Iconic Foods That New York City Does Best

Iconic Foods That New York City Does Best

New York City is iconic for it's good food, good vibes, and unparalleled sights. Tourists from all around the world come here just to witness the energy that the city gives off! If you're looking to travel here, one of the main reasons why is likely to taste some of the delicious food the city has to offer. From bagels to pizzas to cheesecake, New York City is known for some iconic goodies, and we've listed 20 of them here for you to read about!

1. Bagels

There are a couple of things that might come to mind when we say, "iconic New York City foods," but if Bagels aren't at the top of your list or at least near the top, what are you doing! New York City bagels are simply unmatched; they're known for their perfect balance of crispy exterior and dense, chewy interior. While the plain bagel with cream cheese should always be appreciated for its simplicity, there are so many other flavours and toppings you can try here too.

1024Px-Bec Sandwich On Everything BagelIlikefood on Wikimedia Commons

2. Pizza

Another no-brainer when it comes to New York City's best eats: pizza. New York style pizza is nothing but a work of art. With its thin, foldable crust, it's a definite staple when it comes to the city's culinary scene. It's so popular, people come from all around the world just to get a taste! From traditional toppings like pepperoni and cheese to more gourmet offerings, pizza is truly the perfect embodiment of New York's diverse tastes.

NypizzapieHungrydudes on Wikimedia Commons

3. Cheesecake

Out of all the desserts in New York City, its cheesecake definitely stands out as a must mention. Renowned for its rich, dense, and creamy texture, this classic dessert is usually either served plain or with a fruit topping like strawberry compote. It's the perfect way to finish off any delicious meal, and you best believe you'll always make space for it.

Cheesecake-1578691 1280Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

4. Pastrami on Rye

New York delis are on another level, and one offering that you must try from them is their pastrami on rye sandwiches. The dish itself is pretty simple, but you'll be surprised by how flavourful it is. Just imagine this: thick slices of spiced and smoked beef pastrami loaded on toasted, warm rye bread with a simple flavouring of mustard. See? Simple but still makes your mouth water, right?

Pastrami On Ryejeffreyw on Wikimedia Commons


5. Hot Dogs

Hot dogs in New York City have got its own thing going on. To get the true New York City experience, you got to order one from a street cart! It's an essential part of the food culture there after all. Hot dogs are a beloved favourite not only because it's a quick and hassle-free meal or snack, but because of all the customizable options. Throw on your favourites, from sauerkraut to ketchup, mustard, and onions to create your ideal bite.

Hot-Dog-657039 1280Image by Hannah Chen from Pixabay

6. Pretzels

Another New York City staple you might not think about as much are soft pretzels. Sold by many street vendors, these classic twisted treats have the most enjoyable soft and chewy texture. And when it's paired with a good mustard sauce, it perfectly demonstrates how sometimes, simple is best. As basic as it is, it's a quintessential New York snack you have to try.

Pretzel-2273216 1280Image by Alexa from Pixabay

7. Corned Beef Sandwich

Another iconic deli item sold in New York City, the corned beef sandwich is another example of how sandwiches don't have to be complicated or extravagant to taste delicious. Simply made with corned beef that's accompanied by mustard or Russian dressing, it's piled high on some rye bread for a tasty meal. It's savory, meaty, and a testament to the rich deli tradition that exists there.

Corned Beef Sandwich With Brown Mustardjeffreyw on Wikimedia Commons

8. Black and White Cookie

Visually striking and just as delicious, the black and white cookie is a bakery staple you can easily find at any New York City bakery. They're essentially shortbread-like cookies that are oh so soft and sweet, finished off with half vanilla and half chocolate icing. These cookies go great with a warm cup of coffee in the morning!

Vegan Black And White Cookies (8745832011)Veganbaking.net from USA on Wikimedia Commons

9. Egg Cream

Despite its name, no, the New York egg cream contains no egg, and shockingly, no cream. In fact, it's a drink! It's a classic beverage that mixes milk, seltzer water, and chocolate syrup. If you're feeling a bit turned off by that combination of ingredients, we say, don't turn it down before trying it first - it'll give you a surprisingly nostalgic taste of New York!

Course -12 Malt - Egg Cream With Vanilla And Seltzer (9244193733)City Foodsters on Wikimedia Commons

10. Knish

If you've never heard of a Knish before, you're seriously missing out! It's a traditional Jewish snack food that can be found in many delis and bakeries throughout New York City. When you find out it's a baked or fried pastry that's filled with potato, meat, or cheese, we're guessing you're already halfway out the door to go try one. Not only is it filling and delicious, there's a comforting element to it too, reflecting the city's melting pot culture.

Lower East Side - Schimmel Knish 2Eric Hunt on Wikimedia Commons


11. Lobster Roll

You might be surprised to hear that lobster rolls are incredibly popular in New York City, with some of the best offerings you can find all across the country. Lobster is already a food item associated with luxury and elegance, so you just know this is going to be good. Loaded with fresh, succulent lobster meat that's been lightly dressed and served on a soft, toasted bun, we bet you're drooling just reading this.

Lobster Roll (29497119026)nathanmac87 on Wikimedia Commons

12. Dumplings

New York City's Chinatown is certainly a hot spot, and the good food you'll find there is a major reason why. One word for you: dumplings. You can find them served every which way here, whether it be steamed, boiled, or pan-fried. Not only are they typically pretty affordable, they're packed with so much flavour and deliciousness, you'll be scouring the streets trying all the best spots.

Dim-Sum-924912 1280Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

13. Falafel

Often found in Middle Eastern eateries and food carts, we think it's safe to say New Yorkers love their falafels. A great option for all the vegetarians out there, these tasty goodies are beloved for their crispy exteriors and fluffy, flavourful interiors. They're good on their own, but when it's served in a pita with tahini, salad, and pickles, you've got a complete meal that gives you a taste of some of the best the city has to offer.

Pille-R-Priske-Xjgwpi Zuxm-UnsplashPhoto by Pille R. Priske on Unsplash

14. Ramen

One thing New York City has that they can certainly brag about is their diverse food culture. That's why we're both surprised and not surprised to hear that the city has some of the best ramen in the country. Japanese ramen is one of the most heartwarming, filling meals you can have. Respecting the craft the Japanese have mastered, you definitely won't be disappointed with the bowls of ramen you find here in New York.

Ramen-2199962 1280Image by takedahrs from Pixabay

15. Bagel and Lox

Look, we know we pointed out bagels already, but could we really make a list of iconic New York foods without specifically pointing out bagels and lox? The combination of a delicious New York City bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, onions, and capers is arguably one of the most iconic breakfast or lunch items you can get here. 

Lox Bagel Sandwich With Cream Cheese Schmear Onion TomatoLinguisticsGirl.Librarian on Wikimedia Commons

16. Chicken and Rice

You've probably seen this many times on your Instagram or TikTok feed, but the chicken and rice you'll find at Halal carts in New York City are on a different level. Who knew you could get such amazing food on the city street corners? This delicious meal consists of fragrant rice, salad, and your choice of white and hot sauces, creating a filling meal you can easily grab on the go.

Chicken And Rice (9169146184)City Foodsters on Wikimedia Commons


17. Bialys

Never heard of a bialy before? Let us enlighten you. Although they might look similar to bagels, don't be mistaken - bialys have a much softer texture and have a filled center rather than a hole. These delicious baked goods are less known than the iconic bagel, but they're equally as good. The most popular fillings are cooked onions and poppy seeds, giving you a twist from the usual bagel flavour and texture.

Bialy 1Chefallen on Wikimedia Commons

18. New York Strip Steak

Hey, if the city is already in the name, you know it must be good there. One of the most iconic cuts of steak, the New York Strip Steak is best when, you guessed it, is prepared in New York City. It's the highlight of many steakhouses due to its unrivaled flavour and tenderness. And when it's cooked to perfection and seasoned just right, we easily see it becoming the best meal you've ever had.

Clark-Douglas-7Wjv-Sdsj6C-UnsplashPhoto by Clark Douglas on Unsplash

19. Matzo Ball Soup

A staple in Jewish delis around the city, matzo ball soup is an incredibly comforting soup that'll warm your soul right up. It features light and fluffy matzo balls that bathe in a clear chicken broth. It's often cooked with some noodles or rice and vegetables, and while it doesn't look like the fanciest of dishes out there, it's exactly what you're looking for after a stressful or cold day out.

Uehara-Photography-Ghgwi8X Fl8-UnsplashPhoto by Uehara Photography on Unsplash

20. Sourdough Bread

If you're a big fan of bread (who isn't?), New York City might be the best playground for you to run around and explore all the bakeries. Artisanal baking has seen a resurgence in recent years, with sourdough bread coming to the forefront of the baking scene. Trust us, you've never tasted bread until you've tried one from New York City!

Debbie-Widjaja-H Pxix 4Bwc-UnsplashPhoto by Debbie Widjaja on Unsplash