The NYC Food Bucket List

11 things every New Yorker needs to have eaten

nyc food bucket list nomwah

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.

nyc food bucket list 1

Grimaldi's Pizza

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

nyc food bucket list 2

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

nyc food bucket list 3

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

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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

Junior's Cheesecake

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

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

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

nyc food bucket list 8

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

nyc food bucket list 9

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

nyc food bucket list 10

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

nyc food bucket list 11

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,, in the Financial District. Safe to say, it’s not leaving NYC anytime soon.

191 Pearl St. (at Cedar St.); 646-490-8456 or

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Lindsay Champion

Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.
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