Legendary Lüchow’s on East 14th Street

I’m not aware of any New York City eatery with an umlaut in its name. But for a century, there was Lüchow’s—the German restaurant that served wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, and other old-world, heavy-duty delicacies since 1882.

luchowspostcard

Lüchow’s opened when Union Square was New York’s theater and music hall district. It consisted of seven separate dining rooms, a beer garden, a bar, and a men’s grill. One room was lined with animal heads; another displayed a collection of beer steins. Must have been a serious dining experience.

Of course, when the city’s fortunes turned in the 1970s, so did Lüchow’s. The restaurant shut its doors for good after a mysterious 1982 fire. It’s now the site of a New York University dormitory.

Check out this review from Knife and Fork in New York, a 1949 guide to the city’s best eateries:

luchowsreviewluchowsreview2

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53 Responses to “Legendary Lüchow’s on East 14th Street”

  1. H Golden Says:

    Thanks for the memories.

    Luchow’s relocated to midtown in the 70’s; according to the press releases the move was to finally catch up to the theater district, which had long decamped Union Square. For a time, the original Luchow’s building housed a gay club called the College Bar, or Club. Once they had a large banner facing the street, proclaiming “Wet Boxer Short Night”.

    The 70’s East Village.

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I was working at Grove Press in the Village in the 70s and on Christmas our department boss, Mr. Myron Shapiro, took us to Luchow’s for lunch. The place was packed, all the seats and tables from 14th Street to 13th Street were taken. We had burgers and fries, even though he had told us to order what we wanted. Still, we thought it was a straight place for us hippie-wannabe’s, that we felt weird in there….That certainly was a different time back then….

  3. Big Al Says:

    I remember being taken to Luchow’s as a kid tourist back around 1972 or so. My dad was so proud to be taking us to a famous New York restaurant that he’d heard about from celebrities on the radio in his Depression-era midwestern childhood. There were high ceilings, stuffed animals everywhere (I seem to remember a big bear), a blasting tuba and accordion oompah band, lots of dark wood, the same beer and cigar smell as in old ballparks, tables full of suited men laughing loudly, friendly but hurried and snappy old waiters, old dusty fabrics draped everywhere, and food that tasted like fancier but less spirited renditions of my German-Canadian grandmother’s home cooking. Then back out outside into the cold to be confronted with the reality of ’70s-era Union Square – a full-out bloody brawl between two crazed drunks occurring right there on the sidewalk of 14th St. – where baby stroller pushing moms and NYU undergrads now tread on their way to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

  4. tacony palmyra Says:

    “I’m not aware of any New York City eatery with an umlaut in its name.”

    Not sure it counts, but the local frozen yogurt chain “Flürt” comes to mind… it has 3 dots above the “u” though, so maybe it’s not quite an umlaut.

  5. Melanie Says:

    I remember one Thanksgiving me and my parents went to Luchows for dinner–I had the goose–never ate goose before–was fun and the restaurant was very nice. Sad to see it close.

  6. ken mac Says:

    what memories. I remember when they tore down the equally old building next door to Luchows. I wandered in and noticed the walls, covered in purple silk….amazing.

  7. Barbara Says:

    When I was a child in the 1960’s, I went with my parents from New Jersey to Luchows nearly every weekend after attending either the Metropolitan or New York City Operas. My parents were from Germany and it gave them the opportunity to speak in German, enjoy the food, etc. I remember Luchows vividly. Because the waiters all knew us, we were always seated at the same round table in front of a small Vienese orchestra — which is probably why I still love the sound of violins and waltzes. We would enter the large, double wood and glass doors, walk past the carved bar on our left, up a small flight of stairs and to our table (back left). From my seat I would gaze on a massive oil painting that hung on the back wall (left to the entrance to the ladies’ room) that I would love to see again (if anyone knows of what happened to it, pray tell!) It depicted a mother and her child fully dressed on a beach — beautiful, soft shades of blue. The large menu featured a story about Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russel. I always ordered dumplings and red cabbage. We would leave by the back door, which took us to a large parking lot. We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and holidays there. When I was old enough to date, I brought my boyfriends there. I tried the new location, but it wasn’t the same.

  8. Kathryn Nocerino Says:

    When I was a small child, my mother used to drag me all the way from Flushing, Queens into Manhattan to shop at S. Klein’s on Union Square. We always ate lunch at the Horn and Hardart Automat around the corner, a real treat for me. I was fascinated by the little brass doors that opened up to deliver your food, and I was also apparently addicted to their frankfurters and their absolutely sublime baked beans.

    One day my mother said, “The heck with this; we’re eating like civilized people today!” She then marched me across the street to Luchow’s.

    My mother ordered, I believe, goose and dumplings. When the sweet elderly waitress asked me what I wanted, I said, in a firm voice, “FRANKS AND BAKED BEANS!” As my mother held her head, the waitress smiled and said, “I’ll see what we can do!”

    The dishes that eventually appeared in front of me: the heavy oval plate bearing the twin franks, and the little round bean crock, had been imported by our waitress directly from Horn and Hardart’s across the street!

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    Luchows evidently made quite an impression on kids; many of the readers writing in are recalling their childhood memories of the place. I wish I’d been there….

  10. northjerseygirl Says:

    It certainly made an impression on me. I was a child in the 70’s and I remember a large high ceiling room. For some reason, I recall a stained glass skylight sort of ceiling in one room. The violinist would travel around the room and play at tables. I ordered the crepes (?) and they were made right in front of me. Does anyone remember a stained glass ceiling? That might have been at the midtown location. I was there as well, but it was certainly not impressive like the original locale. I wonder if restauraunts of this era will be remembered with such fondness in the future!

  11. Christine Lites Says:

    I have spent an evening going through old papers from a box in my attic, left to me by my parents. In it I came across an old menu from Luchows, where my father worked in the 1950’s. As a child, I too, spent time there. I especially remember the huge Christmas tree that was the center of the dining room. I have often wondered what happened to this fine place and I was saddened to read that it actually burned in 1982, and had a somewhat salty past. Interesting. I now live in Dallas and can’t imagine having an opportunity to see the old area again, but my memories are vivid.

  12. wb Says:

    I used to love coming into the city on a weekend night and eating foods that only exist in memories.
    Luchow’s was this place that the old country met the new world in NYC. The crossroads of history and all their authors dined at Luchow’s. True, it was no more than a theme park when it moved uptown, the glorious history of ancient foods-gone forever perhaps.

    you can try to cook the specialties at home, but don’t be surprised if they don’t taste the same.. In many ways if you compare the uptown place, they’d be better!
    Cheers! wb

  13. pam marks Says:

    My Castillian aunts from Washington Heights were a models of elegants and class the Manhattan always was. On a springbreak visit they took my best friend and I to Luchow’s for lunch. I will never forget the beauty of this place and was so disappointed when I moved to 14th and 3rd and found that it was long gone. I would so wish to see a photo collection of place. I remember that my aunt ordered the spring wine for us and it was served with a strawberry….. beautiful memory…wish it were still here.

  14. Carol Lichtenfels McGrath Says:

    The last time I ate at Luchows was in the summer of 1958. It was one of my favorite restaurants in New York.
    For five consecutive summers I went to camp in uipstate New York. My parents and I would come to New York in June. We always had dinner at Luchows. I loved the herring salad, and the Sauer Bratin. Every time I had the opportunity to dine at Luchows, THAT is what I ate. I sure do wish that it would re-open somewhere!!!!!

  15. Amanda Geiger Says:

    August Luchow was the first of my maternal grandfathers side of the family to come to America. I would have loved to visit the place. I am so sad that it is no longer open. You hear of it in movies, but all I have are other peoples memories. So nice to review.

  16. Maryann Smith Says:

    Among the many pleasant memories of New York from the years I lived there in the mid-’50’s, are Gramercy Park and Luchows. Friends from Des Moines introduced me to its uniquenes. Gone but not forgotten to many of us.

  17. pj Says:

    As a child in the early 70s my parents would take us to Luchows around Christmas every year. The only thing I can remember was the huge christmas tree and the beer steins, but it made such an impression because my parents always impressed upon us that this was a very expensive restaurant and that we had to be on our best behavior. It was the one time all year when my parents went out for fine dining and took us along.

  18. Green Minestrone: The Pitfalls of Cooking from Memory Says:

    [...] we succeed? Should the Holsteiner Schnitzel I made last weekend really be exactly like the famous Luchow’s version that I used to share with my father in the 1970s a few years before the place closed? [...]

  19. Bernhard Says:

    I was the lucky one, after 55 years in the Restaurant business, five of those years I worked in Luchow’s, when Jan Mitchell owned the place, it was the best run Restaurant I ever worked in and have fond memories of it.
    I am so sorry it is gone.

    • Christine Lites Says:

      My father also worked at Luchows when Jan Mitchell owned it. My father’s name was Charles Winter. He went by Carl. Did you know him?

  20. Carl Beyer Says:

    I ate a Luchows several times in 1965 while attending the American Press Institute at Columbia University with a number of other newsmen from across the country. Their specialties were Scnitzel ala Holstein (a wienerschnitzel with a poached egg on top) and Drei Schnitzel ala Berliner (a schnitzel of veal, a schnitzel of pork and a scnitzel of beef). All were served with noodles and huge steins of beer. Checkered table cloths, singing waiters and strolling muscians made up the ambiance. One night our group was seated at the table where Victor Herbert and his cronies formed ASCAP. I always wanted to go back, but never made it.

  21. al janitz Says:

    my randparents, and parents dinned at luchows, i never was fortunate
    enough to do so. my uncle was an accountant for the place. at an antique
    fair in phillipsburg n.j. i picked up a medallion that says luchows along the top, depicting deer, grapes, foliage, a beer stein, and a knights
    headdress. i polished it and initials on the back are d. j. l. in flowing
    script

  22. gary watson Says:

    I was never fortunate enough to get to Luchow’s being from the mid-west. I do however possess the cook book by Jan Mitchell. I have made the Sauerbraten mit potato dumplings. EXCELLENT!! We had several good German restaurants around Cincinnati at one time- they are gone as well . If you find the cook book buy it and try the recipes. You will not be dis-appointed.

  23. JAnice wood Pfaus Says:

    My futire husband and I ate at Luchows twice in the mid 70’s. Once he ordered the roasted suckling pig, the other time weiner schnitzel. I don’t remember what I ate but i recall the decor, dark wood, very severe. I am so sorry it’s gone. But it reminds me of my younger self-a blushing girl in her 20’s and in love.

  24. John j Says:

    Hello my name is John,
    My grandparents lived in Brooklyn ny, I live in Oklahoma city. In the 60’s and early 70’s my grandparents educated me on manhattan food. One of the best places they took me to eat was Luchowes. It was always the holiday season when I would visit. I remember a round tall table in the front of the restaurant with a tall Christmas tree on the table. The food was unbelievable. My grandpas favorite meal at(405) 844-4117 Luchowes was the pigs nuckles. I think he had to ask for this meal since it wasn’t on the menu. I remember it being one of the most amazing meals I ever ate. I’m sorry that Luchowes is a thing of the past. Manhattan will always have the biggest part of my heart. I still visit often, and can see me as a young boy with my new York family, eating one amazing meal after another.

  25. Fred Schultz Says:

    On several trips to NYC as a child from Ohio- this restaurant a must. Is it my imagination or did they still have boys in uniforms walking around with small chalkboard signs and small bells with names written on it, informing diners of a telephone call? For years, all I wanted to do when I got older was to move to New York City and be a Luchow’s telephone boy.

    Side bar: On that same trip, my mother took a friend to the new Four Seasons for lunch. No one in Defiance Ohio could believe that anyone could possibly spend a total of $16.00 for lunch (!) for two.

    Fred from Ohio

  26. AVM Says:

    You wrote: you can try to cook the specialties at home, but don’t be surprised if they don’t taste the same..

    Today, I just came across a 1952 Luchow’s cookbook…anything interest you, any dish you remember and would liek the recipe?

    AVM

    • Green daisy Says:

      Post an easy one!
      God, I love the Internet.

    • Ron Says:

      would love to find a copy myself. I grew up in Ridgewood, Queens where German restaurants were common but Luchows had eloquence.

      I already have their saurbraten recipe…how about their red cabbage recipe, please!

  27. CPAMS Says:

    My Dad used to go there all the time with his Uncle after a Brooklyn Dodgers’ game.

    He loved the place.

    I got there a couple times on 14th St and once when it moved up to Mid-town.

  28. carolyn gates Says:

    My mother was born in NY to German immigrants. My father came to U.S. from Germany in 1922 and of course, settled in NY. He and my mother met and married in 1931. They moved to a small town in Conn. in 1935. As a child, we frequently went into NY and visited Ridgewood, especially the German butchers and the bakeries. Going to Luchows was a twice a year treat. I went for the first time in 1954 when I was six years old. I still remember the waiter with the crisp white napkin draped over his arm and I was astounded when he pulled my chair out and held it for me! I always begged to go to Luchows whenever we went into NY to visit relatives. It was a magical place….beautiful in so many ways! I wish I had gone back before it was closed and had taken my husband and children. I would love to see pictures posted if anyone has some!!

    Carolina

  29. Eileen Vetri Latteri Says:

    Growing up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn..we went to Luchows ever December for my parents anniversary with a large invited group 100-150 people and would sit arround the Christmas Tree ..this was in 1940 to 1970’s wish it were there to take my grandchildren there…EILEEN

  30. Tom Rempe Says:

    My grandfather was a German immigrant who ran a small deli on the lower East Side. He once took me to Luchow’s when I was 10 years old. It was an event I will always remember.
    A few years ago when my father died, I found in his collectables a circa 50s menu from Luchows. It looks new, unused and just like it would have looked right off the printer. I know it was circa 50s because that is when my father would have gone there and the phone number is GR7-4860. I am currently 67.
    I am considering putting this old menu up for auction on Ebay but have no idea what it is worth. It is in pristine condition.
    Any advise from anyone?

    • Christine Lites Says:

      Hi Tom, My Father worked at Luchows during the 50’s and I have a menu as well. If you do manage to sell it, I would sure be interested in knowing how much you get. I have hung on to mine for sentimental reasons, but…. for the right price, who knows?

  31. Mickey Mouth Says:

    While distributing items that my mother-in-law had given me I found in her place setting box a spoon (a demitask size – spelling??) inscribed with A. Luchow, cast by Meriden Brita Co.
    Is this of any value to anone?
    If not will pass on to granddaughter.
    Thanks

  32. Larry Says:

    I was taken to Luchow’s when I was 13 back in 1973. It is one of my fondest memories of my trip to New York to visit my older sister. I even saw Arlene Francis of all people.

  33. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Probably cutting out on What’s My Line?

  34. Ruth H Kosco Says:

    Even though I live in Az. now I have fond memories of Luchow”s as I was born and raised in NJ. I have been trying to learn if the beautiful bar was lost in the fire.

  35. George H Says:

    Best German restaurant in the city in those days. Christmas was the absolute most festive place in NY…

  36. Milt Kamen Says:

    The German apple pancake with tons of whipped cream was
    the specialty that brought us to Luchow. Often copied but
    never duplicated.

  37. L>M>Mooney Says:

    This brings back memories,all happy.We worked at 21st Street and 5th Ave so ir was a short ride in a cab on friday nt for dinner.This was in the late 50 early 60.Loved that place.

  38. Eileen Mack Says:

    Here’s a link to some items on eBay.
    I have the same ashtray as pictured!

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/Collectibles-/1/i.html?_nkw=Luchow%27s

  39. LEONARD DAVENPORT Says:

    I have a wonderful menu from January 31, 1949 – a dozen blue point oysters 90¢! Diamondback Terripin for $3.50 – Engraving of Horse and Buggy in front of the Restaurant! And the assurance that ALL TRANSPORTATION LINES STOP AT LUCHOW’S!

  40. Bill Says:

    I have an 1847 Rogers Brothers tablespoon with “A. Luchow” engraved on the handle which I would like to give to any of his descendants.

  41. m crockett marsh Says:

    I ate one time at Luchow’s, in 1967 I think, with some buddies from college – I grew up in Ridgewood NJ. I swiped a covered beer mug (thumb lever top) and still have it on my bookshelves. The only other German restaurant I considered as good is Karl Ratzsch’s Old World in Milwaukee. Too bad Luchow’s is gone – great food!

  42. john l. Says:

    i have an ashtray made of bronz looks like a sea shell with a nacked lady laying across it and on the back it says luchow,s dimand jim brady room.any one know anything about this ashtray?

  43. Florian Menninger Jr Says:

    My memories of Luchow’s on 14th St goes back to the 50’s. It was my dad and uncle’s favorite restaurant in NYC. They had a favorite table in the bar area and a favorite waiter. Jan Mitchell stopped by when he was there to say hello.
    After putting up the holiday decorations at Menninger’s Bakery in Ridgewood, my cousin and I were treated to dinner at Luchow’s
    The whole family went to Luchow’s for dinner after the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. We sat at a large table in the main dining room right next to the very large Christmas tree

  44. Christina Czerwinski-Oschay Says:

    My heart is broken, hearing of the loss of Luchows. The love of my life and I dined there very often. Now, both of them are gone…but the memories live on. Farewell to Henry and to Luchows! You are both missed so very much.

  45. MARILYN Says:

    I use to work close to Luchow’s. My company use to take us there for the Christmas Lunc. I like this place very much and the good food. With my husband we allways went there at special occasions. We are Hungarian, and this was a special place for us. I miss this place, I had nice times there an now nice memories for the GOOD OLD TIMES.

  46. Happy Birthday W.H. Auden, East Villager Says:

    […] Born on February 21, 1907, Wystan Hugh Auden would be 107 today. That sounds impossible – until you consider that there is a woman living on East 12th Street who turned 111 this past August. Who knows, she and Wystan may have bumped elbows once or twice at Luchow’s. […]

  47. An incredible map of 1930s Greenwich Village | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] always exist anymore. Jefferson Market prison, the Washington Square Bookshop, the Village Barn, Luchow’s, and Wanamaker’s department store are all long […]

  48. JR Morris Says:

    The first time I ate at Luchows was in 1953, before I sailed for Germany with the US Army. The last time I ate there was in the Christmas season of 1981, under the tall Christmas tree. I have the menu from that occasion framed and on my kitchen wall. Now sadly it is all that is left of that grand place–except all these wonderful memories.

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