The NYC Food Bucket List
11 things every New Yorker needs to have eaten
New York City and food are basically synonymous (uh hello, “Big Apple”), so it’s no surprise we have some pretty storied dishes. Pizza, bagels, cheesecake…mmm.
While certain culinary trends come and go (looking at you, bone-marrow everything), the mainstays are nothing less than a rite of passage, loved by natives and tourists alike. But how many iconic New York City foods have you actually tasted?
These are the 11 quintessential dishes you have to eat at least once in your life.
There will always be an argument over who fires the best pizza in New York, but we stand firmly behind Grimaldi’s, one of the city’s oldest surviving brick-oven joints. Make the pilgrimage to the original locale by trekking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only will you get a sick skyline view, but you’ll also work up the appetite to possibly eat a whole pie.
1 Front St. (at Old Fulton St.), Brooklyn; 718-858-4300 or grimaldis-pizza.com
Russ & Daughters Bagel and Lox
Before there was brunch, there was bagels and lox. And it remains the city’s most beloved breakfast item to this day. Where to find the finest: at Russ & Daughters. Get it at either the new full-service café on Allen Street or the original deli counter on Houston Street, where they’ve been slicing them up since 1914.
179 E. Houston St. (at Allen St.); 212-475-4880 or russanddaughters.com
Katz’s Deli Pastrami Sandwich on Rye
There’s more to Katz’s Deli than that one scene in When Harry Met Sally--namely, a massive plate of cured beef with some crunchy house-made pickles on the side. It’s been a Lower East Side landmark since 1888 for a reason.
205 E. Houston St. (at Ludlow St.); 212-254-2246 or katzsdelicatessen.com
Dominique Ansel’s Cronut
Media hype for the Cronut may have died down since its 2013 debut, but the 100-people-deep line to buy one has not. After two years, it’s safe to say the doughnut-croissant hybrid has solidified itself into Manhattan legend.
189 Spring St. (at Thompson St.); 212-219-2773 or dominiqueansel.com
But not much can compete with New York’s most iconic dessert. The secret to this Brooklyn-originated treat is in its cream-cheese filling, sponge-cake crust (no graham crackers allowed!) and, yeah, that retro neon sign beckoning us all to sit down for a slice.
386 Flatbush Ave. (at Sterling Pl.), Brooklyn; 718-852-5257 or juniorscheesecake.com
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog
Nothing says New York City summer like a trip to the Coney Island boardwalk. This is especially true for those vying to break the record at the International Hot Dog Eating Contest, held every Fourth of July. (The current record is 69 hot dogs eaten in ten minutes. Respect.)
1310 Surf Ave., Brooklyn; 718-333-2202 or nathansfamous.com
Yonah Schimmel’s Potato Knish
Don’t settle for the reheated turnovers that come from a street cart. Get your mitts around a piece of Jewish-food history (mashed potatoes wrapped in dough) at one of the last true kosher spots in the Lower East Side.
137 E. Houston St. (at Forsyth St.); 212-477-2858 or knishery.com
Levain Bakery’s Chocolate-Chip-Walnut Cookie
Some days, the trials of NYC living require a cookie the size of your face. Levain on the Upper West Side has the best (and dough-iest) in town.
167 W. 74th St. (at Amsterdam Ave.); 212-874-6080 or levainbakery.com
Glaser’s Black-and-White Cookie
Black-and-white cookie impostors run rampant in Manhattan. (You’ll find questionable doppelgängers at most delis and bodegas.) But if you want the real deal, look to the cake-like confections at this Upper East Side staple.
1670 First Ave. (at 87th St.); 212-289-2562 or glasersbakeshop.com
Nom Wah Tea Parlor’s Dim Sum
Less about a singular dish, this is more about an experience you can’t miss. Small plates of dumplings, pork buns, scallion pancakes and the like are what make the city’s oldest dim-sum parlor (opened in a Chinatown alley in 1920) also the best.
13 Doyers St. (at Bowery); 212-962-6047 or nomwah.com
The Ramen Burger
Like the Cronut, this game-changing mash-up hasn’t been on the New York City food scene long. But since its 2013 Smorgasburg debut, the demand has been astronomical--so much so that it inspired a full-fledged restaurant, Ramen.co, in the Financial District. Safe to say, it’s not leaving NYC anytime soon.
191 Pearl St. (at Cedar St.); 646-490-8456 or ramenburger.com