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A Totally Biased List of the Best Foods to Eat in NYC—and Where to Eat Them

By AFAR Editors

Sep 9, 2020

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Steamed soup dumplings are one of the most popular foods to eat in NYC.

Photo by Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock

Steamed soup dumplings are one of the most popular foods to eat in NYC.

For the best food in NYC, look no further than these iconic, must-eat dishes and the best places to try them, according to local New Yorkers.

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You know these restaurants: They may not be the fanciest, but these are the ones you swear by. The ones you go to all the time. The ones you bring your parents and partners to or where you’re content to dine solo with nothing but a good book and the city passing by. The ones you think of first when someone asks you, Where should I eat in New York City? Fear not—weve got you covered.

What follows is a borough-by-borough list of some of the city’s best eats, from Malinese stewed chicken in the Bronx to an all-you-can-eat Sri Lankan buffet in Staten Island. And even if you’re not in New York City, several of these foods are available for online ordering, which means you’ll get to taste some of the city’s top dishes no matter where you’re sitting. Happy feasting.

Top Foods to Eat in the Bronx

Home to Yankee Stadium and the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx has no shortage of excellent places to eat, from seafood in City Island to its very own Little Italy on Arthur Avenue. 

Cannoli from Madonia Brothers Bakery
Little Italy

Big Vinny’s Favorite from Mike’s Italian Deli
Little Italy

Lobster bites from Johnny’s Reef
City Island

The Italian Feast from the Original Crab Shanty
City Island

Corned beef and matzo ball soup from Liebman’s Deli
Riverdale

Buy Now: Complete Deli Dinner, $129, goldbelly.com

Stewed chicken and rice from Balimaya
Mott Haven

Cheese pizza from Golden Pizza
Mott Haven

Lechon from Lechonera La Piraña
South Bronx

Alcapurrias from Margarita
South Bronx

Mole verde from La Morada
South Bronx

Top Foods to Eat in Manhattan

The most densely populated of the five boroughs, Manhattan has good eats everywhere you look—yes, even Midtown. 

Mangu and roasted chicken from Malecon
Washington Heights

Mofongo with chicharrón from La Barca
Washington Heights

Shredded beef and asada tacos from El Tepeyac Grocery and Taqueria
East Harlem

Pastelitos de pollo from Cuchifritos
East Harlem

Fried chicken and potato salad from Charles Pan Fried Chicken
Harlem

Whiting with fries from Famous Fish Market
Harlem
 

Chicken and waffles from Amy Ruth’s
Harlem

Blueberry bagel with cream cheese from Bo’s Bagels
Harlem

Mango chicken curry with linguini from Safari
Harlem

Apricot rugelach from Lee Lee’s Baked Goods
Harlem

Jerk chicken patty with ting from One Stop Patty Shop
Harlem

Black forest cake from Hungarian Pastry Shop
Morningside Heights

Tacos dorados from Pancho’s Antojitos Mexicanos
Upper West Side

Banh mi with crispy spiced chicken cutlet from Saiguette
Upper West Side

Black and white cookie from Zabar’s
Upper West Side

Everything bagel with olive cream cheese from Absolute Bagels
Upper West Side

Oxtail and callaloo from Freda’s Caribbean and Soul Cuisine
Upper West Side
 

The Recession Special from Gray’s Papaya
Upper West Side

Lox scrambled with eggs and onions from Barney Greengrass
Upper West Side

Chocolate chip walnut cookie from Levain
Upper East Side

Classic BEC on a bagel from H&H Bagels
Upper East Side

Buy Now: Half Dozen H&H Bagels, Cream Cheese, and Nova Scotia Salmon, $69, goldbelly.com

Cheeseburger and fries from JG Melon
Upper East Side

Pastrami on rye from Pastrami Queen
Upper East Side

Buy Now: Pastrami Queen Sandwich Kit, $89, goldbelly.com

Combo plate from The Halal Guys
Midtown

Rice ball combo from Hanamizuki Cafe
Midtown

Spicy pork stew and vegetable japchae from Woorijip
Koreatown

Korean barbecue from Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Koreatown

Honey Earl Grey roll cake from Besfren
Koreatown

Yellow dal and curried potatoes from Punjabi Grocery & Deli
East Village

Seitan Parmesan, pasta fagioli, and Caesar salad from John’s of 12th Street
East Village 

Cauliflower Parmesan and mac and cheese bombs from The Organic Grill
East Village 
 

Gobi Manchurian from Ahimsa Garden
East Village

Cheese and potato pierogi from Veselka
East Village

Buy Now: Choose Your Own Veselka Pierogi (3 Dozen), $99, goldbelly.com

Chazuke and sake from Decibel
East Village 
 

Blue bowl and kimchi scrambled eggs from Good Thanks
East Village

Ten zaru soba from Sobaya
East Village
 

Adjaruli khachapuri from Oda House
East Village

Spicy stamina ramen from Mr. Taka
East Village 

Mac and cheese from Red Bamboo
West Village 

Cheesecake from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery
West Village

Spicy rigatoni from Carbone
West Village 

Dan dan noodles from Flip Sigi
West Village 

Mafaldine bolognese from The Leroy House
West Village 

The Pat Lafrieda from Emily
West Village 

Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery
West Village

Buy Now: World Famous Magnolia Banana Pudding, $65, goldbelly.com

Cold spicy sesame noodles and Szechuan sweet and spicy orange beef from Chop-Shop
Chelsea 

Chicken wings from Jun-Men
Chelsea 

Pork soup dumplings from Grand Sichuan
Chelsea

Duck carnitas from Cosme
Flatiron

Raspberry bomboloni from Eataly
Flatiron

Double Shackburger and a Black & White shake from Shake Shack
Flatiron

Buy Now: Shake Shack ShackBurger (8 Pack), $45, goldbelly.com

Spinach and artichoke dip from Hillstone
NoMad

Pastrami on rye from Katz’s Delicatessen
Lower East Side

Potato latkes and a classic bagel and lox from Russ & Daughters Cafe
Lower East Side

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$1 oysters from The Ten Bells
Lower East Side

Mushroom knish and an egg cream from Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery
Lower East Side

Buy Now: Choose Your Own Knishes (6 Pack), $79, goldbelly.com

Nasi lemak and kaya butter toast from Kopitiam
Lower East Side

Chocolate babka from Breads Bakery
Union Square

Buy Now: Breads Bakery Chocolate Babka (3 Pack), $50, goldbelly.com

Israeli salad, falafel, hummus, and extra pita from Shoo Shoo
Nolita 

BBQ fried rice and lemon “chicken” from Buddha Bodai
Chinatown 

Crab and pork soup dumplings from Shanghai Dumpling
Chinatown

Cold-skin noodles and a spicy cumin lamb burger from Xi’an Famous Foods
Chinatown

Hand-pulled noodles with spicy chicken from Spicy Village
Chinatown

Saganaki, loukaniko, and dakos from Kiki
’s
Chinatown

Pineapple bun from Fay Da Bakery
Chinatown

Dim sum from Golden Unicorn
Chinatown

Roast duck lo mai fun from Great NY Noodletown
Two Bridges
 

Chinatown egg and cheese sando from Golden Diner
Two Bridges

Top Foods to Eat in Brooklyn

Nearly 3 million people call Brooklyn home, as do nearly 7,000 restaurants, from Yemeni fare in Cobble Hill to Polish in Greenpoint. 

Swingles from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie
Red Hook 

Boat blood noodle with pork crackling, Noods n’ Chill
Williamsburg

$1 oysters from Pinkerton Wine Bar
Williamsburg

St. Louis pizza from Speedy Romeo
Clinton Hill

Lamb haneeth from Hadramout
Cobble Hill

Bulgogi and chicken wings from Ssam Korean Bistro
Cobble Hill

Asiago cheese bun from Mazzola Bakery
Carroll Gardens

Cacio e pepe from Frankies
 457 Spuntino
Carroll Gardens

Taco and enchilada combo from Taqueria El Patron
Prospect Lefferts Gardens 

Rosemary hot chocolate from Ix
Prospect Lefferts Gardens 

Queen bean tacos from King David Tacos
Prospect Heights

Baked kafta tahini from Tanoreen
Bay Ridge

Powdered jelly doughnut from Leske’s Bakery
Bay Ridge

Banh Mi Thit Nuong (aka Combination #1 Banh Mi) from Ba Xuyên
Sunset Park

Grilled lamb sausage with rice and Turkish bread from Kofte Piyaz
Sunset Park

Fried chicken from Peaches HotHouse
Bed-Stuy

Chicharrón tacos with blue corn tortillas from Boca Santa
Bed-Stuy

Farm burger from The Farm on Adderley
Ditmas Park

Hellboy pizza from Paulie Gee’s
Greenpoint

Stuffed cabbage in tomato sauce from Krolewskie Jadlo
Greenpoint

Pastrami on rye is a New York classic—preferably, with pickles alongside.

Top Foods to Eat in Queens

Deemed one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the world, Queens residents represent more than 100 countries and speak nearly 140 different languages. What this means for the food? Only good things. 

Lamb and green squash dumplings from Tian Jin Dumpling House
Flushing

Dim sum from Asian Jewels
Flushing

Duck bao from Corner 28
Flushing

Pork steam rice roll from Joe’s Steam Rice Roll
Flushing

Oyster omelet from Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet
Flushing

Beef kofta kebab from Sami’s Kabab House
Astoria

Loukoumades from Ya Ya’s Bakery
Astoria

Chicken souvlaki sandwich from Gregory’s 26 Corner
Astoria

Cevapi with ajvar from Ćevabdžinica Sarajevo
Long Island City

Lucknow dum biryani from Adda Indian Canteen
Long Island City

Revuelta pupusas from Ricas Pupusas & Mas
Sunnyside

Barbacoa enchiladas from The Crus-Z Family Restaurant
Jackson Heights

Chicken jhol momo from Nepali Bhanchha Ghar
Jackson Heights

Cócteles de camaron from La Esquina del Camarón Mexicano
Jackson Heights

Alu begun bhaji from Premium Sweets & Restaurant
Jackson Heights

Samosas with peas and potatoes from Raja Sweets & Fast Food
Jackson Heights

Top Foods to Eat in Staten Island

The southernmost borough of New York City, Staten Island takes more effort to reach than, say, Brooklyn. But oh, what rewards, including some of the best Sri Lankan food and pizza in the city—yep, we said it. 

Rava dosa from Dosa Garden 
Tompkinsville

Kottu roti from New Asha
Tompkinsville

All-you-can-eat buffet from Lakruwana
Tompkinsville

A classic Italian from Royal Crown Bakery
Old Town

White clam pie from Denino’s Pizzeria
Elm Park

Curry goat from Koten’s Carribean and American Restaurant
Elm Park

Ćevapi with ajvar from Alba International Food
Dongan Hills

Sicilian cheese pizza from Joe and Pat’s
Castleton Corners

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>> Next: In Queens, the American Dream Is a Technicolor Celebration

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