10 places to eat in NYC for iconic New York food

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Here’s the thing about New York City – there are endless places to eat in NYC and options at every budget level, and most of them are very, very, good.

It’s impossible to eat at every restaurant in New York, and it’s a constantly changing task to confidently say what the “best” restaurants are.

This is simply a list of my favorite places to eat the quintessential New York City classics. These are the places I always bring out-of-towners because I love them, and I hope you do too.

Places to Eat in NYC

Bagels at Absolute

Absolute Bagels - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC

You can find bagels anywhere in NYC, of varying prices and standards – but Absolute Bagels on Broadway. Oh, Absolute. The bagels are warm and chewy and doughy – the perfect New York City bagel.

The toppings are traditional but varied. The prices are cheap. The line is out the door on the weekends, but the wait is well worth it.

Breakfast at Buvette

Breakfast at Buvette - one of the best places to eat in NYC for iconic NY food.

This French-inspired bistro in West Village is cozy and chic, complete with excellent espresso and an exceptional wine list.

I especially love Buvette for breakfast on weekdays, since it can get quite crowded for weekend brunch: the multi-grain toast with smashed avocado and the yogurt with muesli, fresh berries and honey are both favorites.

Brunch at Freeman’s

Brunch at Freeman’s - one of the best places to eat in NYC for iconic NY food

New York City loves brunch and tucked away in a hidden graffiti-lined alley in the Lower East Side of New York City is fan favorite, Freeman’s

The clandestine restaurant features a horseshoe bar with tasteful taxidermy, complete with homespun American favorites and artisan cocktails.

Spicy chicken sandwiches at The Commodore

Eat a Spicy chicken sandwiches at The Commodore - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC

Don’t be fooled from the outside, or even the inside. This windowless dive bar in Brooklyn is dark and crowded and loud, and the back courtyard is filled with cigarette smoke and cheap patio furniture.

The service at The Commodore isn’t fantastic. But the spicy chicken sandwiches (and the adult grilled cheese, and the nachos) make up for everything – the food is out-of-this-world delicious making it one of those don’t miss places to eat in NYC! And the ambiance might even grow on you after a while.

I still have friends from California who text me out of the blue reminiscing over the “hot breast” chicken sandwich.

Ruebens at Katz’s Deli

Eat a Rueben sandwich at Katz’s Deli - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC

The home of “I’ll have what she’s having,” Katz’s is definitely a touristy spot but for good reason. The hand-carved hot pastrami sandwich is as good as it gets.

Ruebens, latkes, pickles, even egg creams: the traditional deli favorites are some of the best that you’ll find.

High Tea at Bergdorf Goodman

High tea at Bergdorf Goodman - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC

It’s not cheap, but holy moly high tea at Bergdorf Goodman is such a lovely splurge.

With sweeping views over Central Park – best in the heart of changing foliage in fall or right after a heavy snowfall in winter – and pastel-colored fixings, the Bergdorf Goodman restaurant is a fun place to people watch the city’s fabulous.

I especially love high tea on Sunday afternoons, complete with a glass of Veuve Cliquot!

Pizza at Artichoke Basille’s

Artichoke Pizza - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC
Image: Artichoke Pizza – one of the best places to eat in NYC

You can get a $1 slice of pizza almost anywhere in the city, of varying standards. But Artichoke Basille’s is one of my favorite street joints: it’s open late, and there’s nowhere to sit, but the slices are huge and homemade and tasty.

The special twist is the Artichoke slice: artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella and pecorino. Mamma mia!

Cheeseburgers (and beer) at Burger Joint

Cheeseburgers (and beer) at Burger Joint - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC

I’m a sucker for speakeasies, especially when they involve cheap beer and juicy cheeseburgers.

Located down a dark unmarked hallway off the luxurious Le Parker-Meridien lobby, the unassuming dive bar vibe of Burger Joint feels ages away from the skyscrapers outside. And most importantly, the burgers are cooked to perfection.

Cookies at Levain Bakery

Cookies at Levain Bakery - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC

A cross between a brownie, muffin, and traditional cookie, each Levain Bakery cookie is six ounces of pure, gooey deliciousness.

The chocolate chip walnut is especially appealing when it’s still warm out of the oven, although I can never finish it while it’s still hot. I like to slowly munch on it on a long walk through nearby Central Park.

Ice Cream at OddFellows

OddFellows Ice Cream - One of the iconic places to Eat in NYC

The flavors at this hipster favorite ice cream joint in Brooklyn are exactly what you’d expect: artisanal and small-batch, the 14 original flavors change daily and range from burnt marshmallow to Thai iced (tea) cream to black pepper fig.

The best part of Oddfellows is the fresh-baked waffle cones: you can smell them as soon as you walk in the door.

More NYC Tips

Top Attractions in NYC

Pre-book your tickets online to New York’s most popular attractions:

Tours of NYC

  • 5 hour Sightseeing tour of NYC – Short on time? Make the most of your stay with this comprehensive 5 hr tour exploring the main attractions with comfortable bus transportation and guide!
  • THE RIDE – a unique tour that is part theatrical show and immersive tour. See classic New York City sights from the comfort of a technologically-advanced moving theater motor coach.
  • Best of New York Circle Line Cruise – 2.5 hour narrated cruise, and the only sightseeing cruise to circumnavigate the island of Manhattan to see the 7 major bridges, 5 boroughs and 101 unforgettable New York sights.
  • Helicopter Tour – Enjoy stunning views of Manhattan Island on a deluxe sightseeing helicopter flight offering 180 degree views from the sky.
  • Harlem Gospel Tour – 4-hour tour of a historic Harlem to experience the thrills of gospel singing, Columbia University and the Apollo Theater before joining a gospel choir for Mass.

Planning a Trip to NYC

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Flights to New York

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NYC Tours & Sightseeing

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