New York City is one of the most renowned food capitals of the world. From the critically- acclaimed fine dining restaurants to the Halal street food, New York is filled with a plethora of food experiences to please a diverse population of New Yorkers and tourists alike. As an Oregonian, I was aware of several food items the city is famous for before I moved out East, including Pizza, bagels, and hot dogs to name a few. Needless to say, as I’ve spent more time in NYC, I understand the scope of New York’s food scene extends far beyond those items.

However, I was curious to interview some of my non-New Yorker friends who visited New York City for the first time recently and inquire about their what their #1 favorite food was. It was no surprise that pizza and Italian food made the cut, however, some of the other responses were somewhat out of the ordinary.

1. Hank

Age: 21

Hank’s favorite food during his week-long visit to The Empire State was the “Slow Roasted Pork Belly” taco from Goa Taco in Greenwich Village. This delicious taco is filled with crispy, finely-chopped pork belly and topped with pickled red cabbage and chipotle mayo. I too fell in love with this taco, as it had a fantastic balance of spicy, tangy and salty flavors that came together in every single bite. 

chicken, tacos
Rose Lee

2. Helen

Age: 21

As someone who’s known this particular Oregonian for over 15 years now, I am well aware she is an avid pizza consumer. Knowing that pizza sauce runs through her veins, it was less than shocking to discover Helen's favorite food from her visit to NYC was Artichoke Basille’s "Artichoke Pizza". Helen and I experienced our first taste of the famous Artichoke slice together, and I cannot deny it was a ground-breaking pizza moment. This pizza is topped with artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese, all incorporated seamlessly to make one mouth-watering pizza pie. 

3. Susan and Hal

Age: 50’s & 60’s

When my parents came to visit NYC, I tried to impress them with some of the many spectacular (and pricey) restaurants that I only frequent on special occasions. Yet, despite my efforts at showing off the fine dining side of New York’s restaurant scene, my parents fell in love with an unusual delicacy served at a Brooklyn Flea. The "jianbing", a traditional Shanghai street food staple, enraptured my parent’s taste buds, due to its simple, yet effective flavors. Our jianbing, from the Jianbing Company food stand, consisted of a crepe-like pancake, which was topped with an egg, scallions, cilantro, the Jianbing Company’s “House 13 Sauce”, house chili sauce, and a crumbled cracker. Just one bite of this confection knocked both my parents' and my foodie socks off.

4. Adam

Age: 23

One of my brother’s friends Adam, who went to school in San Diego, was especially thrilled to try the delicious cuisine New York City is known across the country for. It did not surprise me in the slightest when Adam told me how he fell in love with a little Italian pizzeria in East Village called Lil Frankie’s. Adam shared that his favorite food from Lil Frankie's was the “Whole Fire Roasted Eggplant”, sprinkled with Cyprus black sea salt and pepperoncino oil. This dish is baked in the restaurant's wood-fire pizza oven, before being sliced in half and served tableside. Adam mentioned the pizza and pasta at Lil Frankie’s was delightful as well, but the roasted eggplant was especially divine. 

5. Adrian

Age: 23

Another friend of my brother's picked a somewhat predictable food as his favorite from his trip to NYC. Fonda Chelsea, a modern Mexican restaurant with several locations across New York City, is one of the most Oregonian-friendly restaurants I’ve visited since moving to Manhattan. The ambiance is cozy, the staff is friendly, and the food is straight-up fantastic. Adrian ordered the “Camarones Adobados,” a Yucatan style dish that features tender, pan-seared jumbo shrimp served over spicy green rice and black bean sauce. The guacamole was also a highlight for Adrian and several others in our group when we dined at Fonda together. If I know anything to be true about Oregonians' food POV, it’s that we can appreciate well-made, authentic Mexican food - which is exactly what we were served at Fonda. 

6. Sam

Age: 23

My brother’s favorite food during his time in NYC was the “Chicken Francese” at a chic Italian restaurant in Soho called Galli. A classic Italian-American dish, the “Chicken Francese” at Galli is composed of pan seared chicken, doused with a white wine and lemon butter sauce, plated atop an array of garden vegetables. The dish’s simplicity and rich flavors won Sam over right away, and gave him a taste of what authentic Northeastern Italian-American cuisine has to offer. 

7. Marisa

Age: 14

Marisa, one of the wonderful (and not so little) girls I used to babysit, visited New York for the first time last spring. She was practically bouncing off the walls when she told me all about her trip to the Big Apple with her family - reminding me of my own excitement when I first visited this crazy city. Marisa’s favorite food from her visit was “Katz’s Pastrami Hot Sandwich” from the famous Katz Delicatessen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The pastrami at Katz’s is house smoked and hand-carved, earning a well-deserved #1 spot on Marisa's NYC food highlights list.  

As you can tell, New York City is filled with a variety of delectable food - and this list only scratches the surface! For my Oregonian friends, it appears traditional takes on Italian and Jewish cuisine took the cake for their first visit. However, I am sure my friends' taste of NYC only left them hungry for more.