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32 Neighborhoods Every Food Lover Should Visit in NYC

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Field notes on 32 NYC dining districts around the five boroughs

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[Katz's Deli]
[Katz's Deli]
Daniel Krieger

New York City has more than 200 major neighborhoods, along with dozens of micro 'hoods. You can spend a lifetime exploring and understanding your way around them. Here's a guide to 32 of our favorite dining districts, with notes about their local culinary superstars.

Manhattan

by Greg Morabito

East Village and Lower East Side: Don’t be fooled by all the frat-tastic bars and fast-casual restaurants — these two neighborhoods are where some of New York’s most exciting chefs are cooking right now. Top-notch East Village/LES dining establishments include Momofuku Ko, Oiji, Empellon Cocina, Dirty French, Wildair, Contra, Babu Ji, Hearth, Huertas, Mission Cantina, and Superiority Burger. For a taste of old-school NYC, head to Katz’s, Russ & Daughters, John’s of 12th Street, or Veselka.

Greenwich Village and West Village: The Village has tourist traps aplenty as well as some of the city’s most beloved neighborhood bistros, taverns, and trattorias. Highly recommended: Carbone, Annisa, Blue Hill, Lupa, Joseph Leonard, The Spotted Pig, Little Owl, Gotham Bar & Grill, and Minetta Tavern.

Tribeca, Battery Park City, and the Financial District: The best restaurants in these Downtown neighborhoods tend to be mid-priced and upscale establishments. For fine dining, consider booking a table at Batard or Atera. For something a bit less spendy but still very nice, head to North End Grill, Locanda Verde, The Odeon, Marc Forgione, Tribeca Grill, Nobu, or Little Park. Brookfield Place has a great food court as well as a location of Italian American crowd-pleaser Parm, and the new Eataly offers a little something for everyone.

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Manhattan Chinatown: There are so many restaurants in this massive Downtown neighborhood that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. For dim sum, Golden Unicorn, Royal Seafood, Oriental Garden, Nom Wah Tea Parlor, and Jing Fong are the titans, and all of them are worth checking out. Shanghai 456 has mind-blowing soup dumplings. Great NY Noodletown is a late-night classic. Nha Trang Centre is a solid choice for pho. Wo Hop and Hop Kee are the keepers of the old-school Chinese-American flame. And Peking Duck House is one of the city’s best BYOBs.

Soho, Noho, and Nolita: Somehow, these three zones retain an astonishing number of restaurants that are both trendy and absolutely worth your time and hard-earned cash. The hit list includes Lafayette, Il Buco, Mile End, Estela, Jack’s Wife Freda, The Dutch, Le Coucou, Il Buco Alimentari, Sadelle’s, and Balthazar.

Chelsea/Meatpacking District: This stretch of the West Side can be hit-or-miss, but the hits are very strong. Consider dining at Del Posto, Legend, Chelsea Market, Txikito, Sullivan Street Bakery, Toro, Santina, Nishi, or The Red Cat.

Flatiron/Union Square: One of the best places to try celebrity chef restaurants in NYC. Recommended: Gramery Tavern, Craft, ABC Kitchen, Eataly, Aldea.

Nomad/Gramercy: The city’s hottest hotel restaurants and bars are located in these two adjacent neighborhoods, as well as a few fine dining heavy hitters. Recommended: The Nomad, The John Dory Oyster Bar, The Breslin, The Clocktower, Upland, The Cannibal, Eleven Madison Park, Marta, Maialino, and Hill Country.

Midtown: A tough nut that's worth cracking. 39th Street has some terrific Sichuan restaurants. The Korean restaurants along 32nd Street are excellent for solo-dining or group outings. Ma Peche and Fuku+ bring some Momofuku thunder to an otherwise boring stretch of 56th Street. The Modern, Gabriel Kreuther, Betony, and Nobu 57 are fine expense account spots. Jimmy’s Corner is the greatest bar on earth. And Keens, La Grenouille, and 21 Club are the stone-cold classics.

Upper East/Upper West: The areas on either side of the park are home to many independently-owned restaurants that cater to a well-pampered clientele. Take-out spots and family restaurants abound, but there are some great eats if you know where to look. Check out Robert Sietsema's detailed guides to the Upper East and Upper West Sides before exploring.

Harlem and East Harlem: The east side is a bustling Latin community that has Mexican, Dominican, and Puerto Rican restaurants in spades, as well as a handful of great Caribbean cafes. East Harlem is also where you'll find NYC's only coal-oven slice parlor, Patsy's. To the west, Harlem's longstanding soul food establishments sit alongside new bistros, bars, and cafes — the area has seen a restaurant boom in recent years. Toward the northern tip of the Island, in Washington Heights, you'll find more terrific Domincan and Puerto Rican restaurants.

Queens

by Greg Morabito

Long Island City: A jumble of industrial zones and quaint residential blocks with some very good old-school Italian restaurants (Manetta’s, Bella Via, and Manducatis are standouts), plus a number of solid cafes (Cafe Henri). For barbecue, check out John Brown, and for gonzo-delicious Quebecois-inspired fare, hit up M. Wells Dinette or M. Wells Steakhouse.

Astoria: This bustling neighborhood has a diverse collection of restaurants, many of which are affordable or at least moderately-priced. This is an especially great neighborhood for Greek, Italian, and Middle Eastern restaurants, as well as pubs and beer bars. A few hits: Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna, Rizzo’s, the Queens Kickshaw, Sac’s Place, BZ Grill, Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, Pye Boat Noodle, Hinomaru Ramen, and King of Falafel.

Jackson Heights: With a wide array of mom-and-pop restaurants serving Indian, Thai, Brazilian, Mexican, Peruvian, and Himalayan fare, Jackson Heights is one of New York’s best neighborhoods for cheap eats. Some of Eater Critic Robert Sietsema’s favorite Jackson restaurants include: Phayul, Taqueria Coatzingo, Aroma Brazil, and Samudra.

Flushing: New York’s busiest Chinatown has a huge collection of restaurants. A few of Flushing’s greatest hits include the Muslin lamb chops at Fu Ran, the wontons with chile oil at White Bear, cold skin noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods, and the bamboo stir fry at Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. You could also spend an entire afternoon eating around the food court in the Golden Shopping Mall.

Brooklyn

by Greg Morabito

Greenpoint: An old Polish neighborhood with an ever-growing population of hipsters and condo-dwellers. Head to Karczma and Christina’s for traditional Polish fare. Alameda, Paulie Gee’s, Glasserie, and Five Leaves are the best of the trendy new places.

Williamsburg: Brooklyn’s quintessential hipster ‘hood. Although Williamsburg is rapidly losing its cool as more chains and high-end condos move in, the neighborhood still has some outstanding casual restaurants. New Brooklyn destinations include: The Four Horsemen, Egg, Emmy Squared, Lilia, Reynard, Marlow & Sons, Diner, Allswell, St. Anselm, Fette Sau, Meadowsweet, and The Commodore. For a taste of the old neighborhood, go to Bamonte’s, Frost, or Peter Luger.

Bushwick: An industrial neighborhood with excellent Latin-American restaurants and ultra-hip American establishments. Essentials: Taqueria El Fogon, Roberta’s, Faro, Santa Ana Deli, Arrogant Swine, and Okiway.

Bed-Stuy: A sprawling, largely residential neighborhood that’s rapidly gentrifying. Destinations: A & A Bake & Doubles, Peaches Hothouse, Saraghina, Royal Rib House, and David’s Brisket House.

Park Slope/Prospect Heights: Welcome to brownstone Brooklyn. All your bases are covered here in terms of decent take-out. But these conjoined neighborhoods also contain some of Brooklyn’s most lovely dine-in restaurants, like Franny’s, Olmsted, Talde, El Atoradero, and Al Di La.

Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill: These charming Brooklyn neighborhoods have a lot of restaurants that cater to families, but you can also find some real gems along Court and Smith streets. Neighborhood superstars include: Frankies 457, Lucali, Wilma Jean, Prime Meats, Buttermilk Channel, Clover Club, Battersby, and Nightingale 9.

Crown Heights: West Indian cafes sit alongside hipster bars and bistros in this Brownstone-filled neighborhood bordering Bed-Stuy and Prospect Heights. Destinations: Gloria’s, Food Sermon, Berg’n, Silver Krust, Crabby Shack, Mayfield, and Glady’s.

Red Hook: A mix of docks, industrial zones, housing projects, and cobblestone streets full of ancient brick buildings, Red Hook has a flavor all its own. It also has one of the city’s most exciting and eclectic restaurant scenes. Recommended: Defonte’s, Hometown, The Good Fork, Baked, Home/Made, and Red Hook Lobster Pound.

Sunset Park: Brooklyn’s Chinatown is home to some of the city’s best dim sum restaurants, as well as the massive Industry City complex, which contains a food hall and a number of food start-ups and commissary kitchens.

Coney Island: In addition to crispy fried Boardwalk delicacies, diners can find solid pizza, tacos, and old-school candy in this seaside community. Totonno's is worth the trip, alone. Recommended: Nathan'sTotonno'sGargiulo'sWilliams Candy, and Dona Zita,

Brighton Beach: Home to America's largest Russian-speaking community, this neighborhood has a large collection of Eastern European and Asian restaurants. Five recommendations from Eater critic Robert Sietsema: Elza Fancy Food, National, Beyti Kebab, Skovorodka, Cafe Kashkar, and Piroshky Stand.

Staten Island

by Robert Sietsema

Port Richmond: Sloping down to the Kill Van Kull — the waterway that separates Staten Island from Bayonne, New Jersey, Port Richmond is one of the city’s foremost maritime neighborhoods. It is also one of the great pizza hotspots, boasting Denino’s (a former seaman’s bar) and Brother’s, famed for its Sicilian sheet pizzas, but also the master of many different pie styles, including deep-dish Chicago. For dessert, hit up the original Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices.

Ward Hill and Tompkinsville: A trip uphill on Victory Boulevard through these adjacent neighborhoods takes you by most of Staten Island’s vaunted Sri Lankan eateries, including New AshaSan Rasa, and Dosa Garden, but there are plenty of other interesting places along the way, including one of the city’s foremost taquerias, El Gallo Azteca.

Dongan Hills: Get off the Staten Island Rapid Transit light rail at the Dongan Hills stop and you’re right across the street from Lee’s Tavern, purveyor of distinguished bar-style pizzas (try the clam or Italian sausage!), and not far from Lobster House Joe’s, a real Maine-style lobster pound conjoined with a Sicilian seafood joint.

The Bronx

by Robert Sietsema

Arthur Avenue: Also known as Belmont or the Bronx’s Little Italy, the meat markets, bakeries, and old grocery stores are enough to draw you to this sainted old neighborhood, just south of Fordham University and the Bronx Botanical Garden. The restaurants are alone worth the trip, including those inside the Arthur Avenue Market, the old-guard Mario’s, and the modern Italian Roberto’s Restaurant. For a change of pace, check out one of the Slavic places, like Gurra Café.

Mott Haven: Get a flavor for New York City’s first suburbs at the southern tip of the Bronx, now one of the metropolis’ great Latin neighborhoods. Some of the city’s only food from Oaxaca, Mexico can be found at La Morada, while you can visit an old-fashioned lunch counter at Brook Luncheonette and a great working-class pizza parlor (with no seating) at Golden Pizza. Just north and east of the neighborhood find Venice Restaurant, a 65- year-old Italian restaurant that benefits from its proximity to the Hunts Point Market (in other words, order seafood).

Riverdale: This hilly Jewish and Russian enclave offers a relaxed atmosphere denied most of the city’s urban neighborhoods. Go right to Liebman’s Kosher Delicatessen for some of Gotham’s best pastrami, and some great hot dogs, too. For exceptional Thai in an unexpected place, try Siam Square. Try Greek Express for gyros and souvlaki in a relaxed atmosphere.

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