New York vs. California - Who's Got Better Food?

New York vs. California - Who's Got Better Food?

We don't want to start any wars here, but let's get down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to the food scene in America: does New York have better food or California? While it's obvious both of these states are known for their amazing food scenes, let's be honest, there are certain foods and culinary aspects that one state does better than the other. Do you agree with our decisions?

1. New York Wins: Bagels

An iconic food item in New York, the New York Bagel is known for its dense, chewy texture and glossy exterior. Bagel shops like Ess-a-Bagel and Russ & Daughters have perfected the art of bagel-making, elevating the New York bagel scene to new heights. They've even gotten creative with it, selling unique spins on the classic treat like this rainbow doughnut down below!

Caitlyn-Wilson-Whesye0O9Nw-UnsplashPhoto by Caitlyn Wilson on Unsplash

2. New York Wins: Pizza

Can we even compare California's pizza with New York's? The pizza scene in New York is simply unparalled both in its style and history; offering thin, crispy crusts with the perfect balance of sauce and cheese, people from all over the world travel here just to get a taste. The city's pizzerias range from classic spots like Lombardi's to more modern artisans like Roberta's, completing outshining California's offerings with their deep-rooted pizza culture and sheer variety.

Diego-Marin-Pedmdpvvuik-UnsplashPhoto by Diego Marín on Unsplash

3. New York Wins: Deli Sandwiches

New York's delis are on a whole different level, with iconic spots like Katz's Delicatessen and Carnegie Deli famous for their massive, mouthwatering sandwiches. The city's rich history of Jewish and Italian delicatessens offers consumers authentic and quality sandwiches that California delis just can't match.

Scott-Hendrickson-3Xvgymgpu6K-UnsplashPhoto by Scott Hendrickson on Unsplash

4. New York Wins: Fine Dining

New York is fine dining central, offering an impressive array of Michelin-starred restaurants, but also a variety of culinary institutions like Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin. These renowned establishments offer mindblowing fine dining experiences, surpassing California's fine dining scene in both diversity and sophistication.

Eric-Mcnew-Wwtubrjkxk8-UnsplashPhoto by Eric McNew on Unsplash


5. New York Wins: Street Food

New York City has a beloved street food scene that features food trucks and carts serving everything from halal food to tacos. Don't forget about the iconic hot dog stands though! More vibrant and diverse than California, there's just an undeniable energy that fuels this street food culture, making delicious food accessible almost anywhere and at any hour. 

Anton-Ncnb-Wvga8W-UnsplashPhoto by Anton on Unsplash

6. New York Wins: Dessert Bars

Let's talk about desserts for a moment because who doesn't love the iconic New York cheesecake? But that aside, New York undeniably excels in the dessert category, offering a wide array of classic and innovative sweets. With constant new creations like the Cronut, New York simply provides dessert lovers with a neverending playground to explore.

Kalisha-Ocheni- Bbtqanorbi-Unsplash (1)Photo by Kalisha Ocheni on Unsplash

7. New York Wins: Coffee Culture

While California has a strong coffee scene, New York's is iconic, with a mix of historic coffee shops, trendy cafes, and artisanal roasters like Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Blue Bottle Coffee. The city's fast-paced lifestyle has brewed a coffee culture that's both diverse and deeply integrated into daily life.

Nathan-Dumlao-6Vhpy27Jdps-Unsplash (3)Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

8. New York Wins: Cocktail Bars

New York City is renowned for its cocktail bars, with a long history of speakeasies and a vibrant contemporary scene featuring bars like PDT (Please Don't Tell) and The Dead Rabbit. New York is often a trendsetter when it comes to the global cocktail scene, a testament to their innovation and excellence in mixology. 

M-S-Meeuwesen-Qywynzvptaq-UnsplashPhoto by M.S. Meeuwesen on Unsplash

9. New York Wins: Bakeries

With a rich history of European immigrants, New York's bakeries will shock you at how well they excel in traditional and artistan breads, pasteries, and sweets. Iconic establishments like Balthazar Bakery and Levain Bakery offers delicious baked goods that are often imitated, but never successfully replicated in California's bakeries.

Mink-Mingle-Qz5Lpcpvdxe-UnsplashPhoto by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

10. New York Wins: Italian Food

New York's Italian food scene offers some of the most authentic and diverse Italian dining experiences outside of Italy. From historic trattorias in Little Italy to high-end contemporary Italian restaurants, the Italian cuisine here reflects generations of culinary tradition and innovation. While California focuses more on fusion and contemporary interpretations, you can definitely find a level of authenticity in New York that can't be matched.

Nerfee-Mirandilla-O1Edsufmuxq-UnsplashPhoto by Nerfee Mirandilla on Unsplash


1. California Wins: Farm-to-Table Cuisine

But let's move on to California to discuss some of their major wins; for one, California's farm-to-table movement completely outshines New York's. Thanks to its proximity to agriculture and year-round growing season, you can expect fresh, local ingredients to be showcased in many of your meals. 

Peter-Wendt--R5Ksmkyosc-UnsplashPhoto by Peter Wendt on Unsplash

2. California Wins: Mexican Food

California's Mexican food, particularly in Southern California, is unparalleled in both its authenticity and variety. From street tacos to high-end Mexican cuisine, you'll be amazed by how delicious they all are. The state's historical and cultural ties to Mexico provides a depth of flavour and authenticity that New York's Mexican food scene struggles to even compete with.

Tai-S-Captures-Jirsy0Gfqpa-Unsplash (1)Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

3. California Wins: Health-Conscious and Vegan Options

California leads the country in health-conscious and vegan dining options, reflecting the state's focus on wellness-oriented culture. Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are filled with plenty of innovative vegan restaurants that would totally change your mind on vegan eating. They offer creative and delicious plant-based dishes that would absolutely shock you - they're dishes that'd be hard to find elsewhere (like New York for instance)!

Ella-Olsson-2Ixtgsgfi-S-UnsplashPhoto by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

4. California Wins: Asian Fusion

The Asian fusion food scene in California is truly one of the best. Influenced by its diverse Asian communities, the Asian food here is simply more vibrant and innovative than New York's. Restaurants like The Slanted Door in San Francisco and Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles have set the bar for blending Asian flavours with Californian cuisines. And the result? Unique and trendsetting dishes you can't find anywhere else.

Alexandra-Andersson-Omrmr2Ypus4-UnsplashPhoto by Alexandra Andersson on Unsplash

5. California Wins: Sushi

If you love sushi, you'll definitely want to visit California over New York. The sushi scene in California benefits from its closer proximity to the Pacific Ocean, offering fresher catches and more innovative sushi bars across the state. Sushi restaurants like Nobu in Malibu and Sushi Ota in San Diego are two examples of renowned sushi establishments that highlight quality, creativity, and the use of local seafood.

Riccardo-Bergamini-O2Ynzxdqou0-Unsplash (2)Photo by Riccardo Bergamini on Unsplash

6. California Wins: Wine Country Dining

The dining experiences in California's wine country, particularly in Napa Valley and Sonoma, are unmatched, with restaurants like The French Laundry and Farmhouse Inn offering menus that complement the world-class local wines. This integration of local wine and food culture provides a dining experience that New York's urban setting cannot offer.

Tim-Mossholder-Kdllicl7Xpk-UnsplashPhoto by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash


7. California Wins: Craft Beer and Brewpubs

California's craft beer scene, with its pioneering brewpubs and breweries, surpasses New York's in both history and variety. Cities like San Diego and San Francisco are at the forefront of the craft beer movement, hosting iconic breweries like Stone Brewing and Anchor Steam Brewery.

Josh-Olalde--Ygu9Qx309S-UnsplashPhoto by Josh Olalde on Unsplash

8. California Wins: Outdoor Dining

Thanks to its warm, milder climate, Calfornia offers year-round outdoor dining experiences that New York can only offer seasonally. Because really, eating outside in the rain is probably the most uncomfortable thing possible. But with such great weather, California is able to build a dining ambiance that integrates beautiful landscapes and cityscapes, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Cory-Bjork-Jzyq P94T-Q-UnsplashPhoto by Cory Bjork on Unsplash

9. California Wins: Avocado and Superfoods

Let's be honest for a moment, California's influence on the popularity of avocados and superfoods in American cuisine is undeniable. The state's ability to grow these foods locally means that dishes incorporating them are fresher and more prevalent in California restaurants. You'll absolutely fall in love with the freshness of these ingredients, but you'll also grow to appreciate California's ability to set trends that New York and other states follow.

Avocado-829092 1280Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

10. California Wins: Ethnic Diversity in Food

While New York is also known for its ethnic diversity, California's is particularly pronounced in its food scene, especially with underrepresented cuisines such as Filipino, Vietnamese, and various regional Chinese cuisines. California's cities offer authentic dining experiences that reflect its diverse immigrant populations, often in more concentrated and authentic forms than found in New York.

Vy-Huynh-Rchhkg01Ipy-Unsplash (1)Photo by Vy Huynh on Unsplash