Food & Drink

New York City's 100 Most Important Foods

Updated On 01/03/2017 at 01:47PM EST Updated On 01/03/2017 at 01:47PM EST
nyc important dishes
Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Sarah Anderson/Thrillist

Chicken & rice platter at The Halal Guys

East Village (& other locations)
NYC has countless halal carts lining the streets, but only one franchise has earned a distinctive “THE” in front of its name. The beautifully simple chicken over rice platter (tossed with vegetables, optional hot sauce, and the non-negotiable white sauce) is a staple of a wide variety of New Yorker diets -- the cab driver, the post-party NYU student, the Midtown office worker, the 20-something looking for a cheap but filling meal -- and the reason THG, which started as a single cart on 53rd St & 6th Ave and has now expanded to nearly 200 restaurants across the globe, truly deserves that “the” in front of its name. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Bee Sting pizza at Roberta’s

Bushwick
The irreverent pizzeria that put Bushwick on the must-visit map has one pie that every pizza-obsessed New Yorker simply has to try. It’s called the Bee Sting, and it injects your tongue with all the right flavors: savory tomato, salty sopressata, sweet honey, and spicy chili. In a town that takes its pizza traditions more seriously than traffic laws, simply adding an uncommon element like honey might draw swift rebuke, if the end product weren’t so damn delicious. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Gnocchi at Hearth

East Village
As someone who cooks pasta for a living, I am constantly seeking out great pasta from other chefs. Marco [Canora]’s gnocchi is pure perfection from texture to flavor. It is as simple as can be but warms the soul every time I eat it and inspires to keep pushing me to make the perfect pasta. It is always consistent and you can count on it as a staple on his menu. - Missy Robbins, Chef/Owner at Lilia

Passion Fruit "Tart" at wd~50

Lower East Side (now closed)
I'm not quite sure how relevant this dish is for other people, but for me it marked a great time in New York dining. When I moved to NY from Mexico City there was a sort of boom in progressive pastry that was fascinating, Alex Stupak at wd~50, Sam Mason at Taylor, Johnny Iuzzini at Jean Georges, all of them doing unique and mind blowing desserts. They were the ones who gave pastry the same importance as savory in NY, at least for a while. This kind of thought is something that inspired me and Contra to take pastry seriously and make it a big part of the experience.

This dish consisted of a passion fruit curd encapsulated by a tahini gel that was shaped to be the tart shell, so in essence everything was "liquid" -- there was a little bit of merengue and some different components of argan oil and black sesame. When I tasted this for the first time I understood that no matter what you are trying to do, whether it is trying to shock someone or do something completely out there, the most important thing is to share something familiar and delicious with whoever is eating it; there has a to be a connection between the product, the maker, and the consumer. This dish was so different but so familiar at the same time. - Fabián von Hauske, Chef/Owner at Contra & Wildair

Pierogies at Veselka

East Village
Pierogies are the most perfect post-drinking food and no restaurant has proven that more than Veselka. The 24-hour Ukrainian diner, which has fed hoards of inebriated revelers in the East Village since 1954, makes about 3,000 of the popular dumplings every day. While Veselka does make the occasional trendier pierogi (filled with things like short rib), the perfectly pan-fried or boiled classic flavors like potato, cheese, and meat are what keep lines out the door over half a century later. - Khushbu Shah, Senior Food & Drink Editor at Thrillist

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Oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar

Midtown East
If you’re ever craving a real “New York” moment -- the kind of moment that reminds you what you love about living here (despite all the high rents and rat kings) and maybe makes you feel a little bit like Don Draper (minus all the personality disorders) -- grab a seat at the counter at Grand Central Oyster Bar and order a dozen oysters and a dirty martini. You can find good oysters at any number of places across the city, but no other place has such diverse clientele, servers that appear to have been around since the place opened in 1913, or a “whispering wall” just outside its doors. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Spring pea guacamole at ABC Cocina

Flatiron
When The New York Times published the recipe for ABC Cocina’s green pea guacamole in the summer of 2015, the internet -- from denizens of the Twitterverse to President Obama and even the Texas GOP -- freaked out. Whether you’re of the camp that the peas are a positive or a negative addition (for what it’s worth, they do soften the heat of the jalapeños and give a textural boost), you can’t deny that it’s a dish that got people talking. - Meredith Balkus, Video Homepage Editor at Thrillist

Grandma slice at Best Pizza

Williamsburg
While dollar slice shops are prolific and rapidly multiplying, Best Pizza opened a perfect representation of the greatest food in New York. The square grandma slice has creamy melted cheese with pungent and robust red sauce interspersed. It tastes like the ideal dream of what pizza used to taste like "when you were a kid." The city needs more Best Pizza and less cheap pizza. - Matt Hyland, Chef/Owner at Emily & Emmy Squared

Hundred-layer lasagna at Del Posto 

Chelsea
Part of the allure of this gourmet take on your favorite Italian-American casserole is obviously the impressive tally in the title, which sort of begs the question: Are there really a full 100 layers of pasta, sauce and cheese inside? Maybe, if you also count the layers of mystery. Each pasta sheet is razor-thin, making a proper fact-check nearly impossible. One thing is certain: There are an awful lot of layers, and the entire build-out is a thing of beauty -- a bolognese-stained monument to the lofty culinary status that Italian cuisine has finally achieved in NYC and rightfully deserves. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Pollo al forno at Barbuto

West Village
I have been a fan of Chef Waxman’s cooking since the first week he opened JAMS in 1985. His cooking is classic American comfort food, superbly executed -- it’s what New Yorkers want to eat every night of the week. And to make fickle New Yorkers loyal to your food -- that’s iconic! Chef Waxman cuts Bell & Evans birds in half, seasons, and grills them before roasting in the oven. But the magic is the basting! The herb-based salsa verde makes the dish pop. - Daniel Boulud, Chef/Owner at Daniel, DBGB, and other Boulud restaurants

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Any bagel (untoasted) from Ess-a-Bagel

Stuy-Town (& Midtown East)
New Yorkers have strong opinions about where to find the best bagel, but the only way to really judge a bagel is to try it in its natural form -- without any cream cheese or toasting. A plain, untoasted Ess-a-Bagel passes the test. The bagel is dense but not bloated, and has a nice crunch that gives way to a pillowy and slightly salty interior. When the original Ess-a-Bagel closed its First Ave location in 2015, everyone who lived remotely nearby was distraught (even with a new location in Midtown). Luckily, it’s since returned to its original location, complete with Ess-A-Bagel's first-ever toaster (though it should be noted, Ess-a-Bagels still do not need to be toasted). - Elaheh Nozari, Restaurant Venues Editor at Thrillist

Nachos from El Atoradero

Prospect Heights
California transplants will forever bemoan the fact that New York has no good Mexican food, which, if we’re using California as a point of comparison is mostly still pretty true. One of the few exceptions, however, is El Atoradero, which evolved from a Bronx bodega to a full-fledged sit-down restaurant in Prospect Heights. El Atoradero is best known for Chef Denisse Lina Chavez’s carnitas, but it’s her nachos that prove New York does indeed have good Mexican food. Far from your average microwaved version, these come with perfectly crispy homemade chips (made from the restaurant’s tortillas) topped with beans, cheese, jalapeños, crema, and optional chorizo (which really isn’t an option). - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Porterhouse at Peter Luger

Williamsburg 
The porterhouse steak at my neighborhood's iconic Peter Luger is such an institution that you barely have to order it. Just tell the gruff-but-lovable waiters that you're ready for steak and they take care of the details. Presentation counts here -- with the steak still sizzling as it's whisked from the 800-degree broiler to your table. - Pat Kiernan, anchor at NY1

Beef cheek ravioli at Babbo

Greenwich Village
Former Times critic Sam Sifton once described Babbo’s beef-cheek ravioli as “one of the singular pleasures of eating out in New York City in the early years of the new century.” A lot has changed in New York culinary-land since then, but neither Mario Batali’s ravioli nor the joy of the pasta wrapper yielding to the meltiest, meatiest beef beneath a shower of pecorino and black truffles are on that list. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Khao Soi at Pig & Khao

Lower East Side
There is nothing I love more than being apologetically noisy as I slurp up a big bowl of this perfect spicy turmeric coconut broth, braised chicken, and both crispy and tender egg noodles. Balanced with a squeeze of fresh lime, pickled mustard greens, and brunoise shallots, it has been my savior on many a cold New York night! - Janine Booth, Chef/Owner at Root & Bone

Nick Krueck/Thrillist

Cheese slice at Joe’s Pizza

West Village (& East Village)
If you're looking for the quintessential "New York" pizza slice, you'll find it at Joe's. The slices here are everything they're supposed to be: big, cheap, cheesy, easy to fold, and perhaps most important, available after all the bars close. While the original Bleecker St location has been closed since 2005, the legacy lives on at the Carmine St location -- in addition to two others on busy streets (14th St and Bedford Ave) which perpetually garner late-night lines out the door. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Peking duck at Peking Duck House

Chinatown (& Midtown)
A meal at the OG Peking Duck House is as much of a show as it is dinner. The birds are done up as they traditionally are -- puffed with air, dried, and roasted -- then carved up tableside into thin slices with equal parts juicy meat and burnished, crackly skin. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Black & white cookie at Glaser’s

Upper East Side
There was a time, BC (Before Cronut®), when the most exciting dessert you could get in New York was a cookie that let you have both chocolate and vanilla frosting at once. For over 100 years, Glaser’s on the Upper East Side has had the best rendition of the black & white cookie, opting for dry fondant icing over the fudgier kind you’ll still find at your local bagel shop. Sure, there are more elaborate desserts these days, but how many of them can you easily split down the middle to share with a more chocolate (or vanilla)-inclined friend? - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Falafel at Mamoun’s

East Village (& Greenwich Village)
From tourists seeking out an iconic shop to over-served NYU students looking to get in one last bite of fried food before the restaurant shuts down at 2am, Mamoun’s falafel may be New York City’s great equalizer. Frying up crispy, herb-specked falafel balls on plates and wrapped in pita since 1971, Mamoun’s moist, flavorful falafel is some of the city’s best -- and the semi-secret spicy sauce available by request only is no joke. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Gnudi at The Spotted Pig

West Village
Going to The Spotted Pig feels like you’re walking into beautiful NYC, and this dish makes the experience even more beautiful. What’s great about it is that you don’t expect this dish to be on the menu there, but when it arrives, it’s perfect. It’s literally only six ingredients, yet you can feel and taste the love and history in this dish in every bite. It’s apparent when you bite into it, that a real authentic grandma showed April how to make this dish. You can feel/taste the history behind it. I’ve never had a gnudi like it before, even to this day. April’s food is always quality. The restaurant feels old and feels like it’s been here forever. The bones of the old space -- it’s a true experience to dine there, and you can’t say that about too many places in NYC these days -- royalty has been there and you can feel it when you enter. - Dale Talde, Chef/Owner at Talde & Massoni

Tomato-basil spaghetti at Scarpetta

Meatpacking District
Like Mario Batali before him, Chef Scott Conant rekindled New Yorkers’ love for Italian food when he opened Scarpetta in 2008. His Cupid-like arrow: this simple pasta dish, which, he claims, earned him dates during his bachelor days. It certainly worked on the critics, anyway. The spaghetti is homemade and the sauce comes from fresh tomato and a special olive oil infused with basil, crushed red pepper and garlic. Conant is no longer affiliated with the NYC restaurant that he made famous, but his spaghetti is still on the menu -- and at the exact same price: $24. Talk about staying power. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

BBQ ribs at Sylvia’s

Harlem
This legendary soul-food restaurant in Harlem is perhaps best known for the famous pundits and politicians who have patronized it over the years, people like Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and, most infamously, Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly. Another thing it’s known for are the ribs, brushed with a sweet reddish, lemon-laced sauce. It’s the kind of down-home comfort food that makes you forget about all the awful things going on in the world, no matter what O’Reilly says. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

The house turkey sandwich at Parm

Nolita (& other locations)
While the namesake Parm platters at this beloved Major Food Group restaurant are superb, the secret star is the Italian-American turkey sandwich, piled high with slow-roasted, thick-cut turkey breast and cushioned with shredded iceberg lettuce and sliced tomato in an Italian hero. It’s a sandwich that’ll make you think twice about your go-to bodega order. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern

Greenwich Village
Riad [Nasr] and Lee [Hanson], the [Minetta Tavern] chefs at the time, were the first to take the burger to another level by using a dry aged blend from Pat LaFrieda. Many have followed in their footsteps, including Michael White with the White Label burger and myself with the Bowery Meat Company Burger. They say imitation is the best form of flattery. - Josh Capon, Chef/Partner at Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company, El Toro Blanco, and B&B Winepub

Cupcake at Magnolia

West Village (& other locations)
Getting a cupcake from Magnolia may make you feel like you’re on a Sex and the City bus tour, but the ultra-sweet, buttercream-icing topped cakes hold an important role in NYC dessert history. Magnolia cupcakes are frequently thought of as a catalyst for the early 2000s cupcake trend, and even had a starring role in one of the very first SNL digital shorts. Sure, it’s hard to consume more than one without all of your teeth falling out (and the line is still, to this day, one of the least tolerable lines in New York) but when you're really craving something sugary, it's still hard to beat a vanilla cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream frosting. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Pastrami sandwich at Katz’s

Lower East Side
When I was a kid, I used to come to New York with my dad and eat Katz’s pastrami, so there’s something really nostalgic about it for me. But it’s also just such a New York staple. You go in there, everyone is yelling at each other, there’s all these lines. Katz’s is an institution. And from a chef’s perspective, the meat there -- it’s insane. I actually get that meat sent to my father [in Seattle]. It’s so good. - Angie Mar, Chef/Owner at the Beatrice Inn

Fusilli with octopus & bone marrow at Marea

Midtown West
Pasta king Michael White’s homemade curly noodles echo the shape of skinny tentacles, which curl themselves like question marks around the al dente pasta, all tossed in red sauce. Crispy breadcrumbs add some crunch to the dish but the real textural interest is in the gooey, melt-in-your mouth globs of bone marrow that will make you wonder why anyone ever added cheese to pasta when savory animal innards can taste so good. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Vegetables at Blue Hill

Greenwich Village
Dan [Barber] is perhaps one of the most forward thinking chefs out there in the way that he merges agriculture with the kitchen, from seed cultivation through to a finished dish on the table. It’s the vegetables you’re welcomed with at the start of the meal at Blue Hill that really stand out. You’re presented with the most beautiful baby vegetables just-picked from the farm, all lined up along a little fence. It’s the first ‘salad’ I’ve had where you really stop for a moment and pay attention to every single element, tasting them one by one in their truest form. You also never have the same dish twice, as the selection changes with the seasons so it’s a moment where you really learn too -- there might be few kinds of radishes or a variety of lettuce that you’ve never before. What you’re served one day might be different than the next, and there’s something so beautiful about that. - Dominique Ansel, Chef/owner at Dominique Ansel Bakery & Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Omakase at Sushi Nakazawa

West Village
A Bronx-born Italian restaurateur (Alessandro Borgognone) and a Japanese sushi chef (Daisuke Nakazawa) are the unlikely pairing behind this Michelin winner. Nakazawa, who famously apprenticed under Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame), takes a traditional Edomae approach to nigiri, allowing pristine slips of raw fish to shine with few accoutrements. Unlike his mentor, however, the chef takes a lighthearted approach to service, but since he’s only there on weekdays, booking a table is still notoriously tough. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Octopus at Taverna Kyclades

Astoria (& East Village)
The heart of Astoria’s Greek food scene, Taverna Kyclades is the kind of restaurant that can fully transport you to an island via one single dish: octopus. It’s grilled octopus in its purest form -- two enormous, well-charred tentacles that are perfectly tender and not at all chewy, dressed simply with olive oil. The only thing as impressive as the dish itself? The knife skills of the servers, who quickly cut the tentacles into small pieces at your table. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Carrot crepe at Olmsted

Prospect Heights
There are so many great dishes out there, too many to name, but what really stands out the most right now is a recent meal at Olmsted. My favorite dish was Chef Greg Baxtrom's Carrot Crepe with Clams. He takes two very humble ingredients and showcases them in a luxurious manner, with a lovely balance of flavors and textures -- sweetness, earthiness, and crunch from the carrots (cooked and raw), brininess and chewiness from the clams, and an acidic tang from preserved lemon. There was a nice richness from the crepe and carrot butter. It was a really surprising dish, and fun to eat. Very wholesome and satisfying. - George Mendes, Chef/Owner at Aldea & Lupulo

The Dennis at Parisi Bakery

Nolita
There's arguably no better hangover meal in all of New York city than The Dennis. The sandwich, which comes from the exceedingly modest, 100+ year-old Parisi Bakery on Mott St, is no mere Italian sandwich. This one comes stacked with fried chicken cutlets, prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes, balsamic, and pesto on freshly baked Italian bread. Even the most ambitious eaters struggle to get through a single half of it, but it’s fair to say that even a few bites will cure whatever ails you. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Steak au poivre at Raoul’s

SoHo
One of the very first restaurants I went to when I arrived in New York in 1988 was Raoul’s. A friend brought me to the restaurant and told me two things: one, bring every date you ever have here and two, only order the Steak au Poivre. I'm married now so the dating part doesn't quite apply, but that dish has been my go-to for nearly 25 years. - John McDonald, Owner of Mercer Street Hospitality (Sessanta, Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company, El Toro Blanco, B&B Winepub)

Bone broth at Brodo

East Village (& West Village)
What started as a small counter to-go joint attached to Marco Canora’s Hearth turned into something of a mini-trend in 2016. Brodo’s signature bone broth in a coffee cup (made with organic chicken, organic turkey, and grass-fed beef) may not get New Yorkers off of coffee, but in the winter, there’s almost no better way to get yourself warm and full quickly. And now that Brodo has its first brick-and-mortar location in the West Village, it's clear the trend isn't going anywhere. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Rock shrimp tempura at Nobu

Tribeca (& Upper West Side)
Walk into any Japanese restaurant and I will bet you a dollar that you see a version [of Nobu’s spicy rock shrimp tempura] on the menu. I have a version on the menu at Lure Fishbar, because it's undeniably delicious. It's a riff on the classic Grand Marnier shrimp served in many upscale Chinese restaurants, which is fried shrimp with mayo. Genius! Nobu took it up a notch with bite sized rock shrimp and spicy mayo. - Josh Capon, Chef/Partner at Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company, El Toro Blanco, and B&B Winepub

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Chocolate babka at Breads Bakery 

Union Square (& other locations)
The first time I ate the Babka was three years ago when Pig and Khao participated in Madison Square Eats. I quickly became obsessed with it and got a babka at least once a week. Since then I have continued the obsession and bring it to family/holiday functions. I most recently bought the chocolate babka pie for Thanksgiving. What I love about it, aside from it being delicious, is that it is always consistent. Each babka tastes exactly as delicious as the last. - Leah Cohen, Chef/Owner at Pig & Khao

Eggs Benedict at wd~50

Lower East Side (now closed)
There is and will never be another New York restaurant quite like Wylie Dufresne's now-closed wd~50, and never another dish quite like his eggs Benedict. Though plays at gastronomic deconstruction of everyday staples have gotten out of hand these days (Chopped cheese? We're really doing that?), in 2005(ish), Dufresne's fresh, unseen take on the common brunch classic was met with genuine intrigue, instantly becoming The Dish of the Moment. A fried cube of hollandaise, smudges of custardy sous vide egg yolk, paper thin slices of bacon, artfully sprinkled English muffin crumbs, and chives made for visual splendor and textural delight while still retaining the familiarity of flavors. - Leanne Butkovic, Cities Editor at Thrillist

The Recession Special at Gray’s Papaya

Upper West Side
In a city that rises and falls with the whims of Wall Street, it’s comforting to know that some form of affordable sustenance exists, so you can still eat during the next inevitable fiscal crisis. Since the late 1980s, that reassurance means two franks and a drink -- the aptly titled “Recession Special” -- at venerable Manhattan hot dog stand Gray’s Papaya. Like virtually everything else in this town, the price has gone up over the years (and even that wasn’t enough to prevent owner Nicholas Gray from closing two of his three locations). But the deal at his remaining Upper West Side store still falls below $5, which is remarkably cheap for modern NYC. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Crème brûlée donut at Doughnut Plant

Lower East Side (& other locations)
You can choose from a plethora of fancy fried-dough varieties at Doughnut Plant, an early pioneer of the gourmet donut trend in New York City. But the crème brûlée truly stands out as the most unique. Inspired by the French dessert of the same name, the donut comes filled with sweet custard and topped with sugar that gets caramelized with the blast of a blowtorch. It’s crunchy on the outside, rich and creamy on the inside. The style has been replicated at other bakeries around the country, but you really can’t beat the NYC original. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Tuna tartare at Gotham Bar and Grill

Union Square
Gotham was one of the first restaurants in New York City to bring Asian ingredients into the American cuisine fold. The tuna tartare is a dish that has stood the test of time, helped introduce Asian ingredients and techniques, and usher in a new flavor palate for American restaurants. - Matt Rudofker, Executive Chef at Momofuku Ssäm Bar & Momofuku Má Pêche

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

The Spicy Spring at Prince Street Pizza

Nolita
New York’s no stranger to the square pizza slice -- from Sicilian to Detroit-style -- but there’s no better regular square than the Spicy Spring at Prince Street Pizza. Made with a moderately hot fra diavolo sauce, dippy, fresh mozzarella, and tons of small crispy pepperoni cups that curl up at the sides and fill with pools of grease, the Spicy Spring is the perfect counterpart to all the booze you drank at Spring Lounge, and one the least fussy, easy-to-grab, perfect slices the city has to offer. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Mutton chop at Keens

Midtown West
Of all the historic steakhouses in New York City, Keen’s offers something truly unique for this day and age: a classic mutton chop. It’s a type of sheep’s meat that typically gets a bad rap, due to its reputed strong flavor. But somehow, the Keen’s crew makes it work (perhaps by selecting sheep somewhere between the lamb and mutton stages of their lifecycle). The broiled chop is exceptionally flavorful, drizzled with a delicious mint-infused au jus and served with buttery escarole. No place else makes a mutton chop quite like it. Heck, no place else really even tries. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Artichoke slice at Artichoke Basille’s

East Village (& other locations)
There is no slice more indulgent than the creamy white sauce-dribbling, artichoke heart- and spinach leaf-coated artichoke slice at Artichoke Basille’s. Topped with a layer of crisp baked Parmesan and mozzarella, this red sauce-free slice puts traditional artichoke dip to shame. While waiting in line at the original 14th St pizza shop used to be the only way to acquire this indulgence, Artichoke has since expanded throughout the city, making the thick-crusted, cheesy slice far too easy to come by when temptation sets in. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Hot dog at Nathan’s

Coney Island (& other locations)
The only thing more satisfying than that distinctive snap of your first bite into a Nathan’s hot dog is the great American success story behind it: Poor Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker borrowed $300 from friends, quit his job as a roll-slicer at a German sausage joint and opened his own hot dog stand on Coney Island, selling franks for a nickel -- half the price of his former employer. The company he founded, Nathan’s Famous, is now the preeminent hot dog chain in America, with locations all over and a nationally televised hot dog-eating contest to boot. But the best place to get one is still the original Coney Island landmark, with that hot-off-the-grill smell wafting in the ocean breeze. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Crudo at Wildair

Lower East Side
Lower East Side Wine takes me to Wildair and the food keeps me coming back. After being introduced to a funky sparkling orange wine from Campania, I tasted the latest crudo dish: sea scallops, concord grapes, radish, and toasted pine nuts. The ingredients spoke to the season, the land and the sea, and the flavor and texture combination was unparalleled and left me curious. Food and wine is influential when it inspires, and that night I planned my next trip to Europe. - Ali LaRaia, Co-founder/Chef at The Sosta

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Jamaican jerk baby back ribs at Hometown BBQ

Red Hook
The brisket and beef ribs earn lots of accolades for Billy Durney’s acclaimed barbecue restaurant in Red Hook. But those are Texas traditions, faithfully and lovingly recreated with delicious precision. It’s the local spins at Hometown that really help put New York City on the national BBQ map, like the Jamaican jerk baby back ribs. Inspired by the street-food aromas of a neighboring Caribbean community during his childhood in Brooklyn, Durney marinates the ribs in his own special blend of spices for a day or longer before smoking and adding a final touch of char on the grill. The flavor is unlike anything you get at your typical barbecue joint and it’s distinctively New York. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Ricotta dumplings at Estela

Soho
This is a dish you won’t want to disturb once it lands on your table. The dumplings aren’t actually visible at first glance, hidden under a delicate array of shaved mushrooms -- but once you break into those, you’ll unearth the softest pockets of dough, floating in a savory mushroom and leek broth. This dish is what makes Estela stand out among other high-brow restaurants in NYC -- simple but beautiful execution of the most comforting food. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Bagel with lox at Russ & Daughters

Lower East Side
There are few New York City lines made up of both tourists and locals, and the Russ & Daughters line is one of them. It’s important to note that the bagels from the nearly 103-year-old appetizing store are not especially good -- they simply serve as a convenient vessel for the exceptional lox. There’s countless varieties to choose from here (and the guys behind the counter are always more than willing to help) but you can’t beat the mildly salty, glossy Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, sliced directly in front of you. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist  

Cheese plate at Casellula

Hell’s Kitchen
A decade ago, serious cheese plates were the sole domain of fancy, white-tablecloth restaurants. Then Casellula Cheese & Wine Café, a tiny wine and cheese bar -- emphasis on the cheese -- opened and everything changed. The fromager will make you a selection from their dozens upon dozens of cheeses and imaginative pairings. Think nutty Pawlet from Consider Bardwell in Vermont with pickled asparagus, or smoky ricotta with chocolate ganache. The cheese plate has never been the same since. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Mapo tofu at Mission Chinese

Lower East Side
The Mapo tofu is Danny Bowien's obsession. The Mission Chinese chef and owner has altered the Sichuan recipe so many times over the years that it might be unrecognizable to those who tasted the early iterations when the NYC outpost opened in 2012, but the fanatical tweaking has paid off in the form of an inimitable and complex dish. With a lingering buzzy mouthfeel unlike any other aftertaste, the dish is spicy without being overwhelming, the aged beef fat and heritage pork melding into the doubanjiang. Though the Mission franchise is bicoastal, the Mapo tofu feels most at home in New York in the hands of Executive Chef Angela Dimayuga where she's introduced whimsical takes on Asian cooking to the hip crowds of the Lower East Side. - Leanne Butkovic, Cities Editor at Thrillist

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Cheese slice at Patsy’s

Harlem
Every time I go to Patsy's, two thoughts go through my head. One, I will stop myself after two slices (one more slice at dinner yields one less slice at breakfast); and two, if I were stuck on a deserted island with nothing but this pizza crust, I would be happy. The coal-oven pies are thin and round with a slightly charred crust, and though meat and vegetable toppings are available, the specialty margherita proves that simpler is often better. The complementary flavors of mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, and dough in each bite are what your tastebuds are pretty much always craving. - Elaheh Nozari, Restaurant Venues Editor at Thrillist

Clam pizza from Franny’s

Park Slope
The clam and chili pie at Franny’s has been a star on the menu since the pioneering farm-to-table Brooklyn restaurant opened in 2004. Franny’s uses more than 1,500 littlenecks a week to keep up with demand. They’re steamed in a garlicky broth and fortified with cream, which becomes the sauce for the happily chewy pizza, along with plenty of chili flakes and fresh parsley. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Steak frites at Balthazar

SoHo
Since 1997, Keith McNally’s SoHo-by-way-of-Paris brasserie has been perpetually packed, and one in 10 guests within this fashionable crowd will order the steak frites. On a busy day, Balthazar will sell 200 orders of them. The steak is succulent, tender, and finished with maitre d' butter or béarnaise. The mountain of crispy fries is excellent, too. This is not a chichi steakhouse steak, just some totally solid everyday meat happiness. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

"Milk and Honey" at the NoMad

Nomad
“Milk and Honey” is quite possibly the perfect dessert. Three picturesque quenelles of milk sorbet are drizzled with a honey and sit on top of dehydrated milk foam, honey brittle, and an oat shortbread. These five components combine to create a dessert that satisfies anyone’s sweet tooth, but it also appeals to those who tend to lean more savory. I have ordered this every time I've eaten at the Nomad and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. - Flynn McGarry, Chef at Eureka pop-up

Egg cream at Gem Spa

East Village
Both egg-less and cream-less, this fizzy, milky beverage may have a bit of an identity crisis, but it’s been a New York classic for almost 100 years. Stopping into this old-school East Village newsstand offers a sweet sip of history -- and not with just the print publications. Mixed with seltzer, milk, and U-Bet chocolate syrup to order so that it foams at the top and sparkles throughout, the New York City egg cream is a simple mixology feat unlike any other in the city. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Crinkle cut fries at Shake Shack

Flatiron (& other locations)
Yes, it's a great burger. But the burger experience isn't complete without french fries. For reasons I don't fully understand, Shake Shack messed with its crinkle-cut fries in 2013. It was a mistake. Wisely, they brought the crinkle-cut back, and cemented its position as an essential New York taste. - Pat Kiernan, anchor at NY1

Chocolate chip cookie at Levain Bakery

Upper West Side
This pint-sized cookie mecca is home to some of the city’s heftiest baked goods. Weighing in at a whopping 6oz, the chocolate chip and walnut-studded behemoths boast the ideal ratio of crackly shell to gooey interior. Time your visit right and they’ll be warm, too. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Roquefort Burger at Spotted Pig

West Village
Before opening the fast-food inspired Salvation Burger, April Bloomfield’s most talked-about burger was the Burger with Roquefort at her first restaurant, the Spotted Pig. This is about as bare-bones as a cheeseburger can get: an ultra-thick beef patty topped only with stinky cheese inside a fresh-baked bun branded with criss-crossed grill marks. While there are plenty of fancy burgers in the city, Bloomfield does the fancy burger best by keeping it simple. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Matzo ball soup at Second Avenue Deli

Midtown East
Whether you grew up in New York with a doting Jewish bubbe or moved to the Big Apple solo, the best substitute for the care of any relative is a steaming bowl of matzo ball soup at Second Avenue Deli. The clear chicken broth flecked with fresh dill is a cure-all for everything from commuter woes to the inevitable winter plague, and the buoyant matzo ball swimming alongside soft poached carrot discs and tiny noodles make every warm spoonful oh so comforting. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

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Salty Pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream

East Village (& West Village)
Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff started slinging ice cream cones from a truck before food trucks were a big deal, harnessing the power of social media to sell their cutesy named flavors: Bea Arthur, American Glob, and best of all, the Salty Pimp -- vanilla ice cream with dulce de leche and sea salt dipped in chocolate. Now they have three storefronts in NYC, usually with a line outside. Pay attention: Everyone is smiling. The Salty Pimp is proof that life in New York can be very, very good. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Wontons in chili oil at White Bear

Flushing
The No. 6 off the menu posted above the small ordering counter at White Bear, i.e. wontons in chili oil (no soup), are necessary to any Flushing dumpling crawl. The thin-skin wrapped wontons, decorated with a sprinkling of scallions and pickled vegetables, glide across their red chili oil coated styrofoam plate, tempting you to pop an entire wonton in your mouth, where the delicate skin breaks upon first bite to release a flavorful pork meatball packed with preserved cabbage. At 12 to an order, this $5 dish is nearly impossible to replicate or beat throughout the city. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

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Pork bun at Momofuku Noodle Bar

East Village
There might be no greater culinary trend of the early 21st century than taking the low and making it high. NYC’s shining example of such is the pork bun -- in particular the one from David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar. Now in its second decade of dominance, this “eat on the go” menu option featuring the once frowned-upon pork belly teamed with Hoisin, cucumbers, and scallions has been elevated to a level of near omnipresence in NYC. But of course, it’s that bun that brings it all together. - John Mihaly, Deputy Cities Editor at Thrillist

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N1 (spicy cumin lamb noodles) at Xi’an Famous Foods

Flushing (& other locations)
New York's obsession with Xian Famous Foods' spicy cumin lamb noodles began in 2005 in a subterranean food court in Flushing, Queens, where a father-son team nurtured what is now one of the fastest-growing food franchises in the city. Famous Foods' menu is broad and well-worth sampling, but the lamb noodles are the best and most beloved dish. With tender pieces of lamb sautéed in cumin, red onion, hot peppers, and a secret, generations-old family recipe of chiles and spices, the flavors are bright, spicy, and satisfying -- the perfect compliment for Famous Foods' signature hand-ripped noodles, which deserve an entire entry of their own. - Bison Messink, Deputy Editor at Thrillist

Spicy chicken sandwich at Fuku

East Village
At the height of the friend chicken craze in NYC came David Chang’s spicy fried chicken sandwich. It looks comically lopsided -- a massive slab of fried chicken jutting out of a Martin’s potato roll, but that’s the point. The chicken is undoubtedly the star, a juicy thigh packed with heat from a habanero puree brine and dredging spices. Pickles and house-made butter help cut the heat, so don’t skimp on the Momofuku Ssäm sauce. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Tortellini at Carbone

Greenwich Village
I love the pasta at Carbone, which really helped make red-sauce Italian food glamorous again in New York City. The tortellini with the bolognese, that’s my go-to... I think it’s perfectly constructed -- it’s perfectly light, it’s perfectly heavy, it’s perfectly cheesy, it’s perfectly meaty. Everything about that dish is so well constructed and so well thought out. - Angie Mar, Chef/Owner at The Beatrice Inn

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

ShackBurger at Shake Shack

Flatiron (& other locations)
First came the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Then came the lines wrapped around 23rd St. Then came the “Shack Cam” which would quickly answer the question on every New Yorker’s lips in the summer of 2004: “Do we have enough time to get Shake Shack?” Was it the Shack Sauce? The soft and chewy bun? The cooked-while-you-wait (and boy did you wait) burger itself? Or was it the anticipation of the entire experience that turned the ShackBurger into the foundational menu item of Danny Meyer’s unstoppable fast-casual food chain? So many questions, sure, but the most important one still remains today: “How long is the line?” - John Mihaly, Deputy Cities Editor at Thrillist   

Bacon, egg, and cheese from your bodega

Various locations
One way to know that what you’re eating is important in New York City: when locals correct you on your pronunciation. Such is the case with the ubiquitous bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, as served at your neighborhood deli or bodega (really, any will do) -- and which, as any true New Yorker will tell you, must be ordered in a single, quickly spoken word: baconeggandcheese. It’s the fuhgettaboutit of NYC food. And, it is good. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Any milkshake at Black Tap

SoHo (& other locations)
Do I drink it? Or eat it? Or do I just Instagram it? Chances are, if you’d had a Black Tap milkshake, you’ve done all three of these things. Imagine taking a child’s Halloween candy haul and carefully curating all those sweets into a handled mug full of ice cream. How does one even begin to ingest such a concoction? (Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time waiting on line to puzzle out that one.) At $15, it might actually be a deal if you can finish it. But you may pay the true price in the form of an inescapable sugar rush/crash. - John Mihaly, Deputy Cities Editor at Thrillist

Soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai

Chinatown (& other locations)
Part of what makes Joe’s Shanghai a “place” is the experience -- taking a number and waiting outside until you’re certain you could eat 35 soup dumplings, then pushing your way past what feels like hundreds of bodies, and finally, sitting down in the hurried dining room, desperately trying to catch your waiter's eye. The payoff is worth it, though: The dumplings are plump and doughy and filled with what is probably the thickest and most flavorful broth in the city. If you’re a regular, you know to get at least three orders, and skip just about everything else. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Cote de Boeuf at Minetta Tavern

Greenwich Village
The cote de boeuf at Minetta Tavern is so important and is the best steak that you will eat in this city. It is the ideal dish and restaurant to celebrate an affair, or host an important power lunch. When I decide that I’m in the mood for a steak, it’s the very first one that comes to mind. The 40oz steak is super dry-aged and seasoned perfectly and is absolutely one of the finest cuts of meat I’ve ever eaten. It comes out with three giant marrow bones -- it is literally gluttony to the max. They baste it and sear it so that the crust is just right. I also really enjoy going to Minetta Tavern -- it’s an important restaurant that makes you feel like old New York is still alive. It’s great that even with all that’s happened in this city, people like Keith McNally champion old NY and carry on its soul. - Dale Talde, Chef/Owner at Talde & Massoni

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Superiority Burger at Superiority Burger

Alphabet City
When was the last time a veggie burger was the hottest food to get the city? Never. That was until Brooks Headley, the talented pastry chef from Del Posto, left the high-end Italian restaurant to sling the city’s most iconic meatless burger (plus a number of rotating, but all excellent, vegetarian and vegan sides) from a teeny tiny shop just feet from Tompkins Square Park. The namesake burger, which is quinoa based and comes on a Martin’s potato roll, tastes like, well, a superior fast food burger, just without the animal parts. - Khushbu Shah, Senior Food & Drink Editor at Thrillist

Frrrozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3

Upper East Side
Yes, the concept seems contradictory -- hot cocoa that’s, well, not hot. But one sip of the dreamy concoction -- a decadent blend of 14 cocoas, milk, and ice, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, served up in round bowls at the Upper East Side shop -- will make you forget about the paradox. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Roast chicken at The NoMad

Nomad
It’s the roast chicken that launched a thousand more. Years before pricey poultry became a menu staple in NYC, there was Chef Daniel Humm’s now iconic dish. Shipped in daily from Amish country, the birds get a luxe foie gras, black truffle, and brioche stuffing before they’re roasted ‘til succulent and paraded through the dining room to eagerly awaiting guests. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

General Tso’s Chicken at China Gourmet

Hell’s Kitchen
Love it or hate it, the crisp, saucy chicken dish is a quintessential Chinese-American staple, seen on menus all across this MSG-laden land of ours. And while it’s technically a Taiwanese invention, it became fully Americanized and popularized right here in NYC. Peng’s, the original purveyor, isn’t around anymore, but China Gourmet in Hell’s Kitchen does it about as good as anyone. By good, that means cheap and filling. As it should be. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Andrew Zimmer/Thrillist

Cronut® at Dominique Ansel Bakery

SoHo
When Dominique Ansel’s hybrid treat debuted in 2013, it became an instant pastry classic -- flaky, croissant-like rounds finished with donut flourishes (sugar coating, cream filling, glaze topping). Ansel keeps fans on their toes with rotating flavors -- peach-bourbon one month, bergamot-Earl Grey the next -- so it’s no surprise that a line still snakes down the block every morning. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Carrot fries at Narcissa

East Village
Leave it to vegetable whisperer John Fraser to coax carrots into irresistible finger food. Sourced from the restaurant’s Hudson Valley farm and cured in cumin, coriander, and maple, the tempura-battered sticks are fried to a greaseless crisp and served with a spicy jalapeño-tofu dip. Potato who? - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Frozen yogurt at Bloomingdale's Forty Carrots

Upper East Side
Before Pinkberry, before even TCBY, there was Forty Carrots, which first introduced New Yorkers to frozen yogurt way back in 1975. To find the place, you have to venture deep into Bloomingdale’s, up to the seventh floor, past the fancy bedding and tchotchkes. Then you see it -- that line of ladies who lunch, all waiting for their fix of the best frozen yogurt in town. Even the “small” is a veritable Mount Everest of tangy-sweet creaminess. Choose from toppings both classic and strange: Gummi Bears, chocolate-covered goji berries, wheat germ. Eating it all before it melts requires Olympic dexterity. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Bistro Burger at Corner Bistro

West Village
It was the first "artisanal" burger I paid more than $5 for, and holds the title for one of the best in the city for years and years. - Michael Chernow, Owner at Seamore's, Co-Owner at The Meatball Shop

Hummus at Cafe Mogador

East Village (& Williamsburg)
On a mezze plate that has risen to cult status with regulars sits the city’s freshest hummus. Both the East Village and Williamsburg locations of this Moroccan restaurant serve a crater of freshly blended chickpea hummus indented with whole chickpeas, olive oil, and fresh parsley, to be mixed with a swatch of homemade naan and scooped up accordingly. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

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Potato knish at Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery

Lower East Side
Those in search of New York’s heaviest pastry venture down to this old-school Jewish knishery, which has been turning out mashed potato-stuffed pastries since 1910. The potato knish, wrapped in an egg-washed dough not unsimilar to a bagel, is filled with a dense mound of mashed potatoes, and though this sand-colored pastry may not be New York’s most attractive, the carb-on-carb recipe is undeniably delicious, especially when dipped in deli mustard. - Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

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Masala dosa at Temple Canteen

Flushing
The absolute best dosas in New York are found in a cafeteria hidden beneath a Hindu temple in Flushing. The $4.50 Masala Dosa, a crispy and buttery pancake that comes filled with potato, onion masala, and spices and served alongside chutney and sambar for dipping, is one of the most filling cheap meals you can get in the city. It’s also lovingly prepared by the temple’s volunteers, who are happy to talk you through your order if it’s your first time. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Hot roast beef sandwich at Brennan & Carr

Sheepshead Bay
Since 1938, this working-class joint in Sheepshead Bay has been serving up one of Brooklyn’s most famous dishes: the hot roast beef sandwich. It sounds pretty mundane, but Arby’s this is not. What makes it different than your typical roast beef sandwich is that the entire thing -- bun and all -- gets dunked in the house au jus. Soggy? Sure. But you won’t mind when you get that first salty, savory taste. Just remember to use your knife and fork. Otherwise, ask for a lot of extra napkins. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Cheesecake at Junior’s

Downtown Brooklyn (& other locations)
New York is synonymous with cheesecake, and no place is more synonymous with New York-style cheesecake than Junior’s, which opened its original (and still standing) Brooklyn location back in 1950. Simply put, Junior’s does it right: densely loaded with genuine Philadelphia cream cheese -- no ricotta. And unlike most cheesecakes, Junior’s version eschews the typical graham-cracker crust and instead goes with a distinctive, thin layer of sponge cake on the bottom. All in all, a New York original. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

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Bialy at Kossar’s

Lower East Side
All too often are bialys are dubbed bagels’ lesser-known cousins, but good ones need no such asterisk. Crisp and puffy with a center punctuated by a fragrant puddle of onions, the hole-less breads from this Lower East Side institution (which has been making them since 1936) are indisputably New York City’s best. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Honey butter chips at Oiji

East Village
A shortage of this popular South Korean snack spurred hoarding frenzies, inspiring a homemade take from Seoul natives Brian Kim and TK Ku of the East Village’s Oiji. The sole dessert at their restaurant arrives as a warm, sticky mess that’s all at once chewy and crunchy, sweet and spicy. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is optional but highly recommended. - Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Duck carnitas at Cosme

Flatiron
New York’s longstanding reputation for mediocre Mexican food came to a screeching halt in 2014 with the arrival of Cosme, run by one of Mexico City’s most famous and influential chefs, Enrique Olvera. This sleek modish restaurant, opened in a former strip club (so long, Old New York!), redefined for many New Yorkers what to expect of south-of-the-border cooking. Take the show-stopping duck carnitas. The meat is cured over several days and marinated in a mixture that notably includes Mexican Coke. The result is slightly sweet and ultra-tender, served with soft homemade tortillas made from imported Mexican corn. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Emily Boles

Emmy Burger at Emily

Clinton Hill
Matt Hyland played us all. The chef and co-owner of Emily and Emmy Squared opened two pizza-focused restaurants, only to bury the lede by also serving perfect burgers at both. At Emily, that’s the Instagram-famous Emmy Burger, the recipe for which Hyland has toyed with since the restaurant’s inception: a dry-aged Fleischers patty dripping in Grafton cheddar, sweet caramelized onions, and Buffalo-esque Emmy Sauce inside a pretzel bun. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Cereal Milk at Milk Bar

East Village (& other locations)
Served in a simple small plastic milk jug with a pink lid, the cereal milk at Momofuku Milk Bar is exactly what it sounds like: ice-cold milk steeped in toasted corn flakes and brown sugar. More salty than sweet, the cereal milk leaves a lingering taste that will have you trying to figure out how pastry chef Christina Tosi was able to bottle the taste of your childhood. Inspiring countless imitations around the city, cereal milk is nostalgic novelty food in New York City done best. - Ciera Velarde, Editorial Production Assistant at Thrillist

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese at Emilio’s Ballato

Nolita
The free homemade sausage bread is what should bring you to Emilio’s to begin with, but it’s the bolognese with al dente homemade noodles topped with hearty beef, pork, and veal ragu that will make the old-school red sauce a Sunday night staple for you. It’s safe to assume that Rihanna agrees. - Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

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Belgian fries at Pommes Frites

West Village (previously East Village)
When most New Yorkers detail Pommes Frites for the uninitiated, they tend to focus first on the vivid memories of the tragic 2015 fire that engulfed the beloved Second Ave French fry haven (and my go-to dinner spot). The place burnt to the ground, and plans to re-open were questionable. Thankfully, it eventually did -- this time across town in the West Village -- and the thick-cut Belgian fries and 32+ dips are just as perfect as ever. You can taste all of said dips for free in-house, but the best move is to go with the Wasabi Mayo, War Sauce, and Rosemary Garlic (3 for $3.75). I can finish a large order of fries by myself, and you can too. Whether you’re going at 2am after a night out, or at a slightly more reasonable hour for dinner, it’s hard to find something more comforting than an overflowing paper cone of fries and a trio of dips from Pommes Frites. - Julie Cerick, Managing Editor at Thrillist

Korean pork belly at Jongro

Koreatown
At this convivial second-floor spot in the heart of K-town, New Yorkers gather around sizzling samgyeopsal, banchan, and more than a few bottles of soju. The thick, greasy cuts of pork belly here are perfectly fatty and those in the know will stuff them in lettuce wraps with a slice of grilled kimchi. But above all else, it's the rare social opportunity to cook the pork belly yourself with a large group of friends that makes the dish an irreplaceable one in the city's dining scene. - Michelle No, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Oysters and pearls at Per Se

Midtown West
The seemingly endless procession of tweezer foods at Thomas Keller’s Per Se can make it hard to remember any particular one -- except for the oysters and pearls, a mound of caviar and warm, buttery oysters atop savory tapioca pudding. It’s been on the menu since the mid-2000s, yet still elicits audible moans. (The hushed restaurant makes it easy to hear them.) The dish’s enduring popularity suggests that molecular gastronomy is far from done in this town. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

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Chopped cheese at Hajji’s (aka Harlem Taste)

Harlem
Is hole-in-the-wall food the next big NYC craze? Maybe, if the sudden rise of chopped cheese is any indicator. This cheap and simple bodega sandwich -- essentially, New York's version of the cheesesteak, made with griddled ground beef, peppers, onions, and melted cheese -- has already inspired at least one chef-driven gourmet version as well as a Whole Foods variety (both widely ridiculed) and naturally prompted intense debate about cultural appropriation. Some partisans will tell you the best versions are found in the Bronx; others simply refuse to say, likely out of fear of spoiling their local spot with hordes of newbies. But it’s believed to have started at Hajji’s in Harlem, where it remains an affordable, highly popular, and satisfying indulgence. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Lobster Newburg at Delmonico’s

Financial District
Dating all the way back to 1837, Delmonico’s is NYC’s oldest restaurant and probably the first fine-dining establishment in all of America. As such, it lays claim to a number of culinary innovations, including Baked Alaska, Eggs Benedict, and the classic Lobster Newburg -- that’s lobster cooked in butter, cream, cognac, sherry, and Cayenne pepper. The recipe also comes with a contentious backstory. In short: The guy who actually invented it wound up fighting with the restaurant’s owner, whose own chef revised the recipe, then later rebranded it with a different name and made it famous. To this day, the refined version remains on Delmonico’s menu, and its legacy looms large, setting the stage for future intellectual-property battles over innovative dishes in the city (see: Cronut®). - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Spicy rotisserie chicken at Uncle Boons

Nolita
The Spicy rotisserie chicken at Uncle Boons is prepared with a banana blossom salad that incorporates classic Thai flavors into a simple but extremely tasty dish. Chicken is not the most exciting meat and is often presented in a bland or uninspired manner, but at Uncle Boons it is spicy, juicy, and exciting. The ability to solidly execute a simple ingredient in a dish with such precision and punch is special and stands out. - Manish Mehrotra, Executive Chef at Indian Accent

Courtesy of Aldea

Duck rice at Aldea

Flatiron
One major factor [of an iconic dish] is how a dish transforms and or relates to a specific genre or cuisine. For me, tasting the duck rice at Aldea brought on a whole new perspective to Portuguese cooking. Growing up in New Jersey my family would go to the Ironbound district of Newark which has a number of Portuguese restaurants. Eating this rice made me look at the food of Portugal in a different way. Add to the fact that it is supremely delicious and never waivers in consistency. - Josh Laurano, Executive Chef at La Sirena

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Regular slice at Di Fara

Midwood
I was in Naples, Italy, within the last six months. The pizza you get there, the crust is bready and soft. And when I go to Di Fara, the crust has this crunch that I prefer. I've been going to that pizza parlor for 40-plus years -- and I'm not even a big pizza fan. Dom Demarco, who makes the pizzas by himself, stands there over each pizza, he knows what to do and he does it the right way every time. He uses this very buttery cheese and fresh herbs, really tasty pepperoni -- very classic. That's great New York City food. - Ed Schoenfeld, Owner of RedFarm and Decoy

Manhattan clam chowder at Randazzo’s Clam Bar

Sheepshead Bay
Food historians will tell you that this tomato-based seafood stew went by many names before it commonly became associated with Manhattan. So it’s not at all absurd to suggest that the city’s most wholesome version is actually found in Brooklyn -- specifically, at this longstanding waterfront restaurant in Sheepshead Bay. Randazzo’s has a developed a destination-worthy reputation for its tomato sauces and the red chowder is no exception. Just $6 for a bowl. Try finding that price in Manhattan. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Ippudo Akamaru Modern Ramen at Ippudo

East Village (& Midtown)
Ippudo did a lot to usher in New York City’s golden age of ramen. Since its founding in 1985 in Japan's ramen capital of Hakata, the chain has been making bowls full of extraordinary depth, quality, and deliciousness, especially the signature Akamaru Modern ramen -- silky noodles in super rich Tonkotsu (pork) broth, with a pile of goodies including but not limited to pork chashu, garlic oil, and sesame kikurage mushrooms. For such a serious Japanese ramen brand to succeed here and expand here -- both locations are always packed! -- is proof that the ramen craze is here to stay. - Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

The pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Co.

Lower East Side
In this city, breakfast doesn’t always get the respect that a so-called “most important meal of the day” truly deserves. But here at this 32-seat mom-and-pop restaurant on the Lower East Side, the morning meal is the star attraction -- especially the pancakes, whose heavenly lightness is unrivaled in this town. (The famous flapjacks, made with blueberries, banana, and walnut, or chocolate chunks, are also available during dinner.) New Yorkers line up for hours on weekends to get a table, which is understandable once you taste what’s coming off the griddle. - Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist