What makes a restaurant an institution? Maybe it’s sheer longevity, or perhaps it’s sheer genius on the plate. For some, it’s a combination of both. Some of the most famed restaurants can be difficult for groups to get into, but these iconic establishments, including a nearly 200-year-old Boston restaurant and a retreat for Hollywood elite, eagerly welcome groups.
Peter Luger Steakhouse
Brooklyn, New York
Peter Luger Steakhouse originally opened as Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley in 1887 in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Peter Luger owned the restaurant, and his nephew Carl managed the kitchen.
In 1920, businessman Sol Forman set up his decorative metalware factory across the street and often brought clients to the restaurant; his New York Times obituary said Forman “sometimes ate a steak or two a day at Peter Luger.” So 30 years later, when the restaurant closed and went up for auction, Forman won it as the sole bidder.
Today, Forman family members still choose the restaurant’s USDA Prime beef short loins and shell steaks, also known as bone-in strip steaks, which are dry-aged at either the original Brooklyn location or the second location in Great Neck on Long Island.
Both locations offer group dining, said party coordinator Maria Fontanez. The Brooklyn location’s banquet room is on the second floor and is accessible only by stairs. For lunch, the restaurant usually seats groups of 13 or fewer downstairs in the main dining area, but parties of 14 or more use the second-story room, which can seat up to 65 guests.
For dinner, the restaurant takes groups at either 5:45 p.m. or 7:45 p.m. for up to 65 guests, except on Friday nights, when they cap groups at 20 people. On Saturdays and Sundays, the restaurant takes groups only for lunch.
Groups must order from a prix fixe menu, but it “has all our signature dishes on there,” Fontanez said, including “the meal we’re known for.”
The quintessential Peter Luger meal features sliced tomatoes and onions with Peter Luger steak sauce and sizzling thick-cut bacon as appetizers, the USDA Prime dry-aged porterhouse steak, German fried potatoes and creamed spinach.