There are more than 8 million people living in New York City and some 25,000 restaurants keeping them fed. Though the Statue of Liberty and Broadway’s flashing lights get most of the attention, restaurants and bars are just as essential to this city’s DNA. Whether it’s a month-out reservation in Manhattan or a hand-pulled noodle shop in Queens, there are endless ways to have a meal in the five boroughs.
Welcome to the five boroughs
Cross an avenue, bridge, or park, and there’s a different neighborhood at every turn. Within each of the five boroughs are never-ending culinary options. Ordering a taco, whether from a popular birria truck or a standing-room takeout counter, can mean enduring the same waits as some fine dining establishments. There’s a wide range of dining to do between the city’s most affordable and blowout meals — and there’s a quality option at every price, which is part of what sets New York apart.
Breakfast can take place at a nostalgic diner on the Upper West Side or at a Chinatown food cart serving steamed rice rolls in aluminum trays. Lunch options are just as varied, with classic steakhouses and old-school pizza joints equally popular. Dinner can occur at a communal Nigerian restaurant in Bed-Stuy or at a dim sum spot in Manhattan’s Chinatown that stays open until 3 a.m. New York’s restaurant scene, complex and varied as it is, caters to every kind of diner.
Where to start on Eater's best maps
Eater publishes countless restaurant maps to keep you on top of the city’s food scene. Here are the ones our readers turn to most.
The “Eater 38” is our shortlist of the city’s must-visit restaurants. We’ve visited these spots time and again — they have to be open for at least six months before they merit inclusion — and we update the list quarterly to keep things fresh. New to the guide this fall: a popular Taiwanese American restaurant in Brooklyn, an old-school lunch counter in Manhattan, and a Thai spot that specializes in Bangkok street foods.
If you’re looking to cross an item off a bucket list, start here. Dining at one of the city’s classic restaurants can feel like stepping back in time, and in one of the oldest dining cities in the country, legendary steakhouses and gritty taverns still feel quintessentially New York.
There’s a home for the all-you-can-drink-mimosa crowd and those looking to cure a hangover with a plate of pancakes. In addition to traditional brunch options, this guide has our favorite spots serving chilaquiles, beef noodle soup, Thai breakfast sandwiches, and more.
New York’s most well-known dishes go beyond pizza, bagels, and pastrami — though you don’t want to miss those, either. Our guide to the city’s most iconic foods shows you where to find egg creams, banana pudding, hot dogs, and hand-pulled noodles.
Whether it’s a pie cooked in a charcoal oven or one with a fancy sourdough crust, there’s a pizza for every occasion in the five boroughs. Before folding a slice in half, consult this map of the city’s top pizzerias.
Everyone has an opinion about the city’s best bagels, but we can all agree: This is New York’s favorite food. The big, chewy versions found at Ess-a-Bagel and the dense, bialy-like ones from Shelsky’s are just two worth seeking out.
The leading sushi restaurants in New York offer a range of experiences. Diners can max out credit cards with luxe omakase or find quality fish at affordable prices. Curious about who has the best fancy fish in the city? Our critic has thoughts.
From red-sauce classics to trattorias inspired by Tuscany, New York excels at Italian food. In the Bronx’s Little Italy, the chalkboard menu outside of Roberto’s advertises daily pasta specials, while Don Angie offers a modern spin on Italian American cooking.
The five boroughs are full of old-school steakhouses, but some of the most exciting cuts of meat right now are found at more casual and affordable venues. Consider the stunning prime rib at Gallaghers or a well-priced cut from London import Hawksmoor. Here, Eater writers debate the city’s best steakhouses at multiple price points.
Fancy or simple, there are countless desserts to try in New York City. Some are sit-down affairs that come at the end of a multi-course menu, while others can be ordered from a takeout counter for a few dollars. In a hurry? Try the affordable kuih at East Village bakery Lady Wong or the seasonal gelato at the Williamsburg pizzeria L’Industrie.
Old-school parlors, innovative gelato shops, and even vegan options dot our map of essential ice cream shops. It’s a list to consult year-round, whether you’re looking for guava-cheese ice cream in Harlem or masala chai-flavored scoops in Cobble Hill.
It’s the city that never sleeps, and New York’s coffee scene is packed with reliable neighborhood shops for working “from home” and third-wave options for those in search of a perfect pour.
A new job. An anniversary. A birthday. For a blowout meal, splurge on dinner at the elegant French fine dining restaurant Le Bernardin or at Claud, an East Village wine bar that Eater named one of the city’s best new restaurants last year.
More restaurant owners are turning their attention to vegan and vegetarian dining, whether or not they eat meat themselves. The range of meat- and dairy-free restaurants in the city now includes late-night smash burger spots and top-notch dim sum parlors.
Neighborhoods to know
More than 8 million residents are sardine-packed into New York City’s five boroughs. The rent might be too high, but a short walk or a subway ride introduces you to a different food scene in every neighborhood.
New York’s oldest and most well-known Chinatown is a leading destination for rice rolls, dim sum, Peking duck, and more. Favorites include an order of 10 pork and chive dumplings for $3.50 at North Dumpling, barbecue pork buns for a dollar at Golden Steamer, and the big tray spicy chicken at Spicy Village.
The East Village can feel like a microcosm of New York. The neighborhood is home to longstanding immigrant and artist communities, and there’s a sizable population of college students who attend New York University in the area. As for the food: The pierogies at the famous Ukrainian diner Veselka still draw a crowd, while newcomers like Superiority Burger and Yellow Rose have turned the area into a proper dining destination.
Riding the 7 train to the end of the line isn’t just worth it for the Chinese food: Flushing is also one of the best places in town to find newer restaurants specializing in Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese cuisine. Here, it’s as easy to find an all-you-can-eat rice cake bar as a Chinese dim sum parlor run by robot servers.
Brooklyn’s northernmost neighborhood is often thought of as a destination for Polish food, but in recent years it’s spawned a vibrant Mexican restaurant scene and become home to its own Little Tokyo. There’s modern Vietnamese food from Di An Di, tacos that channel Mexico City at Taqueria Ramirez, and a Taiwanese American party at Wenwen.
It may be located a few blocks from Times Square, but this stretch of Manhattan is home to one of the city’s most affordable and diverse collections of restaurants. A section of Ninth Avenue is dotted with Thai, Mexican, Cuban, Afghan, Haitian, and Peruvian restaurants, along with other independently owned places like the 24-hour Empanada Mama.
Many of the restaurants in Manhattan’s Little Italy are geared toward tourists — but there are a handful of genuinely good places to eat. You’ll find a crowd at Emilio’s Ballato, a classic restaurant where President Barack Obama once ate, and at the century-old Lombardi’s, which still uses a coal oven to make pizza. Newer Italian restaurants, like Torrisi from the owners of Carbone, are keeping the neighborhood young.
This Queens neighborhood is often cited as the most diverse zip code in the city based on the number of languages spoken. A stroll down Roosevelt Avenue, where the 7 train rumbles overhead, is all the proof you need. There are first-rate momos at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, while Birria-Landia, one of the city’s best taco trucks, has lines late into the night.
This downtown Manhattan neighborhood embraces its historic roots as much as it does the city’s current dining scene. Tourist magnets like Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters are still going strong, while new spots keep this neighborhood on the map. Dhamaka, an Indian restaurant in a food hall, became one of the best new restaurants in the country in 2021, while Smashed serves smash burgers late into the night on weekends.
This rhomboid-shaped neighborhood at the end of the M subway line has a number of new restaurants, including Rolo’s, which makes one of the city’s best burgers, and Mama Yoshi Mini Mart, a Japanese convenience store with fried chicken sandwiches. Decades-old mainstays like Rudy’s Pastry Shop, Gottscheer Hall, and Joe’s Restaurant have anchored the area for years.
Sure, it’s full of tourist traps, but as Broadway makes a comeback, even New Yorkers are heading to the Theater District. Where should you eat? Guantanamera, a Cuban restaurant, has live music every night, while Farida serves a Central Asian menu with tender lamb plov, the national dish of Uzbekistan.
Slowly but surely, the Upper West Side has shed its reputation as a sleepy enclave of outdated and expensive restaurants. Around Lincoln Center, there are now upscale establishments like Tatiana from the celebrated chef Kwame Onwuachi. Further uptown, find newer restaurants like Bánh, offering a fresh take on classic Vietnamese dishes, and Charles Pan-Fried Chicken, which started as a sidewalk barbecue stand.
The brownstones and tree-lined streets of this Manhattan neighborhood make it one of the most picturesque and pricey parts of the city — and its restaurants follow a similar formula. Small dining rooms barely larger than some apartments are packed with diners, like the popular Italian restaurant Via Carota and the old-school favorite Corner Bistro. When there’s a wait, you won’t have a problem finding a cocktail or wine bar to kill some time.
If there’s a Brooklyn neighborhood that can go toe-to-toe with Manhattan for its sheer number of buzzed-about restaurants, it’s Williamsburg. Missy Robbins dominates the Italian scene with Lilia, but if you can’t get a reservation, Bamonte’s is a classic that still draws a crowd. The Four Horsemen offers a nice selection of natural wines and Michelin-worthy plates, while Sushi On Me serves an omakase that’s as much about fish as unlimited sake.
Reservations to make in advance
One result of the pandemic: More restaurants require reservations, and making one can feel sort of like buying concert tickets online — the city’s hottest tables often book out within minutes, sometimes weeks in advance. Our team has a practical guide for scoring last-minute reservations, and the following places are worth booking ahead of time: Carbone, Claud, Dhamaka, Don Angie, Eleven Madison Park, Four Horsemen, I Sodi, Libertine, Le Bernardin, Lilia, Sailor, Tatiana, and Torrisi.
Follow the stars
New York is home to a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants — 71 as of the latest awards in 2023. While most of them aren’t everyday spots, restaurants like Semma, the city’s only Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, and Meju, in the back of a Korean market, are worth a splurge. Michelin’s Bib Gourmand category, which emphasizes value, has more affordable options, like Agi’s Counter, an Eastern European spot in Crown Heights, and the Korean restaurant C as in Charlie, where a shot of alcohol comes free with every meal.
Head out of town
You could spend a lifetime in the five boroughs and still not hit every restaurant on this guide. Well, we’re not done yet.
In recent years, New York City chefs have opened establishments everywhere from the North Fork of Long Island to the Hudson Valley. One of the most well-known towns upstate is surely Hudson, easily accessible via Amtrak, where you can spend a full 24 hours in just a few blocks. The Catskills region is another popular weekend getaway for many New Yorkers. For wine nerds, the Finger Lakes region has emerged as a wine destination that’s taken as seriously as Napa and Sonoma. And of course, there’s always the Hamptons, where some of the city’s trendiest restaurants often pop-up with seasonal menus and one-off events.