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10 Iconic New York City Dishes You Need to Try on Your Next Trip

Fuel up for your Big Apple adventures with bistro burgers, spicy lamb noodles, honey-drizzled pizza, and more.

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Hi, I'm Jessica!

Jessica Colley Clarke is a freelance writer and curious traveler based in New York City. Her stories have appeared in AFAR magazine, BBC Travel, The Daily Beast, and the New York Times, among other publications.

Restaurants open pretty much every week in New York City, meaning there’s always something new to try. But some of the city’s institutions serve dishes that are so legendary, the locals not only return but even line up to get their fix. Here are 10 savory and sweet tasty menu items that have achieved iconic status in the City That Never Sleeps.

1. Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern

A burger with salad, aka the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern
The Black Label Burger on a brioche bun at Minetta Tavern.Foto: J L / Tripadvisoor

A premium patty in cozy digs.

There are many famous burgers in New York City, from down-and-dirty diner options to secret off-the-menu orders. And then there is the Black Label Burger, served at Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village. Snag a reservation at this cozy bistro (or chance it for a seat at the bar) to try the burger that keeps New Yorkers coming back year after year; it’s a blend of dry-aged beef with slowly caramelized onions on a sesame-seeded brioche bun. Simple, and perfect.

2. Bee Sting Pizza at Roberta’s

Bee Sting Pizza at Roberta’s, covered in honey.
You'll find Bee Sting Pizza at Roberta’s in Brooklyn.Foto: Gary H / Tripadvisor

A pie that’s spicy and sweet.

New York is a pizza town, with a seemingly endless amount of pies that would end up on a list of the best options in the US. But the iconic, unusual Bee Sting served at buzzing, hip pizzeria Roberta’s in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood sits in a class of its own. This tomato and mozzarella pie, topped with spicy soppressata, basil, chili, and honey, has inspired countless imposters across the city—but this is the one to try.

3. Pork Bun at Momofuku Noodle Bar

Pork Bun at Momofuku Noodle Bar served up on a big plate in New York City.
Stand in line for pork buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar—it's worth it.Foto: Gary H / Tripadvisor

It’s not just about the ramen.

It isn’t uncommon to see a line at the original Momofuku Noodle Bar location in the East Village. While the restaurant is famous for its namesake ramen, its steamed buns are equally iconic. They’re stuffed with luscious, thick slices of pork belly (or roasted shiitake mushroom for a vegetarian option), then topped with hoisin sauce, scallion, and cucumber. Don’t forget a side of fiery chili crunch.

4. Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery

A half-dozen cronuts from Dominique Ansel Bakery.
Head to the place that invented the cronut, Dominique Ansel Bakery.Foto: Dominique Ansel Bakery / Tripadvisor

The hybrid pastry that launched countless imitators.

Dominique Ansel Bakery kicked off a food craze when it opened in SoHo in 2011. Lines would form around the corner long before the shop’s opening hour, and some people would even sell their spot to late arrivals. All of this fuss was in search of a taste of the cronut, a pastry that’s a hybrid between a croissant and a doughnut. While it’s easier to get your hands on one these days, in flavors like raspberry and pistachio, this tempting treat is unique and delicious as ever.

5. Bagel Sandwich at Russ & Daughters

A bagel sandwich filled with lox and cream cheese at Russ & Daughters in New York City.
A lox sandwich from Russ & Daughters.Foto: Simonetslsk / Tripadvisor

A Jewish deli classic.

You can’t visit New York without sampling the city’s famous Jewish deli culture. Head to Russ & Daughters, located on Houston Street in the Lower East Side, for your smoked fish fix. Go traditional with the classic bagel sandwich—smoked salmon and a schmear of cream cheese on your choice of a bagel or bialy—or upgrade to the Daughters’ Delight, topped with wild Alaskan salmon roe. If you’re feeling extra hungry, treat yourself to some chocolate babka as well.

6. Octopus Fusilli at Marea

Octopus Fusilli with bone marrow at Marea in New York City.
Octopus fusilli is an upscale treat you can enjoy from Marea.Foto: Tony Y / Tripadvisor

An elevated lunchtime pasta.

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, head to lunch at Marea on Central Park South. Those in the know order the octopus fusilli, beloved by chefs across the city. Red wine–braised octopus and bone marrow make for an unforgettable plate of pasta. Eat it at the bar, accompanied by a glass of wine, for a quintessential New York experience.

7. Steak au Poivre at Raoul’s

Inside the restaurant Raoul’s, which is known for its New York City steak dishes.
Raoul’s bistro feels like a little trip to France.Foto: Gary S / Tripadvisor

A heavenly beef feast, brasserie-style.

If you make one reservation on a trip to New York, consider Raoul’s, a French brasserie in SoHo. This institution is always full, including the seats at the small bar, so plan ahead to snag a booth. You simply can’t miss the steak au poivre, a peppercorn-crusted slab of beef with a cognac and cream sauce, served with hand-cut fries. For the complete Raoul’s experience, order lump crab beignets to start.

8. Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie at Levain Bakery

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies from at Levain Bakery, set beside a little yellow duck.
There are cookies, and then there are chocolate chip walnut cookies from Levain Bakery.Foto: Valérie P / Tripadvisor

Straight-out-of-the-oven goodness.

When nothing else will do but a fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie, New Yorkers head to Levain Bakery to get their fix. The 6-ounce (170-gram) cookies boast a crunchy exterior and a soft, almost brownie-like interior. The chocolate chip walnut flavor is legendary, though double chocolate makes for a worthy contender as well. If you visit the original location on West 74th Street, take an easy stroll to Central Park to enjoy your sweet treat alfresco.

9. Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles at Xi’an Famous Food

A big bowl of Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles at Xi’an Famous Food.
Try the hand-cut noodles from Xi'an Famous Food.Foto: りいい ( / Tripadvisor

Try an iconic Central Chinese dish.

If you’re craving something spicy and want it fast (and don’t mind a no-fuss setting), take a trip to Xi’an Famous Foods. Its hand-cut noodles are topped with spicy cumin lamb and flavored with black rice vinegar and soy sauce. Pair them with spicy Asian cucumber salad, or add a lamb burger if you’re extra hungry. There may be a line out the door at the original Chinatown location, but don’t be deterred—this plate is worth the wait.

10. Green Falafel Pita at Taim

A diner enjoys a green falafel pita at Taim in New York City.
When in New York, it's time for falafel.Foto: Cia M / Tripadvisor

Must-Try Mediterranean that won’t break the bank.

Vegetarians and omnivores alike can’t get enough of Taim, a quick-and-affordable Mediterranean restaurant with outposts in the West Village, Nolita, the Flatiron, and more. The bowls are enticing, but most customers opt for house-baked pita stuffed with crispy green falafel, silky hummus, pickled cabbage, marinated tomatoes, and cucumber, all drizzled with tahini. It’s fresh, filling fare that’s easy on the wallet.

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