Sure, you’ve got a lot to see, buy, and get confused about in NYC, but you’ve got a tonne more to eat and drink.
So to make your life easier, we've come up with the ultimate guide to eating and drinking in New York City, so ditch the guidebooks and just bookmark this list.
The Best Brunch Spots In NYC
A New York City stalwart, Chelsea’s The Cookshop has to be the place where the term ‘brunching like a boss’ originated. Go for the huevos rancheros and stay for the people watching. The mimosas are optional but encouraged.
Nolita, West Village, Williamsburg
They call it a ‘vegetable slaughterhouse’, and it’s the talk of the east and west coast for a reason: The Butcher’s Daughter is seriously good. The triple berry french toast will be your new best friend.
Fact: Mexican-style brunch will never get old, and Gran Electrica is the evidence. Nurse your hangover with a bloody maria, two carnitas tacos, and the ahogada con camarones—it’s the prawn sandwich of dreams.
Jack’s Wife Freda
Soho & West Village
Three words: Pressed duck sandwich. Formally known as Madame Freda, this is one of the many reasons this restaurant is such a queue-magnet. The orange blossom pancakes are pretty stunning as well.
The Best Tacos In NYC
Less of your neighbourhood taco joint and more of your sit-down-and-enjoy-a-feast spot, Cosme is home to the duck carnitas with homemade tortillas that have had locals quacking for years. If you’re more into fish, go for the cobia al pastor.
Empellon Al Pastor
Who doesn’t love a bar with homemade tortillas for delicious tacos? Empellon Al Pastor has pork tongue, cactus, cheeseburger, and more options to make your taste buds and stomach very happy. Wash them down with a refreshing Paloma.
You’re never too far from a Tacombi in New York, which is a good thing because it’s mighty delicious. The Mayan seared fish taco is the way to go, and always with corn esquites. If it’s hot outside, grab a watermelon juice and add tequila.
The Best Pizza In NYC—Sit Down
Williamsburg, Bushwick, Midtown
If you want to start with the “most important pizza in New York”, start with Roberta’s. It’s credited with making Brooklyn cool, so sit down and enjoy. You can’t go wrong with our lord and saviour Cheesus Christ—mozzarella, taleggio, parmigiano, black pepper and cream.
Trends fade, crusts get soggy, but Rubirosa will always be the place to be for pizza in New York. Sit down, order a few pies, eat them from those raised plate and squabble over the last slice of vodka pizza. Then order another Rubirosa supreme.
The Best Pizza In NYC—By The Slice
There are two things to say about Prince Street: it’s known for being the real deal, and the square slice with sausage and pepperoni is the way to go if you want to reach enlightenment in pizza form.
Things you can say with absolute certainty: water is healthy, Tom Hardy is sexy, Joe’s Pizza is the best in New York City. It’s just fact. Sweet sauce, foldy base, stringy mozzarella, and just the right amount of grease.
Let’s set the scene: It’s 2am, you’ve had a few beers or cocktails or whatever you’re imbibing, and you’re feeling rather peckish. Enter Artichoke, a haven for the drunken slice. There are more locations than will fit in the title, which means you’re probably near one at any point. The classic artichoke is creamy heaven.
Locals might tell you this spot is a tourist trap, and they may be right, but you can’t deny this crunchy crusted, coal-fired pizza isn’t damn delicious. Make your own if you’re feeling like a party.
The Best Bagels In NYC
Full disclosure: The bagels here are smaller than your average ‘gel, but that doesn’t make them any less epic or worthy of your time. Go for the beet-cured salmon with cream cheese, radish, and herbs. Or any of the others, really.
Tompkins Square Bagels
Tompkins Square Bagels is the home of the specialty breakfast bagel. They call it a breakfast sandwich in NYC, but don’t expect to find it between to slices of white bread. This is a messy, cheesy, bacony situation that will cure your hangover in no time. Not after breakfast? Chose one of their many, many cream cheese varieties.
This is your classic financier-turned-bagelier story, and it’s a great one because it ends with Murray’s Bagels. They’re soft, they’re famous, and there are thirteen kinds to choose from. Start from the top with the plain and work your way through to the sandwiches.
Russ & Daughters
Lower East Side
When a bagel joint has been perfecting their goods for 100 years, you know it’s worth your attention. Talk to the friendly sandwich professionals behind the counter at Russ & Daughters, try something new, and remember to savour every bite.
The Best Bakeries In NYC
Momofuku Milk Bar Bakery
No fighting about this one, just go. Christina Tosi’s now-infamous bakery Milk Bar Bakery is the stuff of childhood dreams. Order one of everything: A piece of crack pie, a milkquake (go for pineapple upside down), a birthday cake latte and a cereal milk soft serve.
Bryant Park, Lincoln Center, Union Square
At Breads Bakery, it’s all about the Babka. Soft, swirly, plaited, chocolate bready goodness that has people like you arriving in droves for a bite. Theirs is trademarked, so you know it’s damn good.
Gooey cookies are of the glorious things that make life what it is. The monsters at Levian kind of look like scones, but they taste like chocolatey, nutty dreams.
You’ve never seen a prettier croissant in your life, this I’m very sure of. The beautiful baked goods at Supermoon have to be seen and eaten to be believed. Namely, the croissant butter soft serve and the apricot & pistachio twice baked croissant.
Hot Bread Kitchen
Not only are the breads heavenly fresh and soft here, but the bakery itself is a nonprofit that works to create economic opportunity for low-income and immigrant women. Yep, it feels good and tastes good.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Cookie shots, frozen s’mores, cronuts… Dominique Ansel is the undeniable King of the so-strange-it-just-might-work baked good.
The Best Bars In NYC
If you’re looking for ‘off the beaten path’, Diamond Reef is your winner. Especially if winners come with umbrellas in their drinks, and they do here. Get the Penichillin.
Please Don’t Tell
The name suggests you’re not supposed to tell people about this joint, but since it’s amazing, everyone knows about it. Also because it’s officially one of the best bars in the world. Enter through a vintage phone booth in the equally infamous Crif Dogs and don’t make plans after, you’re in for the long haul here.
Fun to say, even more fun to park your bum at, Slowly Shirley is an underground bar full of the kind of people you just want to be friends with. Order a Black & Gold and see where the night takes you. Burgers from The Happiest Hour upstairs are encouraged.
The Rum House
You know you’re in good bartender’s hands when happy hour runs from 12-6pm every day. A ten buck rum punch will kick you into gear at this locally-loved bar, before the clock strikes 6:01 and you get stuck into The Rum House's famous libation menu.
The Ten Bells
Sometimes, all you need is a little wine bar with an excellent drop from an enormous list, and a platter of cured meats to nibble on while you ponder the world. That’s what you’ll get at The Ten Bells.
The Best Restaurants In NYC
Xi’an Famous Foods
The bad news about cult noodle joint Xi’an Famous Foods is that you might find yourself with an addiction. The good news is, there are twelve of them around Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, so you’ll never be too far away from one. If it’s hot, cool down with the cold skin noodles. If not, you can’t go wrong with anything that contains their famous cumin lamb.
It would be cliche to call this institutional restaurant a piece of Paris in New York, but we can't not. It’s got all the makings of a fabulous French brasserie: oyster bar, Champagne, gold-mirrored walls, and sassy bathroom attendants. Order the steak frites with mayonnaise for your frites. Bookings essential.
Lower East Side
You know the drill at Katz: pick a sandwich, pick a bread (not white if you don’t want to get in trouble), add extra mustard, ask for juicy meat, and tip your cutter. Then sit down and enjoy the sandwich the most famous sandwich in the world.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Momofuku Ssäm Bar is David Chang’s second restaurant (hey, Noodle Bar), and it’s a reminder of the good times. The hype has died down a little, but that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. The potato curry and spicy hard shell prawns are still the stuff of dreams.
Eleven Madison Park
It wouldn’t be a list of NYC restaurants without mention of Eleven Madison Park? This one will indeed break the bank right open with no apologies, but if you’re looking for a life-altering experience, this is it. Book far, far in advance.
Los Tacos No. 1
Chelsea Market & Times Square
Sure, Los Tacos No. 1 could be in the taco category, but its institutional status keeps it firmly in this one. Don’t expect white tablecloths here, just really, really, excellent and authentic tacos from people that know how to make them well. Get one of each (maybe two of the marinated pork), and remind yourself why life is worth living.
The Best Ice Cream In NYC
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
East Village & West Village
Like many good things, Big Gay Ice Cream started life as a truck but grew into bigger things. Follow the rainbow to their two locations (with a third coming soon), and indulge in a Salty Pimp or Bea Arthur.
Upper East Side
Sedutto has been happily serving customers cones and cups for over 30 years, so you know it’s worth your time and respect. You’ve got classic flavours like pistachio and vanilla bean, and a few out-there ones like vanilla caramel pretzel swirl. The perfect accompaniment to a stroll around the city.
Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream
This guy is a serious ice cream fanatic, and it shows in every bite. You can play it safe or go all out. And I mean all out: raw milk, banana curry and burnt sage are all on the menu at Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream, just waiting to be enjoyed.
Need to walk off all that food? Here are the best walks in NYC.
Image credit: Katz Delicatessan