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katz's reuben| © brando.n/flickr
katz's reuben| © brando.n/flickr

20 Ways To Eat And Drink Like A New Yorker

Picture of Rachelle Eason
Updated: 29 November 2016
Being a New Yorker may look glamorous, but it’s a lot of work. You have to know those unspoken rules, or the city will be the one to chew you up and spit you out. Here are some rules to help you navigate the culinary underworld of NYC.

There is a right and wrong way to eat New York pizza

Don’t let us catch you with a fork and knife! We get down and dirty here, so use your hands. Fold, and enjoy.

Lombardi's Pizza| © Simon Doggett/flickr

Lombardi’s Pizza| © Simon Doggett/Flickr

Speaking of pizza…

Don’t discount those dollar slices that you see all over Manhattan. They may not look like much, but if you strike it right, you may just be rewarded with one of the best pizzas you’ve ever tasted.

Mmmm, pizza | © m01229/Flickr

Mmmm, pizza | © m01229/Flickr

One word: bagel

You simply cannot call yourself a New Yorker if you don’t indulge in one of the city’s greatest culinary feats. Bagels are an integral part of the NYC diet – they’re fast, easy to carry, and they taste absolutely amazing with just about anything and everything on them.

Bagel with lox | © Kenneth Lu/Flickr

Bagel with lox | © Kenneth Lu/Flickr

Don’t ignore those food trucks!

In many cities, food trucks have a bad reputation; they look a bit sketchy and the food seems questionable. It’s time to put those stigmas to bed. From Wafels and Dinges to Nuchas and the Halal Guys, these well-established food trucks may be your new favorite lunch spots.

That Combo! | © Guian Bolisay/Flickr

That Combo! | © Guian Bolisay/Flickr

However, be wary of those hotdogs…

…Proceed with caution – it is mystery meat, after all.

Hot Dog Truck, NYC| © Tony Fischer/flickr

Hot Dog Truck, NYC| © Tony Fischer/Flickr

Never judge a bodega by its awning

The best bacon, egg, and cheeses come out of our bodegas, so it’s not always necessary to sit down at a formal restaurant for a meal. Cheap and convenient, that local bodega (a small, corner grocery store generally specializing in Hispanic goods) is likely to become your go-to for just about everything.

East New York Deli | © Paul Lowry/Flickr

East New York Deli | © Paul Lowry/Flickr

Take advantage of those street snacks

If you’ve ever walked down a New York City street, you’ve probably encountered the delicious aromas of honey-roasted nuts and gigantic, salty pretzels. Your first instinct may be to ignore those sweet scents, but we strongly recommend that you give them a chance.

Ice Creams, Hot Dogs & Pretzels | © Diego Torres Silvestre/Flickr

Ice Creams, Hot Dogs & Pretzels | © Diego Torres Silvestre/Flickr

Long day? Get it delivered!

Rain or shine, you can get almost anything delivered. Whatever cuisine you’re in the mood for, you can enjoy it from the comfort of your couch in your PJs. You can even get your booze delivered. Not sure where to begin? Check out some of these local apps.

Riced out. | © photographybanzai/Flickr

Riced out. | © photographybanzai/Flickr

Not all the best food is in Manhattan

Head to Flushing, Queens for some of the best, no-nonsense Asian cuisine.

Flushing Queens| © Terry Ballard/flickr

Flushing Queens | © Terry Ballard/Flickr

With few exceptions, it’s expensive to eat and drink in NYC

If you’re planning a visit to NYC, be prepared to spend a pretty penny. You don’t have to dine at our Michelin-star restaurants to experience sticker shock – this is simply an expensive city. You’ve been warned.

Chef's Gourmet Food | © StateofIsrael/Flickr

Chef’s Gourmet Food | © StateofIsrael/Flickr

Err on the side of caution and make reservations

You can’t live here without dining out. That said, certain spots require a reservation. It never hurts to secure a table – who has time for lines?

Queue | © Xiaojun Deng/Flickr

Queue | © Xiaojun Deng/Flickr

Straight As only

Ever noticed those giant As, Bs, and Cs in restaurant windows? If not, you may want to start paying attention. These are the letter grades that every restaurant receives from the Department of Health, and they let diners know how sanitary the restaurant is. If you don’t see an A in the window, enter at your own risk.

NYC Eatery Hygiene Grade| © Mike Licht/flickr

NYC Eatery Hygiene Grade| © Mike Licht/Flickr

You can’t beat the classics

You simply cannot leave the city without indulging in a slice of New York cheesecake. Head to Junior’s for some of the best. Although any diner worth its salt should be a pretty safe bet.

Berry cheesecake | © Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

Berry cheesecake | © Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

Never fear if it’s 2am and you’re hungry

The beautiful thing about ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ is precisely that. We’re always awake, which means that no matter the hour, something will be open. From cookies to burgers, you’re bound to satisfy that craving.

24 hours neon Sign | © Mike Mozart/Flickr

24 hours neon Sign | © Mike Mozart/Flickr

Brunch is an unspoken rule

If you’re a New Yorker, you brunch on the weekend. It’s what you do. It’s a right of passage. Follow the rules.

Another Sunday, another brunch day| © John Gillespie/flickr

Another Sunday, another brunch day| © John Gillespie/Flickr

Brunches are meant to be boozy

Bloody Marys and mimosas are as integral to brunch as an omelet or French toast. So be sure to order one (or two, or three…who’s counting?) as a necessary accompaniment.

Bloody mary and beer chaser @| © Robb1e/flickr

Bloody mary and beer chaser @| © Robb1e/Flickr

We all need a hero

When you order a sandwich in NYC, it’s got to be a hero. Not a foot-long; not a sammie; not a sub; a hero.

Mmm... cold cuts sub with slaw | © jeffreyw/Flickr

Mmm… cold cuts sub with slaw | © jeffreyw/Flickr

Party like it’s 1920

Speakeasies were created during the age of Prohibition in the 1920s. Although the alcohol ban was lifted around 1933, those bars that hid in the dark corners of restaurants still remain. And, they’re more fun than ever. You may need to seek them out, but we highly recommend that you do.

Apothéke| © Cory Wright/flickr

Apothéke| © Cory Wright/Flickr

Know your favorite bars

Not all bars were created equal, so it’s important to compile a list of go-to places. Know your favorites in each neighborhood, and even categorize them by the vibe you’re after.

Bourbon Bar | © Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Bourbon Bar | © Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Know your happy hours

This city is expensive, so take advantage of those deals.