NYC's Most Delicious Food Subcultures Worth Exploring
There are plenty of perfectly acceptable ways to “experience” New York City. I’ve found the best all begin with your stomach, and your feet. To really, truly experience the city, you get yourself outside and devour its spectacular menu of cultures from the finely woven tablecloth of its neighborhoods, in caloric... uh... form. I’m talking about eating. Like, food.
This is my opinion, but it’s an informed one. For one thing, I am a large New York boy who has eaten many things. For another, I host FOOD/GROUPS, Thrillist’s YouTube series that explores the deep, delicious relationships between communities and the cuisine by which they define themselves. We just wrapped Season 1 (watch it all right here!), which included half a dozen filmed right here in NYC.
If you’d like to spend your visit exploring New York City’s multitudinous food identities, I humbly submit these videos for your immediate consumption. The best part: Once you’re in the city, all of these spots are a $2.75 MetroCard swipe away by train and bus.
A big night of Korean BBQ and karaoke is a rite of passage for drinking-age New Yorkers. Start hungry in Manhattan’s K-town neighborhood (just beneath the Empire State Building!) and you’ll also find an enormous range of Korean foods beyond flame-broiled bulgogi.
What to order: At Gammeeok, everything is excellent, but the naengmyeon -- basically cold buckwheat noodles served in an ice broth -- were definitely my favorite on this shoot.
The Rockaways is this little strip of land in the Atlantic, right off the south coast of Queens proper, that rocks a really vibrant year-round surf scene. We wanted to get out there to showcase this funky, resilient New York niche.
What to order: The pelmeni at Uma’s. Thank me later.
City Island is one of those semi-secret spots that even some long-time New Yorkers aren’t up on. It’s a total trip to be immersed in the maritime-y, New England-y vibes there, then realize you’re still improbably within city limits.
What to order: The seafood platter for two at City Island Lobster House is an ode to the sea’s bounty. Grab a drink at the Snug afterward, but watch out -- they pour their Dark ’N’ Stormies stiff.
Most people have heard of Di Fara, the OG pie joint in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Midwood that regularly draws hours-long lines. But just a block away, almost no one outside of Midwood’s large Orthodox Jewish population notices Pizza Time, a no-frills joint that serves some of the city’s very best kosher pizzas.
What to order: The kids from the local yeshiva favor a plain slice topped with mac & cheese. I have no idea why, but it’s pretty fantastic.
It was daunting to do a piece about NYC’s bagel tradition, especially since we only had the time to shoot one location. But if you can only get one bagel in NYC, Ess-a-Bagel stacks up against the best.
What to order: I’m not a big smoked-fish guy, but the whitefish salad with capers and tomato on an untoasted everything bagel here will change the way you look at the world.
New York City has been a steakhouse town since it invented the genre a couple centuries ago, and I’ve reported on it in the past, so I was determined to do a piece on the city’s dry-aging tradition. Smith & Wollensky was a great place to shoot, and I love the steaks there. But if it’s my money, I usually tend towards Keens, for both the porterhouse and the pipes.
What to order: Steaks aside, we also went to Emily for this piece. Their dry-aged cheeseburger is on a whole other plane, but arrive early -- the busy pizza joint in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, sells out of burgers every night.