People travel to New York for many reasons – world-class museums, dynamic nightlife – but great food is always near the top of the list. Whether you’re craving chocolate chip cookies on the Upper West Side or the city’s finest pizza in the far reaches of south Brooklyn, New York is packed with exemplary dishes that are well worth the trek. Here are ten of the best.
Pizza at Di Fara Pizza
Domenico DeMarco has been NYC’s reigning pizza king for five decades – quite a remarkable feat in a 'za-saturated city – and a mecca to his family-run Midwood pie shop is a rite of passage for any pizza enthusiast. To this day, the septuagenarian produces those exceptional, cracker-thin-crusted pies himself. A local monument in and of himself, you can find DeMarco any day of the week punching dough, painting crusts with vibrant tomato sauce and snipping off basil leaves with gardening shears. You don’t get much more New York than that.
Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery
You’ve likely tried one of the numerous knock-offs of this hypebeast croissant-doughnut hybrid (cronot, doissant, et al), but in New York, you can try the real thing at pastry wizard Dominique Ansel’s Soho bakery. Even three years after its 2013 inception, the inventive treat – with flaky layers like a croissant and a cream filling like a doughnut – still sparks lines wrapping around the block.
Corn husk meringue at Cosme
It’s not out of the ordinary for people to pilgrimage for Enrique Olvera’s megawatt Mexican food – superstar chefs Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese Food) and Rene Redzepi (Noma) made a much-publicised move to Pujol, Olvera’s acclaimed Mexico City flagship in 2014. But you don’t have to travel that far south for Olvera’s cooking – his stateside debut, in New York’s Flatiron District, is stocked with just as innovative haute-Mex fare, including this otherworldly meringue, pairing a delicate, ash-dusted hull with a velvety corn-mousse interior that will linger with you long after dinner is over. In a good way.
Porterhouse at Peter Luger
If it’s a taste of old-school New York you want, this handsome Williamsburg steakhouse, which opened in 1887, is the place for you. There are plenty of time-honoured dishes to be had – the thick-cut bacon appetiser, the steak-sauced tomato-and-Vidalia salad – but the inch-thick porterhouse for two, all melt and marbling, is a guaranteed win. When people ask for the best steak in New York, Luger’s is always the answer.
Chocolate chip cookie at Levain Bakery
This is not your average cookie – this is a chocolate chip cookie on steroids. The massive, chocolate-crammed rounds at this two-decades-old Upper West Side bakeshop are the Platonic ideal of a crispy outer shell giving way to a sinfully gooey (borderline raw) cookie dough centre. Outrageously decadent, pleasantly chewy – this is what cookies aspire to be.
Omakase at Shuko
Jimmy Lau and Nick Kim broke the sushi-counter-as-serene-temple mould with Neta, their Notorious BIG-soundtracked sushi clubhouse, and then again with this 20-seat omakase follow-up. Here, you’ll find raw-fish stunners like Spanish mackerel with barely-there shreds of young ginger, sea bream dabbed with plummy ume shiso and a new-fangled spicy tuna roll – a sumptuous slab of grilled bluefin belly dressed with fiery Thai red chilies – that Time Out New York dubbed the city’s best dish of 2015.
Pastrami on rye at Katz’s Delicatessen
You can visit the iconic, 128-year-old Lower East Side deli for the kitsch alone – the glossy celebrity portraits that line the walls, the 'When Harry Met Sally...'-famed booth where Meg Ryan infamously showcased her faking-it skills – but then you’d miss out on the picture-perfect pastrami. Carved by hand by the deli’s colourful countermen, the smoky, peppery meat is a labour-intensive process – wet-cured for a week, coated in a spice-laden dry rub, smoked for three days – but it pays off with every juicy bite.
Bagel at Black Seed
New York boasts plenty of bagel shops, but the Montreal-meets-Manhattan rounds at this new-age Nolita bagelry stand out from the corner-deli clutter. And, despite their Instagram-worthy beauty, the generously seeded, wood-fired bagels taste as good as they look. Hand-rolled and poached, with a sweet, dense chew, the bagels are made that much better with the shop’s wide array of house-made spreads and toppings: pair house beet smoked salmon with horseradish cream cheese and watermelon radish, or smoked trout with hard-boiled eggs and rocket.
Tasting menu at Momofuku Ko
David Chang’s Momofuku brand is a New York food juggernaut, from Noodle Bar to his cookie-baking Milk Bar. His most fine-dining of the lot is the two-Michelin-starred Ko – routinely rated one of San Pelligrino’s World’s Best Restaurants – which expanded from its tiny First Avenue location to a sleek Bowery space in 2014. The best seat in the house is at the counter looking over the open kitchen, where you can see the chefs turning out gorgeous, highbrow plates like uni with chickpea-hozon puree and a standout, matcha-dusted millefeuille layering béchamel, trout roe and yuzukosho between rye puff pastry.
Dim sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlour
Chinatown’s first dim-sum parlour has persevered in New York for 96 years for a reason – namely, its super fresh dim sum. Through a checklist system, the cartless operation delivers a bounty of steamed-on-command buns to red-and-white-chequered tables, from oversized roast-pork buns to shrimp-stuffed rice rolls. But the must-order is the Original Egg Roll, with chicken and mixed vegetables nestled inside a flaky, battered egg crepe instead of the customary egg-roll wrapper.
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