush. The first bite alone yields a perfectly prepared, tender hamburger with an expertly seasoned beef exterior. The bottom bun soaks up much of the burger grease and some of the juice, but the bottom of the plate is seemingly saturated by both after each passing bite. And while that may be considered a detriment for a far less accomplished restaurant, the experience somehow adds to the atmosphere inside the historic steak eating paradise, which is so minimally decorated, it’s impossible to shift your focus from the food. Inside, the “Luger Burger” is the most wonderful of bright pink colors, glowing underneath the creamy oozes of American cheese and bite after bite leaves a taste profile that certainly rivals any burger being prepared in New York City. It may have taken us awhile to get here for lunch, but at Peter Luger Steak House, the “Luger Burger” ranks at the very top of an increasingly competitive New York City burger hierarchy.
Ranking What Matters:
Value: At under $12, the “Luger Burger” is perhaps the most reasonably priced of all the ‘elite’ level burgers in the area.
Size: The menu states that the “Burger” is more than a half pound of USDA beef, but based on sight alone, it’s larger than most of its competitors. It’s not the biggest burger we’ve had, but it’s one you’ll want to eat slowly to fully enjoy the experience.
Taste: Perfect consistency. Perfectly cooked. The seasoned meat is tender and delicious and even though the handheld burger is sizable, once the last bite is finished, you wish that you had at least one more of them to savor the overall taste even longer.
Overall: The “Luger Burger” is as impressive a first time hamburger as you’ll taste anywhere. The legendary steakhouse has long used its cuts of porterhouse as its drawing card, which are truly special. But after tasting the burger, it’s going to be near impossible to avoid mentioning the “Luger Burger” in any discussion involving the City’s finest eats. And based on the criteria mentioned above, the “Luger Burger” is one that is certainly worth the hype and worthy of our utmost praise and admiration. A must try dish for any lover of red meat.
- Jane Van Arsdale
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