Travelling to New York City is already an overwhelming experience with so much to see and do, so I created this local food guide to take choosing between over 25,000 restaurants off your plate. This list is curated to showcase all of my favorite (and diverse) food gems in the city. These places will make sure you have the tastiest NYC food adventures!
1. Wheated (Ditmas Park, Brooklyn)
This is my favorite hidden pizza gem and it happens to be my neighborhood pizza joint. In the heart of Brooklyn, this is the best place to get cozy and have one of the most delicious pies. I definitely recommend trying their homemade spicy honey because I swear by it now. I love ending my meal with their chocolate cake because they warm it up in the pizza oven to make it ooze.
2. L’industrie Pizza (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
This is a Williamsburg pizza gem. It is a small shop with some window seating, but it has the most fresh and delicious slices of pizza. They have some fun ones, like their white pizza with creme fraiche, mozzarella, goat cheese, bacon and honey. For something simpler like margherita, you can dress it up with some ham or mushrooms. A perfect spot to grab a pie and have a picnic by the water with a good view of Manhattan.
3. Joe’s Pizza (Several Manhattan and Brooklyn locations)
Joe’s is one of THE classic NYC slices. It’s the greasy, delicious slice that other cities try to recreate but will never get quite right. I love coming to the Union Square location after walking around downtown or seeing a movie for a fun late-night dinner with my friends. It’s worth getting two, trust me.
4. Prince Street Pizza (SoHo, Manhattan)
The home of another classic NYC pie, this spot is known for the square pepperoni slice. Located smack in the middle of SoHo, don’t be surprised if there is a line out the door because it is there for a reason. Those waiting in line are about to have a slice of pizza with a crunchy yet soft crust and gooey cheese, perfectly thick with just the right amount of spice pepperoni. Find a nice bench outside and enjoy!
1. Russ & Daughters (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
This is my go-to place for a classic New York bagel with lox! There is a wide range of lox, cream cheese and even meat to choose from so you can try all the New York combos. It is the best place to experience a more traditional version of a New York deli.
1. Miznon (Chelsea, Manhattan)
This is the most delicious place for lunch in the iconic Chelsea Market. Originally opened by famous chef Eyal Shani, it is the best place to try Mediterrean street food inspired by fresh seasonal ingredients. The pitas are unmatched. The sweet potato and baby cauliflower are mouthwatering. The music and energy of the place will definitely make you want to dance!
- Breads Bakery (Union Square, Manhattan)
Breads is home to the famous chocolate babka. There are plenty of other delicious treats like pound cake, rugelach, a perfect apple strudel and hamantaschen cookies! However, the babka is by far a singularly iconic dessert with its perfect crunch and melting chocolate. Walk over to Union Square to sit on the steps by the subway and enjoy the goodies from the bakery if you choose to take them out.
1. Lella Alimentari (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
A North Side Williamsburg gem. Run by an Italian couple, this is a real Italian cafe, which also sells staple Italian ingredients. The sandwiches are made with homemade bread and are to die for. The classic, which comes with crudo di parma, arugula and stracchino cheese, and the two cheese, which comes with with gorgonzola, stracchino and radicchio, are just two of their most tasty options. There is one with Nutella, which tastes even better with their coffee. It’s the perfect taste of Italy in Williamsburg!
2. Nicandra’s (Bushwick, Brooklyn)
This is a special place for my family because the owner is so kind and the food is absolutely stunning. They have the best homemade pastas with a rotating menu based on seasonal ingredients and the pasta portions are always enough to fill you up. The glazed pork ribs, burrata, duck ragu pappardelle and squid ink sagnarelli are my favorites. This is also an awesome stop for a brunch in Brooklyn.
3. Spaghetti Incident (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
They are famous for their spaghetti in a cone to go which was inspired by street food in 1950s Italy. However, the cozy ‘70s inspired interior is just as fun to enjoy as their pasta on the go. There are special menu items that rotate daily, amazing arancinis and many mouthwatering pasta dishes.
1. Nonono (Midtown, Manhattan)
Right in Midtown, Nonono is great for lunch or dinner. This is my favorite spot for yakitori. It is super fun to go with a few friends for dinner and order all the different kinds of yakitori because they are affordable, absolutely delicious, come quick and are good to share. For lunch they offer rice bowls that come with yakitori, soup and salad, as well as several ramen noodle dishes. Also, try one of their Japanese-inspired desserts like the black sesame panna cotta, yuzu sorbet and raindrop pudding.
2. Ippudo (East Village, Manhattan)
Always with a line out the door, this is the top ramen spot. It originally started in Japan but now has a few locations opened in NYC. The chefs always greet you as you walk to your table and the restaurant is always buzzing with high energy. I recommend starting with some pork buns and adding egg to whichever ramen you choose. The food is amazing and it’s a super fun experience.
3. Ootoya (Midtown, Manhattan)
This is another gem that originally started in Japan and now has a few places open in NYC. It is great for both lunch and dinner. They offer a wide range of food from sushi to soba to vegetables wrapped in pork belly. They have a lot of traditional Japanese dishes and the portions are sized perfectly to make you full but still able to try a variety of foods.
4. Cocoron (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
If you aren’t completely sold on ramen, soba is the way to go. I actually prefer soba myself and this is my favorite spot. They have hot and cold soba, which are both interesting to try. Their green tea affogato dessert with some soba tea is definitely the way to finish the meal. I used to come here for lunch with my dad every weekend and I can safely say it never gets old.
1. Tim Ho Wan (East Village, Manhattan)
This is my favorite dim sum spot in the east village. The BBQ pork buns and steamed rice rolls are too good to not to get two portions. Luckily you can mark off more and more food on the paper as you wish. Dim sum is a fun meal and there is no better way to try tons of new food.
1. The Food Sermon (Crown Heights, Brooklyn)
For some amazing Caribbean-inspired flavors in one delicious bowl, this is the spot to go. With options including spicy jerk chicken, pan-seared tofu, oxtail and even coconut-ginger lamb shank, a meal here will be the most flavorful and filling. It is worth the trip to Crown Heights in Brooklyn to visit this cute corner restaurant.
1. Los Tacos No. 1 (Chelsea, Manhattan & other new Manhattan locations)
This is THE taco spot of Chelsea Market. There is always a line here, but they have a few other locations now so getting tasty tacos is a little faster. It was created by three close friends to bring authentic Mexican tacos to the East Coast. With the simplest and most delicious ingredients, this is a fun and tasty stop. If you’ve never had a grilled cactus taco or quesadilla, you definitely need to try them here.
1. Juanchi’s Burger (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Here is the hub for ordering a delicious burger in Williamsburg with a Venzuelan twist. The place has an artsy vibe with paintings on the walls and newspaper-lined trays. With locally sourced ingredients, the burgers are mind-blowingly good, filling and creative. Just imagine a burger with white cheese, grilled plantain and a honey ginger tarragon sauce … yum.
2. Shake Shack (Many locations)
This is the In-N-Out of the East Coast and it is my best fast food recommendation. A classic Shack burger with fries and a shake but East Coast style — the experience will do all the explaining because this stop is a must.
1. Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant (Lower East Side, Manhattan & Time Out Market, Dumbo)
Here is the spot for getting the most famous pancakes in NYC. I would recommend coming here for brunch and although all of the food is amazing, the classic pancakes are my favorite. The wild maine blueberry pancakes with the warm maple butter on the side are especially good. If the brunch line is too long, pop into the Time Out Market in Dumbo to grab some late-night pancakes for dessert.
1. Seven Grams Caffe (Several Manhattan locations)
If you happen to be in Manhattan in the Flatiron, Chelsea or Hudson Square areas, this is your best coffee stop. They follow the traditional Italian process, taking seven grams of the best quality and freshly ground coffee beans to brew their coffee. It’s delicious and goes well with all their in-house baked pastries. Even the aesthetic of the coffee shop is stunning.
2. Sey Coffee (Bushwick, Brooklyn)
If you’re in the hipster Williamsburg and Bushwick area, then this is the hidden coffee shop to go to. It has a super cool vibe with a lot of natural light and plants filling the space. They have really high quality coffee and complex flavors.
3. Coffee Project (Fort Greene, Brooklyn or East Village)
The Brooklyn location is where I have some of my funniest memories with my best friends as we would sit there for hours after school. They are an amazing coffee shop with high quality beans and machines. They actually offer a range of classes like brewing, cupping, and barista basics which could be a cool experience for a coffee lover.
4. Everyman Espresso (Park Slope, Brooklyn or SoHo/East Village)
This specialty coffee shop gives more of a homey feeling, with three locations in NYC. Everyone is always really friendly and the coffee is excellent. A great stop if you’re in Park Slope, SoHo or the East Village.
5. Happy Bones (SoHo, Manhattan)
Happy Bones is a trendy coffee shop owned by New Zealanders that displays cool local art and publications. The coffee paired with a delicious pastry will never disappoint here.
1. Sundaes and Cones (East Village, Manhattan)
This happens to be the best homemade ice cream in the East Village. The ice cream is of the highest quality, but the range of flavors is even better. You can choose to go with the classic chocolate or vanilla, but you can also be adventurous and try taro, wasabi, black sesame, thai tea, black raspberry or tiramisu.
2. Kee’s Chocolate (Midtown West, Manhattan)
If you want some crazy good chocolates, this is my secret spot. The flavors are so distinct and the combinations are wildly delicious. Passion fruit, raspberry, thai chili, blood orange, lemongrass mint, earl grey or black sesame with dark chocolate ganache are only a few of the heavenly flavors they offer. They also have truffles with almond, coconut, cognac or pignoli, to name a few.
3. Fabrique (Chelsea, Manhattan)
This is a famous chain from Sweden that opened up in Chelsea, which has met all of my Scandinavian bakery needs. The cinnamon and cardamom bun are my favorites, but the chokladbollar (chocolate balls) and raspberry cakes are top notch too. This is a great coffee and pastry stop after gallery hopping or walking the High Line. The cafe itself is super cute too.
4. Win Son Bakery (East Williamsburg, Manhattan)
This is a great Brooklyn Taiwanese-American bakery with coffee, pastries, sandwiches and small bites. With red rice donuts, custard toast, black sugar egg tarts, milk bun BEC (bacon, egg and cheese) sandwiches and pork rice rolls, this bakery has the coolest food options for any mood and its uniqueness makes it very New York.
5. The Blue Stove (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
We can all admit that pie is one of the best, if not the best, desserts. This is the best pie place and they have seasonal fruit, custard and cream pie options. A few of the fall flavors are raspberry plum with pecan crumble, pear cranberry dark chocolate, maple bourbon walnut and bittersweet chocolate mousse. There are plenty more and you can never get bored because of the rotating seasonal flavors.
6. Harbs (Chelsea, Soho, Upper East Side, Manhattan)
Harbs is an authentic Japanese cafe which brought its delicious cakes to NYC. My personal favorite is the mille crepes cake, which is a six layer crepe cake filled with fresh fruits and mixed cream. Green tea mousse, baked cheesecake topped with blueberry jam, lemon yogurt and pear mille-feuille cake would go well with one of their teas after an evening out.
7. Doughnut Project (West Village, Manhattan)
This shop was opened by a bartender and lawyer and features the most stunning donuts. These donuts are made with love and feature seriously cool flavors. Some mouthwatering options include the “everything” doughnut with sweet cream cheese glaze topped with the seeds from a typical everything bagel, the Tullamore donut made with Irish whiskey and espresso topped with cocoa, and the “those beetz,” which has a beet glaze filled with ricotta whip.
8. Alimama Tea (Chinatown, Manhattan)
If the Doughnut Project doesn’t have funky enough donuts or you love donuts so much you want more, then this is the spot. This place is famous for their mochi donuts and they definitely hit the spot. Also, they happen to be gluten free! Brulee, cereal, matcha or sweet and savory are some of the awesome donut flavors, but I suggest getting a cream puff too because it gives you the full experience.
9. Joey Bats Café (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
After I came back from Portugal, I thought I would never find pastéis de nata that measured up. I stumbled upon this cafe and I’ve never been so happy to say I found the perfect spot. They have the authentic custard tart with cinnamon tastes like a warm creme brulee wrapped in a flakey croissant. If you’re in the lower east side, you have to check it out.
10. Burrow (Dumbo, Brooklyn)
Some of the places I mentioned are secret local gems, but this one happens to be actually located in a secret-looking location. In the heart of Dumbo, you walk into a nothing-looking building until you reach another door that leads into this small bakery. This magical place is only open on weekdays, but it’s worth going to try the cream puffs, almond tuile and one of the daily changing cakes.
Having grown up in NYC, I’ve spent a lot of time eating at the hyped new places, the restaurants in less touristy areas and discovering places that are usually hard to find in such a large city. I hope that if you visit these places you feel more like a local and enjoy all the city has to offer!