We’ve often had tour guests say they feel New Yorkers’ conversations seem dominated by the topic of food. It’s true. There are just so many restaurants fusing inventive concepts and delicious food and drink not to spend 75% of your income frequenting them.
This also means locating the best of the best palate pleasers can be tricky.
To help you find where to eat in NYC for the most memorable experience we’ve rounded up a list of our most life-changing meals. Most of these we’ve had a least one dream about after savoring. Have anything you’d like to add to the list? Please share in the comments below.
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1. A sweet and tangy Hibiscus donut from Dough Brooklyn in Bedstuy.
2. Mee Goreng from the Malaysian restaurant Rasa features instant Maggi Noodles, fried onions, fried egg and chili.
3. If you love mac and cheese, you’ll love Mac Bar. Their 12 delicious mac and cheese variations are served in a yellow noodle-shaped bowl in a yellow noodle-shaped store in Soho. You can never go wrong with the Classic, but there are dishes to satisfy a variety of tastes.
4. The Murray’s Melt at Murray’s Cheese Bar in the West Village is the stuff dreams are made of — at least if you’re not lactose intolerant — with a secret cheese blend and bacon on a pullman loaf, served with a hot smokey tomato soup.
5. No, the Crack Pie from Milk Bar (they have outposts all over the city) doesn’t actually contain crack, although it is extremely addictive, a sort of gooey butter cake and chess pie combo in a toasted oat crust.
6. Specialty pizzas made from a double wood burning Vesuvio clay oven at Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen, one of our favorite spots all around for regional Italian food.
7. Buffalo Pig Ears from Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick. They taste like bacon French fries!
8. Calle Ocho in the Upper West Side begins their amazing Nuevo Latino experience with yucca-made bread rolls. Get the shellfish and chorizo salmon and the house-made Sangria, the best we’ve ever had in NYC!
9. El Maguey Y La Tuna in the Lower East Side is an absolutely adorable family-run eatery with a divey atmosphere that serves authentic, homemade Mexican food for cheap. We love their stuffed jalapeños, house-made chorizo burrito and margaritas (made without sour mix!).
10. The NoMad Hotel in Flatiron, with its multiple rooms — like a naturally-lit Atrium and a quiet library fully culinary and cocktail books — is a memorable splurge. The $16 cocktails are so, so, so worth it (we like having something bespoke made for my spicy tastebuds), and the truffle-stuffed chicken is as delicious as it sounds.
11. Brunch at Cafe Cortadito in the East Village means sweet plantain omelet with Spanish chorizo and ham and strong pitchers of Champagne mojitos.
12. A 100% grass-fed beef burger at Sugarburg paired with one of their awesome craft beers or whiskeys in Williamsburg.
13. You can’t really go wrong with any of Pegu Club‘s craft cocktails; however, we personally love the herbal Pisco Sour-like “Earl Grey MarTEAni” with lemon juice, simple syrup, Earl Grey tea–infused Tanqueray gin, an egg white and a lemon twist garnish.
14. The Cuban sandwich paired with unlimited booze brunch spicy margaritas (warning: danger!) at Yerba Buena in Alphabet City.
15. Horchata cocktails and the homemade guacamole sampler at Horchata NYC in the West Village.
16. Sushisamba in the West Village serves tasty super fresh sushi, along with dishes fusing Latin and Japanese cuisine. We love the Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno and lemongrass for an herbal kick.
17. Chicken Lamprais from Sigiri Sri Lanka Restaurant in the East Village — medium to very spicy! It’s a Dutch-influenced dish featuring a bed of rice with chicken, fish cutlet, boil egg, ash plantains and eggplant wrapped in banana leaf and baked in a low oven.
18. Oxtail sloppy joes from The Rookery Bar in Bushwick — especially eaten on their outdoor patio.
19. Pies ‘n’ Thighs chicken, waffles and buttermilk biscuits in Williamsburg is farm-to-table southern deliciousness, as are the butter pecan crunch donuts with poached blueberry filling.
20. Craft beers and video games at Barcade in Williamsburg.
21. Bantam Bagels sells bagel balls — yes, you read that right — stuffed with interesting fillings, like the “French Toast” featuring a cinnamon nutmeg egg bagel filled with a butter maple syrup cream cheese, or the “Grandma JoJo,” an Italian-spiced bagel infused with thin-sliced marinated tomatoes and filled with fresh basil pesto cream cheese.
22. One of our favorite sweet spots in Brooklyn is The Chocolate Room in Carroll Gardens, where you can order a half organic Fair Trade coffee and a half house-made dark hot chocolate, called “The Lou.”
23. Pickled pineapple from The Pickle Guys, where as soon as you walk in you’ll become immersed in colorful pickle barrels, with numerous varieties of typical pickles as well as more unusual pickled items and fruits.
24. A chicken parm sandwich with a side of Buffalo cucumbers from Parm.
25. A juicy burger with a side of chicken liver toast from The Spotted Pig in the West Village is a must-have meal on your NYC trip.
26. Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine features large delicious portions for a cheap price, with anything you order — get the Cuban sandwich or the baked chicken with sweet plantains — enhanced by their signature spicy green sauce.
27. Farm-to-table chilaquiles from the adorably hipster 983 – Bushwick’s Living Room during brunch, best served with a Mason jar Bloody Mary.
28. Pod 39‘s sexy rooftop features views of the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, the Chrysler building and the East River, extra enjoyable paired with Salvation Tacos and a “Salvation Margarita” with chili salt.
29. A Sicilian slice followed by the homemade spumoni at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend is worth the trip, although if you don’t want to leave Manhattan Artichoke Basille’s Pizza‘s artichoke dip-topped wedge is another worthwhile food itinerary addition.
30. Brooklyn Oenology in Williamsburg is uber focused on New York food, drink and art, and is a great place to do some inexpensive wine tasting while nibbling the day’s charcuterie selection.
31. Artisanal charcuterie — seriously, the best in the city — and rare and delicious craft beers sourced from around the world at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg. They also have tasty specialty sodas and a patio!
32. We love the 24-hour marinated pork short ribs served in a clay pot from A Casa Fox, especially delicious in winter near their fireplace.
33. Squid ink strozzapreti with olive oil poached skate and pumpkin seed pangrattato at Faro in Brooklyn. They offer an eight-course tasting menu focused on showcasing the diverse array of pastas that exist in the world on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm.
34. Lamb kebabs from Savoury NYC, who specialize in fusing Northern & Southern Indian cuisines in a modern style with everything made fresh in house.
35. Hot pot at 99 Favor Taste in the Lower East Side makes for a fun and cheap night out with friends, as you cook your own meats, veggies and noodles in the boiling pot in front of you.
36. A green tea shaved cream ice gowned in condensed milk from Snowdays NYC; light, fluffy and sweet!
37. Boozy cupcakes that actually taste like cocktails and are filled with alcohol — you must be 21 to enter — at Prohibition Bakery on the Lower East Side. The Pretzels & Beer Cupcake is outstanding.
38. The Good Batch in Clinton Hill makes sustainable ice cream sandwiches the size of a dinner plate, featuring giant homemade cookies with ice cream stuffed in between. Get it with a latte art-adorned coffee!
39. The bahn mi’s at Bánh Mì Saigon in Nolita are delicious, especially the spicy BBQ pork with jalapenos and pickled carrots.
40. Popcorn is one of our all-time favorite foods, with our favorite artisanal popcorn joint being Pop Karma, who serve flavors like Spanish Barbecue, Masala, Zen Cheddar and Pure Caramel. The White Truffle Cheddar, supremely addictive and satisfying.
41. At Arepera Guacuco in Bushwick you’ll find delicious Venezuelan arepas and empanadas made with a farm-to-fork touch. Order the Pernil, spiced pulled pork shoulder and cheddar cheese, or the Pabellon blending shredded beef, salty cheese, sweet plantains and black beans.
42. In Sunset Park you’ll find amazing Ecuadorian food at El Tesoro Ecuatoriano. Order the Sopa Marinera seafood soup with huge chunks of crab and lobster, and the Hornado de Chancho made with tender pork wrapped in a crispy skin.
43. Katz’s Delicatessen — open since 1888 in the Lower East Side — serves a melt-in-your-mouth pastrami sandwich that’s the size of your head.
44. Homemade cupcakes thoughtfully paired with wine and beer at Sweet Revenge in the West Village make for a fun evening. Get the signature “Sweet Revenge” — peanut butter cake with a ganache center and peanut butter fudge frosting paired with Juan Benegas Malbec, Argentina, or Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss, Germany.
45. Faicco’s Italian Specialties‘ arancini — rice balls coated in bread crumbs — are the best in the city, with the West Village shop opened in 1896 by Edward Faicco who immigrated to NYC from Sorrento, Italy.
46. Exploring on a budget? The 3-deck lobster boat restaurant called the North River Lobster Co offering a free sail, beautiful skyline views, uber fresh lobster and Mason jar cocktails — for free! Well, you pay for the food, but the sail itself is complimentary and you can stay on as long as you like.
47. Turkish simit (healthier and better on your waistline than a bagel) served with Turkish figs and a ricotta topped with pepper and honey at Simit + Smith.
48. OddFellows Ice Cream in Williamsburg and the East Village sells totally made-from-scratch ice cream, even making their own base — an extremely rare thing to find in the US — and crafts atypical flavors using chef-driven methods. Some favorites: Black Pepper Strawberry, Saffron Passionfruit, Oatmeal Cookie Dough, S’mores and Buttermilk Honey Blueberry, although keep in mind flavors rotate.
49. Molly’s Cupcakes in the West Village is a must, whether you’re traveling with kids or a kid at heart. Create your own cupcake or order the Salted Caramel Butterscotch — vanilla cake stuffed with butterscotch caramel pudding and topped with salted vanilla buttercream and caramel drizzle — to savor at their whimsical swing-adorned bar. Board games lining the shelves are a fun addition.
Note: As restaurant and bar menus are constantly changing, make sure to call ahead to ensure an item is still available before visiting one of the below venues. Got a food or drink to add to the list? Would love to hear it in the comments below.
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