New York is famous for being one of the best cities for food in the world – anything your heart (and belly!) desires, you’ll find here. From little-known cuisines to the hottest trends, the city’s restaurants, food stalls and gourmet delis knocks flavours out of the park on a daily basis. Of course, there are plenty of ‘quintessentially New York’ dishes that anyone – both tourists and locals – need to try here. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten these iconic foods in NYC…
Iconic Foods to Eat in NYC
American pizza as we know it was born in New York in the late 1800s, when Neapolitan-immigrant bakers adapted their native Neapolitan-style pizza (small, delicate, soupy-centered pies cooked quickly in ultrahot, wood-fired ovens) to their new ovens in the City (coal ones that burned at a slightly lower temperature and with a drier heat).
Now, a classic New York slice is the perfect balance of crust, sauce and cheese.
New York bagels are boiled and baked to achieve a shiny finish and chewy consistency. They’re generally lightly sweetened with malt or honey. Some fanatics insist you can only make them with NYC water! They’re a morning ritual in the city, best served with cream cheese and lox.
3. Egg Cream
There’s no disputing that New York City is the birthplace of the egg cream—a fizzy, chocolaty drink that’s a distant, less famous cousin of the milkshake. A “real” egg cream must be made with Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup; no other brand, no other flavour. It’s simply that, milk and seltzer (yep—neither egg nor cream). It should have a frothy head at the top of the glass, just like a beer.
New York cheesecake is dense and creamy (with extra egg yolk in the cream cheese), which distinguishes it from its Italian cousin. The classic rendition is on a thin cookie- or graham-cracker crust and served sans toppings.
5. Egg and Cheese Sandwich
You’ll find this classic snack in pretty much every bodega across the city. First, there’s bread, egg and cheese. But there can be flexibility in terms of the bread (it could be a roll, a croissant or a bagel) and additional fillings (bacon is a popular add-on). When it comes to iconic foods in NYC, this is a must-eat.
6. Street Meat
In recent years, “street meat” has made a stand against hot dogs and a slice of pizza as NYC’s favourite on-the-go lunchtime meal. Its rise is largely thanks to the Halal Guys—originally at 53rd and 6th—who first set up shop back in the early 1990s and became instantly recognisable with their trademark yellow shirts, quickly assembled platters and simple motto (“We are different”).
There’s all sorts of Halal meats available, such as spicy chicken, chopped lamb or beef gyro or—at Greek carts—pork souvlaki.
In the second half of the 19th century, Jewish immigrants from Romania brought pastrami to New York City. The tender meat is best eaten warmed and piled high on rye bread, with no distraction other than spicy mustard. A classic New York-style deli is the best place to try this, such as the legendary Katz’s Deli. FYI: Kosher delis in NYC don’t skimp on the portions, so bring a friend!