Food & Drink

The Best Place for Every Type of Cuisine in NYC

Published On 10/22/2015 Published On 10/22/2015
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

The best thing about New York is that you don’t have to leave it to experience countless other cultures and cuisines (and who is really trying to leave anyway?). But now we’ve made it even easier for you, by breaking down the best places to eat 33 different international cuisines in NYC.

Pio Pio

Peruvian: Pio Pio

East Village
So, maybe internal organs aren’t for everyone. But, if you’re going to try sweetbreads you should do it at the city’s most authentic Argentinian restaurant. They’re perfectly crispy and flavorful. If you’re not up for that, Buenos Aires also has top-notch skirt steak, blood sausage, and short ribs.

Argentinian: Buenos Aires

East Village
So, maybe internal organs aren’t for everyone. But, if you’re going to try sweetbreads you should do it at the city’s most authentic Argentinian restaurant. They’re perfectly crispy and flavorful. If you’re not up for that, Buenos Aires also has top-notch skirt steak, blood sausage, and short ribs.

Flickr/wwny

Venezuelan: El Cocotero

Chelsea
This cute Chelsea cafe has some of the best arepas in NYC. Make sure you try the arepa pernil with slow-roasted pork and the arepa pabellon with shredded beef, plantain, and cheese. And then finish with a tres leches cake, sitting in what is essentially a large pool of milk.

Colombian: Pollos a la Brasa Mario

Jackson Heights
Authentic, home-cooked Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa and fried snapper can be found at this rustic spot with two locations (one in Jackson Heights and the other in Astoria). But the smart move here is Mario’s special platter, loaded with chicharron, steak, pork loin, chicken, rice & beans, and fries. Prepare for a week’s worth of leftovers.

Ecuadorian: Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen
This tiny Hell’s Kitchen spot offers a number of classic, super-fresh Ecuadorian dishes, like ceviche, tortillas de verde, and humitas. Opt for the caldo de bola, a beef soup with a plantain dumpling filled with beef, egg, raisins, and peanut sauce -- it’s the perfect cold-day treat, and the plantain dumpling is so good, we’d eat a whole order of them alone.

Flickr/Nosher Hungryman
 

Moroccan: Cafe Mogador

East Village
Perpetually packed on the weekends with the East Village brunch crowd, this casual Moroccan and Mediterranean cafe has a number of classic, traditional dishes on offer, but the real draw is the lamb tagine with a spicy green chermoula sauce and couscous. It’s enough to make you tune out the sound of the mimosa-swigging girl raving about her spin class cult

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Jamaican: Miss Lily's

Greenwich Village
From the music to the decor, everything about Miss Lily’s feels like you’re at an island beach shack -- so much so that you’ll completely forget you’re on Houston St until you leave (and then you’ll feel pretty depressed). Get the jerk chicken for a true Caribbean experience -- it’s juicy and perfectly spicy and smoky, and it comes with a side of mango chutney, rice, and beans.

Cuban: Madera Cuban Grill and Steakhouse

Long Island City
Out in Hunter’s Point, you’ll find great Cuban food in a super laid-back atmosphere with live music and some of the best mojitos in NYC (try the passion fruit). Makes sure you order the ropa vieja -- a delicious beef stew that comes in a bowl MADE. OF. PLANTAINS. Regular bowls will never do it for you again.

Haitian: Le Soleil Restaurant

Hell’s Kitchen
Authentic Haitian food is not easy to come by in the city, which is why this Hell’s Kitchen hole-in-the-wall is such a pleasant surprise. The fried goat is excellent, but if that isn't your thing (uh, what’s wrong with you?), the fried chicken is equally good -- as are the sides of rice and plantains.

Trinidadian: Ali’s Trinidad Roti Shop

Bed Stuy
The super-tender stewed chicken roti at this low-key Bed Stuy Trinidadian spot is fantastic, but you’re here for the doubles -- which, confusingly, are very much singular, not plural. At $1.50 a pop, the traditional street-food sandwich made with flat fried bread and filled with curried chickpeas is well worth the 10- to 20-minute wait.

Mexican: Mesa Coyoacan

East Williamsburg
Mexican street food meets homestyle cooking at this East Williamsburg joint inspired by Chef Ivan Garcia’s hometown, Mexico City. There are a number of good taco options (including cow tongue!), but the move here is the traditional enchiladas verdes, topped with enough green sauce and Oaxaca cheese for a lifetime (no one is complaining). Take your LA friends here when they visit, and they’ll shut up once and for all about New York not having good Mexican. It’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in the country for a reason.

Guatemalan: Tierras Centro Americanas

Jamaica
This little-known Guatemalan spot in Queens is super small and casual, and offers one of the best soups you’ll ever have in NY: caldo de res --a beef soup with rice and tortillas. There’s also some Salvadoran influence to the menu, and the pupusas (filled with lots of warm queso) are not to be missed.

Courtesy of Tabaré

Uruguayan: Tabaré

Williamsburg
This intimate Williamsburg spot, owned by two Uruguayan friends, offers a wide array of classic Latin American fare. Get the chivito completo: a traditional Uruguayan filet mignon sandwich with bacon, ham, fried egg, cheese, and caramelized onions. It’s incredibly messy and wonderful.

Brazilian: Berimbau

West Village
Specializing in food from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, this rustic West Village restaurant offers traditional dishes like pão de queijo (cheese bread balls!), empanadas, and moqueca a baiana (seafood stew). But really, the pão de queijo alone is worth coming for. They’re like your wildest cheese puff dreams come true -- crunchy on the outside, cheesy and chewy on the inside.

Jones Wood Foundry

British: Jones Wood Foundry

Upper East Side
Authentic British pub fare like bangers & mash and fish & chips is served alongside a great selection of UK beers at this UES British pub. While dinner here is great, make sure you also try the full English breakfast outside in the garden. Who needs Big Ben anyway, right... ?

Courtesy of Noah Fecks

Australian: The Thirsty Koala

Astoria
This is one of the only places in the city where you’ll be able to find kangaroo meat -- and you can get the lean and gamey delicacy in either slider or full-burger form. Opt for the “kangaroo burger with the lot,” topped with grilled pineapple, Canadian bacon, fried egg, beet stew, and onions. You’ll never go back to beef burgers again (this is probably untrue, so let's just go with: you will definitely be hooked on kangaroo).

Flickr/Buvette

French: Buvette

West Village
This tiny West Village spot offers a number of French wines and classic dishes like croque-monsieur and coq au vin, but the real standout is the brunch, namely the espresso wand-steamed scrambled eggs topped with prosciutto and shaved Parmesan. There’s also a second location in the Pigalle neighborhood of Paris’ 9th arrondissement, offering you the perfect excuse to travel (“we have to try both!”).

Flickr/garrettziegler

Spanish: La Vara

Cobble Hill
An intimate Brooklyn tapas spot that’s Michelin starred, but still affordable enough that you’ll be able to pay your rent after dining there. The migas -- chorizo and bread crumbs sauteed with grapes, onions, and capers -- is the go-to order here, alongside a wide array of great Spanish wines.

Italian: Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria

Noho
It’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu at this rustic Italian eatery in Noho (no matter the time of day), but the porchetta panino is a bucket list sandwich if there ever was one, made with the largest slices of pork you’ll ever see, on perfectly crusty bread.

German: Zum Schneider

East Village
This true Bavarian beer hall does the trick when you’re in the German mood, with authentic schnitzel, spätzle, and wursts... and, you know, it doesn’t hurt that there are giant steins of beer.

Flickr/wwny

Ukrainian: Veselka

East Village
Pierogi taste great no matter what time you’re eating them, but thanks to Veselka, you can get your fill of the greatest farmer’s cheese-filled pockets in NYC at 3am. Oh, and the short-rib ones. Always get both.

Polish: Karczma

Greenpoint
The menu at Karczma is loaded with Polish specialities, including tripe soup, mushroom pierogi, and red and white borscht. And you can expect to hear a ton of native speakers around you; Karczma is known among the city’s Polish set for being incredibly authentic, from the food to the decor. Get the white borscht in a sourdough bread bowl -- as George Steinbrenner once told George Costanza, there’s “nothing more satisfying than looking down after lunch and just seeing a table."

Greek: Taverna Kyclades

Astoria
Taverna Kyclades has two locations -- one in the East Village, and one in Astoria -- but the original Astoria home is the one to visit (outdoor seating!). There are a number of excellent dishes on the menu -- think tzatziki, lemon potatoes, and fried whiting -- but the standout item is the Greek-style grilled octopus, which is perfectly tender and charred and not at all chewy. Be sure to order sides, because this is very much just octopus on a plate (as it should be).

Turkish: Beyoglu

Upper East Side
Perfect for the traditional meze selection (the hummus is crazy good), this UES spot has a number of great Turkish and Mediterranean items on offer. Everything is super simple and flavorful. The Patlican Domates Soslu is the must-try item -- it’s like an eggplant dip, featuring lightly pan-fried cubes of eggplant topped with fresh sauteed tomato. Be prepared to ask for extra bread.

Iranian: Ravagh Persian Grill

Midtown East
This no-frills Persian/Iranian spot has two New York locations (Midtown East and the Upper East Side), and an excellent lamb stew with perfectly tender meat accompanied by onion, tomato, and a whole lot of rice.

Indian: Tamarind

Tribeca
Tamarind has a good mix of traditional and modernized Indian dishes, and while the menu’s a bit pricey, it’s worth it for the pretty excellent lamb dishes. Go with the lamb vindaloo (chunks of lamb and roasted potatoes in a spicy, tangy sauce); or if you feel like dropping some $$$, get the lamb chops. The chicken tikka masala is also great, though not the most authentic choice.

Flickr/wwny

Chinese: Asian Jewels Seafood

Flushing
Super-authentic Cantonese cuisine can be found out in Flushing at Asian Jewels. Get the dim sum -- it’s by far the best in the neighborhood, if not the whole city, featuring chicken feet, har gow (shrimp dumplings), roast pork buns, and beef short ribs.

Vietnamese: Com Tam Ninh Kieu

The Bronx
Some of the city’s best pho is at this Kingsbridge Heights hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese spot, which offers an insane 16 different varieties of the noodle soup. The pork chops are also great, but focus on the pho here -- specifically, the #2 with shrimp, fish cake, sliced & ground pork, and chicken.

Thai: Pok Pok NY

Cobble Hill
Portland-born-and-bred Pok Pok has some of the best chicken wings in the city (deep-fried and coated in fish sauce!). The wait may be a bit long at times, but it’s certainly worth it for dishes like Kaeng Hung Leh (sweet pork belly and pork shoulder curry from Northern Thailand) and Muu Paa Kham Waan (grilled boar collar in a spicy sauce) -- and of course, the aforementioned best-wings-ever.

Korean: Mapo Korean BBQ

Flushing
There are lots of great Korean BBQ spots in NYC, but Mapo sets itself apart by cooking the meats the old-fashioned way, over real charcoal grills -- meaning the meat is far more tender. Make sure you order two portions so that your meat can be cooked at the table (otherwise they’ll do it in the kitchen, which is boring, and also less food, so just a lose-lose all around). The kalbi and the pork belly are both insanely good, so it’s probably best to just go ahead and get five or six portions.

Flickr/edsel

Japanese: Sushi Nakazawa

West Village
Chef Daisuke Nakazawa’s omakase features 20 courses of some of the freshest, most interesting sushi you will ever experience. Expect torches, live shrimp, and rare sakes. Seriously worth every penny.

Filipino: Jeepney 

East Village
This Filipino gastropub pays tribute to East Asian street eats like balut (fertilized duck egg) and chicharon bulaklak (crispy pork ruffle fat), and has an outstanding chori burger (a sirloin and longganisa patty topped with spicy banana ketchup and kewpie aioli). Note the large images of half-naked pinup girls adorning the walls, and be sure to try Kamayan Night, when all food is served family style on banana leaves and eaten with your hands.

Sarah Anderson/Thrillist

Jewish deli: Katz’s

Lower East Side
It’s a bucket list item for a reason -- it's deeply rooted in the city's Jewish cultural history, and one of those meals that is just so very “New York” (let the eye-roll commence!!). There’s lots of great pastrami in the city, but no pastrami beats Katz’s.


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Lucy Meilus is Thrillist's New York editor and a marathon eater. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Pio Pio 604 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

Known for rotisserie chicken, this Peruvian restaurant offers huge portions of traditional, South American eats like seafood paella, salchipapa, and ceviche.

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2. Buenos Aires 513 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

The menu at Buenos Aires proves that Argentines truly are a magical people: who else could eat "Breaded beef cutlet topped with fried eggs served with fries" and still not terrify small children at nude beaches?

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3. El Cocotero 228 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011 (Chelsea)

Amazing BYO discovery: El Cocotero, a Venezuelan restaurant in Chelsea perfectly suited for large, boozy gatherings.

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4. Pollos a la Brasa Mario 8101 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights, NY 11372

This no-frills Colombian joint serves up hearty platters of authentic, Spanish cuisine. Get the Bandeja Tipica (beef, rice, beans, avocado, fried egg, arepa, pork skin, and chimichurri) -- it won't disappoint.

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5. Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen 691 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

Ecuadorian dishes with a modern flair are offered at this family-owned and operated restaurant, such as humita, fritada, cazuela, and carne en palito.

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6. Cafe Mogador 101 Saint Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

This casual, family-owned Moroccan/Mediterranean cafe is perpetually packed on the weekends with the East Village brunch crowd, but it's seriously worth the wait. Since 1987, Cafe Mogador has offered a number of traditional menu items -- such as lamb tagine with a spicy green chermoula sauce and couscous -- alongside elegant cocktails and an impressive wine list.

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7. Miss Lily's 132 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

A Caribbean oasis in Manhattan, the SoHo location of this popular New York City chain is as impressive as the rest. Island eats aplenty -- such as jerk chicken, curried lamb, and oxtail stew -- and organic juices from the adjacent Melvin's Juice Box make Miss Lily's perfect for (healthy!) afternoon indulging.

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8. Madera Cuban Grill & Steakhouse 47-29 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101

In addition to live jazz music on the weekend, Madera also boasts a long menu of Cuban eats, great mojitos, and a relaxed atmosphere. Want to eat from a plantain bowl? Get the ropa vieja.

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9. Le Soleil Haitian Restaurant 858 10th Ave, New York, NY 10019

This casual restaurant serves up African and Caribbean cuisine. Along with traditional fare (think goat, beef okra, and guinea hen), Le Soleil also offers great Haitian milkshakes.

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10. Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop 1267 Fulton St, New York, NY 11216

Ali's is a low-key takeout spot that supplies authentic island street food, notably a variety of roti or flatbread sandwiches.

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11. Mesa Coyoacán 372 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

This East Williamsburg gem grew out of chef Ivan Garcia’s fond remembrance of his neighborhood in Mexico City, and it shows in their homestyle cooking -- the menu is equal parts Mexican street food and recipes Ivan has adapted from his Grandmother’s immeasurable culinary knowledge.

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12. Tierras Centro Americanas 87-52 168th St, Jamaica, NY 11432 (Queens)

The Latin beef soup here is coveted, as well as the salpicon and chorizo. Authentic Guatemalan dishes f=come from this hole in the wall spot in Jamaica, Queens.

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13. Tabaré 221 S 1st St, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Williamsburg)

If you have wanted to try Uruguayan dining, here's your chance. This spot in Williamsburg has some great meat dishes like skirt steak and beef & chicken empanadas. They also start you off with bread and red olive oil. It's a romantic spot in the evening and is great for dates.

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14. Berimbau do Brasil 43 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

This small space boasts some dishes with amazing Brazilian flavors. Get the yucca Fries and Pão de queijo to start off and for your entree keep it simple with the filet or Picanha. The restaurant also makes some quality Caipirinha.

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15. Jones Wood Foundry 401 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021 (Upper East Side)

JWF, an UES staple, offers authentic British fare like bangers and mash, fish and chips, and tea-brined chicken -- all served with UK beers. The front bar of this homey pub boasts a wrought-iron and stained-glass window that overlooks a sky-lit banquet hall. The hall, with rustic communal tables, sits adjacent to an outdoor courtyard, and connects to a dining room with antler-framed mirrors. So even without the accents, boy bands, or Royal Guards, you'll feel like you're across the pond.

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16. The Thirsty Koala 35-12 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105 (Astoria)

This Australian joint is one of the few places around that you can get real ground kangaroo meat, which is offered up in the form of several different entrees. Go with its signature Kangaroo Burger that features a ‘roo patty topped with bacon, cheese, pineapple, a fried egg, and the unorthodox beetroot, contrasting its gamey flavor with the savory, the sour, and the sweet.

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17. Buvette 42 Grove St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

This charming West Village spot (with a second location in Paris’ 9th arrondissement) offers a number of classic dishes like croque-monsieur and coq au vin alongside some great French wines, but its known primarily for its standout brunch -- namely, espresso wand-steamed scrambled eggs topped with prosciutto and shaved Parmesan.

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18. La Vara 268 Clinton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

An intimate Brooklyn tapas spot that’s Michelin starred, but still affordable, La Vara's a quaint, Spanish-infused restaurant doling out a multitude of Moorish and Jewish dishes. The plates at Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s beloved joint are meant to be shared, making it a perfect venue for both small and large groups. Be sure to try the migas -- chorizo and bread crumbs sauteed with grapes, onions, and capers.

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19. Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria 53 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012 (Noho)

At the sister restaurant of the famed Il Buco, you'll find a five-course, rustic Italian family-style menu that includes such options as chestnut agnolotti, baccala, and roasted pears. But you're really here for the lunch offerings, including the notorious porchetta panino, stuffed with hefty slices of pork and scented with rosemary. Be sure to check out the market, too, which functions as a salumeria, panetteria, formaggeria, and gelateria.

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20. Zum Schneider 107 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

The OG of NYC beer gardens, this German spot is a go-to if you're looking for an authentic German beer and brat session. Though the space isn't typical for a beer garden (as in, there's no garden), the Alphabet City spot has sidewalk seating and communal tables inside.

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21. Veselka 144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Since 1954, New Yorkers have depended on Veselka’s cabbage soup as the cure for a hangover. And where else can you get some of the city’s best banana pancakes alongside pierogies and a cheeseburger? Nowhere. On the pierogi front, it doesn’t matter what filling you choose, each fork-tender pocket feels like it came straight out of baba’s kitchen and tastes like a Polish heaven.

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22. Karczma 136 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222 (Greenpoint)

You have to go to Brooklyn to get some of the best Polish food. We're talking pierogis, potato pancakes, and white borscht. All of the classic,comfort dishes of Poland are at this restaurant. Also, you will definitely not leave hungry. There are nice sized portions here.

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23. Tamarind TriBeCa 99 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013 (Tribeca)

This high-end Indian restaurant served your favorited ethnic dishes in an upscale manner while being in a modern, sophisticated space. Try their tandoori lamb chops and one of their signature cocktails. The $25 prix fixe lunch is also a favorite for those who work in the area.

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24. Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant 13330 39th Ave, Flushing, NY 11354 (Queens)

There are countless great options for dim sum in Chinatown, but the absolute best dim sum will always been in Queens -- particularly at Asian Jewels, which consistently offers authentic, fresh food and ridiculously fast cart service. Classic dim sum favorites are all here -- har gau, pork buns, spare ribs, and chicken feet -- alongside larger mains (beef, chicken, seafood, and noodle dishes). Saturday and Sundays attract the masses, so come as early as possible.

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25. Taverna Kyclades 33-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105 (Astoria)

A staple in Astoria’s massive Greek scene, this lively seafood slinger has played host to the likes of Bill Murray and George Clooney, and probably countless other grey-haired old white men, too. It doesn't take reservations, so you may have to wait for a table, but you’ll have your pick of indoor or outdoor seating. Delicious side dishes of fried cheese and outrageously lemony potatoes are certainly must-orders, but don't miss the standout dish: Greek-style grilled octopus, dressed in olive oil and lemon and made as tender as a fine steak.

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26. Com Tam Ninh Kieu 2641 Jerome Ave, Bronx, NY 10468 (Bronx)

This hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese spot in Fordham Manor makes its dishes with broken rice grains and splintered noodles, which are known for two things: absorbing a heck of a lot of flavor and being dirt cheap. The menu is pho-based, and the pork chop (suon nuong) is so succulent that it willingly falls off the bone.

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27. Beyoglu 1431 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10028 (Upper East Side)

The mezze platters are what everyone comes for here. It's two levels and get crowded pretty quickly so make sure you are prepared to wait. It's a very lively environment, but it's fun and the Turkish food is some of the best in the city.

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28. Pok Pok Ny 117 Columbia St, New York, NY 11231

Andy Ricker's Michelin-starred restaurant on Brooklyn's Columbia Street Waterfront specializes in Northern Thai food, a regional cuisine that favors pork and deep-frying over spiciness and coconut milk. Pok Pok's menu is filled with family-style plates like deep-fried pork riblets, minced pork salad with crispy fried garlic, and insanely good chicken wings, deep-fried and coated in fish sauce. There's usually a wait at peak dinner times, especially for a table on the back patio in the summer.

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29. Ravagh Persian Grill 11 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016 (Midtown East)

Family owned and operated, this restaurant serves traditional Iranian dishes like barg kebobs, lamb stew, and alboloo polo, which is a rice that has cherries in it. If you're gonna try Iranian food for the first time, this is the place to go.

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30. Mapo Korean B.B.Q. 149, 142-24 41st Ave, Flushing, NY 11354 (Flushing)

Mapo Korean BBQ in Flushing is unique among NYC's KBBQ spots because waiters cook the meat for you in a tableside charcoal pit. Kalbi, the speciality meat here, is a marinated, boneless beef rib that’s cooked as a whole slab, then snipped into juicy, charred cubes. A typical meal is complemented by sides like creamed corn, seafood pancakes, and spicy squid noodles. The utilitarian space is great for groups, and is usually filled with Korean families.

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31. Sushi Nakazawa 23 Commerce St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

Chef Daisuke Nakazawa’s 20-course omakase features some of the absolute freshest sushi you will ever experience (second to Japan), as well as some of the most interesting (you can expect torches, live shrimp, and lots of rare sakes at this West Village favorite).

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32. Jeepney Filipino Gastropub 201 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Jeepney's a roadhousey East Village haven that has a trellised garden out back, tons of bright colors, tin walls, and highly nuanced art depicting cockfights and naked Filipino pinup girls. The food's a modern twist on the classic Filipino fare, like the Chori burger topped w/ a skinless sausage in lieu of bacon.

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33. Katz's Delicatessen 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Open since 1888 on the corner of East Houston and Ludlow Street, Katz's is synonymous with iconic New York City food, specifically, slow-cured pastrami and corned beef. There's usually a line filled with a mix of tourists, die-hard New Yorkers, and everyone in between, and the wait is nothing but proof of the stacked sandwiches' pure goodness. You receive a paper ticket when you walk in, order at the counter (be ready!), and wait while the servers sling layers of pink meat onto cafeteria trays. If pastrami on rye (or better yet, a hot reuben) is your kind of late-night food, then you're in luck -- Katz's is open all night on Fridays and Saturdays. Words to the wise: stock up on napkins, order a generous side of pickles, and whatever you do, don't lose your ticket.

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