Our foodie’s guides are some of our most popular features, but sometimes, it’s hard to nail down a proper guide. For a place like New York City, well, you could have an entire book – and in fact, many exist just for that purpose!
Nonetheless, we couldn’t celebrate STE Loves NYC week without talking about FOOD, one of the highlights of any trip to the Big Apple. So today we’re going to cover some of the most fun restaurants in NYC and must-have New York Eats. Maybe they aren’t all the most expensive, or the most extravagant, but they’re certainly unique or noteworthy or just damn fun. We couldn’t possibly cover all the boroughs so we’ve tried to hit the best, easiest, and most convenient place for a traveler to find. You’re in NYC, so have some fun and come hungry..
Best Bagels in NYC: Absolute Bagels
What better way to start out your day than with a fresh bagel covered in a slab of cream cheese, right? A must-eat in New York city, bagels can be found everywhere, and there are hundreds of wives tales about why New York bagels are so good. Regardless of how they do it, you need to find the best bagels in NYC, and those would be found at Absolute Bagels (108th Street & Broadway, Morningside Heights). Many New Yorkers seem to have a local favorite (who wants to trek too far in the morning for a bagel and coffee?) but this name comes up time and time again.
Best Pizza in NYC: San Marzano
Pizza – it doesn’t get more New York than that, right? And pizza can be found on almost every block, from street vendors to chain restaurants and everything in between. But head your weary feet for the San Marzano Brick Oven Pizza (Clinton & Rivington Streets, Lower East Side) for a slice of their “magic pizza.” What’s magic about it? Everything – all the ingredients are picked for the perfect combination. Just go, thank us later.
Best Brownies in NYC: Fat Witch
Foodies need to ensure part of their New York time is spend in the Chelsea Market (15-16th Streets, 9th to 10th Avenue, Chelsea), a buffet of tasting experiences. The best choice is probably to grab a classic New Yorker treat, the brownie, and the best in town are found here at Fat Witch. There are plenty of flavors to choose from, so grab one for now and one for the road later – you never know when you might need it. Good to know: Fat Witch has a “Witching Hour” from 5-7pm Monday-Friday where all unwrapped brownies are sold for half price.
Best “Seriously, WTF?” Restaurant: Trailer Park Lounge
When it comes to fun restaurants in NYC, you can’t go wrong with the Trailer Park Lounge, one of the oddest venues in Manhattan with an array of odd decor that, well, probably wouldn’t look out of place if this were actually a trailer. You’re definitely coming here for the comical ambiance, but you’ll stay for the comfort food: mac n cheese, moon pies, oversized cheap drinks. Ahh, Americana. (23rd and 8th Avenue)
Best Burgers in NYC: Shake Shack
Shake Shack is a New York institution, and a magical NY experience is to sit on the original Shake Shack terrace in Madison Square Park (23rd Street & Madison Ave). This park is always bustling with a random array of characters, from street buskers to wedding parties to workers on a lunch or coffee break. You get some great views of the nearby architecture, and a damn tasty burger, so what’s nto to like.
Shake Shack is also famous for it’s line (they even have t-shirts with a long line leading to the Shack). For considerably shorter lines, you may want to head to their Upper East Side (86th Street between Lexington and 3rd Aves) or Upper West Side (Columbus Ave and 77th St) locations.
The first American restaurant to use a printed menu was Delmonico’s Steak House in 1837 – it’s still open today! Over a hundred years later, in 1950, the Diners Club credit card debuted in a few select New York City restaurants, making it the first time one could pay with plastic for your meal.
Best Deli in NYC: Katz’s
Your New York experience is not complete without a stop at a deli, so why not go to one of the most famous: Katz’s Deli, famous for the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in “When Harry Met Sally.” (E Houston Street and Ludlow Street, Lower East Side). When you see the staff greeting locals by name, you know you’ve stumbled onto a good thing.
A decent famous-deli runner up? Hello Deli, famous for being David Letterman’s sandwich hotspot. Never a dull minute in this place.
Best Restaurant with a View in NYC: Brooklyn River Cafe
There are endless numbers of secret rooftop bars and touristy venues that have a view. But really, the classiest view is the Brooklyn River Cafe (1 Water St between W Cadman Plz & the Bridge) – not only do you get a wonderful panorama of the buildings, but also a close up view of the bridge. Seriously, views do not get better than this – try to grab a table just before sunset and watch the skyline light up.
Best Most Expensive Restaurant in NYC: Per Se
Have to say, Tavern on the Green has always held a special place for me as one of the nicest ‘high end’ restaurants in New York. But since it has closed, Per Se (10 Columbus Circle) is now a favorite – not only do they have a great view, but Thomas Keller brings that special magic to the kitchen here as he has done for his other famous restaurants (such as French Laundry, which you may have heard of).
Highly recommended is their tasting menu – there are a couple of price levels but this is a great way to sample and even though it is expensive, it is good value because it includes gratuity (the wait staff are paid a salary). And honest, this place isn’t as stuffy as you would imagine – in fact, everyone is downright friendly.
Best Eats in NYC Chinatown: Joe’s Ginger
Hat tip to our interview with Liz Borod Wright for this recommendation, but judging by the reviews and recommendations, this is an excellent spot to fill an empty tummy during a day of sightseeing. Joe’s Ginger (Pell St near Mott St) is a less-known sister of nearby the (crowded) Joe’s Shanghai restaurant. Their famous dish is the soup dumpling, a messy, delicate and delicious invention.
Best Dougnuts: Doughnut Plant
When people think of doughnuts, they probably think of Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme, but the Doughnut Plant (379 Grand Street at Norfolk Street, Lower East Side) puts them to shame! Try their famous square jelly doughnut made with homemade preserves or opt for a more opulent Creme Brulee or incredibly moist Tres Leches dougnut, all produced out of their tiny Lower East Side shop. You can’t go wrong here!
Best Pickles: The Pickle Guys
There is nothing quite like the experience of stepping into this Lower East Side establishment (49 Essex Street between Grand Street and Hester Street, Lower East Side. Closed Saturdays) only to see a store packed to the brim with barrels of pickled vegetables. The aroma hits you the second you walk in the door! There is almost nothing that these guys won’t pickle!
Best Food Truck: Wafels and Dinges
New York is home to a variety of gourmet food trucks that roam the city offering foodies a taste of goodness whenever you happily stumble upon them. By far one of the best is the Wafels and Dinges truck, serving up delectable Belgium waffles with your choice of amazing toppings or Dinges. (Location varies. Can be obtained by visiting their website.) Try their famous Spekuloos spread, which helped them beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay at his own Throwdown!
If you’ve been, what is your recommendation for the most fun restaurants in NYC?