For my birthday this year, my friend Carrie suggested going to Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House. She had been there once before for a birthday party and had so much fun, she wanted to go back for a second round. Well, Sammy’s is certainly an experience! We arrived and while the décor is not much, seems to be like the basement of a friend’s house that is plastered with photos and mementos, the atmosphere is very festive. The food started arriving family style and it just keeps on coming. We never even saw a menu. We ordered several bottles of vodka that come frozen in a block of ice. They bring cranberry juice and their seltzer containers are already on the table. There is a DJ who is hilarious. He calls attention to each group about why they are there. He makes jokes and plays fun music. He also invites you to get up do the Hora dance around the restaurant. After dinner, the whole place turned into a big dance party. We had an absolute blast.
Sammy’s is an experience and its better knowing upfront what you are getting yourself into. I found this funny and insightful review by Eugene R on Yelp that sums it up perfectly:
Sammy’s is amazing. When it gets one or two stars in reviews, it’s not a reflection of the experience, it’s a reflection of the wrong expectations. I propose some screening questions, in no particular order.
1 ) Do you know at least 5 words in Yiddish?
2 ) Is schmaltz (Jewish bacon) appropriate for use as a universal condiment?
3 ) Is it ok to drink a half of a bottle of ice cold vodka with dinner?
4 ) Did/do you enjoy going to Bar Mitzvahs?
5 ) Is it ok to have the only vegetarian-friendly food on a table be pickles?
6 ) Is it ok to stand up in the middle of dinner to dance?
7 ) Can you sing along to Hava Nagila?
8 ) Is your cholesterol level less than 200?
9 ) Have you ever eaten/enjoyed a meal cooked by a Jewish grandmother?
10 ) Is Neil Diamond really the Jewish Elvis?
How many times did you say ‘Yes’?
*7-10: If you haven’t already been here, you should be ashamed of yourself
*4-6: If you’re open to new things, perhaps you’ll really enjoy this place
*0-3: You may be disappointed. If you come here and indeed don’t enjoy it, please don’t damage its reputation with a 1-star review. You have been warned.
That’s about it. I should mention two more things. Like any place with ‘Steakhouse’ in the name, you should absolutely not come in here if you’re a vegetarian. Unlike any place with ‘Steakhouse’ in the name, don’t come here for the steak. Come here for the entire experience.
Of course you do not need to be Jewish in order to have a great time at Sammy’s. I myself am not Jewish but it is good to know that you are in for a full experience, one that I fully enjoyed for my birthday!
Reservations recommended and required for large groups. On Saturdays only there are two seating times, 6pm and 9pm. Sammy’s is great for smaller groups and large parties. They have 2 floors. The downstairs seats 120 in total and the upstairs 100. Call to check availability and to make reservations.
$55 prix fixe for food only, not liquor
bottle of Kettle One vodka $99 each
The bill was more expensive than I was expecting. I knew it wasn’t cheap (what steakhouse is?) but it was over $100 each for 14 of us. Obviously your bill will depend on how many bottles of vodka and other types of drinks you order.
Mon-Thur: 4pm – 9pm
Fri- Sat: 4pm – 11pm
Sun: 3:30pm – 11pm
Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House
157 Chrystie Street (between Delancey St & Rivington St)
New York, NY 10002
(They don’t have a website.)