Best Food in New York City: Where and What to eat in NYC

New York City is undoubtedly one of the top foodie destinations in the world. Knowing where to eat in NYC has become as much of a sport as it is a skill. Through my dozens of trips to the city, hours of extensive research and reading reviews, and of course, first-hand dining experience, I have been able to compile the most epic list for the best and most popular places to eat in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. I always say the best way to explore a new city is by mapping out all the places you want to eat. Sight seeing, tourist attractions, and even shopping are all second to, and determined by where I am eating on that particular day and time. Whether it’s your first time in the city or your hundredth, below you will find all the best places for NYC classics and essentials, such as pizza, pastrami, bagels and beyond.

Best Pizza NYC

Best Pizza:

Joe’s Pizza – No frills, pizza by the slice.

Locations: West Village, Gramercy, Midtown West, & Williamsburg 

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza – Known for square pizza and great for a late night option.

Locations: Gramercy, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Park Slope, Astoria, Bay Ridge, Bushwick, & Williamsburg

Di Fara – A good sit down spot and another with specialty square pizza topped with fresh, hand-cut basil.

Locations: Brooklyn

Roberta’s – Get the Bee Sting pizza for something truly unique! This spot also has a nice outdoor bar area to hang out at while you wait for a table.


Grimaldi’s – Classic, brick oven NY pizza.

Locations: DUMBO (original) 

Mona’s Pick: You really can’t go wrong with any of these NYC staples because duh, it’s pizza, and even when it’s bad it’s still good. That said, my honorable mention is Julliana’s opened by the people of Grimaldis (but better in my opinion) and is right next door to the DUMBO location. Call ahead, order pick up, and enjoy your pizza on the sidewalk if you don’t want to wait in the long line outside.

Best Bagels NYC

Best Bagel Shop:

Ess-a-bagel – Best for thick, doughy bagels.

Locations: Midtown East & Stuyvesant 

Russ & Daughters – Best for smoked fish and caviar. Various types of lox and my personal favorite, wasabi infused fish roe. Tip: While Russ & Daughters original location does not have any seating, the Russ & Daughters Cafe does. Head there instead for a proper sit down breakfast or brunch.

Locations: Lower East Side (original), Russ & Daughters Cafe – Lower East Side, Russ & Daughters Cafe inside the Jewish Museum Upper East Side

Mona’s Pick: This is a tough one. Ess-a Bagel has the fluffiest, chewiest bagels, while Russ & daughters is KING for all the fish fixings. Russ & Daughter’s also has longer lines and often a 2+ hour wait during peak hours; so be like me and grab your ticketed number for your place in line, head over to ess-a-bagel (the one on 2nd street is closer and usually does not have a long wait like the other location) grab some bagels, maybe explore a little, and then head back to Russ & Daughters an hour or so later to get your cream cheese, lox, and other fixings to construct the most epic NYC bagel on your own.

Best Pastrami NYC

Best Pastrami on Rye:

Katz’s – The most famous NYC delicatessen.

Locations: Lower East Side

2nd Ave Deli – A classic and true kosher deli.

Locations: Murray Hill

Mona’s Pick: While Katz’s is truly an NYC staple, 2nd Ave Deli is also an excellent choice and an authentic Kosher deli serving real kosher meat. With ample seating and hardly a wait, you can avoid the hours of wait time outside of Kats’z and dive straight into a thick-cut, juicy kosher pastrami sandwich.Best Italian NYC

Best Italian:

Carmine’s – Best for before a Broadway show or visiting Time’s Square. Make sure you have a reservation.

Locations: Upper West Side & Times Square

Babbo –  The Olive Oil cake for dessert is a MUST!

Locations: Greenwich Village

Becco – A great option for vegetarians as they offer substitutions on basically all of their pasta dishes.

Locations: Midtown West

Mona’s Pick: L’Artusi in the West Village, or Eataly; while not exactly a restaurant itself, Eataly is an indoor Italian marketplace and a must-see in its own right. Eataly offers various spots for pasta, gelato, cheeses, and more.

where to eat in NYC

Other popular lunch and dinner musts:

Momofuku Noodle, 

Locations: East Village

or Momofuku Ssam bar – Popular Asian fusion restaurants by Chef David Chang’s Momofuku.

Locations: East Village

Alta – Best for Mediterranean tapas.

Locations: Greenwich Village

Peter Luger – A classic and old school cash only steakhouse.

Locations: South Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Joe’s Shanghai – Best Dim Sum in NYC.

Locations: Chinatown

Amélie – Best for French cuisine. Get the goat cheese balls!

Locations: Greenwich Village

Morimoto – Best omakase (chef’s choice) sushi

Locations: Meatpacking District

Izakaya MEW – A more laid back sushi and Japanese favorite.

Locations: Midtown West

Ippudo East Village – Best Ramen

Locations: East Village

Mona’s Pick: The greatest thing about New York eating is what a melting pot (quite literally) of cuisines it has to offer. Whatever food in the world you’re into, NY is sure to offer some of the best. Whenever I am in the city, I like to treat myself to Reserve Cut in the Financial District. An upscale kosher steakhouse known for their aged wagyu beef which allegedly 😉 comes from cows that are massaged daily and played classical music to for ultimate relaxation and tenderness.

best brunch nyc

Best Brunch:

Jane – The Vanilla Bean French Toast is a must!

Locations: Greenwich Village

Clinton Street Baking Company – Casual, American breakfast classics. Best for a weekday breakfast.

Locations: Lower East Side

Jack’s Wife Freda – Mediterranean-fusion inspired classics.

Locations: SoHo & West Village 

Mona’s Tip: Los Angeles natives like myself are no strangers to brunch, So unless I’m in for a leisurely boozy brunch with friends, While in New York City I’ll substitute a classic breakfast benedict for a real NY bagel and lox sandwich; or better yet start my day by eating dessert with a coffee and pastry at one of the many amazing cafes and bakeries, all in order to save room for a hefty lunch and dinner.

best dessert nyc.jpg

Best Dessert:

Momofuku Milk Bar – famous for their milk and cereal ice cream, and crack cookies.

Locations: Midtown West, West Village, & Upper West Side 

Levain Bakery – Home to the best chocolate chip cookie in the world!

Locations: Upper West Side (2 locations) & Harlem

Dominique Ansel Bakery – Birthplace of the donut-croissant hybrid, the Cronut.

Locations: South Village

Doughnut Plant – Endless kinds of specialty donuts

Locations: Lower East Side (original), Chelsea, Prospect Heights, & Sunnyside 

Rice to Riches – A rice pudding spot for when you’re in the mood for something different.

Locations: Nolita

Big Gay Ice Cream – I scream, you scream! Need I say more?

Mona’s tip: Nothing beats a simple and delicious classic chocolate chip cookie. As mentioned above, Levain is known for the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. The line out the door is always long and there is no seating. Skip the fuss by calling in a pick-up order and paying over the phone (there is no minimum) then walk straight to the counter to pick up your order.

Locations: East Village, West Village


Best Late Night Snacks:

The Meatball Shop – The name says it all. Pick your base, flavor, and your ball (they even have veggie meatballs) for endless meatball combinations!

Locations: Lower East Side, Chelsea, Williamsburg, Midtown West, & Upper East Side

Mamouns falafel – Cheap and delicious falafel sandwiches.

Locations: Greenwich Village & East Village 

Pommes Frites – Because sometimes you just want to end your night with some French (or Belgian, rather) fries!

Locations: Greenwich Village

As a final tip, I need to mention that most of the above places are beloved NYC favorites, and with popularity often comes long lines and waits. Some of them may not even offer a place to sit and eat. If you’re on a time crunch, be sure to look into wait times by calling ahead of seeing if they take reservations. Even if you do find yourself waiting, I don’t think you will be disappointed. NYC is a real foodie destination and more often than not you’ll find that the food was worth waiting for.

This list is by no means comprehensive so I’d love to know, what are your favorites and did I leave anything out?

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16 thoughts on “Best Food in New York City: Where and What to eat in NYC

  1. Jane makes my favorite French Toast in the world (and I know French Toast) – glad to see it on the list. I also recommend going to Clinton St Baking Co for dinner on a weeknight… who doesn’t love pancakes for dinner?!


    1. If you are staying at a hotel, many of them offer Christmas dinners which would be a great option. Many restaurants and steak houses will be closed, however I have a feeling Peter Luger will be offering a Christmas menu, so you should definitely look into that. 🙂


  2. I could have used this guide back in December! We did make it to Dominique Ansel’s Bakery and loved all his danish, including the cronut. I have always wanted to go to Babbo and Eataly and hope to make it there next time. I will also make sure to try some other places on here that I have never heard of. Great guide!


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