Top 10 places to eat at when you're in New York for the first time

Updated: Apr 14

One of my favourite things about New York is its diversity, so many different cultures, from every single little part of the earth and there's not better way to experience the city than deep diving into this colourful and distant food paradise.


If food, and by that I mean good food, is a priority for you, then you will find this guide extremely helpful.



Note: New York City is immense and it's full of restaurants, therefore it would be extremely hard to put all the best places in one list. These restaurants are my favourite after recently been traveling to NYC and living there for a half a year beforehand.

By all means, if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. I would like to hear about your favourite restaurants in NYC.

If you’re still unsure after reading about all the amazing food places on where to go for the best food in the USA, I love looking for inspiration on usavacations.net.

Have a look for yourself!




1. Katz's Delicatessen



Located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan is a kosher-style delicatessen and it's most popular for it's pastrami on rye. Their pastrami is considered to be the best in New York. A must try for everyone traveling to New York.


The pastrami is sensational, fall apart tender, with a perfect ratio of fat to meat, and a crust of black pepper and secret spices. It’s everything you could want in pastrami. It's basically pastrami heaven.


When you walk in to Katz's (after waiting in the queue) you'll be handed a yellow little ticket that you have to make sure you hold onto, otherwise you will get charged.


When you order at the cutters, hand them the ticket and they'll put the amount that you will be charged on that.


This place is insanely busy 90% of the time so if you aren't alone maybe it's a good idea for one of you to find a seat and the other to oder.


James and I both ordered the pastrami sandwiches and oh boy! were they delicious, literally melting in my mouth.

All orders are served with half and (I guess full) kosher pickles, they were also delicious.


Price: You're probably thinking, oh it's just a sandwich and maybe a matzo ball soup, how expensive could that be? Well, let me tell you, helluva expensive. The two pastrami sandwiches James and I had came to $50. These sandwiches are premium and you got to pay the price for it.


Is it worth it though?


TOTALLY!


Address: 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, United States


2. Russ & Daughters





Russ and and Daughters is another New York staple, a deli that started off as a street food pushcart and has been “Appetizing since 1914.”


I have previously hears about this place and knew that it was going to be busy if I visit during peak times (Use Google Maps to check popular times) so we decided to go on a Monday between breakfast and lunch ( basically brunch ).


The place was fairly quiet, we grabbed our ticket and waited until a lady behind the counter shouted our number.


Russ and Daughters has a vast selection of smoked and all kinds of cured salmon, one of the most popular one being the Gravlax. You've got no idea what that is? No worries, neither have I so after a little research I found that Gravlax is s the term used for cured salmon, usually in salt, sugar and herbs.


The little shop was packed with choices, one side was all smoked salmon, different kinds of fish and at least 10 types of cream cheese, while the other side of it was full of dried fruit, pastries and sweets, literally chocolate covered everything. They even had sardine shaped chocolate. No, thanks!


Price: We ended up getting Everything Bagels with caviar cream cheese and Gravlax. We also got some fresh lemonade and a small box of ruggelach. The bill came to around $50. Small shops with big prices, but the quality was there, you pay for that (plus the legendary status of these places)


Address: 179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, United States


3. Eataly




Eataly has two locations in NYC, one of them is in the Flatiron building , while the other one is located in the Westfield World Trade Center.


I fell in love with this place and idea not because I was wide drunk and pasta high, but because Eataly gathers high-quality food at sustainable and reasonable prices for ALL, celebrates Italian biodiversity, and creates an informal, natural, and simple place to eat, shop, and learn, all under one roof.


There are little stalls serving fresh slices of pizza and ciabatta, wine bars, pasta bars (my kind of bar), little Italian restaurants, coffee shops and stalls serving the best Italian sweets, cannoli.


There's all kinds of events being organised at Eataly on a daily basis, so make sure you check those out as well.


Price: James and I had dinner at a seafood oriented little Italian restaurant in Eataly, shared a starter and a main and we had a glass of wine each. Our bill came to $85. New York can be quite expensive, but this was our last night in the city so we wanted to have a nice dinner and a delicious glass of wine.


Address: 200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010, United States - Flatiron

Address: 101 Liberty St floor 3, New York, NY 10007, United States


4. Bubby’s


This amazing American style restaurants started off in 1990, by selling its famous pies to neighbouring restaurants from its small kitchen.

Today, Bubby's is one of the most celebrated restaurant in New York, famous for its simple and fresh comfort food, always made from scratch.


"Bubby’s wants people to know where their food came from, who grew it and what is good about it. American cuisine is much more than burgers and pie; it's Chinese, Mexican, Southern, an elaborate and flavourful food scape created by the generations of people who built America." -Bubby's Restaurants


The menu here looked amazing and luckily we were there after lunch and before dinner, which is : -Happy Hour!-


After enjoying Happy Hour with 2 Bubby's Punches, we got sat down at our table and I ordered the Peruvian Style Chicken and James got the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf.


DELISH! I'm drooling just thinking about it! The chicken was well seasoned with garlic, oregano and lime and cooked to perfection. To top this whole experience, we ordered a slice of pie each for dessert.

You can't just got to Bubby's and not have pie for dessert! That's be the greatest sin of your life!


We got one slice of the Michigan Sour Cherry and one slice the Local Apple Pie, all served with ice cream.


This was a no brainer: BEST PIE I'VE EVER HAD!


If you're in New York, you can't miss this!


Price: Happy Hour meant that we could get 2 cocktails for $14, which we payed for at the bar. Our food bill came to $87, which isn't the cheapest but again, you pay for the quality and the reputation of these restaurants.


Address: Bubby's, 73 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, United States


5. La Esquina


If you like Mexican food and miss the taste of beautiful tacos (let's be honest, the UK is not very good at recreating them), then I can't recommend La Esquina enough for you.

The NYMag described it as a 'subterranean house party in Tulum' and they weren't wrong.


I legit had the best tacos here since my trip to Mexico, they were authentic, in house made corn tortillas with nicely braised meat which then melted in my mouth, fresh guac, salsa and pico de gallo and a freshly made horchata.


The whole experience starts when you walk inside. To get to the dining room, you give the name on your reservation to a doorman, then walk through a door marked “Employees Only” in the back of a little ground-floor taqueria. Next, you head down a flight of stairs, pass through a kitchen, then wind up in a dark room that looks like a dungeon renovated by a young couple who spotted a fixer-upper. It’s a fun space that tends to be dark and crowded - and if you have enough tequila, you’ll probably start to wonder if you are, in fact, in the brick-walled basement of castle where people come to celebrate everything from 25th birthdays to 20-year anniversaries.


I recommend you try the Barbacoa and Pescados tacos and all the other ones you think you might like and please, don't miss lout on trying the Ceviche Mazatlan, it's next level.


Price: James and I ordered two tacos each, some guacamole with corn tortillas, a grilled corn and horchata to share and our bill came to about $50.


Address: 114 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012, United States


6. Butcher's Daughter





'The Butcher’s Daughter is a plant-based restaurant, cafe, juice bar and “vegetable slaughterhouse."  We treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat: We chop, fillet and carve fresh produce into healthy vegetarian dishes and press them into pretty juices.' -www.thebuthersdaughter.com


I'm not only a big fan of this place because their food is amazing, fresh, organic and delicious, but their interior design is killer as well. Bright, airy, calming are three words I could describe it the easiest.


The seasonal menu and their ethics of giving back to their community takes me back to my childhood where my parents would only cook with vegetables that we freshly harvested from our garden.


This place is probably best for brunch and trust me, your plate will always look instagrammable,


Price: James got the Mexican Breakfast Bowl, while I had the Monterey Eggs and we shared a bowl of fresh fruit, plus a chai latte each. Our bill came to about $45. I'd totally go back anytime I'm in NYC again.


Location 1: 19 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012, United States

Location 2: 581 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014, United States

Location 3: 271 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211, United States



7. Bleecker Street Pizza





COAL FIRED BRICK OVEN PIZZA


Is there anything else I need to tell you?


From the outside Bleecker Street Pizza looks like any old pizza shop. It would be pretty easy to walk right past it despite its bold red facade and signage claiming they have the best pizza in New York. This would be a big mistake. This tiny shop does New York pizza right. It’s a simple, no frills shop with pizza boxes, fridges filled with soda, celebrity photos lining the walls, and a few small tables in the back, but their food is spot on.

This just proves that you don't need a fancy setting in order to eat good.


I'd definitely recommend that you try the Nonna Maria slice, but in all honesty, I think it's hard to go bad any of their pizza slices.


What a really liked about their pizza was that even though the slices were thin, they were solid enough to hold up all the fresh and delicious toppings.


Price: Four slices between the two of us and a White Claw (if you know, you know) and our bill came to $35.


Address: 278 Bleecker Street, New York


8. Champ’s Diner




Here's one of my vegan readers, because (fun fact) I used to be vegan as well until last year, so when I went to Champ's Diner I was in vegan food heaven.


Walking in to Champ's Diner will give you that 1950's diner nostalgia, with its black and white tiles and laid back attitude.


It's an all vegan diner, serving american comfort food, milkshakes and coffee, all so delicious too wouldn't even tell that it's vegan.


When I went here, I got the cauliflower wings and the Cubano Sandwich. Not gonna lie, if someone served that to me now without letting me know that it's all vegan, I probably would eat it thinking that I just had meat. . . It's that good.


Price: The Cubano cost me $16 and the wings were $13. This is not a cheap vegan restaurant. If you are an experienced vegan diner, then you know that seitan, tofu, mock meats are usually more on the expensive side, but meals out like this should be a treat once in a while and not a usual happening.


Address: 197 Meserole St, Brooklyn, NY 11206, United States


Top Tip: If you plan on coming to Champs on the weekend, you should also plan to wait to be seated. Counter seating is included in the waitlist and is not first come, first served.

Solo diners and parties of 2 may join the waitlist remotely through Yelp with an estimated quote. This is not a reservation. Due to limited seating for larger groups, if guests note a bigger party size, they will need to speak to the host in person and be added to the bottom of the list with a more accurate quote.


9. Magnolia Bakery





Magnolia Bakery is the only bakery you need to visit! They've got the best of everything and there's always seasonal desserts on their menu (See Weekly Cupcakes).


They prepare a bunch of speciality cupcakes, cookies, pies, mini cheesecakes, but there's one thing you definitely need to try and that's their World Famous Banana Pudding. This heavenly dessert made of layers of vanilla wafers, fresh bananas and creamy vanilla pudding is like nothing you've ever tasted before.

Price:

Banana Pudding:

Small $4.50 • Medium $6.25 • Large $7.50

Cupcakes are $3.95 each, while cookies' prices can range from $1.75 to $3.50 each.



10. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream





Ice Cream made from scratch with all the fresh and seasonal ingredients, sourced from local farmers. Do you see the patterns here? I will forever keep choosing independent businesses over franchises, not only because the quality will probably be 100 times better, but I just love giving back to the community that I am traveling to.


Van Leeuwen has amazing classic and vegan ice creams. The Classic scoops are crafted with nothing more than fresh milk and cream, cane sugar, and egg yolks. The Vegan scoops are made with housemade cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean. Both recipes result in rich, decadent, naturally perfect ice cream.

Similar to Magnolia Bakery there are seasonal flavours, which I love, but you'll also find the all classics, like Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and the list goes on.


Address: There are multiple locations so the best thing to do is Google their name and find the closest one to you.




Are there any restaurants you think I might have missed out on mentioning?

Please let me know! I'm always here for some good food recommendations!





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