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An Eater’s Guide to New York City

There are more than 8 million people living in New York City, and some 25,000 restaurants keeping them fed. Though the Statue of Liberty and Broadway’s flashing lights get most of the attention, restaurants, bars, street vendors, and late-night food trucks are just as essential to this city’s DNA. Whether it’s a month-out reservation in Manhattan or a hand-pulled noodle shop in a Queens shopping mall, there are endless ways to have a meal in the five boroughs.

Welcome to the five boroughs

Cross an avenue, bridge, or park, and there’s a different neighborhood at every turn. Within each of the five boroughs are never-ending culinary options. Ordering a taco, whether from a popular birria truck or a takeout counter the size of a studio apartment, can mean enduring the same waits as some fine dining establishments. There’s a wide range of dining to do between the city’s most affordable and blowout meals — and there’s a quality option at every price, which is part of what sets New York apart.

Breakfast can take place at a nostalgic diner on the Upper West Side or at a Chinatown food cart serving steamed rice rolls in aluminum trays. Lunch options are just as varied, with classic steakhouses and old-school pizza joints equally popular. Dinner can occur at a communal Nigerian restaurant in Bed-Stuy or at a dim sum spot in Manhattan’s Chinatown that stays open until 3 a.m. New York’s restaurant scene, complex and varied as it is, caters to every kind of diner.

Katz’s in 2015 with glowing neon signs on a corner at midnight.
Katz’s Deli has been a fixture on East Houston Street since 1888.

Where to start on Eater’s best maps

Eater publishes countless restaurant maps to keep you on top of the city’s food scene. Here are the ones our readers turn to most.

New York’s 38 essential restaurants

The “Eater 38” is our shortlist of the city’s must-visit restaurants. We’ve visited these spots time and again — they have to be open for at least six months before they merit inclusion — and we update this list quarterly to keep things fresh. New to the list this summer: a Vietnamese sandwich shop that still sells banh mi for less than $10, a Mexican seafood spot operating under the subway in Queens, and an Indian restaurant with a waitlist that’s more than 1,000 people long.

Hottest restaurants

Eater’s “heatmaps” are guides to the hottest new restaurants in ManhattanBrooklyn, and Queens, that are updated monthly. In most cases, the spots on these lists have opened in the last six months to a year.

Classic restaurants

If you’re looking to cross an item off a bucket list, start here. Dining at one of the city’s classic restaurants can feel like stepping back in time, and in one of the oldest dining cities in the country, legendary steakhouses and gritty taverns still feel quintessentially New York.

Three dishes are arranged on a wooden table at a restaurant in Manhattan, Bad Roman.


There’s a home for the all-you-can-drink-mimosa crowd and those looking to cure a hangover with a plate of pancakes under $10. In addition to traditional brunch options, this guide has our favorite spots serving chilaquiles, beef noodle soup, Thai breakfast sandwiches, and bean and cheese tacos.

Iconic dishes

New York’s most well-known dishes go beyond bagels, pizza, and pastrami — though you won’t want to miss those, either. Our guide to the city’s most iconic dishes is a study of egg creams, banana pudding, hot dogs, and hand-pulled noodles.


Whether it’s a pie thrown in a charcoal oven or one with a fancy sourdough crust, there’s a pizza for every occasion in the five boroughs. Before folding a slice in half, consult this map of the city’s top pizzerias.

Many cuts of jerk chicken laid on the grill with flames shooting up and a hand squeezing sauce over top of the chicken.
Jerk chicken at Peppa’s Jerk Chicken in Crown Heights.


Opinions vary on the city’s finest bagels, but we can all agree: This is New York’s unofficial favorite food. The big, chewy versions found at Ess-a-Bagel and the dense, bialy-like ones from Shelsky’s are just two worth seeking out.


The leading sushi restaurants in New York offer a range of experiences. Diners can max out credit cards with luxe omakase or find quality fish at affordable prices. Wondering who has the best fancy rolls in the city? Our critic has thoughts.


From red-sauce classics to trattorias inspired by Tuscany, New York excels at Italian food. In the Bronx’s Little Italy, the chalkboard menu outside of Roberto’s advertises daily pasta specials, while Don Angie in the West Village offers a modern take on Italian American classics.

The tagliolini al ragu, held up by a fork, at Rezdora
The tagliolini al ragu at Rezdôra in Flatiron.


The five boroughs are full of old-school steakhouses, but some of the most exciting cuts of meat right now are found at more casual and affordable venues. Consider the stunning prime rib at Gallaghers or a well-priced cut from London import Hawksmoor. Here, Eater debates the city’s best steakhouses at multiple price points.


Fancy or simple, there are countless desserts to try in New York City. Some are sit-down affairs that come at the end of a multi-course menu, while others can be ordered from a takeout counter for a few dollars. In a hurry? Try the affordable kuih at East Village bakery Lady Wong or the seasonal gelato at Williamsburg pizzeria L’Industrie.

Ice cream

Old-school parlors, innovative gelato shops, and even vegan options dot our map of essential ice cream shops. It’s a list to consult year-round, whether you’re looking for guava-cheese ice cream in Harlem or masala chai-flavored scoops in Cobble Hill.

An ice cream sundae with fried milk cubes, Ovaltine fudge, and buttered peanuts.
The fried milk cube sundae at Bonnie’s in Williamsburg.


New York’s coffee scene is packed with reliable neighborhood shops for working “from home” and third-wave options for those in search of a perfect pour. It’s the city that never sleeps, after all.

Special occasions

A new job. An anniversary. A birthday. For a blowout meal, splurge on a big event at restaurants ranging from the elegant French seafood temple Le Bernardin to Claud, an East Village wine bar that Eater named one of the city’s best new restaurants last year.

Vegan and vegetarian

More restaurant owners are turning their attention to vegan and vegetarian dining, whether or not they follow those diets themselves. The array of meat- and dairy-free restaurants in the city now includes late-night smash burger spots and top-notch dim sum parlors.

A table is crowded with various dim sum, including chicken feet, stuffed eggplant, and spring rolls.
Dim sum at Dim Sum Palace in Chinatown. The restaurant stays open until 3 a.m. every night.

Neighborhoods to know

More than 8 million residents are sardine-packed into New York City’s five boroughs. The rent might be too high, but a short walk or a subway ride introduces you to a different food scene in every neighborhood.


Williamsburg is the darling of Brooklyn’s restaurant scene, but some of the most exciting openings right now are happening further east in Bushwick. During the pandemic, Falansai reinvented itself as a destination for modern Vietnamese Mexican cooking and Sobre Masa Tortilleria serves tacos on colorful heirloom grain tortillas.

Manhattan’s Chinatown

New York’s oldest and most well-known Chinatown is a leading destination for rice rolls, dim sum, Peking duck, and more. Favorites include an order of 10 pork and chive dumplings for $3.50 at North Dumpling, barbecue pork buns for a dollar at Golden Steamer, and the big tray spicy chicken at Spicy Village.

East Village

The East Village can feel like a microcosm of New York. The neighborhood is home to longstanding immigrant and artist communities, and there’s a sizable population of college students that attend New York University and live in the area. As for the food: The pierogies at the famous Ukrainian diner Veselka still draw a crowd, while newcomers like Superiority Burger and Yellow Rose have turned the area into a proper dining destination.

A metal spoon ladles salsa over an orange plate filled with street tacos
Tacos from Taqueria Ramirez in Greenpoint.


Riding the 7 train to the end of the line isn’t just worth it for the Chinese food: Flushing is also one of the best places in town to find newer restaurants specializing in Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese cuisine. Here, it’s as easy to find an all-you-can-eat rice cake bar as a Chinese dim sum parlor run by robot servers.


Brooklyn’s northernmost neighborhood is often thought of as a destination for Polish food, but in recent years it’s spawned a vibrant Mexican restaurant scene and become home to its own Little Tokyo. There’s modern Vietnamese food from Di An Di, tacos that channel Mexico City at Taqueria Ramírez, and a Taiwanese American party at Wenwen.

Hell’s Kitchen

It may be located a few blocks from Times Square, but this stretch of Manhattan is home to one of the city’s most affordable and diverse collections of restaurants. A section of Ninth Avenue is dotted with Thai, Mexican, Cuban, Afghan, Haitian, and Peruvian restaurants, along with other independently owned places like the 24-hour Empanada Mama.

A hand with painted blue nails dips a triple smash burger into a plastic container of molten yellow cheese.
A smash burger from Smashed on the Lower East Side.

Jackson Heights

This Queens neighborhood is often cited as the most diverse zip code in the city based on the number of languages spoken. A stroll down Roosevelt Avenue, where the 7 train rumbles overhead, is all the proof you need. There are first-rate momos at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, and Birria-Landia, one of the city’s most popular taco trucks, has lines late into the night.

Lower East Side

This downtown Manhattan neighborhood embraces its historic roots as much as it does the city’s current dining scene. Tourist magnets like Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters are still going strong, and for good reason — the pastrami and lox, respectively, are tough to beat — but new spots are keeping this neighborhood on the map. Dhamaka, an Indian restaurant in a food hall, became one of the best new restaurants in the country in 2021, while Smashed is anchoring the city’s burger scene with a late-night shop on Orchard Street.


This rhomboid-shaped neighborhood at the end of the M subway line calls home to a small collection of new and impressive restaurants, including Rolo’s, making one of the city’s best burgers, and Mama Yoshi Mini Mart, a Japanese convenience store with spicy chicken sandwiches. Decades-old mainstays like Rudy’s Pastry Shop, Gottscheer Hall, and Joe’s Restaurant have anchored the area for years.

Theater District

Sure, it’s full of tourist traps, but as Broadway makes a comeback, even New Yorkers are flocking to the Theater District. LumLum is serving exciting Thai food in an area known for the cuisine, while Farida offers a Central Asian menu where plov, the Uzbek national dish, with tender lamb is a must-order.

A hand plucks skewers with tofu and fish balls from stainless steel containers.
Fish balls and tofu skewers at Munchiez in Greenwich Village.

Upper West Side

Slowly but surely, the Upper West Side has shed its reputation as a sleepy enclave of outdated and expensive restaurants. Around Lincoln Center, there are now upscale establishments like Tatiana from the celebrated chef Kwame Onwuachi. Further uptown, find newer arrivals like Bánh, offering a fresh take on classic Vietnamese dishes, and Charles Pan-Fried Chicken, which started as a sidewalk barbecue stand. Long-standing restaurants like Barney Greengrass have remained fixtures in the area.

West Village

The brownstones and tree-lined streets of this Manhattan neighborhood make it one of the most picturesque and pricey parts of the city — and its restaurants generally follow the same formula. Small dining rooms barely larger than some apartments are packed with diners, like the popular Italian restaurant Via Carota and the old-school favorite Corner Bistro. When there’s a wait, you won’t have a problem finding a cocktail or wine bar to kill some time.


If there’s a Brooklyn neighborhood that can go toe-to-toe with Manhattan for its sheer number of buzzed-about restaurants, it’s Williamsburg. Missy Robbins dominates the Italian scene with Lilia, but if you can’t get a reservation, Bamonte’s is a classic that still draws a crowd. The Four Horsemen offers a nice selection of natural wines and Michelin-worthy plates, while Sushi On Me serves an omakase that’s as much about fish as unlimited sake.

Hands wielding chopsticks grab. at pieces of meat on a grill.
Hot pot at Three Hot Pot and BBQ in Midtown.

New York dining glossary

BEC: Otherwise known as the bacon, egg, and cheese, this classic sandwich is a New York staple. Whether it’s served on a roll or a bagel, you can count on a messy, meaty breakfast sandwich that costs just a few dollars. The best ones are found at a corner deli or grill.

Bialy: New Yorkers could argue endlessly about where the biggest and best-tasting bagels are found, seeming to agree only on the fact that a fresh bagel should never be toasted. Overlooked in this debate is the bialy — a flat round roll with onions chopped up in the center, originating in the town of Bialystok, Poland. Ask for one of those in a bagel shop or a bialy bakery like Kossar’s and receive an admiring nod of the head from the proprietor.

Bodega: In most parts of the country, it’s called a convenience store, 7-Eleven, or, if you happen to live in San Antonio, an ice house. In New York City, these ubiquitous corner stores — and just about every block has one — are called bodegas, which means “little store” in Spanish. It’s where New Yorkers turn for everything from coffee and beer to breakfast and dinner. Don’t be surprised to find a cat watching over the premises.

Chopped cheese: Also known as a chop cheese, this sandwich is made by chopping up ground beef with American cheese and onions on a bun or a roll. The sandwich is said to have originated at the East Harlem deli Blue Sky: The shop still makes one of the best versions in town, but chopped cheese sandwiches can now be found on the menus of bodegas across the city.

Egg cream: Despite its name, this signature beverage of New York City contains neither eggs nor cream. It’s a shot of chocolate or vanilla syrup (Fox’s U-Bet is the local favorite) mixed with milk and club soda, with the proportion of ingredients and stirring style unique to each maker. A new generation of restaurants is reviving the New York icon at spots like Agi’s Counter in Crown Heights and Old John’s Luncheonette on the Upper West Side.

A hot pours hot honey on pizza pie atop an orange table.
A pepperoni pizza at Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop in Greenpoint.

Schmear: When ordering a bagel, asking for a schmear (“just a little”) is the way to get just the right amount of cream cheese.

Slice: In most parts of the country, you buy pizza by the pie. Here, it’s not a proper pizzeria if they don’t sell slices. Your choices aren’t limited to plain cheese, either, and many local pizzerias pride themselves on sumptuous displays of many kinds of slices, sometimes with several types ganged up on a single tray: pepperoni, fried eggplant, mushroom, buffalo chicken, and garlicky white.

Reservations to make in advance

One result of the pandemic: More restaurants require reservations, and scoring one can feel like trying to buy concert tickets online — tables book out within minutes, sometimes weeks in advance. Our team has a practical guide for scoring last-minute reservations, and the following restaurants are worth booking ahead of time: CarboneClaudDept. of CultureDhamakaDon AngieEleven Madison ParkFour HorsemenLaser WolfLe BernardinLiliaSemmaTatiana, and Via Carota.

A chef in a black shirt holds a blowtorch over a pile of brown unagi
Blowtorched unagi at Sushi On Me in Jackson Heights.

Follow the stars

New York is home to a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants — 73 as of the latest awards in 2022. While most of these places aren’t everyday spots, a handful are quite affordable, like Casa Enrique in Long Island City, the city’s first Mexican restaurant to earn a Michelin star. The longer list of Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants includes some Eater favorites like Park Slope’s Winner bakery and the popular Thai restaurant Zaab Zaab.

Head out of town

You could spend a lifetime in the five boroughs and still not hit every restaurant on this guide. Well, we’re not done yet.

In recent years, heavy-hitter chefs have opened establishments everywhere from the North Fork of Long Island to the Hudson Valley. One of the most well-known towns upstate is surely Hudson, easily accessible via Amtrak, where you can spend a full 24 hours in just a few blocks eating at some of the state’s most-talked-about restaurants. The Catskills region is also another popular weekend getaway for many New Yorkers. For wine nerds, the Finger Lakes have emerged as a national destination that’s taken as seriously as Napa and Sonoma. And of course, there’s always the Hamptons, where some of the city’s trendiest restaurants often pop-up with seasonal menus and one-off events.