It's no doubt that NYC is one of the foodie capitals of the world, especially the Lower Manhattan area. I recently spent a day in Tribeca, a gastronomical treasure trove that can be completely overwhelming. So many Instagrammable eats, so little time! After some culinarily-obsessed planning and research, I organized the perfect day centered around food, while prioritizing convenience, cost, and my sweet tooth. So here's my ultimate food guide to New York City. Check out the best, most iconic eats and treats that you can fit in one day. As a bonus, it's also pretty college budget-friendly.

Breakfast: Dominique Ansel

You didn’t think we were going to leave NYC without getting a cronut, did you? Well, here’s an essential plan-ahead #SpoonTip for cronut-seekers. You can pre-order cronuts two weeks in advance! Head to the Dominique Ansel website the Monday two weeks before your trip, and you can order up to six cronuts to pick up in store. There’s no waiting in line, and no worries that they’ll run out before you get there.

The flavor I got was Rhubarb Rose Mascarpone, filled with rhubarb rose jam and mascarpone ganache, dusted with raspberry sugar. I was initially skeptical about the cronut craze, but one bite and I was a believer. The perfectly flaky layers, creamy tangy filling, and sweet sugary coating was the perfect way to wake up. Breakfast at Dominique Ansel is setting a high bar for the rest of the day, but this lineup is up for it.

Lunch: Mulberry and Vine 

This adorable, fast casual eatery is taking the healthy eating trend to new heights. Mulberry and Vine offers bowls and platters that are wholesome, nutritious, and absolutely scrumptious. Basically, you pick between a bowl or a plate, which will contain two sides and a protein main, or you can opt for three sides. Then top it off with one of their magic sauces and a “crunch” that gives your meal the ultimate finish. I went with a bowl of three veggie sides and they were truly amazing. Almost all the sides and toppings are vegan, dairy-free, and/or gluten-free, but you’d never be able to tell. Their meat and fish protein options are also loaded with fresh, nutritious ingredients, so you can’t go wrong with any choice. Plus, meals here aren’t much more than $10, so your stomach and wallet will feel fabulous.

Afternoon snack: Momofuku Milk Bar

Another essential NYC staple is Christina Tosi's Milk Bar desserts. Their cereal milk soft serve, cookies, and famous Crack Pie have garnered more press attention than a dessert store could ever imagine. Head over to any one of their convenient locations for an afternoon treat and big sugar rush. If you find yourself leaving Milk bar with separation anxiety, fear not – they also ship their amazing creations, so you can enjoy more Crack Pie from the comfort of your own home.

Dinner: Le District

At first glance, Brookfield Place, formerly known as the World Financial Center, is an upscale shopping mall and office-building complex. Everything is shiny and beautiful, but where’s the food? Head downstairs to Le District, and you’ll find yourself transported to a French gastronomic oasis. Think Eataly, but French.

This marketplace is complete with formal dining restaurants, quick bites, a fresh produce and grocery section, and so much more. Le District is divided into three main sections: the market, garden, and cafe districts. You’ll find top-notch bread, wine, cheese, meats, and more in the market district, perfect for munching in their cute seating area. Or get some gourmet sandwiches, fries, or a meal from their rotisserie for a tasty, affordable dinner. The garden district has a salad bar, fresh produce, and authentic French and artisanal grocery products.

The cafe district was probably my favorite, boasting amazing coffee, pastries, crepes, candy, and basically any French treat you’ve ever imagined. Wander through the districts and your dinner plans will quickly fill up.

Dessert: Le District Patisserie

The pastries at the patisserie in Le District’s cafe district are as beautiful as they are delicious. From berry passionfruit to Nutella crepes to perfect macarons, you’ll want to try everything for dessert. There’s no better way to end the day than by sipping on some beautifully roasted coffee with an artfully decorated pastry. 

Shelby Yuan

Next time you’re visiting the Lower Manhattan area of New York City, take a look at this guide to plan out your meals and snacks. These options are affordable and delicious, and some are likely already on your culinary bucket list. There is also plenty to see along this route, including the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial, so you get your essential NYC sites in as well. Oh, and pack light – you can always take food to go.