I work in New York City and am often asked for dinner recommendations by out of town friends. If they're in the mood for steak, this is what I'd tell them.
5: Gallagher's Steak House - A New York institution, Gallagher's has been slinging steak since 1927. Upon entering the restaurant, you pass the dry aging room, with beautiful cuts of beef hanging and waiting for you to order them. The steak is good, but the Power Lunch menu is perfect. I have a friend who swears by the oysters, and when it comes to pre-meal table items, Gallagher's skips bread or rolls and provides it's own fresh hand made potato chips--this alone is reason enough to go! (And if you do go, let me know--I work in the office across the street!)
4: Peter Luger Steak House - If Gallagher's history seems impressive, consider that Peter Luger's was 40 when Gallagher's was opened. Despite (or perhaps because of) it's 120+ year history, Peter Luger's is overrated. And while they tout their steak sauce, it is average at best. They also had (and I believe they still have) a cash only policy, which is ridiculous considering the prices on their menu. Further, the restaurant is cramped and not as nice as you'd expect. That said, they have a killer porterhouse, and if that's your thing, this is your place.
3: Morton's: The Steakhouse - Yes, I know it's a chain. However, the ambiance is terrific--it's classy and elegant, yet not too formal. The sides are great, the cuts of beef are large and perfect, and the cooking is spot-on. The medium rare is perfectly medium rare every time, which really good places can screw up sometimes. Morton's non-steak options and sides are as good as anything else out there too. Plus, it might be the most affordable restaurant on this list.
2: Ben Benson's Steakhouse - Good portion sizes of great beef. Also, a very deep menu and an award-winning wine list. One of the best steak houses anywhere.
1: Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse - Tuna Tartare or Steak Tartare to start, then any steak on the menu. I mean, really, any steak--there is no possibility you can go wrong. If you are lucky, they'll have a special that calls to you--ignore the ridiculously high price and just get it--you won't be sorry. I was fortunate enough to try a tenderloin special that had three tenderloins with three different sauces (which incorporated, among other things, truffles and foie gras). Normally, I don't go nuts for high-end ingredients, but man, used correctly they are amazing. That was one of the best meals I've had in years. Your wallet will be lighter when you leave, but your belly will more than balance that out.
So there you have it. There may be better steakhouses out there in NYC. I'm constantly trying new places and in a year, I could re-do this list and have a very different opinion for 2 through 5. I expect debate--let's hear it, carnivores...