It seems like every month, there’s someone out there declaring that the food in a city other than New York is actually so much better there than it is here. There’s folks declaring DC is the most thrilling restaurant city in the country, and I guess there’s supposed to be some sort of battle between LA and New York. Just today, New Jersey’s been saying the pizza is better there, and the Washingtonian has been defending its breakfast sandwich game after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez passingly mentioned that it’s “impossible” to get a good BEC in DC.
But the truth is, New Yorkers could not care less about these counterarguments. When it comes to food, we don’t need to engage in an argument — because we already know our scene can’t be matched.
When West Coasters gets up in arms about how much better In-N-Out is than Shake Shack, I politely nod. When a Chicagoan scoffs at the idea that New York is the nation’s pizza capital, I shrug. When our very own sister-publication Eater National wrote that California is superior to NYC, the headline said “sorry New York.” But there was no need to say sorry — “sorry” implies we were offended in some way, and believe me, I was not.
There is, of course, fantastic food in other cities across the U.S. LA’s homey Korean food and street taco scene beats New York’s, and the produce available year-round in California, too, can’t compare to what’s in the Northeast. The amount and quality of barbecue in Texas is more than what New York has room to house, and I’m always impressed by the range of cuisines when I visit Houston, where my parents currently live.
As a whole though, the density of New York means that nearly everything that a food lover could desire can be found here — and at a competitive quality. We have enough people to support nearly two-dozen artisanal ice cream shops and more pizza styles than any one person needs. There’s room for an infinite number of new bakeries that do things like make their own jam, and even the mid-level restaurants here can hire experienced bartenders for inventive cocktails with syrups made in-house. That doesn’t even get into the dizzying number of restaurants from newcomers to America, who bring cuisines they grew up with to the city and then sometimes remix them in creative ways.
I suppose when people say that X thing in Z city is better than what’s in New York, they’re trying to get a rise out of me. But when other cities make claims about their superiority, it’s okay — there’s still more good food here than I could ever finish eating. As my friend and lifelong New Yorker said in reaction to New Jersey’s tweet, “Ok fine: The pizza in NJ is great. Doesn’t make my pizza taste any different.”