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What Food Is New York City Known for & Famous For
New York City is known for many things, like its diverse population, extensive skyline, and the Statue of Liberty. But, one of the city’s highlights for visitors and locals alike is the food.
There are the classic NYC foods that the city is famous for, like pizza, bagels, and hot dogs. But, New York City has a lot of other food it is well known for, as well. These include its drinks, international food, seafood, soups, and meat.
This article includes the 35 foods that New York City is known and famous for.
NYC’s most famous food is its thin-sliced pizza. It’s referred to as New York Style pizza and is most often bought by the slice. You can find the pizza anywhere in the city, and a lot of it tastes similar. But if you eat enough of it, you’ll find that some places are better than others. And, if you want to eat New York pizza the “right” way, you have to fold it in half and eat it taco-style.
Another well-known NYC food is the hotdog, which is often sold from the many recognizable hot dog stands. There are more than 3,000 hot dog stands in New York City, and a lot of them are found near popular destinations like Central Park. A classic New York City hot dog is topped with onion relish, sauerkraut, and brown mustard.
A classic counterpart to a hot dog is an NYC burger. Burgers in NYC are popular, and there are so many variations. You can find classic burgers, vegan burgers, and burgers you cannot find anywhere else. Whether you want a standard burger, or something unique, New York City has the burger for you.
New York-style cheesecake is a delicious version of the classic cheesecake, and it is another food the city is famous for. NYC cheesecake differs from a standard cheesecake in that it is denser because there is more cream cheese and eggs in it. Thanks to the texture, it has a simple and classic taste.
Some of the first foods many people think of when they hear New York City are bagels. Bagels in NYC are delicious because they are made with the city’s tap water, which does not have too many minerals in it. The water helps soften the bread. The bagels also cool in a fridge for a few days before being boiled, making them the NYC bagels everyone knows and loves.
Lox, a type of salmon, is often served on NYC bagels, making it another well-known New York City food. Lox is cured in salt brine for a long time, usually weeks, before being served. It’s similar to smoked salmon, but lox is not smoked, just cured. Bagels with lox usually also come with cream cheese, and the ingredients complement each other well, making these bagels a NYC staple.
Street meat is the meat sold from NYC’s food carts. Often, the meat is served with rice or vegetables, making it a full meal. The food is well known in the city, but each stand has its own variation of street meat. Many of the carts are halal, but there are different kinds all over the city, so you can try different ones and always have a unique street meat meal.
Pastrami and Corned Beef
Pastrami and corned beef are two types of meat that are popular in New York City. The meats are in sandwiches, usually on rye bread. Other common toppings on a corned beef or pastrami sandwich include sauerkraut and a dressing like mustard.
The two differ in their cuts. Pastrami is from the cow’s shoulder or stomach, whereas corned beef is brisket from the chest of a cow. If you try both, you will notice a slight difference between them.
Another sandwich that New York City is well known for is the Reuben. The sandwich is said to have been created in the city more than a century ago. It’s typically made with corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and some dressing on rye, but as it is popular in the city, you will find some variations.
If you’re headed to New York City, you can’t pass up the opportunity to try a famous pretzel. While not as famous as bagels or pizza, pretzels are another food for which New York City is famous. The pretzels are simple, and you can usually find them at the same street stands as hot dogs. Some delis and stores sell them.
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Manhattan clam chowder, which is named after one of the city’s boroughs, is New York City’s well-known take on a classic soup. Unlike some versions of the soup, Manhattan clam chowder is not creamy. Instead, it is relatively light and thin. It’s also made with tomatoes.
Another type of seafood that New York City is famous for is its oysters. Oysters were actually the original famous food from the city. The settlers in the area would harvest oysters from the New York Harbor, and they became one of the original New York City staples.
Black and White Cookies
Black and white cookies are a recognizable New York City food. They are cookies with half white and half black frosting. (The white is vanilla; the black is chocolate.) There are several different bakeries in the city that make their own version of these popular cookies.
If you are looking for a famous NYC breakfast food, eggs benedict is well known. Lots of New Yorkers love brunches, and eggs benedict is one of the most popular brunch foods in the city. So, no matter where you are for breakfast or brunch, you will find a good eggs benedict.
Lobster isn’t quite as popular in NYC as oysters, but that doesn’t mean the city isn’t known for serving some of the best lobster in the state. It certainly is! You can always find delicious lobster in New York City, especially at many of the city’s higher-end restaurants. However, compared to many places and the city’s high prices, lobster is relatively cheap for NYC’s quality.
General Tso’s Chicken
If you’re a fan of Asian takeout, don’t worry. New York City has you covered there, too. General Tso’s chicken is a well-known dish in New York City because of all the Chinese restaurants scattered throughout NYC. There are also many food trucks in NYC where you will find this dish.
As most fans of these saucy wings already know, Buffalo Wings originated in Buffalo, New York. Fortunately, they made their way down to New York City and became known there over the years. Buffalo wings are easy to find at the city’s many bars, especially sports bars.
A Manhattan cocktail is not a food but one of New York City’s famous drinks. It is named after the city’s most densely populated borough and is one of NYC’s signature drinks. A Manhattan is made of whiskey, vermouth, bitters, and an optional garnish. Stir – don’t shake – everything together, and have yourself one of the Big Apple’s most famous cocktails.
Thousand Island Dressing
One of the most popular dressings originated in New York. As the name implies, the dressing was created in the Thousand Islands. It is actually in upstate New York, closer to Canada, but NYC adopted the dressing and made it even more popular than it was originally. The dressing is most commonly used on salads, and it tastes tangy and sweet.
Another food that NYC is known for is the Waldorf salad. The salad originated and got its name from the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. The original salad is quite simple, as it is only made from apples, celery, and mayo. Then, over time, grapes and nuts got added to the mix. Now, there are hundreds of variations of the salad, and people can easily make it at home.
Matzo Ball Soup
Matzo ball soup is a Jewish food, but it is quite popular in New York City. There are many Jewish residents in New York, and Matzo ball soup is an important food from Jewish history. The soup is very good in NYC since there are so many Jewish delis and stores in the city, and they pride themselves on making good Matzo ball soup.
Most people think of fried chicken as a Southern-style food, and it most definitely is. However, many NYC restaurants serve fried chicken that rivals any you could find in Alabama, Tennessee, or Georgia. The city is known for loving and eating the greasiest fried chicken, but hey, the greasier, the better, right?!
Number 23 on our list isn’t a specific food. However, there isn’t a native New Yorker alive who couldn’t point a tourist to the best “diner food” in the area.
Diners are everywhere in New York City, and everyone loves them because they are reasonably priced. There are over 400 diners in the Big Apple, and a majority of them serve a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes all day and night long. The food served at diners is classic, and they are an important part of the city’s food scene.
Knishes are famous in New York city. They are a soft roll of dough brought to the city by Jewish immigrants. Some knishes are plain, and others are filled with ingredients like cheese, vegetables, or meat. You can even find some sweet knishes if you know where to look.
Another general food category that New York City is well known for is its international cuisine. New York has one of the most diverse populations globally, and people from all over live there.
The wealth of people of all nationalities and ethnicities means NYC has a huge selection of international cuisine. There are so many options, and no matter what you’re looking for, you will have no trouble finding it in New York City.
New York Egg Cream
New York egg cream is another popular NYC drink. It is a simple drink, and all you need to make it are three ingredients:
- Seltzer water
- Chocolate-flavored syrup
The drink got famous in NYC when it was served at soda fountains in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Italian food is also popular in New York City because of all the Italian immigrants who came to the city and settled there over the years. Now, with many Italian people still living in NYC, you can find Italian food on every corner. And because it’s authentic Italian food, it’s usually very good.
Gyro / Donair / Kebab
These three foods are known in NYC, and they are all typically made of lamb with Greek or Turkish origins. Gyros and donairs are served as a wrap or on pita bread and folded up like a taco to make it easier to eat. Kebabs are grilled chunks of meat and veggies served on skewers.
Like many foods on the list of famous New York City foods, Chinese food is popular in the city because there is a large Chinese population. Many of these are first-generation immigrants, while others are merely people with a Chinese background. Chinese food is especially popular in Chinatown.
Coffee seems like a drink you can get anywhere. After all, there are literally Starbucks in every state in the U.S. Even so, New York City is actually well-known for its strong, delicious coffee. New Yorkers have their own shorthand for “regular coffee,” which is a coffee with milk and two sugars.
A bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll is a classic twist on a bagel, in which the three ingredients are put on a bagel or other bread roll. New Yorkers are infamous for ordering a bacon-egg-and-cheese and expecting one of these sandwiches.
Tossed salad is a well-known food in New York, and like some of the city’s other famous foods, there are so many variations of it depending on where in the city you are. You can create your own tossed salad or get a premade one from hundreds of NYC salad bars.
A bialy is a type of bread similar to a bagel. However, it has a lot more flavor and some sauteed onions in the center hole. Unfortunately, outside of New York, bialys are often harder to find than bagels, but that’s not much of a problem in New York City. After all, you can get them at bakeries all throughout the city.
It seems weird to think of a city being famous for its pickles. You can pretty much go into any grocery store in America and pick up a jar of them. However, pickles have been popular in the city for almost as long as the city has existed. Their popularity increased when more Dutch and Jewish people came to the city. You can find some of the U.S.’s most delicious pickles all over the city in delis.
And finally, New York City is known for its steak. There are a lot of steakhouses in the city, and many of them serve steak good enough to be on the cover of magazines. If you’re looking for the best NYC steak, try checking out some of the city’s Michelin Star restaurants.
New York City has so many foods for which it is famous. The locals have a huge selection of foods to choose from, and tourists come to the city partly because of its popular and delicious cuisine. Whether you are looking for something classic like bagels and pizza, or a new but famous food, you will have no problem finding it in New York City.
- Huffington Post: Running A Hot Dog Stand In New York Can Cost You As Much As R4-Million Per Year
- Time Out: 17 Best Burgers in NYC Includes Shake Shack and Minetta Tavern
- Butternut Bakery: Rich & Creamy New York Cheesecake – WITH VIDEO
- Reader’s Digest: Here’s Why Bagels Are So Much Better in New York
- Brent’s Deli: Pastrami vs. Corned Beef: What’s the Difference?
- Eater: Street Meat: The Rise of NYC’s Halal Cart Culture
- Liquor.com: Manhattan Cocktail Recipe
- Culture Trip: 10 Best Classic Diners in Manhattan, New York City
- Secret NYC: 10 Mouthwatering Matzo Ball Soups In New York City
- MyRecipes: New England vs. Manhattan Clam Chowder: What’s the Difference?
- NYPL: History on the Half-Shell: The Story of New York City and Its Oysters
- NYT Cooking: Reuben Sandwich Recipe
- Marco Feng: Your Guide to NYC’s Best NYC Micheline Restaurants
- Serious Eats: Inside New York’s Cult of the Bialy
- Taste Atlas: Knish | Traditional Snack From New York City, United States of America
- The Spruce Eats: Egg Cream
- Some information came from my experiences visiting NYC multiple times.