Winter break for any college student is often bittersweet. Leaving college for a month definitely sucks, but if you're as lucky as I am, break can be filled with day trips to none other than NYC aka one of the greatest places in the world. The Big Apple has some of the best food in the world and bucket lists are the real deal here.

Over the past few weeks, I have been to the city several times and have eaten at several places. But who's counting calories? From SoHo to Midtown to the Upper West Side, and everywhere else in between, these are 20 must-try winter NYC restaurants.

1. Two Hands Cafe

Mikaela Orenstein

Two Hands is an ideal brunch spot for anyone looking to get an Insta worthy photo. From avocado toast, to ricotta toast, to açaí bowls and lattes, Two Hands has it all. The cafe itself is cute, quaint, and hip. Most importantly, however, the food lives up to its reputation. 

Location: 164 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

2. Jack's Wife Freda 

salad, pesto, broccoli
Mikaela Orenstein

Jack's Wife Freda is another place that is perfect for brunch, and is known for celebrity sightings. I can attest first hand that this avocado toast was perfectly ripe and flavorful. This is an ideal place to go for a brunch date with either a significant other or just a friend. 

Location: 224 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

3. By Chloe

Mikaela Orenstein

Yes, By Chloe is vegan. No, the food is not bad. By Chloe has taken Instagram by storm this past year, and deservingly so. This salad was honestly so delicious and beyond filling. I'm not a fan of fake meat, however, this version was tasty and didn't taste like its typical counterparts. I would definitely recommend visiting this restaurant for a vegan experience, because contrary to popular belief, vegan food isn't half bad. 

Location: 185 Bleeker St, New York, NY 10012

4. Rubirosa Ristorante

mozzarella, pizza
Mikaela Orenstein

Tie-dye pizza is all I have to say about Rubirosa. The combination of the pesto, vodka, and tomato sauces truly complement one another so well. There's nothing like NY pizza in the first place, but definitely nothing like tie-dye pizza anywhere else. 

Location: 235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

5. Patrizia's of Brooklyn

sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella, pizza
Mikaela Orenstein

Don't let its name fool you, there is a Patrizia's in Manhattan. The margherita pizza is so crispy and photogenic. The basil adds a nice kick to the pizza and the mozzarella cheese is beyond fresh. Yeah, there are countless pizza places in the city, but Patrizia's is one that is for sure worth a visit.  

Location: 462-466 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016

6. Artichoke Basille's Pizza

herb, sauce, cheese, vegetable, spinach
Mikaela Orenstein

Sticking to the topic of pizza, Artichoke Basille's makes artichoke pizza, as if it wasn't evident from its name. This pizza is creamy, big, and incredible. There really is nowhere else in the world where you can find artichoke pizza. If you love pizza, but want to try something different from your traditional, you'd be making a mistake by not trying Artichoke Basille's. 

Location: 328 East 14th St, New York, NY 10012

7. Bar Pitti 

vegetable, pasta, sauce
Mikaela Orenstein

I am a huge pasta and vodka sauce lover. I have tried so many different vodka sauces in my life, and Bar Pitti's is one of the best. Just imagine creamy sauce with fresh grated parmesan melting in your mouth. That is exactly what you would find at this authentic Italian restaurant. 

Location: 268 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

8. Scarlatto Restaurant

meat, cheese, tomato, pasta, shrimp, gnocchi, sauce
Mikaela Orenstein

Another one of my favorite Italian restaurants in NYC is Scarlatto. Conveniently located in Midtown, this is a great place to go before a matinee or an evening Broadway show. There are options for everyone, but the gnocchi is unreal (however I'm biased because gnocchi is one of my favorite types of pasta). 

Location: 250 West 47th St, New York, NY 10036

9. Tao Downtown

fish, shrimp, wasabi, seafood, tuna, salmon, sashimi, sushi
Mikaela Orenstein

Tao Downtown is the place to be for a birthday or for any other celebration. This restaurant specializes in Asian cuisine, and while it can be a bit pricey, the lunch special is affordable. However, if you come here with your parents feel free to splurge. The food is so worth it!

Location: 92 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

10. Extra Virgin

chicken, salad
Mikaela Orenstein

If you're more health conscious than I am when it comes to food in NYC, Extra Virgin is a place you should visit. There are so many different salads to choose from, including some for the vegetarians in this world. I had the falafel salad and there were so many ingredients that it truly felt like I wasn't even eating a salad. 

Location: 259 West 4th St, New York, NY 10014

11. Seamore's

yam, potato, sweet, sweet potato
Mikaela Orenstein

Seamore's specializes in seafood so if you're someone who loves this cuisine, this is for you. There's a wide variety of food to order, and I had a hard time choosing what to get. While I ended up with the tuna burger, I plan on coming back for the poké bowl because it looked fresh af. 

Location: 390 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

12. The Smith Restaurant

pasta, macaroni, cheese
Mikaela Orenstein

If you're a mac and cheese lover like I am, The Smith honestly may have the best version I have had in my life. I'm serious. It's so creamy and cheesy. There is a perfect ratio of cheese to pasta and is great for sharing (or don't share if you're possessive of food like I am). Seriously, if you want the greatest mac and cheese, you need to go to The Smith.

Location: 55 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10003

13. Levain Bakery 

bacon, peanut butter, cookie, peanut, butter, chocolate
Mikaela Orenstein

Okay, here's the deal. I know that you probably think you've had the best chocolate chip cookie of your life, but you're wrong. Hate to break it to you, but Levain's chocolate chip cookie is without a doubt the best in the world. It is chocolatey, gooey, and warm, thus proving why it's the true champion in the world of cookies. 

Location: 167 West 74th St, New York, NY 10023

14. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer

whipped cream, sundae, ice, ice cream, cream, chocolate
Mikaela Orenstein

I'm sure you've all seen pictures of these insane milkshakes from Black Tap on some form of social media, and they truly do live up to their reputation. Where else in the world can you find a milkshake that is literally bigger than your face? I recommend going to Black Tap over winter break to avoid the ridiculously long lines that exist during the summer. 

Location: 248 West 14th St, New York, NY 10011

15. Max Brenner 

chocolate, pie, cake, pastry, sweet
Mikaela Orenstein

Chocolate pizza is a real thing and Max Brenner is the real deal. Underneath that marshamallowy goodness is loads of chocolate. This is the perfect place to come for dessert after a day spent near Union Square.

The menu includes your basics like hot chocolate and ranges to those wtf desserts like chocolate pasta. No matter what you choose, you'll be getting your chocolate fill for the next year. 

Location: 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

16. Magnolia Bakery 

dairy, yogurt, cream, milk
Mikaela Orenstein

While Magnolia is known for its cupcakes, the banana bread pudding is unreal. The banana is not too overpowering and the dessert as a whole is rich, creamy, and delicious. For those of you who take the LIRR or NJ Transit, there is a Magnolia in Penn Station making the banana bread pudding the perfect snack for a train ride home.

Location: 200 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023

17. M'O Il Gelato 

cream, chocolate, cake
Mikaela Orenstein

Gelato paninis are an actual thing. The warm brioche comes served with cold gelato and is topped with powdered sugar. To truly get an authentic experience, I recommend one of the chocolate gelato flavors for a creation that literally melts in your mouth.

Location: 178 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

18. Dominique Ansel Bakery 

coffee, pastry, cake, bread, chocolate, sweet
Mikaela Orenstein

Dominique Ansel Bakery is the creator of both the cronut and the milk and cookie shot. I actually hate milk, but the cookie shot is so good that I ignored the milk part. Additionally, Dominique Ansel offers frozen s'mores that are also beyond incredible. Make sure you visit this bakery at an off time to avoid the inevitable long lines. 

Location: 189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

19. Wafles & Dinges

sauce, chocolate
Mikaela Orenstein

Belgian waffles are amazing plain, so when chocolate and caramel are added they only get better. That's exactly what Wafles & Dinges does: order a waffle and they add the toppings. Plus, it is an authentic NYC food truck experience that you will never forget. 

Location: 102 West 35th St, New York, NY 10001

20. Breads Bakery 

cheese, pie, cream, cake, chocolate
Mikaela Orenstein

Breads Bakery is always filled with customers because it is that good. There are multiple types of donuts to choose from, as well as your classic baked goods like chocolate babka cake and rugelach. Breads is what you imagine when you think about true NY bakeries. 

Location: 18 East 16th St, New York, NY 10003 

NYC is the perfect place to go over winter break to distract yourself from thinking about how much you miss college. Crossing places off your food bucket list is so satisfying, but it is often overwhelming to decide where to go.

Over the past few weeks I have taken the LIRR and made several day trips to NYC. These 20 places are musts-sees over winter break for any college student or for anyone visiting the Big Apple. Every place is delicious, photo-worthy, and unique. NYC has it all from pizza to mac and cheese to cookie shots to gelato panini. No matter where you decide to go, it'll be so worth it.