3 Fleur
Average check per person $15-$25
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchNo Lunch SundayNo Lunch MondayNo Lunch TuesdayNo Lunch WednesdayNo Lunch ThursdayNo Lunch FridayNo Lunch Saturday
DinnerNo Dinner SundayNo Dinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Charlie’s Steak House

Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 4510 Dryades. 504-895-9705. Map.
Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
If the number of people who asked me about the fate of a restaurant after Katrina were an indicator of its importance to the community, then Charlie’s Steak House is the most essential restaurant in New Orleans. Even months after the old place reopened, I still get at least one call or e-mail about it every day. It’s hard to figure what engendered this passion, but it can’t be denied.

WHAT’S GOOD
Charlie’s never served the best steaks in New Orleans. But it always was plenty good enough for the price, and served such good side dishes that they probably drew more regulars than the steaks did. The thin-cut onion rings were the best around. For decades Charlie’s had the only wedge salad in town, with a screaming Roquefort dressing. The steaks didn’t just sizzle on the plate–they smoked. The cramped, small premises were so dumpy as to be entertaining.

The new Charlie’s has the same menu (which is to say no printed menu at all, so limited are the offerings) as before the storm. The steaks are a good deal more expensive, although not at the level of the prime steakhouses. On the other hand, the beef seems to be of significantly higher quality. The best steak I ever had at Charlie’s–and I ate there hundreds of times–was the one I had the first time I returned in the new regime.

BACKSTORY
Charles Petrossi opened his restaurant–now the oldest steakhouse in New Orleans–in 1932, in the middle of a block of an only slightly commercial Uptown neighborhood. Staffed by Italian immigrants for most of its history, its waiters were utterly unique. One customer once said, “I like this place. The waiters scream at you and you scream back at them.” Charlie Jr. took over in the 1970s,while his sister Dottye continued her long career waiting tables. Charlie Jr. died in 2003, and when Katrina flooded the place his widow was not of a mind to reopen. A neighbor, Matt Dwyer, persuaded her to sell the place, telling her that he would reopen a restaurant as close to the old one as possible. It reopened in August 2008 to enormous crowds.

DINING ROOM
Expectations were the big issue as customers returned to Charlie’s. As simple a place as it was, it had so much personality that nobody wanted to see it change, even if that meant retaining its almost revolting grubbiness from the old days. But with a new owner and a deep Katrina cleanup and renovation–not the mention the retirement of almost everyone who used to work there due to old age–there was no way it would be as everyone remembered it.

The place was slammed in the beginning. They ran out of steaks night after night, and when they didn’t, they couldn’t serve the people fast enough. All typical for a new restaurant. Then, in November, all the reports I heard from my readers and listeners became good ones. It won’t be long before the new Charlie’s takes the place of the old in minds and hearts. It really is an improved restaurant.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Fried onion rings
Lettuce wedge with Roquefort dressing
24-ounce T-bone steak
Porterhouse steak
Cowboy ribeye
Filet mignon
French fries
Potatoes au gratin
Creamed spinach
Spumone ice cream

FOR BEST RESULTS
Cut the new owners some slack on the issue of whether their Charlie’s is exactly like the old one. It could not possibly be and it isn’t. In many ways, that is a good thing. Come on a weekday. The initial crowds have subsided, but they still pack the house on weekends. Listen to the waiter’s recommendations as to the number of side dishes you need for your table.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The famous onion rings are greasier than they once were; raising the heat of the oil would solve that. The potatoes au gratin never were very good, and still aren’t. The garlic bread is horrible. The old metal plates are nostalgic, but it’s time to move on.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment
  • Consistency +1
  • Service+1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness -1
  • Local Color +2

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Good for business meetings
  • 8-25
  • Historic
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking

4 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Doug Mackle on October 5, 2014

    I used to eat there back in 1963-64 when I was a student at Tulane. Celebrated there will members of my fraternity (SAE) after initiations, and brought my future wife Jody there for good food and service. We’ll be returning this December for a nostalgic dinner, and are really looking forward to a wedge salad and great steak & onion rings.

  2. Jay Lewis on January 21, 2015

    Mr. Fitzmorris – this place has become a regular for my family. We went about a month ago, and I decided on the spur of the moment to have a Sazerac, and it was quite well done – perhaps as good as any I’ve had in the city. That was a pleasant surprise, and thought I would drop a note for your readers. It will now be added to my standard fare for an evening at Charlie’s.

  3. C S Christian on September 23, 2015

    Tom, we ate at Charlie’s Steak House last week. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and would certainly return. It was very much the place I remembered as a child just much cleaner! However, as you know there is no menu. The wait staff gives you the steak and side options verbally. So you really have no idea how much the meal will cost. On your review page, you show a $20.00 average bill. I want to say, that you need to update your prices. With tax and tip we spent approximately $70.00 (seventy dollars) per person. We were not drinking, one person had a beer (1), one water, the other tea. We split the onion rings, had 2-sides for the 3 of us, the small wedge salad, rib eye and small t-bone steaks, and one desert with 3-spoons. Typical of what a family would order. I didn’t expect the meals to be as inexpensive at $20.00 each, but $70.00 was a bit of a surprise.

    • Tom Fitzmorris on September 23, 2015

      The price notations in the reviews if of the average entree cost. I have Charlie’s listed as $25, which might be a little low, but not by much.

      The more important question here is in ordering something without knowing the price. There is no reason in the world why you shouldn’t ask for that critical information before ordering. I always do. They’re not keeping it a secret, just keeping up an old tradition.

      If you had a steak, a side, and a salad, I don’t know how that could have added up to $70. I would have challenged that before I left. Mistakes happen. Do you have your receipt?

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

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