12 Things You Have to Eat When You're in New York

From slices at Grimaldi's to pastrami at Katz's

If you’re looking to eat (and eat well), you’ve certainly come to the right place. And while there is no shortage of restaurants to choose from in Manhattan, here are 12 spots you must put on your list to truly experience the city at its gastronomic finest.

grimaldis list
Loving New York

1. A Slice At Grimaldi's

You really can’t get a bad pizza in New York, but for the most authentic, fold-in-half real deal, hit up this Brooklyn institution. Yes, the lines are long…but it’s worth it to sample the coal-fired brick oven goodness while overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

2. The Classic At Russ And Daughters

Standing at its original Lower East Side location for over a century, this smoked fish shop is truly a New York landmark. Make sure to order "the classic," a doughy poppy seed bagel served with a generous dollop of cream cheese and thinly sliced salmon.

3. A Pastrami Sandwich At Katz's Delicatessen

Yes, it's where the infamous scene from When Harry Met Sally was filmed. But it's also home to the world’s best pastrami sandwich, which is still hand carved to order (just like it was in 1888) and piled with so much meat, you have to unhinge your jaw just to get a proper bite.

alices tea list
Blueberry Vintage

4. Afternoon Tea At Alice's Tea Cup

Want to channel your inner Eloise? Skip The Plaza and head to one of Alice's charming uptown locations for a darling assortment of sandwiches, cookies and scones with clotted cream and preserves. All of which comes with a piping hot pot of tea, of course.

levain list
Serious Eats

5. A Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie At Levain Bakery

On a diet? Don’t come here…Each mound of perfectly misshapen dough is baked to a crisp, golden brown on the outside, while remaining remarkably warm and gooey on the inside--which is exactly how you'll feel after consuming one.

6. A Pumpkin (or Pork) Bun At Golden Steamer

Once you look past the unfortunate name, this Chinatown staple will win you over with its impossibly soft buns. Choose from all sorts of sweet or savory fillings, but the best (in our opinion) is pumpkin or pork. And at eighty cents apiece, you can definitely justify a double order.

ippudo list
The Eaten Path

7. The Akamaru Modern At Ippudo Ny

You haven't tried ramen until you've tried it at Ippudo. Go for the akamaru modern, a rich miso-based broth punctuated with black garlic oil, chewy noodles and fatty slices of pork. Make sure to get the soft-boiled egg on top. And maybe an order of the pork buns while you're at it.

8. Chocolate Babka At Breads Bakery

Though this Union Square hot spot is all around terrific (and boasts some of the best croissants we’ve tried outside of Paris), it’s best known for the fluffy chocolate babka made with layer upon layer of butter, Nutella and decadent dark chocolate.

9. Hot Dogs At Papaya King

While you can certainly score a dog on just about any street corner in the city, if you're looking for something special, head up to 86th Street for "the original" combo: two hot dogs with sauerkraut and a cup of milky papaya juice to wash it all down.

10. A Gyro Platter At The Halal Guys

Also known as “chicken and rice,” this streetside staple was so beloved, it went from being a couple of carts in Midtown to two sit-down restaurants, in the East Village and Upper West Side. For seven bucks, you can get a hefty platter of yellow rice, tender meat (chicken or lamb) and a hunk of pita bread. Just be sure to ask for extra white sauce--trust, it’s amazing.

11. Blueberry Pancakes At Clinton Street Baking Company

Yes, the waits at this Lower East Side joint are interminable, but hang in there to try the stack of three blueberry pancakes, which come smothered in maple butter and fruit. (Honorable mention goes to the banana walnut pancakes, which have an excellent banana to nut ratio.)

12. Pierogies At Veselka

This perpetually popular spot serves your diner basics (think coffee, eggs, pancakes), but is known for its Ukrainian specialties like borscht and pierogies. Try the potato or short-rib ones and ask for them boiled. 


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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.