The essential food in NYC

Our definitive checklist of the best food in NYC is here. Gear up for 100 amazing dishes and drinks, New York.
Katz’s Delicatessen
Photograph: Courtesy Katz’s Delicatessen
By Time Out contributors |
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Whoever said you can have too much of a good thing clearly wasn’t a New Yorker. Our list of the essential NYC dishes and drinks every Gothamite needs to taste has all the good things, such as late-night sammies at New York delis, the snootiest egg caviar at an UWS fine-dining mecca and everything in between. Those staples—the tastiest New York pizza and the best bagels in nyc—are well represented, but we’ve thrown in some surprises, too. Caution: Don’t read this while hungry.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Essential food in NYC

Blueberry pancakes at Clinton St Baking
Photograph: Courtesy Michael Harlan Turkell
Restaurants, American

Blueberry pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Co. & Restaurant

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

You might have to wait an hour or two during weekend mornings to secure a spot inside, but the golden, warm and buttery flapjacks topped with wild Maine blueberries will make you lose sense of time. $15

Original hot dog at Nathan's Famous
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Restaurants, Hot dogs

Hot dog at Nathan’s Famous

icon-location-pin Coney Island

The traditional wiener served at this 102-year-old Coney Island establishment, which now has hundreds of franchises around the world, is the edible equivalent of an arcade token: It is imbued with memories of childhood. This dog—topped with crunchy, piquant sauerkraut and onions and cushioned by spongy white bread—is best enjoyed at its original home, accompanied by the tinny music from boardwalk games and the roar of Luna Park. $4.50

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Delmonico's
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Joe D.
Restaurants, American

Baked Alaska at Delmonico’s

icon-location-pin Financial District

Fire and ice join forces in this strange but iconic Delmonico’s dessert, in which meringue-encased ice cream is soaked in overproof rum and flambéed before serving. $13

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Rao's
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jayson S.
Restaurants, Italian

Meatballs in marinara at Rao’s

icon-location-pin East Harlem

If you count yourself among the lucky few who score a seat at this notoriously exclusive spot, do two things: snap a photo for proof and get the meatballs. $19

Pierogi at Veselka
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
Restaurants, Contemporary European

Pierogi at Veselka

icon-location-pin East Village

Have you ever been drunk? Have you ever stumbled through the East Village? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you know why Veselka’s Ukrainian dumplings made the list. Four for $7

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Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Chinese

Pork buns at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

icon-location-pin Chinatown

This nearly 100-year-old dim-sum parlor is not a place where you need a few more minutes to look at the menu. Walk in and ask for these babies before you sit down. Make your priorities known, because while you’re busy being shy and polite, bolder New Yorkers are eating your pork buns (which routinely run out). The char siu–roasted pig filling is mixed with caramelized onions and stuffed into flour-baked dough before the whole bun is given a final preservice steam. $4.95

Eleven Madison Park
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lori L.
Restaurants, American creative

Black-and-white cookie at Eleven Madison Park

icon-location-pin Flatiron

Concocted in the early 1900s, these “cookies” are actually vanilla cakes with extra flour and frosting in two colors. As part of tasting menu $315.

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