An Eater’s Guide to New York City (2024)

New York

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (1)

Filed under:

  • NYC Guides

An unofficial, highly opinionated NYC dining guide

by Eater Staff Updated

Illustrations by Daniel Zalkus

| Cole Wilson/Eater NY

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Share this story

  • Share this on Facebook
  • Share this on Twitter
  • Share All sharing options

Share All sharing options for: An Eater’s Guide to New York City

  • Pocket
  • Flipboard
  • Email

Table of Contents

- Welcome to the five boroughs
- Where to start on Eater’s best maps
- Neighborhoods to know
- New York dining glossary
- Reservations to make in advance
- Follow the stars
- Get in touch

There are more than eight million people living in New York City and some 25,000 restaurants keeping them fed. Though the Statue of Liberty and Broadway’s flashing lights get most of the credit, restaurants and bars are just as essential to this city’s DNA. Whether it’s a month-out reservation in Manhattan or a hand-pulled noodle shop in Queens, there are endless ways to have a meal in the five boroughs.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (2)

Welcome to the five boroughs

Cross an avenue, bridge, or park, and there’s a different neighborhood at every turn. Within each of the five boroughs are never-ending culinary options, each with their own identity. Ordering a taco, whether from a popular birria truck or a standing-room takeout counter, can mean enduring the same waits as some fine dining establishments. There’s a wide range of dining to do between the city’s most affordable and blowout meals — and there’s a quality option at every price, which is part of what sets New York apart.

Breakfast can take place at a nostalgic diner on the Upper West Side or a Chinatown food cart serving steamed rice rolls in aluminum trays. Lunch options are just as varied, with classic steakhouses and old-school pizza joints equally popular. Dinner can occur at a communal Nigerian restaurant in Bed-Stuy or at a dim sum spot in Manhattan’s Chinatown that stays open until 3 a.m. New York’s restaurant scene, complex and varied as it is, caters to every kind of diner.

The Eater Guide to NYC

  • $20

Prices taken at time of publishing.

The Eater Guide to New York is the perfect companion to eating and drinking around New York. Find the best restaurants across the city, including hidden gems and icons, regional Chinese, New York-style pizza, the swankiest of sit-down spots, and the drinking dens of Downtown.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (4) Eater NY
An Eater’s Guide to New York City (5)

Where to start on Eater’s best maps

Eater publishes countless restaurant maps to keep you on top of the city’s food scene. Here are the ones our readers turn to most.

New York’s 38 essential restaurants

The “Eater 38” is our shortlist of the city’s must-visit restaurants. We’ve visited these spots time and again — they have to be open for at least six months before they merit inclusion — and we update the list quarterly to keep things fresh. New to the guide this winter: an underground biryani shop, a 24-hour Korean restaurant, and one of the city’s favorite French bistros.

Hottest restaurants

Eater’s “heatmaps” are guides to the hottest new restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens that are updated monthly. In most cases, the places on these lists have opened in the last six months.

Classic restaurants

If you’re looking to cross an item off a bucket list, start here. Dining at one of the city’s classic restaurants can feel like stepping back in time, and in one of the oldest dining cities in the country, legendary steakhouses and taverns still feel quintessentially New York.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (6) Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet/Eater NY

Brunch

There’s a home for the all-you-can-drink-mimosa crowd and those looking to cure a hangover with a plate of pancakes. In addition to traditional brunch options, this guide has our favorite spots serving chilaquiles, beef noodle soup, Thai breakfast sandwiches, and more.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (7)

Iconic dishes

New York’s most well-known dishes go beyond pizza, bagels, and pastrami — though you don’t want to miss those, either. Our guide to the city’s most iconic foods shows you where to find egg creams, banana pudding, hot dogs, and more.

Pizza

Whether it’s a pie cooked in a charcoal oven or one with a fancy sourdough crust, there’s a pizza for every occasion in the five boroughs. Before folding a slice in half, consult this map of the city’s top pizzerias.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (8) Melanie Landsman/Eater NY

Bagels

Everyone has an opinion about the city’s best bagels, but we can all agree: This is New York’s favorite food. The big, chewy versions found at Ess-a-Bagel and the dense, bialy-like ones from Shelsky’s are just two worth seeking out.

Sushi

The leading sushi restaurants in New York offer a range of experiences. Diners can max out credit cards with luxe omakase or find quality fish at affordable prices. Curious about who has the best fancy fish in the city? Our critic has thoughts.

Italian

From red-sauce classics to trattorias inspired by Tuscany, New York excels at Italian food and there’s something for every occasion. In the Bronx’s Little Italy, the chalkboard menu outside of Roberto’s advertises daily pasta specials, while Don Angie offers a modern spin on Italian American cooking.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (9) Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Steakhouses

The five boroughs are full of old-school steakhouses, but some of the most exciting cuts of meat right now are found at more casual and affordable venues. Consider the stunning prime rib at Gallaghers or a well-priced cut from London import Hawksmoor. Here, Eater writers debate the city’s best steakhouses at multiple price points.

Desserts

Fancy or simple, there are countless desserts to try in New York City. Some are sit-down affairs that come at the end of a multi-course menu, while others can be ordered from a takeout counter for a few dollars. In a hurry? Try the affordable kuih at East Village bakery or one of the many rotating desserts at Superiority Burger.

Ice cream

Old-school parlors, innovative gelato shops, and even vegan options dot our map of essential ice cream shops. It’s a list to consult year-round, whether you’re looking for guava-cheese ice cream in Harlem or masala chai-flavored scoops in Cobble Hill.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (10) Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

Coffee

It’s the city that never sleeps, and New York’s coffee scene is packed with reliable neighborhood shops for working “from home” and third-wave options for those in search of a perfect pour.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (11)

Special occasions

A new job. An anniversary. A birthday. For a blowout meal, splurge on dinner at the elegant French fine dining restaurant Le Bernardin or Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi inside Lincoln Center.

Vegan and vegetarian

More restaurant owners are turning their attention to vegan and vegetarian dining, whether or not they eat meat themselves. The range of meat- and dairy-free restaurants in the city now includes high-end vegan fine dining spots to casual Indian food in a Queens temple.

co*cktail bars

Start with these 10 co*cktail bars, compiled by our companion publication Punch, which range from Japanese-inspired drinking dens to maximalist mezcalerías to your trusty local.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (12) Lanna Apisukh/Eater NY

Neighborhoods to know

More than 8 million residents are sardine-packed into New York City’s five boroughs. The rent might be too high, but a short walk or a subway ride introduces you to a different food scene in every neighborhood.

Bushwick

Williamsburg is the darling of Brooklyn’s restaurant scene, but some of the most exciting openings right now are happening further east in Bushwick. There’s Sobre Masa Tortilleria which serves tacos on colorful heirloom grain tortillas made in-house, while Nowon, a Korean restaurant, tops pizza with kimchi and rice cakes.

Manhattan’s Chinatown

New York’s oldest and most well-known Chinatown is a leading destination for rice rolls, dim sum, Beijing duck, and more. The big tray spicy chicken at Spicy Village, orders of peanut noodles at Shu Jiao Fu Zhou, and the constant creativity of next-generation operators like Potluck Club are just some of the tastes the neighborhood has to offer.

East Village

The East Village can feel like a microcosm of New York. The neighborhood is home to longstanding immigrant and artist communities, and there’s a sizable population of college students who attend New York University in the area. As for the food: The pierogies at the famous Ukrainian diner Veselka still draw a crowd, while newcomers like Superiority Burger and Yellow Rose have turned the area into a dining destination that has taken new heights.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (13) Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

Flushing

Riding the 7 train to the end of the line isn’t just worth it for the Chinese food: Flushing is also one of the best places in town to find newer restaurants specializing in Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese cuisine. Here, it’s as easy to find an all-you-can-eat rice cake bar as a Chinese dim sum parlor run by robot servers.

Greenpoint

Brooklyn’s northernmost neighborhood is often thought of as a destination for Polish food, but in recent years it’s spawned a vibrant Mexican restaurant scene and become home to its own Little Tokyo. There’s modern Vietnamese food from Di An Di, tacos that channel Mexico City at Taqueria Ramirez, and a Taiwanese American party at Wenwen.

Hell’s Kitchen

It may be located a few blocks from Times Square, but this stretch of Manhattan is home to one of the city’s most affordable and diverse collections of restaurants. A section of Ninth Avenue is dotted with Thai, Mexican, Cuban, Afghan, Haitian, and Peruvian restaurants, along with other independently owned places like the 24-hour Empanada Mama.

Little Italy

Many of the restaurants in Manhattan’s Little Italy are geared toward tourists — but there are a handful of genuinely good places to eat. You’ll find a crowd at Emilio’s Ballato, with lines out the door, and at the century-old Lombardi’s, which still uses a coal oven to make pizza. Newer Italian restaurants, like Torrisi from the owners of Carbone, are keeping the neighborhood young.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (14) Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet/Eater NY

Jackson Heights

This Queens neighborhood is often cited as the most diverse zip code in the city based on the number of languages spoken. A stroll down Roosevelt Avenue, where the 7 train rumbles overhead, is all the proof you need. There are first-rate momos at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, while Birria-Landia, one of the city’s best taco trucks, has lines late into the night. Mexican seafood is the move no matter the season at Mariscos El Submarino.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (15)

Lower East Side

This downtown Manhattan neighborhood embraces its historic roots as much as it does the city’s current dining scene. Tourist magnets like Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters are still going strong, while new spots keep this neighborhood on the map. Dhamaka, an Indian restaurant in a food hall, became one of the best new restaurants in the country in 2021, while the new location of Scarr’s Pizza continues as a contender for one of the city’s best slice shops.

Ridgewood

This rhomboid-shaped neighborhood at the end of the M subway line has a number of new restaurants, including Rolo’s, which makes one of the city’s best burgers, and Mama Yoshi Mini Mart, a Japanese convenience store with fried chicken sandwiches. Decades-old mainstays like Rudy’s Pastry Shop, Gottscheer Hall, and Joe’s Restaurant have anchored the area for years.

Theater District

Sure, it’s full of tourist traps, but as Broadway makes a comeback, even New Yorkers are heading to the Theater District. Where should you eat? The Cuban restaurant Guantanamera has live music every night, while Farida serves a Central Asian menu with tender lamb plov, the national dish of Uzbekistan.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (16) Evan Angelastro/Eater NY

Upper West Side

Slowly but surely, the Upper West Side has shed its reputation as a sleepy enclave of outdated and expensive restaurants. Around Lincoln Center, there are now upscale establishments like Tatiana from the celebrated chef Kwame Onwuachi. Further uptown, find newer restaurants like Bánh, offering a fresh take on classic Vietnamese dishes, and Charles Pan-Fried Chicken, which started as a sidewalk barbecue stand.

West Village

The brownstones and tree-lined streets of this Manhattan neighborhood make it one of the most picturesque and pricey parts of the city — and its restaurants follow a similar formula. Small dining rooms barely larger than some apartments are packed with diners, like the popular Italian restaurant Via Carota and the old-school favorite Corner Bistro. When there’s a wait, you won’t have a problem finding a co*cktail or wine bar to kill some time.

Williamsburg

If there’s a Brooklyn neighborhood that can go toe-to-toe with Manhattan for its sheer number of buzzed-about restaurants, it’s Williamsburg. Missy Robbins dominates the Italian scene with Lilia, but if you can’t get a reservation, Bamonte’s is a classic that still draws a crowd. The Four Horsem*n offers a nice selection of natural wines and Michelin-worthy plates, while Sushi On Me serves an omakase that’s as much about fish as unlimited sake.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (17)

New York dining glossary

BEC: Otherwise known as the bacon, egg, and cheese, this classic sandwich is a New York staple. Whether it’s served on a roll or a bagel, you can count on a messy, meaty breakfast sandwich that costs just a few dollars. The best ones are found at a corner deli or grill.

Bialy: New Yorkers could argue endlessly about where the biggest and best-tasting bagels are found, seeming to agree only on the fact that a fresh bagel should never be toasted. Overlooked in this debate is the bialy — a flat round roll with onions chopped up in the center, originating in the town of Bialystok, Poland. Ask for one of those in a bagel shop or a bialy bakery like Kossar’s and receive an admiring nod of the head from the proprietor.

Bodega: In most parts of the country, it’s called a convenience store, 7-Eleven, or, if you happen to live in San Antonio, an ice house. In New York City, these ubiquitous corner stores — and just about every block has one — are called bodegas, which means “little store” in Spanish. It’s where New Yorkers turn for everything from coffee and beer to breakfast and dinner. Don’t be surprised to find a cat watching over the premises.

Chopped cheese: Also known as chop cheese, this sandwich is made by chopping up ground beef with American cheese and onions on a bun or a roll. The sandwich is said to have originated at the East Harlem deli Blue Sky: The shop still makes one of the best versions in town, but chopped cheese sandwiches can now be found on the menus of delis across the city.

Egg cream: Despite its name, this signature beverage of New York City contains neither eggs nor cream. It’s a shot of chocolate or vanilla syrup (Fox’s U-Bet is the local favorite) mixed with milk and club soda, with the proportion of ingredients and stirring style unique to each maker.A new generation of restaurants is reviving the New York icon at spots like Agi’s Counter in Crown Heights and Old John’s Luncheonette on the Upper West Side.

Schmear: When ordering a bagel, asking for a schmear (“just a little”) is the way to get just the right amount of cream cheese.

Slice: In most parts of the country, you buy pizza by the pie. Here, it’s not a proper pizzeria if they don’t sell slices. Your choices aren’t limited to plain cheese, either, and many local pizzerias pride themselves on sumptuous displays of many kinds of slices, sometimes with several types ganged up on a single tray: pepperoni, fried eggplant, mushroom, buffalo chicken, and garlicky white.

Reservations to make in advance

One result of the pandemic: More restaurants require reservations, and making one can feel sort of like buying concert tickets online — the city’s hottest tables often book out within minutes, sometimes weeks in advance. Our team has a practical guide for scoring last-minute reservations, and the following places are worth booking ahead of time: Claud, Dhamaka, Don Angie, Eleven Madison Park, Four Horsem*n, I Sodi, Libertine, Le Bernardin, Lilia, Meju, Sailor, Tatiana, and Torrisi.

Follow the stars

New York is home to a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants — 71 as of the latest awards in 2023. While most of them aren’t everyday spots, restaurants like Semma, the city’s only Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, and Meju, in the back of a Korean market, are worth a splurge. Michelin’s Bib Gourmand category, which emphasizes value, has more affordable options, like Agi’s Counter, an Eastern European spot in Crown Heights, and the Korean restaurant C as in Charlie, where a shot of alcohol comes free with every meal.

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (18)

Head out of town

You could spend a lifetime in the five boroughs and still not hit every restaurant on this guide. Well, we’re not done yet.

In recent years, New York City chefs have opened establishments everywhere from the North Fork of Long Island to the Hudson Valley. One of the most well-known towns upstate is surely Hudson, easily accessible via Amtrak, where you can spend a full 24 hours in just a few blocks. The Catskills region is another popular weekend getaway for many New Yorkers. For wine nerds, the Finger Lakes region has emerged as a wine destination that’s taken as seriously as Napa and Sonoma. And of course, there’s always the Hamptons, where some of the city’s trendiest restaurants often pop-up with seasonal menus and one-off events.

Get in touch

An Eater’s Guide to New York City (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated:

Views: 6137

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.