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What to Eat in New York: 9 Treats You Should Not Miss

Published by: Bounce2 August, 2022

World cities don't come much bigger or more famous than New York. And this gigantic metropolis has a food culture all of its own. From fine dining in Michelin-starred restaurants to hot dogs from street vendors, New York has food to suit every palate — and budget.

Eating your way through New York is more than just an excuse to try some delicious food. It's a way to get a visceral understanding of the history and culture of the city. New York's cuisine has been shaped by the waves of immigration the city has seen through the centuries, and just about every immigrant group has left its own mark on the best things to eat in New York.

Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in New York, and you'll have your hands free to treat yourself to the most delicious things to eat in New York. Sampling the best street food in New York is the perfect way to eat like a local as you explore the city. And if you prefer a sit-down meal, New York isn't exactly short of restaurants, including the best vegetarian restaurants in the city. So try some of these classic New York treats, and you'll get a much deeper understanding of the Big Apple.

New York Food: Deli Sandwiches

New Yorkers didn't invent the delicatessen. But you'd be forgiven for thinking they did when you visit a New York deli. They've certainly perfected the art.

New York delis are an authentic part of life for locals in the city, but they are also a great place for visitors to try. A deli sandwich is one of the best things to eat in New York if you want a real taste of the city.

The most famous deli sandwich is, of course, the Reuben. This monster creation involves corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, all stuffed into two slices of rye bread. It's filling, it's flavorful, and it's an essential New York experience.

Other popular deli sandwiches include corned beef, the pastrami sandwich on rye (another classic), the roast beef on weck (a regional specialty from upstate New York), and the egg salad sandwich (perfect for a quick and easy lunch).

You can find delis all over New York City, but some of the best include Katz's Delicatessen, Carnegie Deli, and Second Avenue Deli.

Everyone knows New York is an expensive city to visit, and while the deli counters of the city offer a slightly more affordable alternative to eating in a restaurant, you'll still struggle to find something truly cheap. However, the way the delis pile the meat high on the bread makes them incredible value. You could easily split many New York pastrami sandwiches into two meals, so it can be a great way to save money while still enjoying the city's culture.

New York Food: Bagels

The story goes that it's the city's water that makes New York bagel so special. Whether that's true or not, there's no denying that the bagels here are some of the best in the world.

A New York bagel is denser and chewier than your average bagel, with a slightly crisp crust. They're traditionally boiled in water before being baked, which is said to give them their distinctive flavor.

You can find bagels all over New York City, particularly in the upper West Side and East Village, but some of the best places to get them are Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company, Ess-a-Bagel, and Murray's Bagels.

Classic toppings include cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon), but you can also get more adventurous toppings like avocado, bacon, and even Nutella.

Bagels are one of the cheapest things to eat in New York, so they're a great option if you're on a budget. And they make a great quick and easy breakfast or snack on the go.

The origin of New York's love affair with bagels goes back to Jewish immigration from Europe during the 19th century. But New Yorkers know a good idea when they see one, and this popular food item was soon adopted by just about everyone in the city. In a place that's always on the go, like New York, bagels are an excellent way to stay fueled up and enjoy everything the city has to offer.

New York Food: Hot Dogs

You can't visit New York without trying a hot dog. This classic American food item is available on just about every street corner, and it makes for a cheap and convenient meal.

But not all hot dogs are created equal, and in New York, you'll find some of the best hot dogs in the world.

There are two types of hot dogs commonly found in New York: the Sabrett hot dog and the Nathan's Famous hot dog. Both are delicious, but they definitely have different flavors.

The Sabrett hot dog is a bit saltier than the Nathan's Famous hot dog, and it has a natural casing that gives it a distinctive snap when you bite into it. The Nathan's Famous hot dog, on the other hand, is a bit sweeter and has a beefier flavor.

You can find both types of hot dogs all over New York City, but some of the best places to get them are Gray's Papaya, Nathan's Famous, and Crif Dogs.

If you want to dress your hot dog up with some toppings, there are plenty of options available. Common toppings include ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions, but you can also get more creative toppings like sauerkraut, chili, cheese, cream cheese, and even bacon.

An authentic New York hot dog is one of the cheapest things to eat in the city, so they're a great option if you're on a budget. And they make a great quick and easy meal on the go.

New York Food: Pizza

You can't visit New York without trying a slice of pizza. This classic food item is available just about everywhere, and it makes for a cheap and convenient meal.

New York-style pizza is characterized by its thin crust and large, wide slices. The dough is always hand-tossed, and the sauce is usually made from fresh tomatoes.

New York pizza has its origins in immigrants from the Italian city of Naples, where pizza was first invented. They brought their pizza-making traditions with them, including firing the pizza in a wood-fired oven. However, over the generations, New York pizza has changed from the traditional Neapolitan into its own unique tradition. For one thing, New York pizzas are far bigger than any you'll find in Italy. The classic New York slice is almost a meal all by itself.

You'll also find more creativity with toppings than you might in Italy. Melted cheddar cheese, grilled chicken, pineapple, and artichoke pizza can all be found in pizza parlors around the city.

You can find New York-style pizza all over New York City, but some of the best places to get it are DiFara Pizza, Lombardi's Pizza, and John's of Bleeker Street.

When you get your slice, eat it like a true New Yorker and fold it in half lengthwise before the first bite.

New York Food: Cheesecake

You can't visit New York without trying a slice of cheesecake. This classic New York dessert is available in just about every restaurant, and it makes for a delicious and indulgent treat.

New York cheesecake is characterized by its creamy, rich texture and its sweetness. The cheesecake is usually made with cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract.

It's believed that the first cheesecake recipe was created on the Greek island of Samos. The Romans later adopted the recipe and brought it to England, where it eventually made its way to America.

The first recorded recipe for American-style cheesecake was published in 1872, and it quickly became a popular dessert item. By the early 1900s, New York had become the cheesecake capital of the world.

Today, you can find cheesecake all over New York City, but some of the best places to get it are Junior's Restaurant, Cheesecake Factory, and Eileen's Special Cheesecakes.

Cheesecake is a bit more expensive than some of the other food items on this list, but it's definitely worth indulging in while you're in New York.

New York Food: Ramen noodles

Unlike some other items on this list, Ramen noodles may not be the first thing you think of when you picture classic New York food. But this Asian staple has become increasingly popular in recent years, and you'll find noodle shops springing up all over New York.

Ramen noodles are a type of Japanese noodle made from wheat flour, water, and salt. They're usually served in a broth with meats and vegetables.

Ramen noodles were introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants in the early 20th century. They quickly became popular due to their cheap price and easy preparation.

In recent years, ramen has become increasingly popular in America, and New York has been at the forefront of this trend. You'll find all sorts of creative takes on this classic dish, including vegan, vegetarian, and even gluten-free options.

Some of the best places to get ramen in New York are Ippudo, Totto Ramen, and Mu Ramen. You'll also find exceptional noodles at Xi'an Famous Foods, a legendary New York eatery in Chinatown that serves a range of Chinese food, like soup dumplings and pork buns, but also finds room in its menu for traditional dishes like pork chops and fried chicken.

New York Food: Pho

Another Asian staple that has become popular in New York is Pho. This Vietnamese soup is made with rice noodles, broth, and meats like chicken or beef. It's often garnished with herbs and spices like basil, cilantro, and lime.

Pho was introduced to Vietnam by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. The dish quickly became popular due to its simple ingredients and easy preparation.

Pho started appearing in New York City in the 1990s as Vietnamese immigrants began opening restaurants serving traditional cuisine. Today, you can find pho all over New York in just about any Vietnamese restaurant, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants.

Some of the best places to get pho in New York are Hanoi House, Pho Grand, and Num Pang.

New York Food: Barbecue

You might not expect this northern city to excel at traditional southern US soul food like barbecue and fried chicken. But just as New York has been a center of immigration from around the world, it's also drawn plenty of people from the South who have brought their own culinary traditions with them. These days, grabbing a fried chicken sandwich, a po boy, or some great barbecue ribs is as easy in New York as it is in New Orleans.

Today, barbecue is enjoyed all over the world, and New York has some of the best barbecue restaurants around. Some of our favorites include Mighty Quinn's BBQ, Blue Smoke, and Fette Sau.

New York Food: Cronut

The cronut is a pastry that was invented in New York City in 2013. It's made with croissant dough that's deep-fried and shaped into a doughnut-like shape.

The cronut quickly became a sensation, and today you can find all sorts of variations on this classic treat. From savory cronuts filled with cheese to sweet cronuts topped with frosting and sprinkles, there's something for everyone.

If you're looking for the original, you'll find it at Dominique Ansel Bakery, the bakery where the cronut was invented. But you'll also find excellent versions at Doughnut Plant and Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop. You'll also find other popular New York pastries like cupcakes and crack pie, a type of pie made with a graham cracker crust and a filling of eggs, butter, sugar, and condensed milk.

Conclusion

There's no shortage of things to eat in New York. And as a city built on immigration, many of the best things to eat in New York are not found in fine dining restaurants but in neighborhood delis and hot dog stands. An authentic bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, a classic New York hot dog, or a rich and filling pastrami sandwich will give you a true taste of the city without breaking your budget.

You're going to need to work off some of those calories, so check out our guide to the best hikes in New York. You could even combine walking and eating with a food tour of New York. Burn off a few calories, and you won't need to feel so guilty about all those pastrami sandwiches and slices of New York pizza.

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