New York City is known as one of the world’s top culinary destinations. Located a mere hour and a half south of the famed Culinary Institute of American (in Hyde Park, NY) the world’s best chefs flock to the city for its diverse atmosphere, high density population and overall allure.
However, most New York tourists fail to recognize that the best eats are not always found in 5-star dining rooms, but are actually more affordable to the travelling wallet. While it goes without saying that eating at a chain restaurant while visiting New York is downright blasphemy knowing what to eat and where to find it can be hard to negotiate if you are visiting the city for the first time.
The following are musts for any New York visitor who wants to really taste the city:
They say it’s “in the water” and whether or not that is true, New York bagels are like nothing you will find anywhere else. Go even a few hours outside of the city and the recipe gets funny. Oh, and those chain stores who claim to “import” the water are nothing like a real New York bagel. All you need is one bite and you will understand.
There are literally dozens of places to find a New York bagel in the city, and all of them are great. However, if you want a real authentic experience, check out Kossar’s on the Lower East Side.
Another food synonymous with the New York experience, real New York pizza will make you classify chain store attempts at this American favorite as an altogether different food group. New York pizza is thin, greasy and best enjoyed with an ice cold beer or soda.
Nothing beats Lombardi’s for ambiance. Located on Spring Street in SoHo, the whole experience of this pizza is magical. However, If you are willing to venture to the outer boroughs for a meal (and you should just for the change in scenery alone) go to Grimaldi’s. This institution in Brooklyn Heights serves coal oven fired fare that has people lining up outside.
- Street Vendors
If you have any fear of the quality of food that you can get out of a truck you need to leave it at the door. Dirty water dogs are real, but by and large not the norm in New York. The city’s street vendors and food trucks are roving institutions that will never cease to amaze you with both the variety and downright deliciousness of the food that they offer.
You can opt for anything from traditional sandwiches and grill items to more esoteric and international offerings like falafel and tamales. It all depends on what street corner you choose. If you are in New York during the holidays you need to get roasted chestnuts and the kids will love the giant soft pretzels like those offered at ballparks. Only these are not $10 apiece.
Love Chinese food? Chances are that the local place you get your sesame chicken from once a month cannot hold a candle to what you can find in New York’s Chinatown. You usually cannot even find sesame chicken for one thing.
In one of New York’s more diverse neighborhoods, you can find noodle bowls for cheap and portable fare as well as many regional favorites that will make you appreciate the diversity of flavors from the Far East. Check out Ping’s Seafood on Mott Street for the one-of-a-kind experience of dim sum.
As you can see the diversity of food available in New York can literally have you eating all day, every day for your entire trip without getting bored. Especially if you are traveling to New York on a budget or with small children, it is easy to think that you are “missing” something when it comes to New York dining. But this is not true at all. Your experience will be different, but just as special.
Those who can afford it absolutely should go to those storied 5-star, celebrity chef restaurants, but do not fall back on chain favorites if you are not among them. There are literally hundreds of unique places to eat in New York that will deliver inexpensive and delicious food and unmatched experiences.