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!


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

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

Lamb and squash dumplings, topped with chili oil.
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

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

Wild caught horse mackerel topped with chive.
Buri, adult Japanese amberjack.
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

Assorted nigori.
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

Assorted nigori and sashimi.

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

Preserved black anchovies.
Jamon iberico.


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

Imported Grade A5 Black Wagyu beef of assorted cuts
Raw Wagyu beef sushi
Recessed electric grill for the table
Assorted bites and pickles

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

Assorted sashimi.
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

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

Five spice lamb and conch in chili oil.

Pizza (UPDATE)

Description: Old school Brooklyn-style whole pies so perfect and light, you’ll eat two yourself.
Address: 781 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
Telephone: (718) 483-8834


Joe’s Pizza (Carmine Location)
Description: The best counter service slices in all of New York City, cheap and fast.
Address: 7 Carmine St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 366-1182


Description: Real deal, pizza napoletana from coal-fired ovens with crazy long waits and glacial-paced service. As the Pizza Gods intended.
Address: 32 Spring St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 941-7994


Description: Coal-fired ovens, elevated but traditional New York whole pies, top tier ingredients and live jazz. Pizza at its finest.
Address: 106 W Houston St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 677-3820


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

Cheese curds with aioli and dill.
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

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

Katz’s (UPDATE)
Description: Classic New York deli with the best damned pastrami on rye on the planet. Get it simple: Pastrami, brown mustard, rye bread, side of combo pickles (quick and well fermented). Anything more would be a distraction. Cash only (except for a back counter where they accept credit card) and hold on to your ticket.
Address: 205 E Houston St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 254-2246

Pastrami on the left, beef tongue on the right (for those looking for shareable variety)

Russ & Daughters (UPDATE)
Description: The best smoked salmon on the planet, with other excellent high end smoked fish to boot. Their dill-mustard herring will leave you in tears. Just buy the fish at the counter and eat it right then and there. Get a plain bagel with regular old cream cheese to go and rejoice in the excellence in simplicity.
Address: 179 E Houston St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 475-4880, ext. 1

Cold-smoked and wild caught pacific nova, cut from the loin
The famed fish selection

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

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

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

Classic Manhattan.

Desserts, Tea and Coffee

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

Taro ice cream, almond cake, pear cream.
Assorted confections.
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

Chinese tea ceremony.
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

Matcha and earl grey cream puffs.

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

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

Vanilla fudge milkshake.

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

Strawberry cream puff cake.

Taiyaki NYC (UPDATE)
Description: Fancy, Japanese style soft serve ice cream lavished upon red bean taiyaki style waffle cones. If you’re not sold yet, you have no soul.
Address: 119 Baxter St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 966-2882

Black sesame and matcha combo

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream (UPDATE)
Description: Modern gourmet ice cream parlor with inventive, but thoughtful flavors.
Address: 2 Rivington St, Manhattan
Telephone: (212) 209-7684

A chocolate-dipped scoop

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream (UPDATE)
Description: Top notch ingredients, especially excellent dairy quality, make this chain one of the best available treats in Manhattan. Any location will do, but my favorite is in Lower East.
Address: 48 E 7th St, Manhattan
Telephone: (646) 476-3865

Ice cream so creamy it makes your knees weak

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

Rare sake bottle service.

7 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.

  2. Gene says:

    Thanks Sanjay. Glad we agree on Russ & Daughters. It’s been a mainstay every time we go!

    1. My pleasure, man! Hope you find this useful on your next trip!

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