Eat Like a Local
A handful of foods are associated with New York City: apples (big ones, obviously), pizza, pastrami, hot dogs, bagels—the list of earthly delights is long and delicious. These, generally speaking, are what the locals tend to talk about.
The food-truck movement is officially on. It seems there's a special truck for everything from ethnic eats to fresh-baked sweets. The southern end of Washington Square, near NYU, is a prime location, with trucks lined up serving the cuisines of Holland, Colombia, Cambodia, and Mexico, but you can find food trucks parked all over town, some with legendary followings and Twitter feeds to help you find them. Thompson Hotels, which has several properties in New York, even has a Food Truck Concierge.
There are few things more Big Apple than a slice of pizza, its bottom crust crispy from the coal oven. There are take-out joints for slices and sit-down restaurants that only serve pies; some are thin crust, some are thick, some even have fried dough, and everyone has a favorite. There's no question that pizza will always be synonymous with New York, but the crust is being elevated to a real art form these days. Some people say the reason the pizza here is so good is because of the excellent quality of the New York water.
Soul Food in Harlem
Sylvia Woods, the "Queen of Soul Food" and proprietor of the eponymous Harlem restaurant, may have ascended to that great soul food restaurant in the sky, but the cuisine lives on in this historic neighborhood—in fact, more now than ever, since celeb-chef Marcus Samuelsson moved into the area, opening the Red Rooster, a global eatery that gives a big nod to soul food.
There’s Chinese food and then there’s New York's downtown Chinatown Chinese food, which some visitors might find head-scratchingly unfamiliar. That’s because Chinatown boasts a diverse population from China’s many regions, and menus are going to look deliciously foreign to the uninitiated. Go ahead, point and order something you’ve never heard of. Restaurants serving dim sum, which are basically different kinds of small fried or steamed dumplings, are popular for weekend breakfast.
Hamburgers will forever be a part of the Big Apple dining landscape. But it so happens that it has never been a better time to be a burger eater, and nearly every restaurant—American or not—has some kind of burger on its menu. If you’re a discriminating burger lover, look for the name Pat LaFrieda, a meat purveyor par excellence. Just don’t expect to save any money; it’s not unusual to see a $20 hamburger on a menu.
The gastropub phenomenon, imported from London, began with the Spotted Pig in the West Village, and within a few years, every neighborhood had one. And why not? Blending a casual pub atmosphere with way-better-than-average pub grub is a fun and tasty combination that’s hard to beat.
Banh Mi Sandwiches
The banh mi sandwich has grabbed the attention of Big Apple eaters in recent years and has not let go. This French-influenced Vietnamese sandwich consists of pork, pâté, carrots, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers stuffed into a baguette. This is a delicacy worth seeking out, so check the menus at our top Asian restaurant picks.
The focus on local food and beverages has definitely taken hold at NYC restaurants. Menus flaunt the nearby provenance of their meat and produce, whether it's from upstate New York or from the restaurant's rooftop garden. Wine lists frequently include excellent Long Island or Finger Lakes wines, as well as bourbon and other spirits brewed as close as the Brooklyn Navy Yards or the Hudson Valley.
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