New York City is THE most-amazing place on planet Earth. There, I said it. Biased? A bit. But ask any “real” New Yorker and they’re likely to brazenly declare the same thing.
We have everything, including an extreme amount of tourism populating the city 365 days a year. As a “real New Yorker” (typically someone who has lived in NYC more then seven years) and food lover, it breaks my heart every time I see someone step into a tourist trap to eat. NYC is a culinary mecca filled with some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world. From late-night grub to Michelin stars, here are 10 places where “real” New Yorkers eat:
1. Peter Luger (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Established in 1887, this steakhouse has received one Michelin Star, award for “Best Steakhouse” 30 years in a row (Zagat Survey) and is on the “American Classics” list by James Beard Foundation. If that weren’t enough to prove itself, when you say the words “Peter Luger” to any carnivorous local they’ll salivate on command. Pavlovian reaction to the max.
2. Meatball Shop (six locations)
What started as everyone’s favorite Lower East Side late-night hang has blossomed into six locations (five throughout Manhattan and one in uber-hip Williamsburg). Besides the insanely tasty meatballs (multiple types), homemade ice-cream sandwiches, daily vegetables/salads, they also use locally sourced and all-natural ingredients as much as they can. This place is always a crowd-pleaser.
3. 15 East (Union Square East)
For a city with plenty of high-end sushi options, this tends to be a favorite among sushi snobs. Sit at the small sushi bar for classic omakase or rock a table in the additional dining room where you can order any of their mouth-watering dishes from the kitchen, as well as, any piece of sushi they have in-house. One Michelin Star (2014). Reservations highly advised.
4. Fette Sau (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Fette Sau (“fat pig” in German) is where all of hipster Williamsburg goes for their BBQ fix. Dry-rub meats like brisket, beef and pork ribs and pork shoulder are served on butcher paper. The line gets insane so try to avoid peak dining times. Get your hands dirty at what many say is the best BBQ in all of NYC.
5. Minetta Tavern (Greenwhich Village)
Disregarding the fact that it’s been open since 1937, this is the home of the infamous “Black Label Burger.” The star of the show is the special “Black Label” meat blend from famous meat purveyor Pat La Frienda, as well as, the custom bun from the Balthazar bakery. Hold onto your seats for what I’m about to tell you, it costs $28! Is any burger worth that amount of money? While local New Yorkers, stuffed like sardines inside the restaurant will seem to think so, I’ll let you be the judge.
6. Mesa Coyocan (East Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Angelenos like to say there is no good Mexican food in New York City. They haven’t have been here. Firstly, they have the best margaritas I’ve personally ever had in my life (featuring all kinds of fresh fruit, infused tequilas, perfect blends, etc.). Secondly, they do authentic Mexican cuisine (tacos, ceviches, entrees, etc.) with care, finesse, precision, and consistency coupled with extraordinary flavors. Take that LA!
7. Doughnut Plant (Lower East Side/Chelsea/Japan)
New York typically defines current food trends (see: Magnolia Bakery and Cupcake Insanity, Dominique Ansel and the Cronut obsession). The newest craze is doughnuts, largely because of this place. I remember having to wait on 30-45 minute lines at their first teeny-tiny shop only to find they were sold out of pretty much everything. Always a dark moment. Now with two NYC locations, and countless other shops that serve their doughnuts, it’s easy to get your donut fix on. My personal favorites: crème brûlée yeast and tres leches cake.
8. Ippudo (East Village)
One of the most-popular eats for the downtown crowd. The best move here is to go an hour before you actually want to eat because there is always a one-to-two hour wait. Sigh. The good news is you can order their addicting pork buns, numerous apps, cans of sake, and Sapporo draft on tap all at the bar. Ippudo is originally from Japan and has become very famous here for their take on Hakata-style Ramen. Ippudo East will have the younger, downtown crowd and the wait while Ippudo West has more of the midtown business crowd with less of a wait.
9. Sri Pra Phai (Woodside, Queens)
Authentic and underground Thai before that was cool. While this was a staple in Woodside, it’s worth the long trek out to Queens from Manhattan or Brooklyn to witness true Thai cooking. They serve true Thai spice so be careful when ordering.
10. Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)
The “In-N-Out Burger of the East.” Danny Meyer (one of NYC’s most influential restaurateurs) started Shake Shack in 2004 from a hot-dog cart in Madison Square Park. There are numerous locations globally, but this original locale is where you’ll find hundreds of New Yorkers waiting on endless lines for burgers and fries. While it’s gotten very trendy and touristy, everyone still goes there for an urge that nothing else can satisfy.