New York City has most definitely earned its place as the “Big Apple” of the US in every shape form and fashion, and this would include its status as quite possibly the top culinary city in the country. Any location where such an epic degree of brilliance, money, and culture converge is clearly going to be a culinary hub of epic proportions. Due to the size and scope of the city, it can be rather intimidating for a visitor to even begin to locate the best restaurants in NYC. We’re here to take the guesswork out of your NYC foodie’s vacation and make your search for good eats in the “City That Never Sleeps” into a piece of cake (no pun intended).
Any discussion of New York City cuisine is going to have to place an emphasis on Italian food and pizza, as New York is probably the number one city in the country for both. Chef Michael White’s (who spent seven years cooking in Italy) Osteria Morini in Soho offers up authentic Bolognese cuisine, while al di là in Brooklyn specializes in Northern Italian fare expertly designed by chef Anna Klinger. Peasant in Chinatown/Little Italy (featuring a delightfully rustic, open-kitchen design), the famed Mario Batali’s Del Posto, and Ignacio Mattos’ Il Buco in the East Village are other superb options for Italian in NYC. When it comes to pizza in New York, choices are so vast and of such great quality that it is extremely difficult to narrow it down. In terms of Brooklyn pizza, consider L&B Spumoni Gardens, known for their Sicilian, or Roberta’s Pizza, featuring unique recipes featuring not so run-of-the-mill ingredients for a pizza joint such as rainbow chard, fennel, and calabrian chili, and adventurous seafood dishes for those looking for more than just a pizza joint. For pizza in Manhattan, you will want to look at Saluggi’s, featuring their signature homemade mozzarella, Spunto on Carmine St., known for ridiculously thin slices that still retain their integrity, and New Park Pizzeria in Queens, serving loyal New Yorkers since 1956.
New York City is known for having one of the largest Asian populations in the country, and following suit, Asian food in NYC is some of the best you will find stateside. Xi’an Famous Foods is one of the finest Asian noodle establishments in the country, featuring meticulously crafted handmade noodles of the highest order. Jewel Bako on 5th Street is a go-to sushi spot for those in the know, as is Sushi Yasuda on East 43rd. For Chinese food, top options include A-Wah in Chinatown, Joe’s Shanghai (featuring multiple convenient locations throughout the city), and Pacificana in Brooklyn. If Korean Barbeque tickles your fancy, you can’t go wrong with Hahm Ji Bach in Queens, Kang Suh in Koreatown, or the 24-hour NYC night-owl’s staple Kum Gang San on West 32nd.
Considering that New York City is one of the richest and most prestigious cities in the country, you cannot discuss New York City cuisine without mention of its fine dining establishments. If you can afford it, we strongly suggest you indulge in at least one five-star meal while visiting NYC. Momofuku (where the expert chefs double as the servers) is one of the more prominent fine dining staples in the city for both the quality of the cuisine and the unique aesthetic. As a reservations-only establishment seating only 12 parties at a time, Momufuku simply breathes exclusivity. Per Se in Time Warner Center certainly earns its $250-300 dollar dinner price tag, while wd-50, featuring an extremely experimental tasting menu priced at $155 without wine pairings (wine pairings will add an extra $85) is a great choice for the adventurous culinary enthusiast.
There is unquestionably no city in the United States that can hold a candle to New York when it comes to the quality and character of its delis. Carnegie Deli (open since 1937) is a cash-only establishment with a minimum purchase per person policy designed to restrict parties from opting to share their generous portions. It is fair to say that if you are looking for the real deal, Carnegie Deli pretty much epitomizes the authentic NYC deli experience. Katz’s Delicatessen is another strong option, as is 2nd Avenue Deli (which has moved to East 33rd Street, although its namesake is still named after its previous location).
For Latin food in NYC, Don Pedro’s on 2nd Ave is an excellent choice, featuring a Pan-Latin assortment of Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican cuisines. Orbit in East Harlem features an interesting assortment of Latin and Italian flavors paying perfect complement to each other, while Victor’s Cafe in Midtown, open since the 1960s will hit the spot if you are looking for authentic Cuban fare in the Big Apple. You might also want to consider Pio Pio, a Peruvian restaurant with several locations throughout the city, or Sofrito in Midtown, featuring a party atmosphere and ridiculously excellent Puerto Rican food that you might not expect to find in such a raucous, almost nightclub-esque environment.
It is no secret that New York City is probably the top cultural hub in the United States, and this proves as true as ever when it comes to the food. You will not want to leave New York without really digging in and experiencing its culinary culture to the fullest. Whether you are looking for the finest in upscale fine dining, a cheap locals-hole-in-the-wall brimming with character, or anything in between, you will find the best of the best when it comes to cuisine in NYC.