Home to iconic original creations that have grown to worldwide popularity, New York City is the quintessential foodie expedition. A chef can earn immediate validation by making it in NYC — and for good reason. From comforting cheap eats to the Michelin Star Experience, there is no shortage of exceptional food in this culinary wonderland. The New York Steak, pizza that rivals the best of Italy, Jewish Deli’s, hot dog stands, fine dining – it’s tough to know where to begin. Check out these local suggestions when planning a visit to the Big Apple.
Situated at the start of the Silk Road, Xi’an (the original capital of China) was logically the birthplace of unique Chinese-Middle Eastern fusion cuisine. The founders of Xi’an Famous Foods wanted to bring these delectable, spicy flavors to New York, and thus opened up their first shop in 2005. What started as a tiny basement stall in a shopping mall in Queens has grown into six locations in Manhattan, two stores in Queens and one in Brooklyn. Today, there is almost always a line at Xi’an Famous Foods, but the service is quick, the price is right and the food is delicious. The restaurant prides itself on hand-pulled noodles, homemade flatbread “burgers” and spicy soups; the spicy cucumber salad and spicy cumin lamb noodles are definitely among the customer favorites.
For Yiddish and Jewish favorites, and Kosher options, visit 2nd Avenue Deli. It’s pastraminsanity! They don’t hold back on the sandwiches, stacking them thick and tall and the matzoh ball soup will have your taste buds thanking you. There can be a bit of a wait to be seated, but both the ambiance and food are worth it. Heads up, while it was opened in the Yiddish Theatre District in 1954, the 2nd Avenue Deli actually moved uptown to 3rd Avenue years ago. Regardless, the 2nd Avenue Deli is an NY classic where you’ll find delightful Jewish soul food.
Expect an experience nothing short of elegant as you dine at STATE Grill and Bar. On the ground floor of the Empire State Building, the interior is compelling—echoing the timelessness and modernity of the iconic landmark. An open kitchen will allow you to witness the artistry at hand—as clever dishes that take inspiration and ingredients from Hudson Valley to North Fork are carefully crafted. Enjoy the creations from Head Chef Juan Branez for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Food trucks serve up some of the best quick eats in New York City and The Halal Guys in Midtown are no exception. Offering up the tastiest “street meat” around, you’ll find different combinations of meat, rice and pita all for seven bucks or less. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal in Manhattan than The Halal Guys! Apply the delectable sauces liberally, but be careful with the red sauce – it’s pretty spicy! There is usually a long line snaking away from the cart, but do not be deterred for the service is efficient and the queue moves quickly.
Sushi Yasuda provides an exceptional, and frankly, artistic dining experience. Every dish is chosen by the restaurant’s master chefs, delicately prepared for each individual’s mood, palate, tastes and energy levels, omakase style. The fresh ingredients are of the highest quality; the variety of both local and regional fish is actually hand-selected by master sushi chefs Mitsu and Tatsu, who even inspect the “energy” of each one. Warm light illuminates the bamboo planks that lather the space, creating an incredibly peaceful atmosphere and escape from the rest of the big city.
Kajitsu, meaning “fine day” in Japanese, offers a high quality, Shojin dining experience for those looking for fresh, seasonal vegetarian dishes. The two set menus, which change monthly, are carefully paired with different sakes that complement the flavors of each plate. They also serve Japanese green tea (from Ippodo) the high quality of which can really be tasted. As you might expect from a place that serves its delectable dishes on beautiful, 200 year-old Japanese pottery, Kajitsu is expensive, but the experience is worth the price tag.
Parker & Quinn is a well-established Midtown favorite that specializes in American cuisine and crafty cocktails. A popular watering hole for locals after work, the restaurant also offers everything from zesty appetizers to fine seafood and hefty burgers. If you’re looking for something quieter be sure to come before the evening rush, as it can get pretty lively and crowded. Otherwise, come by for an artisanal cocktail, tasty meal and a buzzing atmosphere.
Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne offers trendy French-American cuisine less than a block from Times Square, making it the perfect place to dine before you catch a show. The entire spot was recently renovated, creating an attractive, contemporary space tailored to modern upscale foodies. Get the most bang for your buck off the prix-fixe menu, which offers a good variety of dishes, or splurge on a bottle from the wine cellar. Or dive into the original DB burger, which is loaded with black truffles, braised short rib and foie gras. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
It will come as no surprise that Ai Fiori was awarded a Michelin Star once you have experienced its superb menu, delightful atmosphere and modern rendition of traditional Italian dishes. Chef, and owner, Michael White sought to design a comfortable, yet sophisticated ambiance and the results are stunning. Grab a handcrafted drink at the marble bar or take a peek at the extensive wine list – Ai Fiori provides a memorable dining experience fit to rival any on the Riviera.
>Sutton Inn Restaurant is perfect if you’re looking for innovative American cuisine and a good excuse to get together with friends or family. The menu is creative, yet comforting and the food sophisticated, but not over the top. Although tips are not allowed, the service is top notch and the atmosphere is light and fun. Throw in crowd favorites such as the Long Island duck breast or the scrumptious ice cream desserts, and you’ll want to return to Sutton Inn again and again.