20 Iconic Dishes to Try in New York City Without Fail

New York City is a food lover’s paradise, offering a rich tapestry of iconic dishes that cater to every palate. 

In this article, we’ll take you on a culinary journey through the heart of the Big Apple, highlighting 20 iconic dishes that define the city’s diverse food scene. 

Whether you’re a food enthusiast or just looking to savor the best of New York’s flavors, these dishes encapsulate the essence of the city’s culinary culture. 

From classic street food like hot dogs to international delicacies like bagels with lox, each dish has a unique story to tell and a delicious taste to offer. 

Join us as we explore the world of 20 Iconic Dishes to Try in NYC.

According to us, these are the top 20 iconic dishes to try in NYC. Whether you are a local or a tourist- you need to add these to your itinerary!

#1 Italian Pasteries from Cannoli- Madonia Bakery

In the heart of the Bronx, Madonia Bakery crafts some of the city’s most exquisite cannoli. These iconic Italian pastries are a must-try in New York City. 

A crispy shell, fried to perfection, encases a creamy, sweet ricotta filling. 

The combination of textures and flavors in Madonia’s cannoli is simply heavenly.

This 100-year-old Sicilian Bakery is a must-try in New York. 

Some of their must-try items are pane di casa, the ciccola and rainbow cookies. Address: 2348 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458. Get Directions.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 6.30 am to 7 pm; Sunday: 6.30 am to 6 pm

#2 Fried chicken from Charles Pan-Fried Chicken

When searching for the ultimate fried chicken experience, look no further than Charles Pan-Fried Chicken.

The secret to their exceptional flavor is in the seasoned cast-iron pans they use to fry each batch to perfection. 

The result? A golden, crunchy exterior that gives way to juicy, tender meat with every bite.

Address: 2348 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458. Get Directions.

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday: 11 am to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday: 11 am to 11 pm

#3 Hot Dogs at Franks by Gray’s Papaya

No culinary exploration of New York City would be complete without savoring an iconic street food: the classic hot dog. 

For a genuine experience, head to Gray’s Papaya. 

This legendary hot dog joint, often called “Frank’s” affectionately by locals, has been serving up delicious franks since 1937.

Address: 2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: 24 hours a day

#4 Cheeseburger at JG Melon

The JG Melon cheeseburger is a work of art featuring a perfectly cooked, juicy patty nestled between a soft, toasted bun. 

The cheese melts over the beef, creating a savory and indulgent experience.

This is one of the best spots in NYC to have cheeseburgers, 

Address: 1291 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday – 11.30 am to 3 am; Sunday- 11.30 am to 1 am

#5 Soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai

Joe’s Shanghai, with its unassuming facade and bustling atmosphere, is where you’ll experience this authentic and comforting Chinese delicacy. 

Steamed to perfection, the dumplings are filled with a flavorful broth that bursts forth as you take your first bite, mixing with the tender, aromatic pork or crab filling.

Address: 46 Bowery, New York, NY 10013. Get Directions

Opening hours: Sunday to Saturday – 11 am to 10 pm

#6 Manhattan clam chowder at Grand Central Oyster Bar

When exploring the iconic dishes of New York City, Manhattan clam chowder at the Grand Central Oyster Bar is a timeless classic. 

This vibrant and hearty tomato-based soup has been a staple on the menu since the Oyster Bar opened its doors in 1913.

Address: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017. Get Directions.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 11.30 am to 9.30 pm

#7 Mutton Chop at Keens Steakhouse

One of the truly iconic dishes you must savor in NYC is the Mutton Chop at Keens Steakhouse. 

The Mutton Chop is a classic on their menu, and it’s a testament to the timeless allure of this steakhouse. 

Served on a sizzling hot plate, the Mutton Chop is a substantial, flavorful cut of mutton that’s been perfectly aged and expertly cooked to juicy perfection.

Address: 72 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: 
Monday to Fri day- 11.45 am to 10.30 pm;
Saturday and Sunday – 5 pm to 10.30 pm

#8 Al pastor tacos at Los Tacos No. 1

When it comes to satisfying your cravings for authentic Mexican flavors in the heart of New York City, Los Tacos No. 1 is the place to be. 

Their specialty: Al Pastor Tacos. These mouthwatering gems are a true testament to the city’s culinary diversity.

Address: 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 1001. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday – 11 am to 10 pm; Sunday- 11 am to 9 pm

#9 Egg cream at S&P

When exploring the iconic dishes of New York City, one treat you can’t miss is the classic Egg Cream. 

Despite its name, this creamy beverage contains neither eggs nor cream. 

The Egg Cream is a simple yet beloved concoction made by blending cold milk with chocolate syrup and seltzer water.

Address: 174 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010. Get Directions.

Opening hours: Mon to Fri- 8 am to 5 pm; Sat and Sun- 9 am to 5 pm

#10 Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery

A visit to New York City wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the iconic Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery.

Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding is a creamy and luscious concoction of vanilla pudding, ripe bananas, and layers of Nilla wafers.

Address: Multiple Location

If you are looking to find iconic restaurants in NYC, here is some more information for you: 

Top 5 restaurants in New York you can’t miss 
• Where to find the best Pizza New York
• Best Chinese food in NYC

#11 Coal-oven pizza at John’s of Bleecker Street

Established in 1929, John’s is famed for its coal-oven pizza, a tradition that has been carried on for generations.

The intense heat from the coal-fired oven yields a thin, crisp crust with a delicate, smoky flavor, creating the perfect canvas for classic toppings.

Address: 278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014. Get Direction.

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday – 11.30 am to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday – 11.30 am to 11 pm

#12 Plain slice at Joe’s Pizza

The plain slice is a masterclass in simplicity and flavor. 

A thin, foldable crust supports a generous layer of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, creating the perfect balance of tangy and creamy. 

The crust is crispy along the edges, providing that satisfying crunch with each bite. It’s the kind of pizza that captures the essence of New York – no frills, just deliciousness.

Address: 7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: Sun to Thu- 10 am to 3 am; Fri and Sat- 10 am to 5 am

#13 Falafel at Mamoun’s

Mamoun’s is a New York City institution serving mouthwatering falafel for over 40 years.

Their falafel is simple: deep-fried chickpea patties or balls tucked into warm pita bread, accompanied by fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and a generous drizzle of tahini sauce. 

The result? A delicious, satisfying handheld meal that’s perfect for a quick bite while exploring the city. 

Address: 119 Macdougal St, New York, NY, 1001. Get Directions.

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday – 11 am to 2 am; Friday and Saturday – 11 am to 4 am

#14 Pierogi at Veselka

When you’re in New York City, exploring the culinary wonders is a must, and if you’re in the mood for a taste of tradition, don’t miss the pierogi at Veselka. 

This iconic Ukrainian eatery, nestled in the heart of the East Village, has been serving up delectable pierogi for decades.

Address: 144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday – 8 am to 12 am; Sunday – 8 am 11 pm

#15 Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery

The Cronut is a true icon, a marriage of croissant and doughnut that’s taken the world by storm.

This pastry masterpiece is a perfect blend of flaky, buttery croissant layers with the deep-fried, sugar-coated goodness of a doughnut. 

The result is a heavenly treat with a crispy exterior, soft interior, and a delightful, ever-changing flavor filling.

Address: 189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: Sunday to Saturday – 8 am to 7 pm

#16 Bagel with lox and cream cheese at Russ & Daughters

Start with a freshly baked, chewy bagel, often hand-rolled, and then topped with a generous spread of velvety cream cheese. 

What truly sets Russ & Daughters apart is their silky, thinly sliced, house-cured lox, which is draped over the cream cheese.

The mild, creamy richness of the cheese balances the briny, buttery lox.

Address: 179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002. Get Directions.

Opening hours: Sunday to Saturday – 8 am to 4 pm

#17 Pastrami in Rye at Katz’s Deli

A Pastrami on Rye from Katz’s is a culinary masterpiece. 

Tender, juicy pastrami, expertly cured and smoked in-house, is piled high between slices of fresh rye bread. 

The combination of succulent meat, spicy brown mustard, and a hint of pickles creates a symphony of flavors that will leave your taste buds dancing.

Address: 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002. Get Directions.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 8 am to 12 am; Sunday – 12 am to 11 pm

#18 Brisket at Hometown Bar-B-Que

One iconic dish that’s an absolute must-try in NYC is the mouthwatering brisket at Hometown Bar-B-Que.

The brisket is slow-cooked to perfection, resulting in tender, flavorful meat that practically melts in your mouth.

Address: 454 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Get Directions. 

Opening hours: 
Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday – 12 to 10 pm; 
Friday and Saturday – 12 to 11 pm

#19 Jerk chicken at Peppa’s

Picture succulent chicken marinated in a tantalizing blend of jerk spices – a fiery symphony of scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, thyme, and garlic. 

The chicken is then slow-cooked to perfection, resulting in tender, juicy meat with a smoky, spicy kick that dances on your taste buds.

Address: Multiple Locations

#20 Roast beef sandwich at Brennan and Carr

The beauty of Brennan & Carr’s brisket-roast beef sandwich lies in its simplicity. 

A soft roll is generously filled with tender slices of roast beef, slow-cooked to perfection, and topped with a ladle of savory beef broth that enhances the flavor and ensures a satisfyingly juicy bite. 

It’s a no-frills delight that has stood the test of time.

Address: 3432 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11229. Get Directions.

Opening hours: 
Sunday to Thurday – 11 am to 11 pm
Friday and Saturday – 11 am to 12 am

Featured Image: Facebook.com(Grayspapayanyc), Charlespanfriedchicken.com

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