Classic New York City foods
New York is lucky enough to host thousands of restaurants and hundreds of different cuisines, but what foods actually define this city? (Hint: It’s not apples, despite Gotham’s Big Apple nickname.) Certain desserts, meals, and snacks have made their mark, and we’ve made a definitive list of some classic New York City foods that everyone should try. We also have the details on where you can find the best of each of these classics, so you’ll know where to go the next time you visit NYC.
Pastrami Sandwich, Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 E Houston St
Jewish delis have been a staple of New York City since its early years, and Katz’s Delicatessen has been present for most of them. Founded in 1888, Katz’s Deli is an iconic eatery on the Lower East Side, known for its Kosher–style eats (note: the deli is not actually kosher) and its giant (and amazing) pastrami sandwiches. If you’ve ever seen When Harry Met Sally, you’ll recognize Katz’s Deli from one of the film’s best moments – the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene.
Black and White Cookies, William Greenberg Desserts, 1100 Madison Ave
When you go to this bakery’s website, there’s a reason that one of the first images you see is an immaculate black and white cookie. A black and white cookie is more like a cake than a traditional cookie, and this cookie’s consistency is soft and light with perfect balance of chocolate and vanilla frosting. The sheer size of this cookie also means it’s not just an after-dinner snack – it’s basically a meal.
Hot Dog, Papaya Dog, 333 Ave of the Americas
You can get a hot dog from any cart on a New York City block, but if you’re going to order one, you should get one of the best hot dog combinations that Gotham has to offer. Papaya Dog’s West Village location is open 24 hours a day and consistently doles out delicious hot dogs and greasy French fries. The classic Papaya Dog is a grilled hot dog with sauerkraut, mustard, and red onion sauce. It’s perfect for ending a night out with your friends.
Bagel with Lox, Barney Greengrass, 541 Amsterdam Ave
New York City bagels are legendary. They’re huge, delicious, and come in every flavor imaginable. One of the classic NYC bagel combinations is a reflection of the city’s European immigrant history – bagels with cream cheese and lox. With over 100 years of experience to draw from, it’s no wonder that world-renowned chefs claim that Barney Greengrass has one of the best breakfast combinations in New York. Try one of the bagels with lox for yourself and see if you disagree.
Frozen Hot Chocolate, Serendipity 3, 224 E 60th St
Though the recipe is easy to find now, there was a time when everyone wanted the recipe for this decadent dessert. And the creator, Stephen Bruce, refused to give the secret recipe to anyone – even America’s First Lady! Now there are plenty of ways to make it at home, but the best way to try a frozen hot chocolate is at this Midtown East landmark. Bring friends so you can try more than one dessert from Serendipity 3’s extensive menu, which is chock full of foods to satiate your sweet tooth.
Of all the classic New York City foods, which is your favorite?
Barney Greengrass photo by Chris P. via Yelp. Black and white cookie photo by Brill Lyle. Serendipity photo by Alex Lozupone.