When you think NYC food, you think the best in the nation. Let’s eat those bagels, pizzas, and burgers first and then move on to the fancy stuff. Special shout out to M. Wang who lived in Manhattan for 6 years and provided most of these recs! Items are listed in priority order with the neighborhood in parentheses. Anything in italics is on my to-do list.
1a. Murray’s Bagels
($, Chelsea): Delicious traditional New York-style bagels. Try the plain or the everything. 242 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011
1b. Absolute Bagels
($, Upper West Side): Bagels galore and get the lox. It’s delicious!!! If you want to
2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. You can also try H&H Midtown Bagels East on the Upper East Side.
1c. Daniel’s Bagel
($, Midtown East): Traditional NYC deli and bake shop. Old school, local, family-owned. 569 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016.
($$, East Village): Brick-oven Neopolitan-style thin crust pizza with with gourmet toppings. Best pizza in New York! Try the clam pie. 349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003
($$, Bushwick, Brooklyn): Wood-fired, inventive food that popular with the hipsters.
261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206. Another pizzeria you can try while far out in Brooklyn is Pauly Gee’s located at 60 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222.
($$, West Village): One of the first of new wave Neapolitan wood-fired pizzerias with vegan & gluten-free options in a tiny space. 271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014. Don’t forget to check out their sister pizzeria Don Antonio ($$, Midtown West). 309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019.
($, Multiple locations): Good, cheap late night booze food. It’s artichoke dip pizza. It’s so bad it’s good.
3a. Shake Shack
($, Multiple locations): See what the craze is about. If you missed the Shacks at the JFK terminals, get a Shackburger or better yet, get the ‘Shroom burger! No regrets. Except you should skip the custard – it’s not that great. If you’re not feeling burgers and just want steak/meat, try Peter Luger Steak House ($$$$, Multiple locations) which is known for its old-school waitstaff and its perfectly cooked porterhouse; also note that it is a cash-only place.
3b. JG Melon
($$, Upper East Side): Old school, no frills burger pub and grill that is cash-only. kitsch décor on this local landmark. 1291 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021. If not the JG Melon burger, try the lamb burger at The Breslin. 16 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001.
3c. Minetta Tavern
($$$, Greenwich Village): Expensive joint but worth it for their Black Label Burger is as they say “Black Label.” To get at this hoity toity vintage French bistro, don’t forget to make your reservation. 113 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012.
($$, Clinton Hill/Brooklyn): If you need a burger & pizza joint in Brooklyn, check out Emily in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn which serves up quirky pizzas and its famous Emmy burger ($19). 919 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11238.
4a. Locanda Verde
($$$, TriBeCa): Try Chef Andrew Carmellini’s soul-satisfying urban Italian menu at this taverna. 377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013.
($$$, Midtown West): Breakfast & brunch are the specialties of this high-end dining room in the Parker Meridien Hotel; they have a $10K french toast! 119 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019.
($$, Greenwich Village): If you feel like saving some money, check out the cozy and toasty place for delicious American brunch. What more can you ask for? 100 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012.
($$, Nolita): Neighborhood Italian spot serving Italian-American classics and thin-crust pizza. 235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012.
($$, Multiple locations): Casual restaurant and sandwich shop serving items like Meatball Parm Hero for $12.
($$$, Brooklyn): Venetian restaurant – fancy and super delicious.
($, Upper West Side): Just a specialty food/grocery store with kosher meats. No biggie but if you’re there, get the knish! It’s super tasty and cheap. Skip the pre-made smoked salmon bagel. It was cold. Don’t forget to get a black & white cookie while you are there.
2245 Broadway New York, NY 10024
6b. Russ & Daughters
($$, Lower East Side): The best lox ever in a family-owned, specialty seafood market. I want the bagel with lox! They also have a cafe version. Don’t forget to get a black & white cookie here as well.
179 E Houston St New York, NY 10002
($$, SoHo): Good for brunch, make sure to try the chocolate babka, smoked fish, housemade bagels, and other Jewish appetizing fare in this vintage bakery.
463 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012
($$, Lower East Side) – An iconic NYC establishment that is no-frills, cash-only, and popular with tourists and locals alike, serves up towering hand-carved pastrami on rye since 1888. 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
7b. Num Pang
($, Multiple locations, Cambodian): With six NYC locations under it’s belt, this local sandwich chain knows how to please the picky NYC crowds. Try the five-spice glazed pork belly that’s a mere $8.75 on a banh mi-style bun.
($, Brooklyn): Get the hot chicken on the soft wheat rolll and other mammath sandwiches at this offshoot of Brooklyn butcher shop the Meat Hook.
495 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211.
($$, East Village): The wait is incredibly long but thankfully there is a Momofuku milk bar nearby. Get anything and it will be Asian fusion interestingness in a good way.
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003.
($, Multiple locations): If you feel like eating noodles, this place is for you. With locations all over the city, you won’t have to scavenger for their amazing spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles. Previously just a stand in a Flushing food court, Xi’an is now a mini NYC empire.
8c. Sushi Yasuda
($$$$, Midtown East): This minimalist, bamboo decor sushi restaurant offers the city’s most pristine fatty tuna.
9a. Totto Ramen
($$, Multiple locations): A long wait on the weekends but tasty ramen. Remember it’s cash only!
9b. Ippudo Ramen
($$, Multiple locations): With a more classic, traditional approach to ramen, Ippudo serves up great spicy versions.
9c. Ivan Ramen
($$, Lower East Side): With two Tokyo locations successfully up, the noodle master Ivan Orkin infuses this Jewish Long Island upbringing with age-old ramen traditions.
($$, Brooklyn, NY): Get this $16 lobster that’s served in warm roll, browned with a touch of butter. Simple, generous, and delicious.
284 Van Brunt St Brooklyn, NY 11231.
10b. Lobster Joint
($$, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY): Moar lobster.
201 E Houston St New York, NY 10002
10c. Luke’s Lobster
($$, Multiple locations): Lobster roll! The crab and shrimp rolls don’t compare. Just get the lobster roll! Skip the taste of Maine, people!
Can you make it over to Smorgasburg?!? It’s a crazy delicious Brooklyn flea food market that is absolutely worth its travel time. Open only on Saturdays and Sundays, the seasonal outdoor foodie market changes location depend on the time and day you go – check ahead of time.
EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT
Want to visit an Italian food hall? Try Eataly – it’s Mario Batali’s food hall filled with Italian seafood, pasta, gelato, specialities, groceries, and more. It’s cute but not super impressive.
EXTRA EXTRA FANCY CREDIT
Do you have the money??? For super fancy dining, try Blanca ($$$$, Bushwick, Brooklyn), Gramercy Tavern ($$$$. Flat Iron), The Modern ($$$$, Midtown West), ABC Kitchen ($$$, Flatiron, New American/French), The NoMad Restaurant ($$$$, French/Spanish), Bouley ($$$$, TriBeCa, French), Bâtard ($$$$, TriBeCa, French), Cafe Boulad ($$$$, Upper East Side, French), Rebelle ($$$, French), Momofuku Ko ($$$$, East Village, Asian Fusion), Gotham Bar & Grill, Nobu, Cosme, Masa, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, Del Posto, Gabriel Kreuther, and Le Bernandin. I can’t afford these restaurants so the source of this list is here.
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