What to Eat & Drink in New York City

Read my guide to choosing restaurant in unfamiliar places: How to Find a Better Restaurant.

New York is among the most dynamic food scenes in the world. I couldn’t hope to keep up with it, even if I tried. And trust me, I’m not trying. That said, I used to live there, I often travel there and I still love to eat there. One clever lie that New Yorkers tend to heap onto unsuspecting tourists is that there is no end to the good food in New York City, that you can walk into almost any restaurant and the forces that conspire to make New York “the greatest city in the world,” co-conspire to ensure that any restaurant you enter will serve you very good food. That’s bullshit.

It’s true, New York has a lot of good food, but it’s mostly focused on ethnic cuisines, both traditional and modernized. To me, this is a result of having large numbers of diverse people, all of whom have native cultures and food from which they feel desperately alienated in their giant metropolis. And with desperation comes innovation and so the food scene has evolved. To put a finer point on this, consider that New York doesn’t just have Chinese restaurants like Central Kansas might, they don’t just have Taiwanese restaurants which you might find in Chicago, they have Taiwanese hand pulled noodle restaurants. Differentiation is key in a very competitive market in which those seeking Taiwanese food have innumerable options with just a quick hop onto the subway. This is simple because New York proudly counts a great many Taiwanese people as residents, a boast that Central Kansas certainly can’t make.

So that leaves us in a precarious place as a consumer. If niches are valued, they are valued in place of quality, at least in part. That is to say, if a restaurant is different enough, it doesn’t necessarily have to be extremely good, since such a restaurant would compete in a different dimension of food, namely novelty. So finding a Taiwanese hand pulled noodle shop, even if the lines are long and the food looks tasty, may not be as good on the merits as a more generalized Chinese noodle shop across the way. Or perhaps it’s far better. As you might have guessed by now, this is where I come in. Happy eating!

Have a question? Ask me anything!

Dumplings

Noodle Village So Good
Description: A Hong Kong-style, handmade noodle shop with decent noodles and excellent dumplings in the Food Court of the New World Mall in Downtown Flushing. Getting the unusual is rewarded here, so be adventurous.
Address: New World Mall Food Court, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing
Telephone: (718) 358-8855

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Preserved egg, shrimp and chive dumpling.

Tianjin Dumpling House
Description: Among the best Chinese dumplings on the East Coast and located in the dingy basement of Golden Mall Shopping Center. They offer 10 varieties with a style that hails from the Beijing area, each one pitch perfect, but my favorites tend to be anything containing lamb.
Address: Golden Shopping Mall Food Court, 4128 Main St, Flushing
Telephone: (212) 518-1952

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Lamb and squash dumplings, topped with chili oil.
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Pork and chive fried dumplings topped with chili oil.

White Bear
Description: Delicate wontons in the Chengdu-style, these are spicy yet balanced. Served up with flavorful, quick-pickled greens and tossed with rich roasted chili oil. The handmade noodles are also worth a try, all on the cheap.
Address: 13502 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing
Telephone: (718) 961-2322

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Pork and shrimp dumpling topped with preserved green onions and roasted chili oil.

Sushi and Seafood

Tanoshi Sushi Bar
Description: Straightforward but utterly rigorous omakase-only sushi preparations in a stripped down setting. Notwithstanding the bring your own beverage policy, perhaps the best sushi in New York, dollar for dollar.
Address: 1372 York Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (917) 265-8254

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Wild caught horse mackerel topped with chive.
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Buri, adult Japanese amberjack.
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Hokkaido sea urchin, salmon roe and quail egg yolk.

Sushi Nakazawa
Description: Extreme perfection in everything from the fish to the platings to the decor to the service to the beverage. There is no better sushi that I have tried in New York City (which is saying quite a lot). Each bite is an experience and an education.
Address: 23 Commerce St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 924-2212

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Assorted nigori.
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Comparative sea urchin: America versus Japan.

The Lobster Place
Description: Seafood haven in Chelsea Market includes fresh seafood take away, simply cooked seafood to be enjoyed at the counter (most notably, live Maine lobster) and excellent sushi.
Address: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 255-5672

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Assorted nigori and sashimi.

Huertas
Description: Vermut and canned seafood eatery in the Barcelona style. Worth sitting at the bar, snarfing up some tapas, downing fortified wines and laughing with friends.
Address: 107 1st Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 228-4490

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Preserved black anchovies.
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Jamon iberico.

Asian

Yakiniku Futago
Description: A very New York yakiniku restaurant serving up top grades of Japanese beef, grilled at the table, along with great seafood and sake.
Address: 37 W 17th St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 620-0225

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Hokkaido uni shiso wraps.
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Japanese wagyu beef steak, ready for grilling.

Kyo Ya
Description: A rare gem in the kaiseki tradition, serving simple but meticulously prepared Japanese dishes across many styles, always rooted in seasonality.
Address: 94 E 7th St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 982-4140

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Assorted sashimi.
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Unagi rice.

Larb Ubol
Description: Isan, northern-style Thai food, including the best som tum (papaya salad) in New York City.
Address: 480 9th Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 564-1822

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Papaya salad with preserved crab and fish.

Spicy & Tasty
Description: Amazing, traditional Sichuan food with an emphasis on the familiar, but enough unusual fare to reward the more adventurous, all in Downtown Flushing.
Address: 39-07 Prince St, Flushing
Telephone: (718) 359-1601

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Five spice lamb and conch in chili oil.

Casual, Comfort & Bar

Death & Company
Description: About the best place to score an exceptionally made cocktail and some elevated bar food in New York City. You’d be surprised how rare such a thing truly is.
Address: 433 East 6th Street (between 1st & A), Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 388-0882

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Cheese curds with aioli and dill.
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Dealer’s choice tiki cocktail.

Jacob’s Pickles
Description: Assorted biscuits, fried chicken and pickles, all delicious. Oddly enough though, most come for the pickles which are the best I’ve ever had. All is complimented by a very competent, very local and well-honed craft beer selection.
Address: 509 Amsterdam Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 470-5566

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Assorted local craft beers.
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Fried chicken sandwich on buttermilk biscuit, assorted pickles and honey.

Los Tacos No. 1
Description: A charming taco counter at Chelsea Market that looks like it came straight out of a San Diego suburb with the taste to boot. Worth spending some time standing at the counter and making your way through the menu with the help of a friend (or not).
Address: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 256-0343

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Adobada taco.

Dickson’s Farmstand Meats
Description: Fancy but casual Chelsea Market butcher with tasty treats to enjoy while you shop, including hot dogs and meat jerkies.
Address: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 242-2630

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Hot dog with onion, sauerkraut and brown mustard.

Angel’s Share
Description: Japanese-style hidden cocktail lounge with excellent cocktails, elevated izakaya small plates and impeccable service. The door is inside the Japanese restaurant, Village Yokocho, behind an unmarked door in the restaurant dining area.
Address: 8 Stuyvesant St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 777-5415

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Classic Manhattan.

Desserts, Tea and Coffee

ChikaLicious
Description: Imaginative Japanese fine dining dessert bar offering a unique dessert omakase along with wine pairings. One of the best dessert experiences in town.
Address: 203 E 10th St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 475-0929

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Taro ice cream, almond cake, pear cream.
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Assorted confections.
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Paired dessert wines.

Fang Gourmet Tea
Description: Exquisite, refined Chinese ceremonial tea house offering exotic leaves from across China and the world for drinking and for purchase.
Address: 135-25 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing
Telephone: (888) 888-0216

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Chinese tea ceremony.
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Taiwanese oolong tea.

Bibble & Sip
Description: Hipster cafe serving elevated and original pastries with Japanese influence, paired with decent coffee and tea.
Address: 253 W 51st St, Manhattan
Telephone: (646) 649-5116

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Matcha and earl grey cream puffs.

Doughnuttery
Description: Fried to order mini-doughnuts with a multitude of bespoke flavorings located in Chelsea Market.
Address: Chelsea Market, 425 W 15th St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 633-4359

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Freshly made, miniature bespoke doughnuts.

Creamline Dairy
Description: Chelsea Market ice cream and mikshake stand which also serves burgers, all from locally sourced ingredients.
Address: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (646) 410-2040

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Vanilla fudge milkshake.

HARBS
Description: Refined Japanese cafe specializing in French-Japanese desserts and sandwiches with an assortment of global teas to boot.
Address: 1374 3rd Ave, Manhattan
Telephone: (646) 896-1511

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Strawberry cream puff cake.

Hi-Collar
Description: Japanese high end coffee shop by day and sake bar by night, focusing on rare and unusual selections.
Address: 214 E 10th St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 777-7018

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Rare sake bottle service.
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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Dr B says:

    Beautiful again Sanjay, useful for the last leg of our trip. We are big fans of “Suits” ( I know, corny) and we are so looking forward to American classics here, Diners, Delis, Bagels ……

    1. And thank you again. Your deli needs can be addressed at Katz’s for pastrami and Barney Greengrass for smoked fish. I suggest Russ & Daughters for Bagels and related items.

    2. Loree says:

      Superb information here, ol’e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.

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