Here’s Our Guide to the ‘Best of’ New York City

February 18, 2020

Your first time in New York can be incredibly intimidating. It is arguably one of the best food and restaurant cities in the world, with hundreds of lists published about where you’ve got to eat. When faced with a week to try and eat everything, I tried to condense as much recommendations as I could, to try and find the best. It was virtually impossible, but if you’re craving for something delicious, from cheap Asian, to luxurious soft serve, here’s where we recommend to go.

1. Cheap Asian Food: Xian Famous Foods

best asian

Xian Famous Foods is hands down my favorite place to eat in New York. You won’t go wrong with anything on the menu from the Spicy & Sour Dumplings to a plate of Stewed Oxtail, but the hand-ripped Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles are undoubtedly the best thing on the menu. From the original spot in Queens, Xian now has 9 locations around the city. The food is consistently great in any branch, and inexpensive enough that you can buy that second bowl of noodles.

Where Else to Go:

Sake Bar Hagi located Midtown serves pretty good late-night yakitori and Japanese small plates. Another go-to is Congee Restaurant, which serves some of the city’s best traditional Chinese food.

2. Best Brunch: Clinton St. Baking Co.

best brunch

Brunch is pretty much a New York tradition, and Clinton St Baking Co. serves up some of the best brunch in town. If you happen to wake up late and catch the two-hour wait, the food is completely worth it. Clinton Street Baking Co. does justice to all of your favorite brunch staples, and they serve up the best pancakes you’ll ever have. If savory brunch is more your thing, order the Potato Pancakes with caramelized applesauce and a side of whatever housemade sausage they have for the day.

Where Else to Go:

Shopsin’s infamous 900-item menu is a little daunting, but it’s half the fun of going there. The other half would be the Mac & Cheese Pancakes and the Slutty Shake with pistachios, pumpkin, and peanut butter. For a more upscale brunch, Norma’s at the Le Parker Meridien does a pretty good job serving up modern twists on brunch staples like crepes, French toast.

3. Best Burger: The Burger Joint

best burger

Hidden away in a corner of the lobby at the Le Parker Meridien, this little place serves one of the best burgers in the city. Dimly lit and decorated like a dive bar with a wall of signatures and signs written on scraps of cardboard, The Burger Joint is the exact opposite of the hotel it resides in. A no-frills but delicious burger with a side of fries here is one of the cheaper meals and best burgers you can get in the city. Make sure you know what you’re getting when you hit the register or you will be sent to the back of the line, and trust me when I say you want that burger in your hands as soon as you can get it.

Where Else to Go:

Shake Shack undoubtedly serves some of the best burgers in New York, and the vegetarian friendly, fried, cheese-stuffed portobello Shroom Burger is the best thing on the menu. If you’re in the mood for an all-out fancy burger, hit up the Minetta Tavern and order the famous Black Label Burger drizzled in clarified butter and topped with caramelized onions.

4. Best Dessert: ABC Kitchen

best dessert

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise the one of the prettiest restaurants in New York is situated in the middle of a furniture store. ABC Kitchen is one of the hottest restaurants in New York today, and their signature dessert is arguably one of the best ones in the city. A handful of seemingly simple elements are executed perfectly to create their signature Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae. The dessert starts with three generous scoops of salted caramel ice cream, placed in a bowl lined with chocolate sauce. The whole thing is topped off with candied peanuts and popcorn and a quenelle of whipped cream.

Where Else to Go:

Hit up Spot Dessert Bar for a variety of modern Asian-American desserts. Sit at the counter at The Dessert Club by ChikaLicious and order the Brown Sugar Panna Cotta, one of their other modern plated desserts, or even some pastries to go.

5. Best Midday Stop: Dough and City Bakery


New York is all about the hustle and bustle, and sometimes you just have to stop midday and grab a snack and something hot to drink. Dough and The City Bakery are about a block apart from each other, and make a pretty great midday stop. Grab a donut or two (or a dozen) at Dough, a small donut shop with awesome as-big-as-my-hand donuts. The passion fruit donut and their famous hibiscus glazed donuts are the best in the case, but watch out for their donut of the day, too. Take your donuts and march on over to The City Bakery which serves up the city’s best hot chocolate with a giant housemade marshmallow on top.

Where Else to Go:

If you find yourself in Williamsburg, stop by Matchabar and grab a matcha hot cocoa (or any one of their matcha-infused signature drinks) and a matcha glazed donut hole. Also visit Doughnut Plant and order one of their famous filled square donuts or the tres leches cake donut.

6. Best in Brooklyn: Fette Sau

best in brooklyn

Brooklyn is filled with amazing restaurants and Fette Sau is one of the best. The restaurant transports you to the south, outfitted with big blackboards and family-style wooden picnic tables. Anyone that tells you that there isn’t any great barbecue in New York has never had a sheet-tray full of Fette Sau’s beef brisket, pork belly, or pulled pork with a side of the best burnt end baked beans ever.

Where Else to Go:

Caracas Arepa Bar serves a variety of traditional Colombian arepas. Try the De Pabellon arepa stuffed with shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese, and plantains.  Talde’s Korean fried chicken and waffles with coconut syrup and their Bacon Pad Thai are also definitely worth a visit.

7. Best Fried Chicken: Root and Bone

best fried chicken

Fried chicken is one of the best foods ever. The best fried chicken in New York is the award-winning Fried Chicken and Waffles at Root & Bone. The fried chicken is brined in sweet tea, and then the perfectly fried, crispy, and golden brown skin is dusted in lemon powder. Douse the chicken and the buckwheat cheese waffles with either the spiked Tabasco honey or the whiskey maple syrup (or both) for the best fried chicken meal in NYC.

Where Else to Go:

Peaches Hot House in Brooklyn serves an awesome and super spicy fried hot chicken. Pies’n’Thighs also has some great extra crispy fried chicken.

8. Best Ice Cream: Momofuku Milk Bar

best ice cream

No trip to New York is complete without a stop at any of Momofuku Milk Bar’s branches. The brilliant Christina Tosi conjures up some of the most fun and genius desserts ever. Amongst the crack pies, birthday cakes, truffles, and corn cookies, it can be hard to figure out just what to order (and if you can, I suggest ordering it all). If you can only leave with one thing, Momofuku Milk Bar’s cereal milk soft serve with cornflakes is arguably the best thing on the menu and the best ice cream in NYC.

Where Else to Go:

Grab a super whacky soft serve cone at Big Gay Ice Cream like their famous Salty Pimp with vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip. Seredipity 3 is also famous for a reason, and the Outrageous Banana Split or Can’t Say No Sundae with pie, bananas, and hot fudge are just as awesome as their famous frozen hot chocolate.

9. Best Place to Go Food Hopping: LES/East Village

best food hopping2

If you wake up one day on your NYC vacation thinking “today I’m going to eat as much food as I can without walking a lot”, get to the Lower East Side and the East Village from wherever you are and hop around all of the great joints the area has to offer. First stop: ramen and pork buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Walk around a little bit and then get your fix of traditional Ukranian food at Veselka. Order the potato, cheese, and sauerkraut + mushroom pierogies as well as any of their great Ukranian specialties. Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings serves amazing Chinese dumplings all based on family recipes with an amazing secret sauce. Baohaus offers delicious steamed buns like the Chairman Bao stuffed with braised pork belly, relish, crushed peanuts, red sugar, and cilantro. Make a last stop by Veniero’s Pasticceria, an Italian bakery with a variety of traditional Italian pastries, and pick up some of the best cannoli and cheesecake in town.

What are your favorite spots in New York City? If we missed anything out, where should we go? Let us know below!

4 comments in this post SHOW

4 responses to “Here’s Our Guide to the ‘Best of’ New York City”

  1. Victoria says:

    I’m not going to NY any time soon, but I have to say, this list was a fun read, very well done. Bookmarking this. 🙂

  2. Katrina says:

    Definitely bookmarking this post for my next trip!!!

    During my last trip, I loves Hill Country Barbecue’s brisket. Then at Milk Bar, I recommend the Crack Pie wholeheartedly. It is well worth the subsequent sugar rush and the inevitable crash that will follow. The pretzel croissant at City Bakery is a buttery, salty thing of beauty. And the lobster rolls at Pear Oyster Bar are fantastic.

  3. April says:

    Milk bar corn cookies. Yes!!!

  4. Ashley Penabella says:

    Why isn’t Katz’ Deli (Sandwiches), Papaya King & Gray’s Papaya (Hotdogs), Peter Luger (Steaks) and The Lobster Place (Lobsters and Seafoods) on the list? Was there a specific criteria to be on the list? Just asking. Thanks.:)

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