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The History of Steakhouses in the US

on February 29, 2020

American’s love a good steakhouse. You can visit almost any city or town in the US and find at least one local steakhouse restaurant. Here in Brooklyn, Atlas Steakhouse is proud to serve some of the best steaks around.

Our steakhouse, like many in the US, has a strong link to the original American Steakhouses of the mid 1800s. Surprisingly enough, the American version of the classic steakhouse originated right here in New York City.

To get a better understanding of the origins of steakhouses in the US, we have to discuss two early dining establishments - Chophouses and Beefsteak Banquets.

Chophouses

A “chop house” was the name of a very old English-type “restaurant” that first appeared around the late 1600s in London. The houses were designed as a place for local workers to grab a quick, hot meal and were usually only open to men. They served individually sized “chops” of meat like pork or beef which were then cooked up for the customer.

Chophouses eventually made their way to the US and first appeared in New York City in the mid 19th century, after the Civil War. Menus were expanded to include things like potatoes, bacon, and pie. However, the early American chophouses were still far from family or even female friendly. Most were known for being dusty and dank. One famous early American chophouse was even known as Cobweb Hall for its dusty, cobweb “decor.”

Beefsteak Banquets

On the other end of the spectrum, early American steakhouses were influenced by the more upper class dining experience of “Beefsteak Banquets.”

These banquets were held to celebrate everything from a business success to a political win. At their core, they were parties for the elite gentlemen of New York City and a way to express one’s wealth and sophistication. They were almost exclusively men only affairs.

At a beefsteak banquet, usually the only items served were alcohol and sliced beef tenderloin, served on slices of bread. The bread would rarely be eaten and was instead used as a combination of plate and scorecard. The more slices of bread on your table, the greater your appetite and therefore your prestige.

The New York Steakhouse

Out of the dusty working class chophouses and the extravagant beefsteak banquets, the true US-style steakhouse was born in the mid 1800s. The first steakhouses were actually established nearby in New York’s Meatpacking District.

Unlike many other areas of the country, in New York City, there was a strong and growing upper class who could afford high quality cuts of steak. Steakhouses set themselves apart by serving these high quality cuts in a more civilized and clean environment than your typical chophouse.

Unlike a beefsteak banquet, the newly established steakhouses were also open and welcoming to both women and families. Before long, steakhouses were not just a place to eat but a place to socialize and celebrate with family and friends.

Atlas Steakhouse

You can still visit some of the oldest steakhouses in the country here in NYC. If you aren’t feeling like a long trip into Manhattan though, Atlas Steakhouse offers an equally excellent steakhouse dining experience here in Brooklyn.

We pride ourselves on serving only the highest quality naturally aged prime beef steaks. Our Mediterranean-style menu features seafood, chicken, and vegetarian options as well.

If you’d like to enjoy your own steakhouse experience, reservations for Atlas Steakhouse can be made by calling 646-494-7227.

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