Of course, New York City is known for the flamboyant Times Square, unforgettable skyline and a massive array of shops, museums, and more.
But what I care about even more is the food – and trust me it’s all to die for. Since there are so many options, you’ve got to prioritize, so make sure you try these 50 most quintessential NYC eats ASAP.
1. Porterhouse from Peter Luger Steakhouse
Peter Luger has got this down pat. Not a fan of porterhouse? Find the beef for you.
2. The Classic from Di Fara Pizza
Classic taken up a notch. A brilliant mix of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, sausage, peppers and onions, topped with drizzled olive oil and basil leaves. Wonder just how much NY loves pizza? Watch this video.
3. Pork Bun from Momofuku Noodle Bar
Momofuku Noodle Bar’s absolute specialty – cooked deliciously for the past 10 years. Finish your meal up with a classic Momofuku dessert, made in your very own microwave of course.
4. Chicken Over Rice from The Halal Guys
Who wouldn’t want cheap street food that’ll be bound to give you a foodgasm? A brilliant NYC delicacy. Hear more about Halal Guys and their road to success here.
5. The Classic from Russ and Daughters
Because who doesn’t like a good bagel with lox? The beautiful set up makes the meal even heartier. Make your own breakfast sliders when you’re missing this bagel.
6. Cronut® from Dominique Ansel Bakery
Voted as one of the “25 best inventions” of 2013, this pastry is fried, sugared, filled and glazed. Brilliant, right? Good luck trying to make your own.
7. Mexican-Style Corn from Cafe Habana
Cafe Habana knows how to step up corn’s game. They slather grilled corn in a creamy concoction and sprinkle it with cayenne pepper, roll it in cojita cheese and drizzle with lime juice to complete the masterpiece. We know your corn won’t be as delish, but here are some easy ways to try to perfect your corn on the cob.
8. Recession Special from Gray’s Papaya
$6. 2 hotdogs. 1 drink. Now that’s a deal if I’ve ever seen one. Up your hot dog game by making it into a pizza.
9. Soft Pretzel from any Hot Dog Cart
You wouldn’t be truly experiencing New York if you didn’t buy a pretzel from a hot dog cart on the side of basically any street. Have some fun with your pretzels, too.
10. Black and White cookie from Glaser’s Bake Shop
Eating a black and white cookie is iconic and necessary. You wouldn’t truly be experiencing NYC without it.
11. Cheesecake from Junior’s
With options from red velvet to pineapple, Junior’s cheesecake is a NYC must. Try one-upping Junior’s (and failing) with this strawberry glazed cheesecake.
12. Bistro Burger from Corner Bistro
Crispy bacon, warm, melted cheddar cheese on a medium rare burger. What more could anyone want? If you’re a vegetarian, try making this black bean burger.
13. Bagel from any of these Bagel Shops
Of course a bagel is an essential at any location, but New York knows best. We’ve got the scoop on New York’s bagel secret. Get it here.
14. Spicy Ramen at Totto Ramen
Ramen perfection for under $15 dollars? Sounds good to me. Get the ramen hacks you need here.
15. Chocolate Babka from Breads Bakery
Rated “Best of NY chocolate babka” by New York Magazine, this NYC delicacy is a must-eat. Eat it alongside your coffee, for dessert, or even for lunch. If you want more chocolate babka in your life, try making this French toast.
16. Shack Burger from Shake Shack
Since Shake Shack was created in our very own NYC, it’d be wrong not to say their classic burger isn’t a necessity on your NYC food bucket list.
#SpoonTip: Here’s how to hack the menu.
17. Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie from Levain Bakery
It’s not a trend if you’re not in on it. Don’t worry, some fellow Spoonies taste-tested Levain’s cookies and we all agree that the chocolate chip walnut is hands down #1.
18. Waffle from Wafels and Dinges
Pimp your waffle up any way you like at Wafels and Dinges. This is a guaranteed foodstagram. For all you waffle lovers, here’s proof that waffles aren’t just for breakfast. You’re welcome.
19. Grilled Cheese Dumplings from Beauty & Essex
A truly sensual experience. Cheesy, bacon-y, tomato soup paradise all in one beautiful bite. After devouring these savory dumplings, make some sweet ones.
20. The Ramen Burger from Smorgasburg
If you haven’t been to Smorgasburg, all I can say is GO. Foodie paradise. The long line for the Ramen burger is well worth it and all of your Instagram followers will be drooling with jealousy. Here are some tips so that your Smorgasburg adventures are successful as can be.
21. The Salty Pimp from Big Gay Ice Cream
Just as pimpy as it sounds. Brace yourselves for the dulce de leche surprise underneath that crispy chocolate layer.
22. Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity 3
Nothing more New York than this. Chocolate lovers unite.
23. Cereal Milk™ from Milk Bar
Get the sprinkles for a guaranteed 100+ likes. Make sure you eat until you get to the bottom because there’s a cereal surprise.
24. Pastrami Sandwich from Katz’s Delicatessen
Pastrami and New York go together like Tom and Jerry. The line might be intimidating, but you haven’t lived before you’ve eaten this legendary sandwich.
25. Milk and Cookie Shots from Dominique Ansel Bakery
Who needs vodka when we’ve got milk and cookies? Dominique Ansel gets us foodies. And afterward, try making your own.
26. Pierogi from Veselka
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Veselka has got some kind of mouthwatering pierogi to satisfy your cravings. Get your dumpling knowledge on here – a pierogi and a jiaozi are very different, so don’t screw it up.
27. French Toast Bagels with Cake Batter Cream Cheese from Tompkin’s Square Bagels
As sweet as it sounds. Prepare yourself for a sugar high. You can make your own Insta-worthy bagels too – here’s how.
28. Donuts from Doughnut Plant
There can never be too many donuts. Try at least one of every kind. Although they won’t compare, try making your own homemade donuts.
29. Hot Chocolate from City Bakery
Tastes as beautiful, rich and chocolatey as it looks. Make sure you get your hot chocolate fix with these hearty recipes.
30. Fried Chicken from Amy Ruth’s
Fried chicken should be an essential food group in each and every one of our lives. You’ll devour this in seconds. If you needed further proof that fried chicken is the best chicken, just look at these dank pics.
31. Cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery
Giving us the best cupcakes since 1996, Magnolia’s cupcakes are the perfect balance of sweet, beautiful, and delicious. On another note, if you need an opinion on Magnolia’s new chocolate banana pudding, we’ve got you.
32. Manhattan Clam Chowder from Randazzo’s Clam Bar
How classic is it of New York to create our own version of something delicious? Pretty classic. But our version of clam chowder is even better than everyone else’s.
#SpoonTip: If you don’t understand the difference between the different types of shellfish, check this out. We’ve got you.
33. Knish from Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery
A knish is a foodie’s best friend. What could be better than a crispy layer surrounding a mushy, delicious filling inside?
Betcha didn’t know knishes were invented in NY. Check out some other surprising NYC inventions here.
34. Eggs Benedict from the Waldorf Astoria
A classic brunch at a classic location and a guaranteed feeling that you’re basically Blair Waldorf. Not in NYC? Make your own.
35. Pancakes from Clinton Street Baking Co.
The line often stretches out the door, but who cares? The wait is always worth the pancakes. Prepare for light, fluffy pancake deliciousness. For some stuck-at-college inspiration, check out these pancake variations.
36. Matzoh Ball Soup at 2nd Ave Deli
Whether it’s summer or winter, day or night, matzoh ball soup is always the perfect cure. 2nd Ave Deli’s soup is sure to satisfy and cure any hangover, heartbreak, or exhaustion. Matzoh isn’t only good for soup, so get creative.
37. Artichoke Pizza at Artichoke Basille’s
Drunchies or not, this pizza trumps basically all others. Here’s a gluten free alternative.
38. Bacon ‘Mac Fries at Sticky’s Finger Joint
The only thing better than French fries are bacon, cheddar loaded French fries. Thank goodness we understand the importance of overdoing everything. Drooling? Check out these crazy French fry creations.
39. Mac & Cheese Burger at The Ainsworth
Truly as drool-worthy as it looks and likely the most brilliant invention in all of humankind. Cook up these mac n’ cheese dishes to get your carb fix and you won’t be disappointed.
40. Nuggets at The Nugget Spot
10 nuggets for $10. Whether you’re into cheese or Sriracha, you’ll get your nugget fix (and don’t worry, they’ve got gluten-free and vegan options, too). Or, make ‘yo own pretzel-crusted honey mustard chicken nugs.
41. Brioche Ice Cream Sandwich at M’o Il Gelato
Your foodstagram followers won’t know what hit them when they see this on their feed. Who knew brioche was the secret to the ultimate ice cream sandwich?
42. Mac and Cheese Spring Rolls at Cafeteria
Because what’s better than mac and cheese taken to the next level? If you’re in town for a while, try these, too.
43. Crispy Rice Sushi at Momoya
Because would you really be a foodie if you didn’t keep up with all of the latest food trends? If you thought sushi was good, you’ll love this. Try making your own with this kicka$$ recipe.
44. Mac ‘n Cheese at The Smith
If the picture doesn’t do it for you, your first bite of The Smith’s mac and cheese will leave you forever indebted to this beautiful creation. Check out our very own rave reviews of The Smith.
45. Soup Dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai
Dumplings…and soup…together? Talk about brilliant. If you like these, try out these necessary soup dumpling eateries in NYC, too.
46. Taco Salad at By CHLOE
Vegan never looked so good. After eating this, you’ll probably want to start eating vegan all the time. Learn more about veganism here.
47. Fried Chicken and Waffles at Sweet Chick
Sweet Chick’s southern flair in the heart of New York City makes a clear statement with its delicious menu. Chicken and waffles is a to-die-for pair, but Sweet Chick’s version is the absolute best. Can’t get enough of the pair? Make it into a cookie.
48. Lemon Ricotta Pancakes at Sarabeth’s
As light and fluffy as they sound. Sarabeth’s truly knows how to do brunch right. If you’re a betchy bruncher, check out these top bruncheries around New York.
49. Hibiscus Donut at Dough
Dough knows how to make a delicious twist on something that’s already pretty freakin’ delicious. This donut is a must-try for all donut lovers and food lovers. Check out these crazy donuts, too.
50. Sante Fe Steak Quesadilla at Benny’s Burritos
If you like Mexican food, you’ll love this. Make sure to order the Loony Clooney (it’s a light up tower of margaritas made with George Clooney’s tequila. Need I say more?).