As the great playwright William Shakespeare once said, "To be or not to brie, that is the question."

OK, well it may not have gone exactly like that, but you get the point. From soft, creamy brie to gouda and sharp cheddar, there truly is a cheese for everyone (yes, even if you're lactose intolerant).

I've flown to Paris, to Rome, and to the home of Gruyère cheese itself – Gruyères, Switzerland – searching far and wide for the world's best cheese. I know my cheeses, and now I've turned to my home base, New York, NY, to find the cheesiest dishes the city has to offer. Get ready to snap a pic of that cheese pull because here are the 50 cheesiest dishes you need to try in The Big Apple.


1. Bacon, Egg and Cheese from Murray's Bagels

This list would not be complete without a classic BEC, and Murray's Bagels definitely makes one of the best bagel sandwiches in NYC. Murray's Bagels has been a Greenwich Village institution since 1996 and there's no sign that it's slowing down. Add avocado to your BEC to give it a trendy and (healthy?) twist.

2. Lemon Ricotta Pancakes from Cafeteria

Lemon and ricotta may seem like an odd pairing, but the creaminess of the sweet cheese pairs perfectly with the tartness of the lemon. Cafeteria serves brunch all day, every day, so get ready for these pancakes to become your new go-to afternoon snack.

3. Avocado and Buratta Toast from Sarabeth's

I know what you're thinking: isn't avocado toast supposed to be topped with a perfectly poached egg, not a mound of burrata cheese? All I have to say is, don't knock it 'till you try it. Sarabeth's creamy, velvety burrata pairs perfectly with the avocado, and the artisan bread gives the dish a nice crunch.

4. Egg, Cheese and Avocado from Tompkins Square Bagels

You can't go wrong with the classics, and Tompkins Square Bagels has put a *millenial* twist on the BEC by adding fresh avocado. But this everyday bagel isn't the only hot commodity at Tompkins. This shop is home to many crazy bagel concoctions, like the rainbow bagel with funfetti cream cheese.

5. Yolk Stuffed Burrata from Egg Shop

This quaint little Soho cafe is known for its "egg-centric" dishes (pun intended). They serve everything from fancy benedicts to classic BECs, but this "poached burrata" is definitely Egg Shop's most creative dish. At first glance, it resembles a poached egg, but the oozing yolk is actually stuffed inside fresh burrata. Intrigued? Try it for yourself.

6. The Madame Freda from Jack's Wife Freda

When it's named after the restaurant itself, you know it's going to be good. This dish will rival anything you could get in Paris.

The specialty croque madame at Jack's Wife Freda is so light and crispy that it's perfect for breakfast or lunch. The sandwich is layered with duck proscuitto and a cheddar bechamel, then topped with broiled gruyere and a sunny side up egg, so you can get that perfect #yolkporn shot.

#SpoonTip: Make sure to pair it with Freda's homemade mint lemonade.


7. Mac and Cheese from Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Beecher's Handmade Cheese first opened in 2003 in Seattle, but the cheese shop's booming popularity led to the opening of a location in NYC's Flatiron district in 2011. The award-winning mac and cheese is made with penne tossed in Beecher's flagship cheese. This dish is so good that the shop even offers party trays of its signature mac.

8. Malfadini from Lilia Ristorante

Lilia Ristorante combines a warm, inviting atmosphere with up-scale Italian food. Their malfadini is a twist on the classic cacio e pepe. They swap out the spaghetti noodles for ribbon-shaped malfadini and toss the pasta in Parmesan and pink peppercorn. The bright, creamy and colorful dish will transport you right to an Italian taverna. get the complete lowdown on everything that Lilia Ristorante has to offer here.

9. Vegan Mac and Cheese from by CHLOE

I know what you're thinking: vegan mac and cheese? Doesn't that contradict everything mac and cheese is supposed to be? But trust me on this one: by CHLOE's mac and cheese rivals any classic mac that you'll find in NYC. It's made with a sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce, shiitake bacon, and almond parm. Healthy, yet fulfilling.

10. Mac and Cheese from The Smith

Once you've tried by CHLOE's take on healthy mac, indulge in one of NYC's most luxurious dishes, The Smith's mac and cheese. It's technically served as an appetizer. While it is perfect for sharing, this cast-iron skillet overflowing with cheese is more than enough for a main portion. Complete with a slight hint of truffle, this mac is my personal favorite NYC dish, and once you try it, you'll know why.

11. Gnocchi Trio from Gnoccheria by Luzzo's

Chef Michele Luliano has truly mastered the art of gnocchi, which are small nuggets of potato pasta. Gnoccheria by Luzzo's is a restaurant completely dedicated to the classic Italian dish. This gnocchi trio is tossed in pesto, four cheese, and tomato sauces to look like an Italian flag.

Even if you're not a huge fan of gnocchi, check out one of the other Luzzo Family Restaurants, like their original spot, Luzzo's La Pizza Napoletana.

12. Linguine with truffles from Bar Pitti

This small Italian restaurant nestled on the Lower West Side is known for its high-end clientele, and its dishes surely cater to the crowd. Bar Pitti tops its creamy, cheesy pasta with luxurious shaved black truffles. If you just haven't had enough, try out the tiramisu for dessert.

13. Mac and Cheese from Jacob's Pickles

If it's not broke, don't fix it. Sometimes the classics just get it right, like this insanely cheesy mac from Jacob's Pickles. To spice it up a notch, try the buffalo chicken mac and cheese, which comes with a blue cheese drizzle. Make sure to complete your meal with a artisan cocktail, like the Spicy Brine Margarita or the Rosemary Vodka Lemonade.

14. Mac Attack Trio from Cafeteria

cheese, chicken, pizza
Zoe Denenberg

Can't pick just one flavor of Cafeteria's scrumptious mac and cheese? Pick all three. Cafeteria's "mac attack" trio includes cheddar and fontina, smoked gouda and bacon, and truffle oil flavored macs. Get the "mac attack" as an app for the table or as your main dish – either way, it's sure to satisfy.

15. Eclectic Mac and Cheese from Macbar

It doesn't get much cuter than Macbar's yellow elbow-shaped bowls, and with this joint's extensive mac selection, you'll never run out of new flavors to try. 

Try a twist on an Italian classic – margarita pizza – with the margarita mac, made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, parmigiano, fresh basil. Or venture into new territory with the "mac reuben," complete with braised corned beef, pickled sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and crumbled rye bread crumbs. Any joint dedicated exclusively to the art of mac and cheese has my heart.

16. Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe from Cacio e Pepe

If I've learned anything in my years as a foodie, it's that if a restaurant is named after one of its dishes, you simply must order that dish. Cacio e pepe is essentially the classier Italian version of mac and cheese. Instead of American cheese, it's made with a creamy Parmesan sauce and whole peppercorns. I first discovered this luxurious pasta in Florence, Italy, but there's no better place to try this dish in NYC than at Cacio e Pepe itself. I expect all of my pasta to be served out of a giant Parmesan wheel from now on.


17. Pepperoni Slice from Prince St. Pizza

Prince St. Pizza is known for topping its square-cut slices with spicy little pepperoni cups. The pepperoni are extra crispy and fill up with grease – two signs of a great pepperoni slice.

Don't want to move from your couch? Don't worry, you can order on Seamless

18. Vodka Pizza from Rubirosa

Rubirosa's vodka sauce pizza was one of the first NYC dishes to achieve #instafame, and it has remained a tried-and-true classic ever since.

In a stroke of pure genius, this Italian restaurant swapped out the comparably mundane marinara for vodka sauce to completely revamp the pie. You can also get a half vodka sauce, half pesto swirl pizza. Talk about the best of both worlds.

19. Star-Shaped Margherita Pizza from Patrizia's

Patrizia's has recently risen to prominence in the NYC food scene for its star-shaped pizzas. The new shape ensures that each bite has loads of flavor – the crust is even stuffed with more cheese. For dessert, order the Nutella pizza.

20. Artichoke Pizza from Artichoke Basille's

Zoe Denenberg

Artichoke Basille's namesake, artichoke pizza, is changing the NYC pizza game. The gooey artichoke sauce is the restaurant's secret recipe, and it melts with mozzarella to recreate your favorite spinach-artichoke dip in pizza form. You can't quite appreciate the scale of the slice in photos – it's actually larger than your head.

Learn more about the pizzeria's signature slice here.

21. Plain Slice from Joe's Pizzeria

This slice is commonly known as the best slice of pizza in NYC. Joe's is also perfect if you're ballin' on a budget. If you're on the go, make like a true New Yorker and pick up a slice or two en route to your destination.

#SpoonTip: Pile on the chili flakes and fresh Parmesan, Joe's has some of the best classic toppings in NYC.

22. Famous Original Pizza from Roberta's

Zoe Denenberg

Roberta's kicks up the flavor of its original pie with oregano and chili flakes. The original location is out in Brooklyn, but you can also find these famous pies at their Manhattan shop and at multiple NYC music festivals. If you're away from home and just missing NYC pizza too much, Roberta's also ships their frozen pizzas nationwide.

23. Chicken Parm Pizza from Quality Italian

Chicken. Parm. Pizza. Yes, you heard that right, this take on pizza uses breaded chicken instead of dough. This pie from Quality Italian is perfect for sharing, you'll probably be full after two slices, and adds some protein to your meal.

24. Pizza Tartufo Nero from Serafina

Next time you're feeling bougie AF, hit up Serafina for its pizza tartufo nero (AKA black truffle pizza). I may be a sucker for any and all things truffled, but Serafina's perfectly crispy dough, melty cheese, and hip ambiance make this one of the best pies in NYC.

Can't quite afford to shell out the cash for this decadent dish? Don't worry, here's 5 ways you can still eat truffles on a college budget.


25. Grilled Cheese from Melt Shop

Melt Shop specializes in comfort food, offering a selection of innovative grilled cheeses and upgraded sides. The classic grilled cheese is a fan favorite, but more eclectic sandwiches like the truffle or maple bacon melts do not disappoint.

Instead of french fries, Melt Shop pairs its grilled cheeses with tater tots. Choose from tots topped with herbed Parmesan, cheese sauce, or loaded with both cheeses plus bacon and jalapeño.

And whatever you do, don't forget to order a chocolate truffle milkshake, because your meal simply isn't decadent enough already.

26. Mac and Cheese Burger from The Ainsworth

Zoe Denenberg

The Ainsworth's next-level mac and cheese burger is quite literally three meals in one. It's topped with so much mac and cheese that it spills out of the burger, but that just wasn't enough. They also top the burger with a fried mac and cheese patty to ensure maximum cheesiness in each bite.

Haven't got enough mac yet? Well, The Ainsworth also makes mac and cheese fries... Are you ready for it?

27. Chicken Parm Sandwich from Parm

You can't leave NYC without trying some classic Italian food, and Parm's chicken parm sandwich will leave you wanting more. The restaurant is literally named after its chicken parm. From the crispy chicken to the creamy mozzarella to the soft sesame bun, this chicken parm proves that sticking to the classics will pay off.

For dessert, try Parm's three-layer ice cream cake, complete with chocolate, strawberry and pistachio ice cream.

28. The Murray's Melt from Murray's Cheese Bar

Thought you were the only one who dreams about cheese? Think again. Murray's Cheese Bar is an entire restaurant highlighting Murray's gourmet cheeses, a selection of the best artisan cheddars, goudas, and everything in between from around the world. Their specialty grilled cheese is made with a secret blend of cheeses from Murray's Cheese, the restaurant's sister cheese shop. For a spicier twist, try Murray's buffalo cheese curds.

If you're looking for the perfect gift for the cheese-lover in your life, Murray's offers a variety of cheese-making courses, including an intensive three-day cheese boot camp.

29. French Onion Soup Burger from Le Rivage

Combining a burger and soup may seem like an impossible task, but Le Rivage has perfected it with its French Onion Soup Burger. The ultimate mashup was crowned the winner of the NYCWFF Burger Bash – and in my opinion, the Food Network's stamp of approval might as well be a Michelin star. This burger is available on the quaint French restaurant's prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner.

30. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Dumplings from Beauty and Essex

Beauty and Essex has thought up a way to seriously upgrade this timeless dish. Individual spoonfulls of tomato soup topped with bite-sized grilled cheese dumplings makes this dish perfect for sharing. Slurp them down while you can because this dish won't last long on your table.

#SpoonTip: The red velvet waffles are a must-try for dessert.

31. Cheeseburger and Cheese Fries from Shake Shack

As much as I love trendy, innovative burgers, Shake Shack's classic cheeseburger will always hold a special place in my heart. Paired with crinkle-cut cheese fries, this burger simply never gets old.

If you find yourself at Citi Field for a Mets game this summer, be sure to stop by Shake Shack's stand for some great ball park eats. Not in the mood for a burger? Try one of these crazy baseball park hot dog creations.

32. Doughnut Grilled Cheese from Clinton Hall

This Wall Street eatery serves 20 craft burgers and offers 20 rotating craft beers to match. While some of their burger creations are quite insane, like the Fondue Burger with a bun exploding with cheese and fries, nothing quite tops the donut grilled cheese.

Clinton Hall partnered with The Doughnut Project to create this epic dish. The flavors change seasonally, but it's made with a donut, cut open and griddled, and filled with mozzarella cheese. The grilled cheese hangs from a suspender so that the cheese drips down into a cup of tomato soup.

33. Burrata Burger from Lilia Ristorante

Ok, the name of this dish is slightly misleading. There is no meat involved in this "burger" at Lilia Ristorante, so it's a perfect vegetarian alternative to a classic burger. It is literally a ball of burrata with tomato sauce on a brioche sesame bun. But I wouldn't have it any other way. This dish is perfect to share, but be warned, it will get pretty messy.


34. Mozzarella Sticks from Big Mozz

Get ready for a 'gram-worthy cheese pull. Big Mozz is one of the most popular stands at Smorgasburg. You can also find them at some of NYC's most popular music festivals, like Panorama.

Don't be deceived: they're called "Big Mozz" for a reason. These mozzarella sticks are huge – one order will be more than enough for two people.

35. Elote from Café Habana

As one of the food capitals of the world, NYC is full of diverse favorites, including elote, a popular Mexican street food. Switch out your street pretzel for Café Habana's upgraded version of the dish, featuring roasted corn smothered in mayo, cojita cheese, chile and lime.

Don't just take it from me. This elote was featured as one of Tyler Florence's favorite dishes on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate."

36. Parmesan and Peppercorn fries from Pommes Frites

Pommes Frites only has one thing on the menu, authentic Belgian-cut fries, so you better believe they've perfected their authentic Belgian-cut fries. You can choose from 30 different sauces, ranging from Peanut Satay to TLC: Tequila, Lime and Chipotle. For a cheesy twist, opt for the Parmesan Peppercorn sauce. The sauce is salty from the parmesan with a hint of spice from the peppercorn, a perfect topping for the freshly made crispy fries.

If you're craving more cheese, try the poutine, a Canadian dish that includes melted cheese curds and gravy over fries.

37. Fried Mozzarella from B & A Pork Store

B & A Pork Store's fried mozzarella takes mozzarella sticks to the next level. Topped with pesto, this dish literally explodes with cheese and flavor. The innovative square shape of this fried mozz gives the dish the perfect cheese-to-breading ratio. Trek out to Brooklyn to try this reimagined classic.

38. Fried Mac and Cheese Bites from Cheese Grille

Fried mac and cheese is one of the simple joys in this world. Cheese Grille does this decadent mash-up right, by mixing Asiago, Cheddar and Chevre cheeses with macaroni elbows before the balls are deep-fried. The bites are served with a small portion of tomato soup for dipping.

This side isn't the only specialty item you'll find at Cheese Grille. The restaurant's entire menu revolves around cheese, with a variety of grilled cheeses and mac and cheese dishes.

#SpoonTip: Stop by on Fridays so you can try a sweet grilled cheese, made with mascarpone, banana and Nutella on brioche.

39. Cheesy Grits from Bubby's

It can be extremely hard to find such a perfectly done Southern staple up in New York, but Bubby's simply does cheesy grits right. These are loaded with cheddar and scallions to take the flavor to another level. Get your snapchat ready for an epic cheese pull.

40. Raclette from Raclette NYC

Although this dish originated Switzerland, raclette has recently taken the world by storm. At Raclette NYC, the first specialty raclette restaurant in the US, melted raclette cheese can top just about anything from potatoes and asparagus to filet mignon. A customer favorite is the raclette burger, which is finished with a tableside scrape of raclette cheese.

41. Mac n Cheese Spring Rolls from Cafeteria

Asian and American cuisine collide in this epic dish at Cafeteria. This appetizer is perfect for sharing, but it's also light and delicious enough to eat all on your own. The crispy fried wonton wrapper perfectly complements the creamy mac and cheese.

42. French Onion Soup Dumplings from The Stanton Social

bacon, cheese
Zoe Denenberg

I'm not exaggerating when I say that these dumplings made me fall in love with food. The dumplings explode in your mouth and truly do taste like french onion soup. The Stanton Social, owned by celebrity chef and Chopped judge Chris Santos, is one of NYC's most innovative American tapas-style restaurants.

#SpoonTip: For dessert, make sure to order the extra-fluffy homemade donuts.

43. Queso Fundido from Dos Caminos

Gooey melted cheese in a cast iron skillet. It doesn't get much better than that. Cheese is the star of the show at Dos Caminos, one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in NYC. Poblano peppers, pickled jalapeños, and dark beer add just enough bite and depth to contrast the melty Mexican cheeses.

#SpoonTip: Top it off with a prickly pear cactus frozen margarita and you've got a perfect, well-balanced meal, right?

44. Raclette from Baked Cheese Haus

Raclette may seem like some elaborate European dish, but Baked Cheese Haus has made raclette millennial-friendly. They scrape the melted Raclette cheese right onto sandwiches, making it easy to eat on-the-go. So ditch that street hot dog and try one of Baked Cheese Haus's gourmet brats.

45. Classic Cheeseboat from Cheeseboat

Cheeseboat in Brooklyn, NY specializes in this Georgian dish, which they describe as a "caldron of cheese with egg and butter." If that doesn't sound like heaven, I don't know what does.

The melted cheese is baked inside a boat of bread to provide a sturdy foundation, but once you dig in, it sure will get messy. It's truly the ultimate bread bowl. 

#SpoonTip: Don't forget to upgrade your cheeseboat and top it with truffle butter.

46. Burrata from Aria Wine Bar

There are few feelings more satisfying in this world than cutting into a beautiful ball of burrata, and the burrata at Aria Wine Bar is one of the best in NYC. Burrata is made by wrapping creamy curds in mozzarella, giving the cheese a signature soft texture. Paired with prosciutto, fresh tomato and balsamic, Aria's burrata can't be beat.

47. Sonoran Cheese Crisp from El Toro Blanco

The Sonoran cheese crisp can best be described as an open-faced quesadilla and is the perfect snack after three shots of tequila. El Toro Blanco specializes in this shareable favorite, topping the crispy tortilla with Mexican cheese, poblano rajas roasted tomato, crema and epazote, a Mexican herb. You can also add chicken, steak or shrimp for some protein and, for brunch, get your cheese crisp topped with a fried egg.

#SpoonTip: Make your own cheese crisps at home with this recipe.

48. French Onion Soup from Industry Kitchen

That cheese pull, tho. Industry Kitchen's dreamy french onion soup is loaded with caramelized onions and, of course, heaps of melty gruyere cheese. You can keep it simple with this classic starter or, if you're a really high roller, you might just want to try Industry Kitchen's recent claim to fame...

24k pizza which, yes, costs a whopping $2,000. It's made with white Stilton cheese, foie gras, platinum Ossetra caviar, truffle, and 24K gold leaves. Worth the money? Let me know.


49. New York Cheesecake from Junior's Cheesecake

Some may argue that cheesecake does not deserve a spot on this list, but I couldn't resist adding Juniors' famous dessert. This restaurant and deli has been around since 1950 and its famous cheesecake is still made with the same four high-quality ingredients: premium cream cheese, fresh heavy cream, eggs, and vanilla. Its original location is in Brooklyn, NY, but now, Junior's has 5 locations across the country and is widely known for serving New York's best cheesecake.

Try a slice of their original NY cheesecake or add Oreos or fruit compote on top – these classics simply can't be beat. If you're looking for some more creative spins on cheesecake, here are 12 cheesecakes you can't leave NY without trying.

50. Burrata Ice Cream from Dominique Ansel Bakery

Zoe Denenberg

First the cronut, then milk and cookie shots, and now this. Dominique Ansel, a NYC dessert pioneer, has created the next new food trend: burrata soft serve. The cone is topped with balsamic caramel, microbasil, and has a confit strawberry hidden inside the cone. Who knew burrata could work in ice cream?

New York City has once again proved that cheese is an essential part of every meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. You gouda try at least half of these restaurants on your next trip to NYC, and come prepared with lots of cheese puns.