As someone who has lived in New York City for a couple of years and works in food media, there is one question that plagues me from people who come to visit me.
“Oh, you must know all the good places to eat. Where should I go?”
Somehow I always go blank when asked. All the amazing and delicious places I’ve been to run wild in my head and I can’t think of a single recommendation. After some serious thinking time pushed by an upcoming permanent move out of New York, this list is my answer. With only a few weeks in this place, I wanted to collect all my favorite places to eat so I could try them one more time – my gastronomic farewell to a city I love.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are tens of thousands of restaurants in New York City, and I haven’t even tried one percent of them. This is simply a collective of my favourites. After spending several years on and off in (arguably) the best city in the world, here are my top spots, the places worth making a second trip to, and the best dishes to order.
Yasouvlaki for its pork kebab
This was my regular neighborhood spot on the Upper East Side. For $20, you could get a huge plate of seasoned pork, crispy fries, Greek tabouli, toasted pita, tzatziki, and yasou sauce. It was easily two meals and it satisfied every craving.
Yasouvlaki, 1568 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10128
La Ñapa for its arepas
There aren’t many things I wouldn’t do for these arepas. They are easily in my top five favorite things I’ve ever eaten. The best is the chorizo, as the fat is absorbed into the crispy cornmeal pancakes, and there is a perfect cheesy bite with every bite. It’s the kind of food/sandwich that once you have, you can’t put it down. It’s so messy that if you leave it, you’ll lose all control, but it’s also so delicious that you won’t want to do it.
La Ñapa, 656 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11216
Rossy’s Encebollado for his tigrillo
After spending a year on exchange in Ecuador living on the coast, I fell head over heels in love with their ocelot breakfast staple. It is made with fried green plantains, pork rinds, cheese, and fried eggs. So I was so excited when I lived in Ridgewood, Queens and was surrounded by various Ecuadorian restaurants. My favorite was El Encebollado de Rossy. In fact, every time I went there, I wanted to eat it so much that I didn’t take any pictures of it. So you’ll have to trust me.
Rossy’s Encebollado, 238 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Barboncino for their pizza, but more importantly, their arugula salad.
Looking for a brick oven pizza that will blow your mind? You have to go to Barboncino. I love their classic Marg’s pie, but the white speck pie is also an option. For a totally underrated menu item, try the arugula salad. It’s simple: arugula, marinated tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and a balsamic vinaigrette. But that is its beauty. The simplicity makes it delicious. Also, get there early, because there is often a wait.
Barboncino Pizza, 781 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Upside Pizza for your perfect pepperoni cups
Asking someone their favorite slice of pizza in New York is like asking someone their favorite TV show. It is very personal and everyone has a different opinion. I mean, this is the second pizzeria on this list, but I like them both for different reasons. One day, I had a craving for a crispy slice of pepperoni. I wanted the slices of meat small so they would roll up and crisp in the oven, collecting the fat and fat inside. Enter backwards. This pizzeria has several locations around the city, but my favorite is the one near Bryant Park. In the summer, you can order a cake and take it to the park with a blanket.
Upside Pizza, 20 E 40th St, New York, NY 10016
Los Tacos No. 1 for its marinated tacos and horchata
Okay, you might already know this one. They have several locations throughout the city and a line that sometimes goes around the block. But Los Tacos is worth the wait. I don’t get in trouble. For me, the tacos adobados are the best (pork with pineapple). I ask for three and an horchata to wash it all down. Nothing gives me more serotonin.
Los Tacos No. 1, 136 Church St, New York, NY 10007
New Wonjo for your Korean BBQ
For third dates and lunch breaks, I recommend the Korean BBQ. It gives you something to do with your hands as you push through the ultimate awkwardness that date number three can bring (the first two dates should never be dinner, in my opinion). And New Wonjo has very fast service, perfect for an hour in the workday.
New Wonjo, 23 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001
Ichiran for his ramen
I know I’ve said this for a few places on this list, but Ichiran will always have to wait. It doesn’t really matter what time of day, year, or weather, she’ll be waiting outside for a seat. But his tonkotsu ramen served in individual stalls is comforting, best enjoyed in the winter after being out in the cold for too long.
Ichiran, 132 W 31st St, New York, NY 10001
The Stumble Inn for its buffalo wings
I pride myself on knowing good wings. Here are my professional qualifications:
1. Wings are one of my favorite foods.
2. I am from upstate New York, a region that prides itself on its food.
Finding good ones in New York City is hard. Wings especially simple. That’s why I love the chicken wings at the Stumble Inn. It’s a casual sports bar that serves great wings. These are on the dry side, which makes them crunchier, and the sauce has a nice flavor.
The Stumble Inn, 1454 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021
Tomiño Taberna Gallega for its octopus
If octopus is on the menu, it’s almost a guarantee that I’ll order it. It’s one of those things I won’t make at home, but when a restaurant does it right, it’s *kiss from the chef.* And the octopus al feira at Tomiño Taberna Gallega is so tender, a little smoky, and very palatable (if you can call the octopus a sandwich?). The Galician restaurant also has amazing tomato bread and sangria.
Tomino Taberna Gallega, 192 Grand St, New York, NY 10013