Peter Luger’s Cheeseburger: Luxury at Lunchtime

Date December 19, 2007


Peter Luger’s Steakhouse, the pinnacle of an old school chophouse and the purveyor of some of New York’s best steaks since 1887, serves a little-known and affordable ($8.95 – cash only) 8-10 oz. flame broiled prime beef burger at lunchtime. Pictured above on a hearty brioche bun with American cheese, fried onions, and a slice of tomato, this is one of NYC Food Guy’s Top 3 burgers in all of New York.

Lunchtime at Peter Luger ends at 3PM and with all due respect to the old school-authenticity of the Brooklyn location, NYC Food Guy and family eat their Luger’s burgers at the Great Neck, Long Island spot. The restaurant itself lives inside a large Tudor-style house on Northern Boulevard (map). Entering through the heavy wood doors, you’re greeted by a maitre d’ in a jacket and tie and eventually by a bow-tie and apron wearing waiter who delivers this delicious bread basket to your table along with some Peter Luger’s steak sauce and a square of butter for each person:


The rolls have been fresh and delicious every time I’ve had them; the plain roll is firm and slightly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The onion roll is excellent; slightly flaky, chewy, and filled with finely chopped pieces of almost candied raw onion. The flatbread is dotted with sesame seeds, dried onion, and poppy seeds and when the rolls are all gone, I go for these. Everything in the bread basket is amazingly better when buttered and dipped in the steak sauce.

The steak sauce has a strong horseradish flavor but it’s not intense enough to clear your sinuses. It combines sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy all in one.

Don’t go too crazy on the bread, as great as it is, because the burger you’re about to eat is a serious one; big in size, flavor, and toppings as you’ll see in just a moment. The cheeseburger was ordered medium rare and this is how it looked upon arrival:


Crowned with a hearty brioche bun and some slightly burnt American cheese, this burger was almost ready to dive into but not before we tended to the toppings.

Never one to go easy on the onions, NYC Food Guy opted for an order of the fried onions in addition to an order of the onion rings. Double onion would turn out to be a smart move.

Fried onions at Lugers are essential to the burger experience. They’re charred, sweet, and chewy and although they’re greasy, you can eat them on their own if the burger runs out first. NYC Food Guy likes to dab a little onion on each bite, make it worth my while. Here are the fried onions, which thanks to the downfall of Donovan’s of Bayside’s onions, are now NYC Food Guy’s #1 fried onions for a burger:


The onion rings meanwhile, were the polar opposite of the fried onions; light and airy, filled with big slices of sweet onion cooked just right, never falling out of their fried shell upon first bite. They were cut so thin and cooked so well pieces were more like fried onion strings. NYC Food Guy definitely recommends these, ask for them to be cooked well done to ensure this type of experience:


The proper construction for NYC Food Guy’s perfect Luger’s cheeseburger is as such (from cheese to top bun):

1) Ketchup on top of cheese

2) Light layer of fried onions

3) Light layer of ketchup

4) Slice of tomato

5) Light layer of ketchup

6) More fried onions

7) Tiny dabble of ketchup to hold top bun to all the magic

And the results manifests as such:


Unfortunately, the burger, ordered medium rare, arrived closer to medium well. This is very uncharacteristic for Lugers. My brother and I were gravely disappointed and felt slightly cheated, expecting nothing short of perfection. The burger suffered due to the disappearance of the fatty juices that usually pour out with every bite, soaking steadily into the hearty brioche.


If you’re wondering where the bacon is, good question. NYC Food Guy’s standard burger litmus test involved a bacon cheeseburger, my favorite type of burger, and a true test for any place that claims “elite burger joint” status. Peter Luger’s, chophouse at its core, lives up to that pedigree with its slab bacon. Imagine slices of bacon as thick as middle fingers. As delicious as it is, the bacon doesn’t really fit on the burger and didn’t enhance the overall experience. It might make a good appetizer though if you’re feeling extra carnivorous.

The fries, another quintessential aspect of the classic burger meal, were predictably undercooked despite the well done request. They resemble something your grandmother chopped up and fried on the stove. Regardless, some fried potato dipped in ketchup is essential to any burger experience, so go for the fries anyway because you’re at Lugers where you go big or you go home, even at lunchtime.


While I respect the opinions of A Hamburger Today and Frank Bruni, both of whom also experienced burgers not cooked to their liking, I can confidently say that of the 5 or 6 times I’ve eaten a Luger burger, this is the first time it was not cooked to my liking. Besides, one bad experience is not nearly enough to doubt the quality of Luger’s beef and the austere reputation they’ve established over time.


Any establishment that lives in the upper echelon of New York dining for parts of 3 centuries deserves exaltation. Peter Luger’s steaks have made that feat possible but it’s their burger which NYC Food Guy continues to come back for. The old school vibe of it all adds an air of antiquity which speaks to a time past; a time when food and good service was all a restaurant needed to attain notoriety. These are the tenets of Peter Luger, and they soar majestically for all to see. Take heed aspiring restaurateurs, the formula for success is not as complex as you think.

***Both locations Cash Only***

Peter Luger of Long Island, Inc.
255 Northern Blvd.
Great Neck, N.Y. 11021
(516) 487-8800

Peter Luger, Inc.
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11211
(718) 387-7400

9 Responses to “Peter Luger’s Cheeseburger: Luxury at Lunchtime”

  1. kingofketchup said:

    Lugers is real solid, except the one time I got the burger, i ordered it medium rare and it literally came out well done. I did not enjoy it at all, but had it been cooked right, I’m sure it would have been great.

    If you like shrimp cocktail, you MUST order it here — they give you like 4 of the biggest shrimp you’ll ever see in your life. I’m surprised Luger’s wasn’t mentioned in the Mitchell Report, because they’re definitely doing something illegal to these shrimp.

    Also, you can’t talk about Lugers without mentioning the INCREDIBLE Schlag (their homemade whipped cream). Honestly, i don’t even like whipped cream, but this stuff is truly awesome. they give you a huuuge bowl of it, and it works perfectly with their chocolate mousse cake.

  2. something tells me.... said:

    that king of ketchup likes men… many men.

  3. anonymous said:

    while the king of ketchups sexual orientation remains clouded in mystery, i do want to give props to the peter luger burger itself…..the best part about it is that it is some of the best quality burger meat ive ever had and one of the tastiest burgers out there

  4. food for thought said:

    the food reviews are amazing…always look forward to reading and eating at these places.
    what’s the deal about king of ketchup? who cares about him?
    forget about him.
    stay focused on the food.
    just want to keep reading the food reviews……and that’s my food for thought.
    long live the nycfood guy….

  5. Michael said:

    Lugers may not be the best burger in NYC, but it is surely the best buy. Its up there in the top 5 burgers, and at 8.95, its a steal. Want the other steal at Lugers? Ask for an order of Bacon. One thick slab. I think its less than bucks. Yum!

  6. The NYC Food Guy said:


    For your money, what is the best burger in NYC? Let’s hear your Top 5.

    How much is the bacon, you got us all intrigued but didn’t write the price? I’ve had the bacon and it is a serious experience, a meal in itself. It’s about as thick as my thumb and as long as my forearm. Pretty crazy for one piece. But hey, it’s Lugers, a man’s place. It shouldn’t be any other way.

    Thanks for the comment.

  7. Mike said:

    The bacon is not on the menu, and you would not want it on your burger. its a serious slab. I can’t remember the exact price, but its like $5 a slab. its really a steal.

  8. Mike said:

    I should clarify; they have bacon, its just not listed on the menu.

  9. The NYC Food Guy said:


    You are definitely correct. It’s bacon unlike any other. It’s probably a half inch thick. Kind of nuts. I’ve had it only once before, it’s more of an appetizer than something that you’d put on the burger. Just one more brick in the carnivore’s castle that is Peter Luger.

    Where’s your top burger?

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