Eat and Drink in NYC: A Guide to New York’s Best Dining Neighborhoods
You can sample food from all over the world in New York City, but which neighborhood should you head to for the best of the best? Here’s our overview. | By Paul Oswell | June 17, 2021
Name a place better than New York City if you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons. We want to hear it! We love eating our way through NYC. All within a few square miles, you can travel the world and sample its best dishes, from ramen to jerk chicken to the perfect coal-oven pizza slice.
In this list of the best NYC foodie neighborhoods, by cuisine, you’ll chart a path around the five boroughs to find iconic locations, dishes and delights:
Extra spicy: Head to Murray Hill for kebabs and dosas
Seaside fancy: Take the trip to Brooklyn for piroshki or pickled watermelon
Perfect picnic: Kick back on the Lower East Side with a pastrami sandwich
Korean Food in NYC: Midtown
Although not far from Times Square and the Empire State Building, East 32nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is busy for other reasons: the concentration of great Korean restaurants in New York City.
Diners flock to Koreatown’s authentic-looking dining rooms and long tables along the sidestreets. You’ll find endless, delicious variations of noodle soup or Korean fried chicken: crispy and double fried.
For a taste: Find the heat in the kimchi stew at Take 31 (15 E 31st St) or spicy kimbap from Woorijip (12 W 32nd St)
For a treat: For something savory, seek out the kalbi at Jongro (22 W 32nd St) or gyeran jjim (egg souffle) at Samwon Garden (37 W 32nd St)
Spice Up Your Night
Heading along Lexington Avenue, you’ll find South Asian cuisine, nestled near specialty spice markets.
Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi Food in NYC: Murray Hill
Roughly between E27th and E42nd streets, this neighborhood is affectionately called ‘Curry Hill.’ It’s a celebration of the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent. There are spice shops that date back to the 1940s, which speaks to a well-established immigrant community.
Follow your nose to find the delicate scents of these spices in the surrounding restaurants in NYC, which are authentic and casual. Curries, kebabs and dosas are the stock in trade, and many menu items are kosher and vegan.
For a taste: Seek out the steamed rice and lentil cakes (idli) at Pongal (110 Lexington Ave) or the ‘London Curry’ menu at Dhaba (108 Lexington Ave)
For a treat: Find flavorful spices at Kalustyan’s (123 Lexington Ave) before tasting the creative dishes at Sahib (104 Lexington Ave)
Russian Food in NYC: Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
A day trip to this coastal spot is special. You’ll see the fairground at Coney Island and have a chance to sample some authentic Russian food. This corner of Brooklyn looks out to the sea between Ocean Parkway and West End Avenue.
With its Russian and Balkan communities and shops, the neighborhood feels very European. The boardwalk gives it a retro, seaside ambience. Head for the Brighton Bazaar on Brighton Beach Avenue, where buffet counters sell pickled watermelon and fried smelt (small fish), as well as the classic piroshki (savory and sweet hand pies).
For a taste: Select Kashkar Café (1 141 Brighton Beach Ave) for a great range of Central Asian and halal-friendly selections
For a treat: Take a table on the boardwalk and tuck in to the eggplant caviar babaganoush at Tatiana’s (3152 Brighton 6th St)
Explore the Pasta-bilities
With one bite of a house-made pasta, you’ll transport to bella Italia in the romantic ambiance of Little Italy.
Italian Food in NYC: Little Italy in Lower Manhattan
Italians have long been a part of New York culture, and Little Italy, bordered by Lafayette, Canal, Broome and Mott Streets, has seen Lower Manhattan develop around it. You’ll find old-school experiences at places like family-owned Forlini’s (93 Baxter St). The trick for eating out in this area is to seek out house-made pasta, Roman-style pizzas, rustic seafood dishes and regional specialties.
For a taste: Dig into rich, red sauce in Capri’s classic chicken parmesan (145 Mulberry St)
For a treat: For an impromptu picnic, find a spot in Columbus Park or City Hall Park to enjoy a soppressata sandwich from Di Palo’s Fine Foods (200 Grand St)
A Plate of History
Whether you’re in Manhattan, Flushing in Queens or Sunset Park in Brooklyn, you’ll find culture and charm in any one of New York City’s Chinatown restaurants.
Chinese and Vietnamese Food in NYC: Chinatown
Manhattan’s historic neighborhood (roughly between Broadway, Bowery, Grand and Worth Streets) was one of the first places in the United States to popularize Chinese cuisine. Cantonese-style dishes and dim sum are both prominent, and there’s an ever-growing diversity of options, and Vietnamese food is surging in popularity.
You’ll pass certain spots with lines out of the door to take out snacks, such as the roasted pork at Wah Fung Fast Food (79 Chrystie St). For a large celebration, there’s always the duck feast at Peking Duck House (28 Mott St A).
For a taste: Find scallion pancakes and soup dumplings at Deluxe Green Bo (66 Bayard St)
For a treat: Take a moment to reflect at the Confucius Statue (2 Division St) before experiencing seamless blends of Chinese, Vietnamese and Malaysian influences at Bo Ky (80 Bayard St)
"Foods like New York pizza, bagels, and delis just can't be recreated anywhere else. Aside from those NYC staples, there are people from all different backgrounds and cultures that come together to create the best mix of foods from all over the world." –Taylor Lynn, Hilton Team Member, Global Brand Marketing
Jamaican and West Indian Food in NYC: Crown Heights
This Brooklyn neighborhood is a triangle between Atlantic and Washington Avenues and Empire Boulevard, and there are plenty of places that offer traditional Jamaican, Trinidadian and Panamanian food. You’ll find a wealth of tasty Caribbean options, from fiery jerk chicken to spicy beef patties to the evocative notes of coconut and tamarind.
For a taste: Discover conch from Gloria’s (987 Nostrand Ave), curried goat from The Islands (671 Washington Ave), or a slice of cassava pone from Tropical House Baking (267 Schenectady Ave)
For a treat: Explore Prospect Park and its botanic garden (990 Washington Ave) after a shrimp roti from Trinidad Golden Place (788 Nostrand Ave)
Jewish Food in NYC: Lower East Side
This part of Manhattan—south-east of Houston Street and Bowery—has been an enclave for Jewish immigrants since the turn of the 20th century. You’ll find Jewish staples at a raft of New York City delis and restaurants. You can sample rye breads, pickles, and pastrami, or go classic with the immense sandwiches at the famous Katz’s Delicatessen (205 E Houston St).
For a taste: Bite into smoked fish on a bagel from Russ & Daughters (179 East Houston St)
For a treat: Snack on potato and buckwheat knishes from Yonah Schimmel’s Knish (137 E Houston St) before exploring contemporary art around the corner at the New Museum (235 Bowery)
Make a Foodie Memory in NYC
You can always opt for a New York City hot dog from a cart, but the diversity of influences is readily apparent in New York restaurants. Visitors can easily find flavors from all around the globe.
Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel journalist. He lives in New Orleans.
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