The Big Apple is a city unlike any other, with people from all around the world living, working, and playing in the ultimate urban jungle. With so many people in one relatively small place, it’s no surprise New York City’s culinary offerings are varied and extensive. They’re so extensive, in fact, that the sheer abundance of options can make navigating the dining scene a bit intimidating.
Whether it’s a first foray into acclaimed fine dining or a quick bite of the best slice in the city, some research goes a long way in discovering the true gems. To help with that task, this guide breaks down NYC’s most essential foodie fundamentals. The only thing not included? An appetite to sample it all.
Iconic NYC Dishes
Many of New York City’s most iconic food items are synonymous with American cuisine. Think massive, thin slices of pizza you have to fold to eat, street vendor-style hot dogs, and gyros.
For an authentic Big Apple experience, however, seek out versions unique to NYC. The city has many of its own impressive regional spins on some of its most esteemed dishes. Here’s what to look for:
- New York pizza: Whether it’s a slice on the go or a celebrated sit-down pizzeria, there’s no food more essential to the city. Foodies should prioritize sampling the iconic thin-crust style, ideally simple cheese or pepperoni, to let the rustic ingredients speak for themselves.
- Bagels: There’s no better chewy bite to start the morning. Expect to find a beloved bagel shop in nearly every NYC neighborhood, and if you want to do as the locals do, try an everything or onion bagel, lightly toasted, with a shmear (plain cream cheese), or topped with lox.
- Hot dogs: Most often served streetside from a cart, juicy hot dogs are a New York City classic. Don’t be surprised if many vendors don’t have ketchup — the NYC way is mustard with sauerkraut or onions, sometimes relish.
- Pastrami on rye: The epitome of NYC deli culture, the perfect lunchtime sandwich is hearty and unique to the city.
- Pastries: Insta-famous cronuts, elaborate cupcakes, and cream-filled Italian pastries are worth seeking out, as NYC takes sweet treats seriously.
Best NYC Neighborhoods for Foodies
While there are delectable bites in every corner of New York City, some neighborhoods stand out for the density of their culinary offerings. Whether you’re designing the perfect self-guided food crawl or hoping to immerse yourself into a specific epicurean genre, head to these sections of NYC to discover the extraordinary.
Manhattan’s East Village is hard to beat for a bit of everything, from chef-driven restaurants to delicious cheap eats. Sample popular and delicious pierogis and sausages, but know this buzzing culinary destination has exploded over the last few decades to suit every craving.
From Portuguese and Laotian to some of NYC’s best Mexican food, head to the East Village to savor tasting menus or find a new casual weeknight spot.
Always happening Williamsburg consistently generates foodie buzz. Dig into a dish, and it’s easy to see why. Whether it’s the hottest new BBQ joint, old-school steak houses, or a hip new vegan eatery, eclectic is the best way to summarize Williamsburg. While racking up a pricey tab here is easy, don’t discount more casual options like incredible falafel and noodle bowls.
Head to Flushing to discover a whirlwind of Asian options at affordable prices. This vibrant neighborhood is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, so whether it’s Xian-style hand-pulled noodles, juicy wontons, or a Dim Sum brunch, this is the place to get it.
For delicious grilled meats with a strong side of smoke, venture to Murray Hill to try out NYC’s best Korean BBQ. If you’re looking for some of NYC’s best vegetarian dining, make your way to the Hindu temple on nearby Holly Ave.
Quintessential NYC Restaurants
As a city revered by foodies, some spots rise above the rest to receive perennial love and attention. There are many reasons why, so it’s worth seeking out NYC’s most celebrated institutions to sample the classics at their best. The following restaurants have long weathered the ups and downs while others closed their doors.
- Peter Luger Steak House: Opened in 1887, this New York restaurant is equally famous for its impeccably prepared Porterhouse steak as its aversion to credit cards. The beef here truly melts in the mouth, including the lunchtime burger.
- Katz’s Deli: The city’s oldest deli is still the place to get a pastrami sandwich, always served without a smile. Allocate time to wait, as the line never ends.
- Roberta’s Pizza: The storied hipster haunt in a warehouse nails classic Neapolitan-style pizza. Expect quirky decor and a pie to remember.
- Gray’s Papaya: The city’s most famous brick-and-mortar hot dog joint serves a dependable frank alongside tropical drinks.
Hottest Restaurant Openings in NYC
The Big Apple fosters innovation, especially when it comes to food. With constant new openings and a sea of competitors, it’s easy to crave more. Foodies in this bustling city embrace trying something new; finding the next big hit is as New York as it gets.
- Caleta: Opened by an acclaimed husband and wife duo, Caleta is an ice cream shop by day and a tapas and wine bar by night.
- Rezdôra: This Michelin-starred restaurant dishes out impeccable pasta, but reservations are tough to snag.
- Anixi: Over-the-top vegan takes on Mediterranean food set in an ornate chandelier-clad dining room.
- Balkan StrEAT: Famed Momofuku alum William Djuric serves excellent grilled meats and baked goods in what’s dubbed the hottest fast-casual addition to NYC’s international dining scene.
Discover NYC as a Foodie
New York City is an incredible destination for foodies who want to delve into the depths of unique dishes, flavors, and cultures beyond big-name eateries. From street food to gourmet experiences and everything in between, NYC has it all. So venture out and discover NYC as a true foodie – your taste buds will thank you!