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Eat and Drink

Classic NYC eats and where to get them

New York City is known for its food. In addition to having some of the best restaurants in the country, a wide variety of traditional, ethnic cuisines can be found here, too.

New York City also boasts a number of foods that are not only considered classics by New Yorkers, and they're also some of the yummiest things you can eat. Because they are NYC classics, you can find them all over the city, and discussing them can be almost as fun as eating them. Debating the best bagels in the city is a year-round Olympic sport.

As you might imagine, emotions can run high when debating food! Let us know in the comments which spots are your favorite, or what we may have missed.

Jewish deli-style sandwiches

The only real deli is a Jewish deli,

The only real deli is a Jewish deli, someone once said. And in New York City, that’s arguably a fact. Or at least one that is argued, often.

You know the deal: pastrami sandwiches beyond bursting with slices of meat, matzoh ball soup, chopped liver, pickles. Katz’s is the classic spot, and the one non-New Yorkers flock to. The LES institution is celebrating 100 years this year, and although it’s a tourist trap, it’s still widely loved.

“Katz’s has the reputation and it lives up to it. I’ve been going to Katz’s for 20 years now,” said food and travel writer Elyse Pasquale, aka Foodie International and an amNewYork contributor. “The quality has never diminished. Thousands of tourists go, but it’s still good. How many places does that happen at?”

But where there is a Katz’s devotee, there is also a 2nd Ave. Deli stalwart.

Dan Pashman, producer of the the food podcast The Sporkful, which was recently picked up by WNYC, swears by the hot pastrami sandwich.

“Theirs is the best. It’s so soft and tender,” he said. “When mine arrives, I pick off pastrami with my bare hands.”

Where to get it:

Katz’s Deli, 205 E Houston St., 212-254-2246,

2nd Ave. Deli, 162 E. 33rd St. and 1442 First Ave.,

Barney Greengrass, 541 Amsterdam Ave., 212-724-4707,

Mile End Delicatessen, 97 Hoyt St., Boerum Hill and 53 Bond St.,

Bagels, duh

Bagels and New York City go together like
Photo Credit: Wynnie Kwok

Bagels and New York City go together like peanut butter and jelly, steak and potatoes and, well, bagels and cream cheese.

You can get a bagel almost anywhere, from the corner bodega to the neighborhood grocery store. And there’s a devoted bagel shop in nearly every neighborhood in the city. But there are some stand-by’s that everyone hails as their favorite.

Justine Sterling, associate digital editor at Food & Wine magazine, described herself as an H&H girl.

“I liked how soft and tangy they were.”

Though the original H&H is closed, there is H&H Midtown Bagels East (pictured here), which has different owners. (As is often the case with NY institution brands, they become franchises.)

Where to get it:

H&H Midtown Bagels East, 1551 2nd Ave., 212-734-7441,

Ess-a-bagel, 831 Third Ave. and 359 First Ave.,

Murray’s Bagels, 500 Avenue of the Americas, 212-462-2830,

Bagel Hole, 400 Seventh Ave., Park Slope, 718-788-4014,

Hot dogs

If there’s one thing that the recent agonizing
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

If there’s one thing that the recent agonizing over the closing of the second to last Gray’s Papaya told us, it’s that New Yorkers love their classic food haunts. Whether or not they like the food is beside the point. We just don’t want to see our nostalgia squashed.

Nathan’s Famous was founded in Coney Island in 1913 and is an institution today, with hundreds of millions of dogs sold across the country each year. Papaya King opened in 1932 and is now in multiple states, and the first Gray’s Papaya opened in 1973.

“I think Nathan’s is pretty good,” said Pashman. “Skin has a pop which is crucial, you can sink your teeth into it. Nathan’s should get credit because they warm the buns, they put them on the griddle.”

In addition to the dogs, there’s another menu item at Nathan’s that pleases Pasquale (The Foodie International): frog legs.

“That’s one of my fav things to get there, that’s why I love that place,” said Pasquale. “They serve fried frog legs. That makes me go to Nathan’s. That’s the way to do it. That is classic NY right there!”

Where to get it:

Nathan’s Famous, 1310 Surf Ave., Coney Island, 718-946-2202,

Papaya King, 179 E 86th St., 212-369-0648,

Gray’s Papaya, 2090 Broadway, 212-799-0243,

Oyster Pan Roast

There are a few restaurants in the city
Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz (Flickr/wallyg)

There are a few restaurants in the city that are iconic, and one of them is the Grand Central Oyster Bar. It’s location, tucked into the tunnels and curves of the most beautiful transit hub in the world (yes, we’re biased), gives it limitless charm and ambiance. And the food, while not as wonderful as some remember, is fresh and classic -- the raw bar selection takes up an entire side of the large menu.

But the most inspired, and very New York City dish, is the Oyster Pan Roast. It’s a simple dish, made with fresh oysters, half and half, butter, paprika, Heinz tomato chili sauce, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce and a piece of toasted white bread. A more modern interpretation, served with a crostini slathered with uni butter, is on the menu at April Bloomfield’s John Dory Oyster Bar (pictured here).

Where to get it:

Grand Central Oyster Bar, Grand Central Station, 89 E. 42nd St., 212-490-6650,

The John Dory Oyster Bar, 1196 Broadway, 212-792-9000,

Coal-oven pizza

While today, wood-oven Napoletana pizzas are found at
Photo Credit: Howard Walfish

While today, wood-oven Napoletana pizzas are found at trendy spots like Roberta’s in Bushwick and Lucali in Carroll Gardens and are all the rage, New York City’s first pizzerias used coal-fired ovens to make their pies. What’s the difference? A wood-fired oven adds an earthy, distinct flavor to the pizza, but the dough is slightly lighter and fluffier than a coal-fired pizza, which turns out crisp and flat pizzas.

“I am certainly a proponent of Juliana’s, the new place run by Patsy Grimaldi,” said Pashman of The Sporkful. “I get the number one, with housemade mozzarella, Scamorza affumicata cheese, pancetta, scallions, white truffle and olive oil.”

Where to get it:

Totonno’s Pizza Napolitano, 1524 Neptune Ave., Coney Island, 718-372-8606

Patsy’s, 2287 First Ave., 212-534-9783,

Arturo’s, 106 W. Houston St., 212-677-3820

John’s of Bleecker Street, 278 Bleecker St., 212-243-1680,

Juliana’s (PICTURED), 19 Old Fulton St., DUMBO, 718-596-6700,

Linguine with clams

New York City has a long Italian-American history,
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

New York City has a long Italian-American history, and while pizza is perhaps the greatest Italian staple in NYC, pasta with clams is another dish, and one you can find on traditional Italian red sauce joint menu’s across the city. Clams are abundant in New York waters, and thus it makes perfect sense that the clam and pasta dish became a staple here.

You can have it red or white, but white, with garlic, white wine, clams and parsley, is our favorite. We love the dish at Randazzo’s Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay, but of course there are differing opinions of the best spot.

“Bamonte’s all the way,” said Sterling, of Food & Wine magazine, about the Williamsburg classic that’s been open since 1900 and is still a family-owned business.

”Especially when the clams are chopped up like they are at Bamonte's ... It's just a kind of homestyle mob cooking where it doesn't matter how it looks. it just has to fill you up and taste good,” she said.

Pasquale recommends Carmine's.

"It’s a classic ... family joint. Giant portions. It's an experience," she said. "On the experience vs. cuisine scale, experience is important."

Where to get it:

Bamonte’s, 32 Withers St., Williamsburg, 718-384-8831

Randazzo’s Clam Bar, 2017 Emmons Ave., 718-615-0010,

Dominick’s, 2335 Arthur Ave., Belmont, 718-733-2807

Carmine's, 200 W. 44th St. and 2450 Broadway,

New York cheesecake

Cheesecake is due for a comeback, don’t you
Photo Credit: Junior's Cheesecake

Cheesecake is due for a comeback, don’t you think? This rich, creamy dessert is loved by nearly everyone, but it hasn’t been updated or given a modern spin by chefs. Maybe that’s because you don’t mess with a classic?

(The cronut was pure luck, and a creation like that only comes around once in a lifetime.)

New York cheesecake is made with sour cream, giving it the edge New Yorkers require in all things.

Where to get it:

Junior’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake and Desserts (pictured), 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension, Downtown Brooklyn, 718-852-5257,

Two Little Red Hens, 1652 2nd Ave., 212-452-0476,

Lindy’s, 825 Seventh Ave., 212-767-8344


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