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20 places to eat in New York City

Eating out in New York without breaking the bank is possible, but you'll have to choose well to avoid the tourist traps. Here's a list of my 10 favorite places for you to try

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

12 min read

20 places to eat in New York City

Juicy burgers | ©Peter Dawn

Drinking and eating are two of the favorite activities for travelers, especially in a city like New York for its endless gastronomic possibilities. Where to eat like royalty in the Big Apple? I share with you in this list 10 great places to eat in New York.

1. The best pizza is at Rizzo's Pizza

Pizza Margarita | ©Blake Wisz
Pizza Margarita | ©Blake Wisz

Pizza is a very popular dish in New York. You can find it on practically every corner, from street stands and fast food joints to high-end restaurants. But where to get the classic New York Slice that will transport you to seventh heaven?

After trying their pizzas, I can say that the fame of Rizzo's Pizza as one of the best in New York is, without a doubt, well deserved. The Yelp ranking and the New York Times reviews were not exaggerating when they included this Manhattan restaurant on their lists of the city's must-tries. After all, they are true specialists: they've been in business since 1959.

What should you try?

The pizzas are a delight. They are available in the classic round shape and also square with a super crispy edge. Their secret is in the dough: perfectly baked, thin and light but firm, not soft at all.

I recommend ordering the americana (chicken, red onion, bacon, BBQ sauce and mozzarella), the diavola (chicken, red onion, bacon, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, parmigiano aioli and mozzarella) and the aumma aumma (sausage, meatball, ricotta, sauce and mozzarella) the most requested at Rizzo's Pizza. They also have vegan and gluten-free options, which is a plus. For dessert, the famous cannoli, a typical Sicilian sweet made with ricotta cheese. Yummy!

Where is it?

Rizzo's Pizza has two locations in New York. One in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (17 Clinton St. New York, NY 10002) and one in Queens (3013 Steinway St. Astoria, NY 11103).

Hours

The Manhattan location is open Monday through Thursday from 4 PM -11 PM; Fridays and Saturdays from 12 PM - 12 AM and Sundays from 12 PM - 11 PM.

2. Hot dogs at Gray's Papaya

Tasting a hot dog | ©Caroline Attwood
Tasting a hot dog | ©Caroline Attwood

Starting the morning with energy is essential to make it through a full day of sightseeing in New York without fainting. But where can you get a hearty American-style breakfast for little money? At Gray's Papaya, of course! The temple of hot dogs in the Big Apple.

They're so popular that Barack Obama himself had his picture taken here scarfing one down for his 2008 election campaign. As with Rizzo's Pizza, the New York Times also praised it several times, calling it one of the best hot dog places in New York. Plus, the prices are dirt cheap: a single hot dog is $ 1 and each extra topping of chili, cheese, or relish is $ 0.50.

With these credentials, Gray's Papaya is almost a must-visit on the iconic Broadway, very close to Central Park and Lincoln Center. I can assure you that I was not disappointed.

What should you try?

The lines at the entrance live up to the fame of the establishment but they go pretty fast. I recommend you order one of the breakfast specials with coffee. They carry an omelet sandwich with cheese & ham, bacon, or sausage for less than $4. Who's up?

Gray's Papaya is also a good option to cap off a night out or at the theater on Broadway, as they are open 24 hours. With a hot dog and their famous papaya juice, you'll go back to the hotel to sleep with a smile from ear to ear.

Where is it?

You'll find it at 2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023.

Hours

Open 24 hours.

3. The Burger Joint's Secret Burger

The Burger Joint's secret burger joint | ©Burger Joint
The Burger Joint's secret burger joint | ©Burger Joint

Oh, this was a tricky one: deciding which is the best burger in New York is no easy task. The ingredients are important, but so are the atmosphere and feel of the place.

One of the most unique restaurants in the city to eat a good burger is Burger Joint, the secret burger joint near Fifth Avenue and Central Park. But what's so special about this place?

After a quick search on Google Maps you will see that the address corresponds to a luxury hotel called Le Parker Meridien. You're in the right place, don't back out when you get there because the burger joint is hidden inside. But the funny thing is that it has nothing to do with the hotel. You might wonder then, how did such an underground-looking place end up inside such a lavish hotel?

It turns out that when the hotel wanted to build the building on this site there were several locals occupying this location. They all came to an agreement with the hotel except for the Burger Joint who did not want to sell their establishment. After some pressure and lawsuits, the burger joint got its way, so Le Parker Meridien had to build its hotel around the burger joint.

The result is a very striking contrast between the elegance of the hotel and the grunge style of the Burger Joint, which is precisely the charm of the place. That and the entrance seems to be hidden behind mysterious red curtains.

What should you try?

On the menu you'll find the basics in a burger: regular or cheeseburger, fries, drinks and shakes, and for dessert, ice cream and brownie. In 2012 it received the title of the third best burger in the world in the World Burger Competition. That's no small feat!

Where is it: 119 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

Hours

Open daily from 11 AM to 11:20 PM; Fridays and Saturdays from 11 AM to midnight.

4. Amy Ruth's Brunch

Amy Ruth's Waffle | ©Burger Joint
Amy Ruth's Waffle | ©Burger Joint

An ideal place to have brunch after touring Harlem or attending a Sunday Gospel Mass is Amy Ruth's located in the heart of this New York neighborhood.

If you're looking for the best southern cuisine, you've come to the right place, everything here is delicious! They are famous for serving one of the tastiest Chicken & Waffles in the United States.

What should you try?

Other dishes I recommend from the menu at Amy Ruth's are the barbecued ribs with a side of sweet potato, the buffalo chicken sandwich, or the battered shrimp, and down it all with a glass of Half and Half lemonade tea.

The corn muffin with a little butter on top that they serve as an appetizer while you wait for your food is simply delicious. Although sometimes you have to wait in line to get a table, they are usually pretty quick with orders even if the place is crowded.

Where is it located?

Located at 113 West 116th Street, New York, NY 10026

Hours

Open Monday through Sunday from 11 AM to 10 PM.

5. The best Indian food is at Tikka Indian Grill

Menu at Tikka Indian Grill | ©Tikka Indian Grill
Menu at Tikka Indian Grill | ©Tikka Indian Grill

If you've decided to take a tour of Williamsburg, a good option for tasty food at reasonable prices is Tikka Indian Grill. Whether you're an expert in Indian food or a beginner, you'll love the menu they've tailored to suit every palate by drawing inspiration from the best of each region of India.

What should you try?

I'm a real fan of this bright Brooklyn restaurant for lunch. They have a lunch special that includes naan, samosas, and an entree for only $ 10. However, if you want to evaluate other options I advise you to take a look at their menu because it is quite extensive. Two of my favorite dishes are the lamb vindaloo and the extra spicy black pepper chicken that comes with several sauces to dip in your naan.

Tikka Indian Grill is a very nice restaurant to enjoy a good meal in New York. The place is spacious, nicely decorated with large photographs of scenes in India and as for the dishes, the secret to their success is that they use fresh ingredients from local suppliers combined with spices brought directly from Asia. You'll want to come back again and again!

Where is it?

Located at 185 Grand Street Brooklyn, NY - 11211

Hours

Open Monday - Thursday 12:00 PM - 11:00 PM; Friday and Saturday 12:00 PM - midnight; Sunday 12:00 PM - 10:00 PM.

6. The gastronomic market par excellence: Chelsea Market

The Chelsea Market | ©Hellotickets
The Chelsea Market | ©Hellotickets

Before its resurrection as a trendy neighborhood, the Meatpacking District was an industrial area full of slaughterhouses and packing plants that supplied meat to New York. After its successful redevelopment, this area is one of the trendiest in the city and is full of trendy boutiques, art galleries, and amazing restaurants.

One of these places was the former Nabisco cookie factory, the creator of the famous Oreo, which was transformed into a spectacular gastronomic market called Chelsea Market which has managed to preserve the industrial charm of the original building with the latest gourmet trends.

What should you try?

Literally everything! If you're in the vicinity visiting High Line Park or the Whitney Museum and you've worked up an appetite, don't hesitate, go to Chelsea Market because you'll love its fast-food stalls. They have it all! Pizza, tacos, sushi, pasta, noodles, seafood... This is the best option if you are traveling to New York in a group and there is no consensus on where to eat. Everyone orders what they want and then shares at any of the tables spread throughout the market.

If you go during the day you can complete your visit to Chelsea Market by walking around the building to see other very cool places like the Posman Books bookstore or the Artists & Fleas flea market. If you visit in the evening, go to Chelsea Music Hall after dinner, in the basement of the market. A place where you can enjoy the New York night with good music, delicious cocktails, and a cool vibe.

Where is it?

It is located at 75 9th Ave, NY 10011

Opening hours

Chelsea Market is open Monday through Saturday from 7 AM to 10 PM and Sunday from 8 AM to 9 PM.

7. A little Spanish food at Little Spain Market

The Little Spain Market | ©Little Spain Market
The Little Spain Market | ©Little Spain Market
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The Little Spain Market is a gastronomic space dedicated to the flavors of traditional Spanish cuisine by the prestigious chef José Andrés in collaboration with the brothers Ferrán and Albert Adriá.

Passing through its doors is like entering the temple of Spanish cuisine. The delicious aroma given off by the different stalls guides you through the market and the different regions of Spain without leaving New York. A true marvel!

What should you try?

The Little Spain Market has a dozen kiosks where you can taste great classics of Spanish cuisine such as tapas, cocas (the Spanish take on pizza), ham, sandwiches, patatas bravas, potato omelet and, of course, charcuterie, cheeses, and Spanish wines.

One of the most popular kiosks in the Little Spain Market is the churros kiosk, perfect to put the finishing touch to the meal with a cup of coffee. Although I recommend that you toast to your trip to the Big Apple with an excellent glass of cava or a Spanish porrón. Olé!

Where is it?

It is located in the skyscraper 10 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001.

Hours

Open Monday through Sunday from 12 PM to 9 PM.

8. The best Arabian specialties are at The Halal Guys

Menu at The Halal Guys | ©The Halal Guys
Menu at The Halal Guys | ©The Halal Guys

Walking the streets of New York you'll come across many types of food trucks but when it comes to Arabic food, you won't find any like The Halal Guys.

Its owners started with a little hot dog stand on the streets of the city back in 1990 and soon started offering halal food to Muslim cab drivers who at the time had few options for authentic halal food in New York. Thus their famous beef and gyro platters over rice, falafel sandwiches, and tasty dips to go with them were born. Word soon spread and long lines of people began to form, eager to sample the exotic flavors and textures on their menu.

The Halal Guys carts are open all day so they are the perfect choice for a quick meal during a break on your route through the city or as a finale to a night out. Just order what you want for dinner and they'll prepare it for you so you can eat it in your hotel room.

What should you try?

The portions are hearty so if you're going as a couple and you're not too hungry you can order a combo and share. The regular-sized ones are $ 9 while the small ones are $ 7. My favorite is the falafel platter and the chicken sandwich although they have a wide variety on the menu. For dessert, baklava of course!

Where is it?

One of their stands is on 53rd St and 6th Avenue although you can see all the locations of their carts at their official website.

Hours

Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 AM; Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 5:30 AM.

9. Katz's Sandwiches

Katz's Pastrami Sandwich | ©Katz NYC
Katz's Pastrami Sandwich | ©Katz NYC

Want to eat the best pastrami sandwich in New York? Then you need to go to Katz's. There must be something special about their recipe when the restaurant has been around since 1888 and has become a classic in the city. The long lines of people waiting to get in attest to its success.

This Lower East Side deli is not only famous for its sandwich but also for having been the filming location of the most iconic scene of the movie "When Harry Met Sally". In fact, if you notice when you walk in there is a sign indicating the spot where Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan sat and it reads, "Where Harry met Sally... hope you have what she had!".

What should you try?

But back to the food, what to order at Katz's? Without a doubt, their famous pastrami sandwich is a must but I also recommend the corn beef sandwich and a serving of potato latkes, delicious potato pancakes with applesauce or sour sauce. Wash it down with a glass of homemade lemonade.

I recommend going early on a Friday or Saturday after a night out in the lively East Village or Lower East Side because they stay open all night and a pastrami sandwich will be the perfect pick up after a party.

Where is it?

Located at 205 East Houston Street, corner of Ludlow Street.

Hours

Monday through Wednesday from 8 AM to 10:45 PM; Thursday from 8 AM to 2:45 AM; Friday they open at 8 AM and don't close until Sunday at 10:45 PM.

10. Go to the original Shake Shack

Typical Shake Shack menu | ©Spring Happenings
Typical Shake Shack menu | ©Spring Happenings

In this list, you can't miss the king of fast food in New York. Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park and quickly became a success. In 2004 it opened its first location and since then they have made thousands of people happy with their hot dogs, hamburgers, wavy fries, and milkshakes - me among them!

Shake Shack has locations all over New York, even in its most touristy areas, so it's a great option if you want to eat fancy food for little money.

Which Shake Shack to go to? The one I like the most is the one in Madison Square Park because of the beautiful setting surrounded by trees in which it is located. It also has an outdoor terrace ideal for enjoying sunny days al fresco.

What should you try?

As for their menu I have to say that it is quite varied and they have vegetarian options. The burgers are to die for and the hot dogs are also very good. Like any self-respecting burger you have to accompany them with a portion of fries with ketchup and to drink I recommend you try a glass (or two) of freshly brewed iced tea.

If you still have room left at the end order a tub of frozen custard for dessert, which has nothing to do with traditional ice cream. It is made of milk, cream, and creamy egg yolks.

Where is it?

The Madison Square Park Shake Shack is on the southeast corner of the park near Madison Avenue and E. 23rd Street. You can check out the rest of the locations at their official website.

Hours

The Madison Square Park location is open daily from 11 AM - 9 PM. You can check other hours on their website.