Food trucks in New York

Eight foods to try when you visit New York City

Melody Miller

Contributing writer

Planning a trip to NYC? Book a walking food tour and taste some of the foods on this list.

New York City is a melting pot of cuisines from across the globe, with deliciously crafted meals found in each of the five boroughs that comprise the city. There is something to satisfy every flavor craving twice over and then some.

When you visit the Big Apple, get out and try these dishes or use an NYC food delivery service. Here are just a few must-try foods that you cannot pass up when you visit NYC.

New York style pepperoni pizza

1. New York Style Pizza

Little Italy in Manhattan is the American birthplace of pizza. It was born from a recipe brought over from Naples, Italy, and is just a few years shy of its 120th U.S. anniversary.

New York-style pizza is served in huge slices and topped with red sauce, melted cheese, and yummy additions. The crust has crispy edges with an easy-to-fold form that is perfect for containing those deliciously greasy drips.

Choose from a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, or something a little fancy, neither will disappoint.

New York bagel with cream cheese

2. Bagels

There is no place like Manhattan to get authentic, well-crafted bagels. Locals have been savoring this chewy bread since the 1800s. What makes NYC bagels unique is the city water. Yes, you read that right. The water is chock full of minerals which enhances the texture and flavor. Across the city, there are flavors, both sweet and savory, to choose from. The everything bagel is the most popular choice.

A New York pastrami sandwich on sourdough

3. Pastrami or corned beef sandwich

This classic New York dish stirs up memories of Jewish delis for many eaters among pastrami lovers and summons something a little more Irish for the connoisseurs of corned beef. Each is prepared with different spices and separate cooking methods, though they are akin in presentation.

Find a deli and order a robust pastrami or corned beef sandwich. The ingredients are simple decadence with the delicious addition of sauerkraut, cheese, and creamy dressing.

Black and white cookies piled on a plate

4. Black and White Cookies

Black and white cookies are a quintessential New York treat that has graced the city since 1902. Bavarian in origin, this sweet treat gained wide popularity in the Jewish community. Across the city, the black and white cookie remains an NYC icon and is easy to find in delis, bagel shops, and bodegas.

The cookies are sleek in appearance and topped with 50/50 white icing on one half and black icing on the other half. The base is soft and cake-like with a rich vanilla flavor.

Knishes - small rolls stuffed with potatoes

5. Knishes

Knishes are like little doughy pillows stuffed with mashed potatoes and tenderly wrapped in a shiny crust. They are a go-to New York comfort food and have ties to

Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Poland. Across the city, knishes grace delis, bakeries, and restaurants. For a taste of New York's original knishes, head to Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery in the Lower East Side which first opened in 1910.

Though deep-fried, the knish is anything but greasy; a tender dough enfolds potatoes as the standard filling. Buckwheat groats, cheese, and sometimes meat accompany the stuffing.

Chinatown in Manhattan

6. Chinese Food

New York City is the spot for an array of authentic Chinese foods, from incredible Cantonese or Szechuan places to various cuisines found across China. Forget the Chinese takeout; this is a vast world of umami flavors playing against sweet and spicy with hints of smoke, sesame, and tastes that will delight the senses.

Today NYC has nine China towns, all of which offer incredible dishes. The original Chinatown runs along Canal Street. Check out the restaurants and bakeries, but don’t limit yourself. Flushing, East Village, and Bensonhurst are just a few neighborhoods that are cooking up mouth-watering bites.

A bowl of Japanese ramen noodles

7. Ramen

NYC boasts some of the best ramen shops in the U.S. This dish has Chinese roots and a strong Japanese influence. Long gone are the days when the only ramen was just a reheated noodle packet sold for less than a dollar a pop.

In the past decade, ramen has exploded in popularity. This bowl of noodles served in a steaming hot broth with meat, fish, soy-cured eggs, mushrooms, and any number of delicious ingredients will warm the soul and the body.

Food trucks in New York

8. Food trucks

New York City is the perfect place to visit a food truck. It is a mecca of culinary creations. You can find food trucks and carts selling everything from the city’s best hotdogs to Maine-inspired lobster rolls or South Indian dosas served with sauces like coconut, tamarind, and mint chutney, alongside fiery sambar soup.

For amazing tacos, try Birria Landia in Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. Mystikk Masala is popular for Indian food and Halal Guys hang out in Midtown. Makina Cafe serves Ethiopian and Eritrean food in Fort Greene Park and has a couple of other trucks around the city.

As you may have noticed, tracking down the food truck you want can be a challenge. Check Street Food Finder to find food trucks near you when you visit and eat your way through the city’s diverse offerings.

New York City has delicious options to choose from in every neighborhood, which hail out of a rich heritage of cultures and stand alone as a flag post of culinary delight. Or fuse cuisines to create something new and adventurous.

A journey through the foods of the Big Apple is a slice of New York City life and history. Enjoy every bite.

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Melody Miller

Author - Melody Miller

Melody is a freelance food writer based in North Carolina. She spends her free time learning artistic speech formation and going on hikes.

Last Updated 21 July 2023

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