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New York’s vibrant and diverse culture separates it from any city in the world. The food scene is an important part of New York that must be explored on a trip to the city. The variety, ranging from Italian cuisine to Korean street food, trumps ones in many other parts of the country.

However, with a high saturation of touristy food spots, it’s easy to get lost in the overpriced and mediocre food if one doesn’t know where to look. Missing the spots worth visiting is an incomplete New York trip. That is why we’re making it easier for you by coming up with a list of the best areas to visit as a foodie on your next trip to New York.

1. Little Italy: Classic Dishes and a Taste of the Old World

This neighborhood in lower Manhattan is where many Italian immigrants originally settled in the 1840s. Over nearly the next two hundred years, as Italians might have moved all across the city, Little Italy has become a hot spot for New York staple restaurants offering a taste of Italy to both its residents and tourists. The neighborhood only ranges a few blocks but concentrates on restaurants with authentic Italian cuisine at reasonable prices and low wait times. It’s pretty much permanent on our things to do in NYC list because if you haven’t tried food in Little Italy, you haven’t tried food in NYC.

So promptly head over to Mulberry and Grand Street for lunch at Sofia’s, for the pizza and appetizer selection, or Caffe Palermo, for their Italian paninis or a wide array of fresh sweets and pastries.

For dinner, if you’re craving hearty pasta as prepared by an Italian grandmother, consider Zia Maria or Paesano’s, though one couldn’t go wrong with pasta from any restaurant on the strip. If you’re in the mood for a fancy seafood dinner, head to Umbertos Clam House for anything from lobster ravioli to a roasted whole branzino.

For dessert, head back to Caffe Palermo or around the corner to Ferrara, a dessert/espresso bar serving as the perfect way to complete a meal in Little Italy. Nestled in the heart of Lower Manhattan, Little Italy exudes a charm that’s as timeless as its cuisine. Once a bustling hub for Italian immigrants, the neighborhood continues to serve as a vibrant testament to Italian-American culture and some of the most delicious food New York City has to offer.

Let’s explore some additional must-try spots:

  • Lombardi’sTouted as America’s first pizzeria, Lombardi’s serves up legendary coal-oven pies that have stood the test of time.
  • Da GennaroRed booths, brick walls, and generous portions transport you back to classic Little Italy. Don’t miss their penne vodka and Margherita pizza.
  • Emilio’s Ballato: A favorite haunt of celebrities, Emilio’s Ballato has been serving Southern Italian specialties in an old-school setting since the 1950s.

While the food may be the main attraction, Little Italy offers more to explore:

  • Feast of San Gennaro: If you’re visiting in September, don’t miss this iconic street festival celebrating Italian heritage with parades, live music, and plenty of food vendors.
  • Italian American Museum: Discover the rich history of Italian immigration to the United States at this insightful museum.

Tips for Your Visit:

  • Weekends are busiest: For a slightly less crowded experience, try visiting on a weekday.
  • Reservations recommended: Secure spots at popular restaurants in advance, especially for groups.
  • Bring cash: Many long-established places in Little Italy prefer cash payment.
  • Embrace the walk: Enjoy strolling this historic neighborhood and soak up the atmosphere.
NYC for Foodies: A Flavorful Tour of the City's Best Eats

2. Koreatown: Sizzling Grills and K-pop Energy

Booming with every Korean business imaginable, from Korean beauty shops to karaoke bars, Koreatown is placed in the heart of the city at Herald Square. Two blocks from Penn Station, Koreatown cannot be missed by someone visiting the city, especially for its impeccable food. Anything from a sit-down dinner to grab ‘n go bites can be found in the neighborhood all on one strip on 3rd Street.

For Korean street food, hit up Jongro Rice Hot Dog for their incomparable Korean corn dogs that you can enjoy as you stroll down and shop around Herald Square.

For a quick lunch in between exploring the city, visit Woorijip for canteen-style warm Korean classic meals, from bibimbap to katsu chicken and bimbap. Enjoy it with a cold Korean beverage in the restaurant’s cafeteria-like seating.

For an alternative, go across the street to Food Gallery 32, a food court with several different Korean restaurants offering ramen, bibimbap, boba, etc. all in one place.

For dinner, as the area offers a wide variety of Korean barbecue spots, from Miss KOREA BBQ to LOVE Korean BBQ, it is a must to visit at least one on a New York trip. With all-you-can-eat offers from many restaurants, try out the wide variety of options for meats, fish and veggies to barbecue all at a set price. For dessert, head over to Machi Machi for their wide flavor range of mochi donuts or machi ice cream.

Korean cuisine is at the heart of Koreatown. Here’s a few more places where to savor the flavor:

  • Gopchang Story BBQ: Specializing in Korean BBQ, particularly beef intestines, this spot brings adventurous eaters and boisterous groups together.
  • Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong: A popular chain for premium Korean barbecue with all the meats and fixings you could desire.
  • Turntable Chicken Jazz: The place to go for crispy Korean fried chicken and lively late-night vibes.

Tips for Your Visit:

  • Embrace late nights: Koreatown comes alive in the later hours – many restaurants, cafes, and shops are open late.
  • Don’t be shy about BBQ: Korean barbecue is often a communal experience, so be ready to share and try new things.

3. Chelsea: A Global Culinary Market

Chelsea is famously known for its variety in food, from Chinese to Georgian and Turkish. Amongst all the sights to see in this neighborhood, there are some great food spots to add to your list of things to do in NYC. With a range of street food to fancy dinners and casual diners, Chelsea can be a one-stop shop for all of a foodie’s needs.

Empire Diner is arguably one of the top New York City diners and its lavish breakfast selection makes it the perfect first stop of the day. From pancake flavors ranging through all the classics to fresh mimosas, this diner has a classic NYC vibe.

Lunch is best enjoyed at Chelsea Market itself, with its range of food spots from Miznon’s Mediterranean food to classic American burgers at Creamline. Don’t forget to explore Gansevoort Market where you can also experience a diverse range of cuisines under one roof. Grab a fresh poke bowl, indulge in a juicy burger, or go for the decadent lobster mac and cheese.

Head over to Memo Shish Kebab for dinner for an easygoing Turkish setting or Buddakan if you want to dress up and have a quality Asian-fusion meal.

Chelsea is certainly more than its food scene. Add these to your experience:

  • The High Line: Take a stroll on this elevated park built on old railway tracks for stunning city views and a different perspective on the neighborhood.
  • Chelsea Art Galleries: The neighborhood is home to world-renowned galleries showcasing contemporary art.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Come hungry: Chelsea is a place for sampling and savoring – arrive with an appetite!
  • Peak Hours: Weekends and lunchtimes get crowded, so plan accordingly if you prefer a less hectic atmosphere.
  • Embrace the Exploration: While it’s great to plan ahead, leave room for spontaneity and stumble upon some hidden local gems.
NYC for Foodies: A Flavorful Tour of the City's Best Eats

4. Chinatown: Dim Sum, Noodles, and Hidden Gems

Chinatown is arguably the city’s most popular cultural neighborhood, located near canal street just two blocks from Little Italy. Upon entering the area, one transcends to a city in China without leaving even New York. From the names of popular businesses translated to Chinese as well as the dense population of Chinese Americans in the area, there is a reason for the success of Chinatown, especially as a hotspot for food.

Chinese food is best known as the perfect takeout meal and Chinatown offers exactly that through restaurants like Mott Street Eatery and Hay Hay Roasted, amongst a dozen others. These takeout spots, that also provide seating, are classic New York and must be experienced on a New York trip. The spots in Chinatown, however, might be a little more authentic than ones a little farther away serving orange chicken and passing it as real Chinese food. For a sit-down dinner, House of Joy is a great option for dim sum and dumplings and Yun Shang Rice Noodle House is pretty self explanatory in its specialty.

5. Williamsburg: Brooklyn’s Hip Foodie Scene

Brooklyn’s most well-known neighborhood, Williamsburg, blends together traditional flavors from different cultures with the modern American twist, making it an essential stop for any foodie visiting New York City. For many tourists, leaving Manhattan might be a point of hesitation, considering all stories told in the media, but trust is – it is one of the best things to do in NYC, because, missing out on Brooklyn’s food scene would be criminal. Williamsburg, the closest point to Manhattan, might be a sweet medium for many with no frills on the food.

It is impossible to narrow down the best of Williamsburg’s food spots but if we had to, Qahwah House would make the cut as the top cafe to visit. Start your morning off at this Yemeni casual spot where the Yemeni tea is a must-have and one cannot go wrong with any of the pastries/desserts served at the spot. It makes the perfect hangout spot with its bustling crowds of visitors from all around town.

For lunch, head over to Birria-Landia for the best birria in town. The food truck franchise, an icon in the New York food scene, serves only four items: tacos, tostadas, mulitas and consommé.

Reserve a table at Laser Wolf for views of the Manhattan skyline while you enjoy you dinner of Mediterranean classics. This spot is perfect for date night, large groups or just anyone looking to dine with a view. In warmer weather, the rooftop is kept open, while during winter, it is closed off. Bonnie’s is also a great option for a more casual dinner with Cantonese Americans flavors made to leave one missing the city long after the trip.

The New York City skyline on a partly cloudy day

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Raja Abdullah in Collaboration With USA Guided Tours Blogging Team