We live in New York and have eaten at countless restaurants across the city. Here are 12 can’t-miss places to eat and drink, from street food to rooftop bars.
New York is the center for so many things: nightlife, Broadway, shopping, sightseeing, and incredible food.
In New York, you can taste your way around the world simply by visiting all five boroughs. From sleek celebrity chef dining in Manhattan to freshly steamed dumplings in Flushing, Queens, it’s easy to enjoy an array of treats from every corner of the globe, in every nook of the city. You also don’t need to break the bank while dining in New York — most of the eateries on this list are budget-friendly.
Insider compiled a separate list of 43 restaurants in New York for mouth-watering meals. But since the sheer number of places available can be overwhelming, we’ve broken it down to these 12 locations as dependable go-tos. If eating your way through New York is on your bucket list, these are the places to plan your next visit around. Your stomach will thank you.
Edith’s Sandwich Counter
After starting as a pop-up eatery in spring 2020 that saw lines around the block, Edith’s Sandwich Counter has quickly become a staple breakfast spot at its permanent location in Brooklyn. Stop by early (the lines still get long, especially on weekends) for their famous iced coffee slushie, a refreshing blend of cold brew, tahini, and oat milk, and the BEC&L, Edith’s twist on classic bacon, egg, and cheese that includes a potato latke, all on a hand-rolled bagel.
Nene’s Deli Taqueria
This Mexican deli counter in Bushwick started serving up tacos, tortas, mulitas, and more during the pandemic. Their specialty is juicy birria tacos brimming with meat and cheese — they even have a birria pizza that’s a great sharing option. The wait can get long and there’s only a few tables outside for seating, so we recommend ordering ahead for takeout and enjoying your spread at nearby Maria Hernandez park.
Meat eaters and vegans alike will find something to love at Champs Diner in East Williamsburg. The restaurant has a classic diner feel with cozy booth seating and all-vegan comfort food, including a seitan Philly Cheesesteak, burgers, and shakes. Go-tos are the cookie dough pancakes (we recommend sharing one order for dessert), the mac n’ cheese with broccoli or vegan bacon, and the Chick’n sandwich. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll have to walk in and put your name on the list if all available tables are taken.
If you like your cookies extra gooey, Levain is the place to go. The bakery has been open since 1995 and has three locations in New York as well as several other storefronts across the Northeast. Their signature recipe produces chewy, thick (emphasis on thick) cookies that are the perfect combination of a crisp exterior and a melty, slightly underdone center. The chocolate chip walnut cookie is a crowd favorite, and the dark chocolate chocolate chip is heaven for die-hard chocolate fans.
In New York, you don’t always need to go to Little Italy for great Italian good. San Marzano in the East Village offers homemade pasta at budget-friendly prices with a DIY twist — you pick the pasta shape and sauce. We recommend the rigatoni with vecchia bettola, but meat-lovers will especially enjoy their hearty bolognese or Wild Boar Ragu. They also serve brunch on weekends with bottomless mimosas — if you have a sweet tooth, try their ‘Ricotella,’ a calzone-like pastry filled with Nutella and ricotta cheese.
Joe’s Pizza is a New York classic — it’s been around since 1975, has five locations throughout the city, and each store’s walls are lined with photos of famous patrons, from Bill Murray to Jennifer Lopez. You can’t go wrong with any slice at Joe’s, from the square Sicilian to the classic plain. If you want to enjoy your slice like a local, top it off with Parmesan and red pepper flakes. If you visit the Williamsburg location where seating can be limited, we recommend walking a few blocks west along North 5th street and snagging a table or bench on the North 5th Street pier.
If you’ve always envisioned “having what she’s having” ala “When Harry Met Sally,” or for a taste of bygone New York, Katz’s Delicatessen on Houston Street hits the spot. Established in 1888, the iconic Jewish deli offers classics like a steaming bowl of rich chicken broth with fluffy matzo balls, and a hulking pastrami sandwich served on chewy rye bread. Wash it down with a Dr. Brown’s cream soda.
John’s of Bleeker Street
Every New Yorker has a favorite spot for a slice of pizza. I recommend John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, which proudly serves whole pies only, fresh out of the coal-fired brick oven. Family-owned and operated since 1929, the famous spot showcases thin-crust pizza, original wooden booths, and a convivial atmosphere that’s worth the wait in line. John’s of Bleecker Street doesn’t take reservations.
Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s
The Upper West Side is one of Manhattan’s most authentic residential neighborhoods. Home to Lincoln Center and the American Museum of Natural History, the area features a mix of modern high-rises, brownstones, and prewar buildings. Foodies flock there to order smoked fish (think lox and kippered salmon) for Sunday brunch at the acclaimed Barney Greengrass as well as the iconic gourmet supermarket, Zabar’s.
A good happy hour is a must, and Amelie is a favorite among in-the-know oenophiles. There are two locations: in the West Village and the Upper West Side, and both exude a cozy ambiance for sipping flights of wine. If available, try their trio of trendy orange wines, which pair perfectly with customizable cheese and charcuterie plates.
For swanky cocktails, ride the tram to Roosevelt Island’s new Graduate hotel and head to its 18th-floor rooftop bar, the Panorama Room. Sweeping city views add drama to the drink menu’s creative takes on the classic martini.
Queens Night Market
Sample a variety of ethnic treats at rock-bottom prices at the seasonal open-air Queens Night Market held on Saturday evenings in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The $6 price cap encourages diners to feast on a variety of mouthwatering nibbles including Tibetan dumplings, Taiwanese popcorn chicken, and Bengali samosas. The flavors are enhanced by live music.