Here are our very favourite places to eat in New York. Including classic diners like Katz’s Deli, to Umami Burger and Big Gay Ice Cream.
I popped over to New York at the end of last year and being somewhat of a London foodie I was obviously interested in seeing what American delights I could fit into my belly within the space of a week.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it an ‘all time best things to eat in New York’ countdown. Instead just consider this as a collection of some kickass places I’ve eaten in during my few visits here, and if you’re heading to New York at any point in the near future then you could do worse than to look some of them up.
Most of the places listed below are pretty cheap or mid-range and none of them will break the bank. The locations vary a little but most are in Manhattan with a couple of nods to Brooklyn. Some of these may be considered too ‘touristy’ by some readers, but hey – I was a tourist!
Anyway, enough blathering, let’s skip to the eating.
1) Tick Tock Diner (West 34th & 8th)
So it’s your first morning in New York and what do you have a craving for? Coffee and pancakes at an all-American diner of course! I usually head straight to the Tick Tock Diner on the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue.
Now this may not be the best diner in New York city but there is something about the bright neon lights and 80s chrome that really appeals to me. Plus the fact that it’s a bit further away from the crowds in Times Square so there is more chance of you getting a seat. (For fans of a more particular American experience you should head to Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway where the servers are on roller skates and regularly burst into song. Be prepared to queue though. For a while).
Snuggled into a booth at Tick Tock I order a coffee, a bagel with cream cheese, and a small stack of pancakes with bacon and eggs. I am obviously never going to eat all of this but y’know, when in… uh… Rome… The pancakes are good and you get free refills with your coffee. What more do you need to set you up for some sightseeing?
The last time I was in New York however, I had a craving for a Croque Madame sandwich, which is essentially a toasted ham and cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg. But as we weren’t in a Parisien cafe, the best I could do was get a Monte Cristo sandwich and ask them to plonk an egg on top, which they dutifully obliged. Oh and then it came with a massive side of chips. AND some maple syrup.
While it didn’t win the award for the most delicious thing I ate that week, it definitely won the award for ‘biggest, weirdest, American breakfast item’ and it also meant that I didn’t need to eat a single thing for the rest of the day. Gotta love diners…
Address: 481 8th Ave, New York
Open 24 hours!
2) Katz’s Delicatessen (Lower East Side)
No trip to New York would be complete for me without a visit to the legendary Katz’s Delicatessen. Established in 1888, Katz’s Deli is one of the longest running and only surviving Jewish Deli’s in New York, and you can tell that as soon as you walk in: the interior looks like it hasn’t been decorated in 50 years, and it probably hasn’t. Photographs of their famous patrons from the last 100 years line the walls and they even have sawdust on the floor in the bathrooms, for real! But this is all part of the old school charm that I have come to love about NYC.
Fun fact: Katz’s is also the setting of an obscure, little-known scene in a film called When Harry Met Sally where… oh you already fully aware… fine.
Once I had bagged a seat and managed to flag down a very stroppy but 100% authentic New York waitress, I ordered half a pastrami sandwich on rye and a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup ($17.45). This may not sound a lot but once you see the size of their sandwiches you’ll understand: the pastrami is piled so high that no human could open their jaw wide enough to fit it inside. (Maybe one of those snakes that can dislocate their jaw could though?) My husband attempted to tackle the Three Meat Platter ($34.95), below, which Katz’s does warn is big enough to feed three tourists or one Katz’s regular, but he was woefully outmatched by the mounds of brisket and corned beef. He maintains it was the coleslaw. I know better.
Everything comes served with the regulation sour pickles and mustard and everything is absolutely delicious! Now you’re feeling like a real New Yorker, but for heavens sake don’t lose that ticket stub!
Address: 205 East Houston Street (corner of Ludlow St), New York
Open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays!
3) Dana’s Bakery (Meatpacking District)
After consuming an unholy amount of calories it’s probably wise to do a spot of walking to add a bit of balance. I like to walk down The High Line which leads from West 34th Street down through Chelsea to the Meatpacking District and brings you out nicely in front of Gansevoort Market, a food hall filled with street food traders selling all sorts of general yummy treats.
One of these such traders is Dana’s Bakery who have the most mind boggling display of macarons I have ever seen! They are all the colours of the rainbow x50 and with the most awesome flavours on the planet. Choose from Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter and Jelly or Birthday Cake to name but a few. We got a box of four for around $12 and they were as good as they sound.
4) Joe’s Pizza (Greenwich Village)
I love pizza, and you can’t go to New York and not get one of their famous pizza slices! I like to hit up Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village for my fix. It’s a little bit touristy because it also featured in the Spiderman movie a few years back (there is a scene where Peter Parker was their delivery boy), but it’s usually a small queue of locals, which I take to be a good sign. They pizzas are sold whole (around $20) or by the slice ($2.75-$3.50) and the flavours are all pretty traditional: plain cheese, mozzarella or Sicilian Square.
I opted for a plain cheese with salami which had just been cooked so was super fresh. The slices are huge, the salami was tasty and a touch greasy (in a good way) and the crust is thin, crisp and very foldable. I yummed it up and went back for seconds.
Pro Tip: Joe’s only takes cash so make sure you have a few bucks in your pocket if you want to give this place a visit.
Address: 7 Carmine Street, Bleecker Street, New York
5) Ippudo (Midtown)
If you’ve got a hankering for Asian food of the Ramen variety then I cannot rate Ippudo more highly enough. We swung past for dinner on a Friday night only to be met with a queue out of the door and a waiting list of an hour for a table of two. Rather than put us off it simply reaffirmed our beliefs that this place must be the good shit. And it was.
We kicked off with a couple of pints of their very own Brooklyn Kaedama Ale, which is exclusive to Ippudo restaurants, and a couple of steamed Hirata pork buns ($9) which started us on our journey of deliciousness. Once seated at the large, circular wooden table in the middle of the restaurant we ordered two bowls of the Classic Ramen ($15) and some Okonomiyaki with grilled eel ($10). Everything was utterly delicious and it was definitely some of the best Ramen I have ever had. Even if you ignore everything else I have said in this article, please just go here!
Address: 321 West 51st Street, (Between 8th and 9th Avenue), New York
Hours: 5pm – 11.30pm
6) Num Pang (Times Square)
I have included this little Cambodian sandwich shop in the list because it was a real sight for sore eyes when I stumbled across it in Times Square one lunchtime. Anyone who has ever been to Times Square knows that it is basically a hell hole tourist trap and every restaurant you go to will be overpriced, oversubscribed and overrated. However, this little gem, snuck in between 6th and 7th Avenue, was a New York miracle. Real Cambodian sandwiches that real New Yorkers eat that are really delicious. And they’re a snip at around $10 each too.
After all the stodgy food I had been eating I went for the Roasted Cauliflower baguette with Chinese and Thai eggplant spread ($7.95) as I felt I needed a veggie fix and it was just what the doctor ordered. But if you are feeling more indulgent I hear the Five-Spice Glazed Pork Belly is also very delicious.
Num Pang: http://www.numpangnyc.com
Address: 148 West 48th Street (between 6th and 7th Ave), New York
7) Pork Slope (Brooklyn)
Once you’ve had your fill of the crowds in Manhattan, it’s probably time to slink on over to the cool side of town: Brooklyn. Here you’ll find yourself knee-deep in cool, hipster haunts, but the one place we found ourselves in was the brilliantly names Pork Slope, on Park Slope (you see what they did there?).
An all-American style bar offering beer, bourbon and great bar food Pork Slope is a laid-back hit. We ordered the Chicken & Waffle Sliders with cheese, bacon and spicy maple syrup ($13), and sank more than a couple of beers. The food was good, the beer was cold, and it was nice to just kick back and pretend like you’re a true Brooklynite.
Address: 247 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Hours: 5pm – 4am Mon-Fri, 12pm – 4am Sat-Sun
Not far from Joe’s Pizza and sitting in the heart of Greenwich Village is Umami Burger on 6th Ave and West 9th Street. Originally founded in LA, Umami Burger aims to serve burgers with… you guessed it, bags of umami flavour. I opted for the restaurant’s namesake, the Umami Burger, with a crisp Parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom and specially made Umami ketchup, plus some Maple Bacon Fries for the table, which were deeply addictive.
While the Umami Burger itself was probably not the best burger I’ve ever had (that title is still held by Bleecker Street and Lucky Chip) my husband had the K-BBQ Burger (Gochujang glaze, caramelized kimchi, sesame aioli, Korean ketchup, scallion-cilantro salad) and he maintains that it’s the best burger he’s had in New York so far. All the flavours in the K-BBQ whack you over the head with a big umami mallet.
Address: 432 Sixth Avenue, New York
Hours: 11:30am – 12am
9) Forcella (Williamsburg)
This place gets a spot on the list because they sell something I have never heard of before: fried pizza! But not in the gross ‘battered and deep fried in a chip shop’ way. More in a ‘the dough is fried in oil for a few minutes before the sauce, cheese and toppings are added’ kinda way. After that the whole thing is baked in an oven like a regular pizza. My New York friends told me that NYC-ers have been going nuts over this stuff for a few years now, so we headed over to Brooklyn again and went to Forcella in Williamsburg to get our mitts on it.
The Montanara is listed on the menu as “The original New York Fried Pizza” ($14). In all honesty, I thought it was just okay, it kinda tasted like a slightly greasy cheese and tomato pizza to me. However I also ordered the Vomero pizza (above) which was topped with homemade fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola, dry figs and ‘San Daniele’ prosciutto ($21) and I personally thought this pizza was much tastier! But if sampling weird food firsts is your thing then this place should be on your list.
Address: 485 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, New York
Hours: 5pm – 4am
10) Big Gay Ice Cream (West Village)
I may have saved the best for last here. Big Gay Ice Cream is just about the happiest place on the planet. There are rainbows and unicorns everywhere AND they serve the most delicious ice cream ever! Choose from flavours such as the Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, with a chocolate dip) or the Gobbler (apple butter & bourbon butterscotch, pie pieces and whipped cream) in a cone or in a cup. Either way, you will not be disappointed.
Address: 61 Grove Street (at Seventh Avenue South), New York
Hours: 1pm – 11pm
Okay, that’s it. Now off you pop to pick up some last minute tourist junk before your flight home. And don’t forget to bring me back a giant Toblerone!