Saturday, June 15, 2024

    The Top 10 essential New York City eating experiences


    No matter what your budget, you’ll find it almost impossible to go hungry in New York. But do you want to eat what you can eat any day of the week back home, or do you want a uniquely New York City eating experience? Read on for ten essential New York City eating experiences.

    A Slice of Pizza

    The best slice in New York is a matter of perpetual debate, but most reasonable people agree that it’s meant to be eaten standing up, folded to capture the grease before it stains your clothes.

    Our recommendation: Joe’s Pizza

    Bagel with a Schmear

    If there is anything more simply satisfying than a fresh, piping-hot bagel topped with a schmear of cream cheese, I don’t know what it is. Many people love it with lox, tomato, and onion; it’s one of the most popular breakfast items in New York. You can find bagels and lox in diners and delis all over the city, but the quality isn’t assured; go to the specialists to get it right.

    Our recommendation: Best Bagel & Coffee

    The Top 10 essential New York City eating experiences
    The Top 10 essential New York City eating experiences

    Chicken and Waffles

    You’re out late, the sky is getting lighter, and you can’t decide whether you want dinner or breakfast. You can’t resist the fried chicken, but waffles sound good, too. So you try a little of both together — maple syrup melding with hot sauce, sweet with savory. And that is the purported legend behind this funky combination. If you’re visiting from Chicago, Los Angeles, or Atlanta, where you can also find chicken and waffles, you may wonder what claim New York has to this dish. Try its origins: Its birthplace is said to be Wells Chicken and Waffles in Harlem in 1938. Wells is long gone but a number of Harlem restaurants continue what Wells started.

    Our recommendation: Clinton St. Baking Company


    There used to be countless Cuban-Chinese restaurants in Manhattan, most found on the Upper West Side. The boom began in the late 1950s after the Cuban revolution and the beginning of the Castro regime. Chinese Cubans emigrated to New York and opened up restaurants serving both Cantonese-style Chinese food and traditional Cuban food. A few are left, some pairing Chinese dishes with other Latin American cuisines.

    Our recommendation: Flor de Mayo

    Dining in a Diner

    Yes, we realize that the diner is an American institution, not just a New York one. But New York diners are a breed apart. Largely owned and operated by Greek immigrants since the 1940s (which explains the inclusion of menu items such as gyros and spanakopita alongside the standard pancakes and BLTs), diners in the city are the definition of democratic, equally welcoming to the well-heeled and the round-heeled. The food is reliably cheap and filling; the ambience is “only in New York.” They’re also a dying breed.

    Our recommendation: Johny’s Luncheonette

    The Hot Dog

    Let me be frank with you: I am not a fan of the street-cart hot dog. But you can find the carts all over town and you may be tempted to try one just to say you did, so go for it — it’s definitely a New York experience.

    Our recommendation: Rudy’s Bar & Grill

    person holding bun with hotdog
    The Top 10 essential New York City eating experiences

    The New York Cheesecake

    The classic New York cheesecake is harder to find than you may expect. Many city dessert makers have claimed to bring together the requisite qualities — creaminess, lightness, the right level of sweetness — but as with bagels and pizza, there’s a great diversity of opinion when it comes to crowning the best.

    Our recommendation: Veniero’s Pasticceria & Caffe

    The New York Oyster

    There was a time when New York was more the Big Oyster than the Big Apple. The local harbor beds were overflowing with oysters and the mollusk helped feed the city. But you don’t want to eat an oyster from New York Harbor these days (for obvious reasons).

    Our recommendation: Lobster Place

    The New York Strip

    The restaurant scene in New York is extremely volatile, but one constant is the steakhouse. The steakhouse does not have to worry about trends or gimmicks. Sure, there were some rocky moments when red meat was considered a no-no by the diet police, but the steakhouse weathered the storm and not only survived but thrived. Some of New York’s oldest restaurants are steakhouses, and for good reason: They keep it simple. They serve quality, properly aged meat cooked perfectly and presented in a no-nonsense, no-frills manner.

    Our recommendation: Keens Steakhouse

    cooked meat on wooden surface beside drink and foods in bowls
    The Top 10 essential New York City eating experiences

    Ice Cream with a View

    The Brooklyn Bridge is surely on your New York itinerary. You can time your walk to coincide with lunchtime, or you can wait until closer to dusk. If you wait until sunset, you can eat your ice cream with the visual treat of the twinkling lights on the buildings of Manhattan across the river. Not that it needs the enhancement, but your ice cream will taste even better with that view.

    Our recommendation: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

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