A New York Foodie's Guide to Eating Like a Local
Only in New York is being called “food snob” a rite of passage. New York City foodies are a special breed: not only do we know what we want (and how to get it in under a minute), but we are also spoiled rotten by a) living in the greatest city in the world and b) living surrounded by millions of the greatest restaurants in the world. The classic NYC fixes - bagels and pizza - can be found everywhere. But, you wouldn’t be a real New Yorker if you didn’t have the hidden foodie gems to call your own. You know, “your” bagel place: the one that gives you the most perfect freshly baked New York bagel with a schmear (yes, you read that right, a schmear) of vegetable cream cheese.
New York City is filled with all types of culinary treasures, yet only a handful of truly extraordinary places to get them. Here are NYC’s best “locals-approved” food spots for the ultimate foodie tour of the Big Apple:
New York culture is built on bagels.
Happy? Eat a bagel. Sad? Eat a bagel. Angry? Eat a bagel. Holiday? Eat a bagel. Wedding? Mazel tov. Eat a bagel.
Because the best bagels in the entire world are made in New York (anyone who tells you otherwise is objectively wrong), New Yorkers have unlimited access to freshly baked doughy goodness. Sadly, all this goodness does make recommending a specific place a bit of a challenge: if you ask a thousand New Yorkers about the best place to get a bagel, you'll get a thousand and one different answers.
Here's the truth: there is no bad place to get a bagel in New York City. From the Upper West Side to Midtown to Brooklyn to Westchester to even Long Island, any place that serves breakfast will give you the perfect Bacon Egg and Cheese sandwich (add hashbrowns to it, it's life changing) or fulfill your cream cheese and lox craving. Well, except for Starbucks. But who gets a bagel there anyways?
However, if you have the time, a special place to try is The Bagel Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which is the birthplace of the original rainbow bagel (above). They also have an awesome selection of cool types of cream cheeses, like funfetti, cannoli, or cookies and creme.
Who can resist the smell of oven-fresh pizza? While there are thousands, if not millions, of pizzerias sprinkled across the city, going back to New York’s pizza roots will get you the best pie out there. Lombardi's in SoHo was the first pizza place to break ground in New York, and the historical restaurant sits a mere block away from its original downtown home. Serving up perfectly-crafted, thin crust goodness for over 100 years, you can never go wrong a trip to Lombardi's. It may be the best pizza in the world.
Despite its long distance from home, sushi has become a staple of the New York City food scene. For traditional sushi, the best place is Tao. This Japanese restaurant makes sushi every bit as gorgeous as its Insta-worthy interior. Tao’s creations are unbelieveable, and take the classic sushi rolls to a whole new level.
But, if you're feeling more adventurous, try Pokéworks in Midtown. They're famous for popularizing the “sushi burrito,” NYC’s latest food trend. Think of Pokéworks like a high-quality Chipotle of sushi: their photogenic, customizable creations have earned social media notoriety for their amazing flavor and presentation.
Sure, you might believe that brunch around the world is all the same. But in New York City, brunch is a competitive sport.
Choosing a single best brunch spot could take hours – or, if you go based on wait time, you’ll spend just as long without any delicious mid-day meals (looking at you, Jack’s Wife Freda). That being said, the classic - and hands down best – New York City brunch spot is Sarabeth's. Not only will you feel like Gossip Girl eating in such a classy Upper West Side establishment, but Sarabeth’s mouth-watering menu will have you coming back for more.
Last but not least: dessert. Arguably the most important dish of them all, dessert receives proper treatment in New York. Throughout the Concrete Jungle, there are hundreds of amazing and unique desserts that you just can't find anywhere else in the world. A New York classic is the mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa: their tiny, bite-sized cupcakes let you sample as many fun flavors as you want without feeling the least bit guilty. My personal recommendation: get at least 6 for yourself.
Another amazing New York dessert is the Black Tap milkshake. Their milkshakes are masterpieces, literally overflowing with all the cake, cookies, and candy you could ever imagine. Although the wait to get seated at Black Tap will likely run a few hours, it's all worth it. Just look at these beautiful monstrosities. They're perfect.