Restoring a classic is never an easy task, especially if it’s one of the most storied restaurants in the history of New York. Legend would have you believe that reasonably successful wordsmiths like Ernest Hemingway and E.E. Cummings frequented Minetta like their own clubhouse back in the day. Fact: booze has always fueled creativity. It’s no longer a writers’ haunt, that’s for sure, but the 21st-century iteration of Minetta Tavern is still a very special place.
Let’s backtrack to our first go-round at Minetta. The year was 2009, the same year we started writing restaurant reviews, and Minetta Tavern was by far and away the biggest restaurant opening of the year. Food media was completely enamored with the place. It was impossible to get in, they had a bouncer, and it was a MASSIVE deal that the “Black Label Burger” cost $26. These days, no one raises an eyebrow when burgers are on fancy restaurant menus, clocking in anywhere from $20-40. This is 1000% all Minetta Taven’s influence. We weren’t as in awe of Minetta like everyone else was, though. We liked it OK and felt like the hype outshined the actual restaurant experience. So we gave it a 7.7 rating.
Cut to 2015, and things done changed. Minetta is incredible these days. They’ve really hit their stride, and it’s everything we had hoped it would be back in 2009. The room has a special feeling that makes you feel f*cking fantastic, and the restaurant is Perfect For so many things. The bar is usually our move, because if you get there early, you can usually scoop a couple seats. Once settled, let it rip. Minetta’s bone marrow is mind blowing, and the Bone-In NY Strip is bananas. Plus, all that Black Label action. Straight up, Minetta Tavern is one of our absolute favorite restaurants. We can’t do it often, because then we’d be broke and really fat, but once or twice a year this is a treat-yo-self meat splurge you deserve. It’s also a sleeper for brunch, and if you want to get in without the hassle of trying to get a dinner reservation, just go for lunch and get a burger.
It took us a minute to find our happy place with Minetta, but we’re glad we realize how truly great this restaurant is now. Those legendary writers would be proud, although they probably wouldn’t be hanging here on the regular anymore. Imagine what $28 (current price) bought you in Hemingway’s day? More than a burger, that’s for sure.
This may be the best bone marrow that exists in the entire world. It’s a bit smokey, all kinds of jiggly-tastic savory, and the shallot confit that comes with it hits the perfect sweet spot.
Because you need something that resembles a vegetable on your table, the beets are your best bet. They’re smothered in a cheesy sauce and come with leeks and walnuts.
Completely acceptable to order as an appetizer, even when they will no doubt be coming with one of your entrees. Just saying.
Bow down to the king. Simply put, The Black Label Burger is f*cking incredible. Don’t get hung up on the price tag, or the fact it doesn’t come with cheese. The prime cut of dry aged LaFrieda ribeye is one of the meatiest burgers you’ll ever taste. It’s finished simply with caramelized onions on a lightly toasted brioche bun that Balthazar Bakery built specifically to house this burger. It’s worth all $28, even if that’s up $2 from the $26 it was back in 2009.
It’s not as intense as the Black Label Burger, but it’s nearly as enjoyable. Short rib, brisket, and, uhh, shoulder clod, whatever that is, on the same bun, with the same caramelized onions, plus cheddar cheese. Pretty much as good as a burger can get, and yet somehow, not the best burger in the building.
Be careful with which steak you order. The Tavern Steak will not blow you away. That’s not what you need. What you need is the Bone-In Strip. This steak has so much flavor, it doesn’t even come close to needing sauce, which is a good thing, because they won’t give it to you anyway.
This is the sleeper pick here. You probably won’t order it, but just know, the veal chop is bananas. Order with confidence if you want something a tiny bit lighter.
If you are a big baller and want to do it up big, go for it. We won’t stop you. This is their most infamous, most expensive ($145), and most Instagrammed steak. It’s a perfect specimen.
Our go-to brunch order at Minetta. Poached eggs smothered in dill hollandaise over potato latkes with smoked salmon. Happy Sunday.
AND SLOW COOKED HAM! Yes, please. All of it.