Down a few stairs on a quiet street in the West Village, you’ll find a little room where you can sit in a leather booth and eat one of the best burgers in the city, followed by some steak. This place is called 4 Charles Prime Rib, and we like it a lot. So do plenty of other people, so it’s virtually impossible to get a table there if you’re hoping to eat before midnight. So here are a dozen good alternatives. They each have at least a few things in common with 4 Charles - such as location, atmosphere, or food that will make you want to take a Rip Van Winkle-style nap - but your chances of getting a table at any of them are much, much higher.
Like 4 Charles, Holy Ground is a red-leather-booth-filled spot down a set of stairs, but it’s in Tribeca instead of the West Village, and you shouldn’t have trouble getting a table here. The food is heavy, like what you’ll find at 4 Charles, but this isn’t exactly a traditional steakhouse - the menu is more barbecue-inspired (so expect things like beef ribs and wagyu brisket). Try the pork belly and smoked chicken, and add a side of broccoli or crispy potatoes if you don’t feel like consuming a meal that’s 100% meat.
Minetta Tavern is an NYC classic, and it’s a great place to impress someone when you’re too busy sending work emails/shopping for houseplants online to wait around for 4 Charles reservations to open up. We aren’t saying it’s super easy to get a table here, but you should be able to get a decent reservation about a week or two in advance, and you can always just try to walk in and sit at the bar. The space is dimly-lit with red leather booths and walls covered in old photographs, and as at 4 Charles, the menu involves a lot of red meat. Get a steak or a burger, and drink several martinis.
If you want to spend a significant amount of money on some very rich food, but can’t get into 4 Charles (where you’d be dipping your fries in creamed spinach and calling that a vegetable), try The Beatrice Inn. It’s in the bottom of a townhouse on 12th Street, and the main dining room has ferns, a fireplace, and a portrait of a zebra. You won’t find any zebra on the menu, but you will find steak, pork, venison, and rabbit. Everything is pretty expensive, but now at least that won’t be a surprise.
At Tokyo Record Bar, you’ll eat a tasting menu of Japanese snacks and pick a song you’d like to hear on vinyl. And while on the surface, that doesn’t sound very similar to the experience at 4 Charles, the two places actually have a few things in common. For instance, they’re both very small restaurants downtown that you can post about on Instagram to show all your former high school classmates that you’re a cool person who does exciting things.
St Anselm isn’t the easiest place to get into - but you always have a very good chance. That’s because it’s walk-in only. You’ll probably encounter a wait when you get to this casual little Williamsburg steakhouse, but you can always just put your name in, then go drink at one of the many bars nearby (Spuyten Duyvil is a good place to start). Once your table is ready, get the $24 butcher’s steak, some spinach gratin, and the pan-fried mashed potatoes. Then appreciate the fact that your bill is bound to be significantly lower than it would have been at 4 Charles.
Here’s something you might not know: RH Rooftop is actually from the same person behind 4 Charles. In terms of atmosphere, it isn’t very similar (it’s a rooftop above a fancy furniture store in the Meatpacking District), but it does have a good burger that’s sort of like a distant, slightly less interesting relative of the one at 4 Charles. Considering this place is walk-in only and much easier to get into, it’s worth checking out. Try it the next time you get a new haircut and need a place with a crowd of people who might notice.
Fedora is permanently closed
Think of Fedora as the slightly more accessible version of 4 Charles where you won’t necessarily wind up eating a pound of beef. This place is in a tiny basement in the West Village, and it feels sort of like the small, charming apartment of some people who travel, own books, and use expensive shampoo. The food is also excellent (especially the chicken and steak tartare), and the bar is one of our favorite spots to eat alone.
Much like 4 Charles, Cote serves quality cuts of beef. But here, you get to keep an eye on your food while it cooks. This is a sleek Korean barbecue spot in Flatiron, and your servers will cook all your meat for you in the middle of your table. We highly suggest getting the $52 Butcher’s Feast, although if you’re more than slightly bitter about the fact that you couldn’t get into 4 Charles and would like a spend a large amount of money on yourself, you can always get a tin of caviar and some wagyu ribeye.
The Grill is an experience, and even if it wasn’t your first choice, it definitely won’t feel like some sort of consolation price. Think of it as a brief time warp to the era when people went out in Midtown and ordered crab cakes and filet mignon from waiters in tuxedos (there’s even a prime rib cart that servers roll around the dining room). It’s from the same people behind Dirty French and Carbone, and similarly, it’s the sort of spot where you’ll spend a good amount of money and possibly see a few people who’ve been nominated for SAG awards.
Freemans is roughly 10 times the size of 4 Charles, but it still has a similarly dark and intimate feel. Unlike 4 Charles, though, it’s a two-story space with an Antarctic-exploration-themed low-ABV cocktail bar (Banzarbar) hidden on the second floor, and it’s filled with antiques and taxidermy. The menu consists of things like roasted chicken, filet mignon, and artichoke dip - and while the food isn’t anything revolutionary, it’s all pretty good, and you’re mostly here for the atmosphere anyway.
photo credit: Blue Ribbon Brasserie
Blue Ribbon Brasserie
As mentioned, 4 Charles is a great place to have a really, really late dinner (because you’re most likely to get a reservation around midnight). But if 11:45pm is actually too early for you, go to Blue Ribbon Brasserie. This place is an NYC institution, in part because you can stop in any night of the week and get dinner until 4am. So if you fall asleep in a booth at a West Village bar and wake up hungry at 2am, Blue Ribbon Brasserie will provide you with some very good steak or fried chicken.
Keens has been around since 1885 - and if a restaurant stays open in NYC that long, it either serves some very good food, or it’s been handing out gift bags full of diamonds, cash, and monthly MetroCards. In the case of Keen’s, the reason is good food. This place is old-school in a slightly over-the-top but not kitschy way, and dinner in any of its multiple dining rooms is a New York experience it’s worth having at least once. If you’re feeling ambitious, go for the mutton chop.