The Capital of the World, to borrow from former mayor Rudy Giuliani, is also the champion of all things flavourful. If you’re the epicurious sort, New York has all the fixin’s for tasty travel, from hot-dog carts to haute dining. Try these top 10 must-eats in the city’s districts for a nom nom New York experience.
1. Pizza in Brooklyn
Pizza and Brooklyn – you can’t have one without the other. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t be as pleasant on the palate. Coal-fired, thin-based pies with traditional toppings and generous webs of mozzarella are commonplace in Brooklyn, but some of the best are at Grimaldi’s, Di Fara and Totonno’s. You can even enjoy a slice of Brooklyn on a dedicated pizza tour – buono appetito!
2. Chicken in Harlem
Wondering what 'soul food' is? It’s like an edible hug; a meal so good you need to sleep it off; a feast that reminds you of the family table. Harlem is a vibrant hub of African American culture and soul food is its specialty. Sylvia’s is legendary, Charles’ Country Pan-fried Chicken is golden goodness and Red Rooster is definitely not of the same ilk as the Australian franchise. Chicken and waffles, anyone?
3. Dumplings in Chinatown
Manhattan’s Chinatown is home to the largest Chinese population outside the Asia Pacific. Needless to say, there is no better place to dine on dim sum unless you hightail it to Beijing. All the taste without the price tag, Chinatown boasts ‘dollar dumpling’ deals (savour those words) at seafood palaces, tea parlours and street food carts along Canal Street and beyond.
4. Cannoli in Little Italy
Rubbing shoulders with Chinatown, Little Italy is the place to be seen amidst the red, white and green and a sweet-spot for all things ‘dolce’. When it comes to flaky, buttery, creamy cannoli, Little Italy’s bakeries take the cake. Fifth-generation Ferrara bakery is rumoured to have the best cannoli this side of Sicily, but Caffe Palermo’s moniker as the Cannoli King keeps the competition fierce.
5. Cronuts in SoHo
The cronut, a croissant/doughnut hybrid, is arguably one of the greatest inventions of the 21st Century. Conceived from the beautiful mind of pastry wizard Dominique Ansel in his SoHo bakery, the original cronut (whose flavour changes monthly) is so in-demand crowds gather an hour before opening. Further French bakery items on the menu may not have the hype of the cronut but are just as decadent.
6. Bagels on Broadway
New Yorkers love their bagels – those boiled, chewy, poppy-seeded gems of the Jewish faith – and Absolute Bagels on Broadway is absolutely one of the best places for a nosh on the Upper West Side. More than a dozen hot-from-the-oven varieties can be topped with cream cheese, deli meats, smoked fish or sweet lashings. There are plenty of off-Broadway bagel joints worthy of your patronage too.
7. Cupcakes in the West Village
The celebrity-heavy West Village has plenty to brag about, including being the catalyst for the infamous ‘cupcake craze’ that swept across the island (and the globe) like a flood of hundreds-and-thousands in the Y2K. The buttercream-fuelled trend was born beneath the blue awning of Magnolia Bakery, but franchises like Crumbs, Sprinkles and Georgetown Cupcakes have kept the movement alive (thankfully).
8. Whole Foods in Chelsea
While NYC isn’t afraid of a little deep-frying, calorie counters are equally well catered for in the Big Apple. Keeping the arty crowd living lean by eating clean, the Chelsea Whole Foods Market is stocked with an extensive range of organic, sustainable, sugar-free, vegan, vegetarian and raw food options ready to eat or to take home. Food purists and fad dieters; Chelsea is your mecca.
9. Burgers in Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen may sound a little rough-and-tumble, but this neighbourhood also known as Midtown West is home to a huge concentration of gay bars, multiethnic restaurants and, most importantly, some top-notch burger joints. A good burger is a staple of the New York diet and the bun/patty combos from 5 Napkin, Island Burgers and Shake Shack are sure to leave your hands greased with satisfaction.
10. Ice cream in Coney Island
They don’t call it ‘Coney’ island for nothing! Actually, the name comes from the Dutch word for ‘rabbit’, so make like a bunny and hop over to Brooklyn’s zone of old-school amusement, with boardwalks and beaches prime ice-cream eating backdrops. Grab your double-scoop from Coney’s Cones, where flavours include bacon, pina colada and an ode to Elvis with peanut butter, banana and choc chips.
Words by Ashton Rigg