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A Guide To The Types of New York City Dining Spots
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A Guide To The Types of New York City Dining Spots

Picture of Kate Howley
Updated: 15 February 2017
New York City is of food options; so many in fact that it can be tricky to work out where to eat. To make things easier, we present a guide to the most common types of dining spots found in New York City.

Delicatessen

Delis are a New York staple, and are historically rich in culture. Immigrants would go to delis because they were the only places to get food from their home countries. Some of the best places to grab a sandwich are Brooklyn delis. They sell cold cuts and sandwiches, as well as any side you could want with it; potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw, pickles, etc. Delis also sell prepared foods, breads, soft drinks, and much more. At the same time though, places like the famous Katz’s Deli don’t sell prepared foods, just incredible sandwiches and other dishes. While some delis have a more laid back feel, you better go into Katz’s with an idea of what you want. They are always crowded and the line is always moving.

Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 E Houston St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212.254.2246

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Bar/Saloon/Tavern

A bar can also be called a saloon or a tavern. Some are very old, some are very new. They can come in a literal ton of shapes and sizes, from gay bars to sports bars, biker bars to wine bars. When you whittle away all these traits (most of which are dependent upon what clientele the bar serves) you have an establishment whose express purpose is to serve alcohol. There is a bar top, maybe some booths, you can seat yourself, or maybe you stand. Most only open after 12:00 PM and in New York, stay open till 4.00am. They may or may not have food, and if they do it is usually the type that goes great with heavy drinking; salty, fried, finger food.

White Horse Tavern, 567 Hudson St. New York, NY, USA, +1 212.989.3956

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Pub

Pubs are of British and Irish descent, among other such cultures. Nowadays they can also call themselves taverns as well. They serve predominantly beer, cider or wine and rarely have any specialty cocktails (or at the least the traditional ones don’t). They’re the kind of bar you belly up to, enjoy a frothy beer, and have a chat with the bartender. If food is served, it is filling and comforting, with a larger menu than a regular bar. The music is usually unobtrusive, if there is any. It is meant to be a place to relax with your booze for a fair amount of time.

McSorely’s Old Ale House, 15 E 7th St. New York, NY, USA, +1 212.473.9143

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Diner

Diners exist for a few reasons; the morning after holidays, for a quick, last minute bite to eat, and for after a night filled with alcohol and bad choices. They are hard to miss, as they almost always have ‘Diner’ in the title. Usually staffed by peppy old women and college kids, expect an all-too diverse menu and huge portions. Pro tip: never have pasta or fish in regular diners. Diners are best for waffles, pancakes, grilled cheeses, and bagels. Occasionally you’ll find a diner selling modern twists on classic dishes, but these usually aren’t the all-nighters.

Bridgeview Diner, 9011 3rd Ave. Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718.680.9818.

Gastropub

The prefix is actually in reference to the term ‘gastronomy’ which is ‘the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food’. Therefore, a gastropub is a pub that serves high-quality food and drink. It’s not just a cheeseburger here, but a perfectly made, dry-aged burger on an artisan bun with special sauces and interesting flavor combos. They also probably offer flatbreads, deviled eggs, and fancy grilled cheese sandwiches to have with a large selection of beers and wine.

The Spotted Pig: 314 West 11th St. New York, NY, USA, +1 212.620.0393

Food Trucks

There are some things that should best be eaten from a food truck; tacos, ice cream cones and halal. They are found almost anywhere in the city, especially around parks, Wall Street, schools and busy intersections. But some need to be tracked via Twitter, and these are usually the best kept secrets. Expect to wait on line and get very messy, but deliciously full.

Calexico: Various locations, see website.

Valducci’s Food Truck: Location varies, follow via Twitter.

Bistro

Bistros were originally small, unpretentious Parisian restaurants. Typically they are modest, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the waiters almost always wear black aprons (in trying to keep with the Parisian origin). You will find these items on every bistro menu: French onion soup, moules or steak frites, and a croque monsieur or madame. Bistros are nice for an elegant lunch while reading a book.

Le Bonne Soupe, 48 W 55th St. New York, NY, USA, +1 212.586.7650

Enoteca

Enotecas are places where locals came and sampled local wine for a fair price. It’s essentially an Italian wine bar. Some serve unique Italian food; sweet breads, whole lamb heads, and pigs feet, along with other ‘normal’ food options. In keeping with tradition, ask the waitress to pair the right wine with your entrée, since wine is an important part of an enoteca.

Enoteca Maria, 27 Hyatt St. Staten Island, NY, USA, +1 718.447.2777

Tapas Bar

Tapas is yummy but has become redundant; serrano ham, manchego cheese, tiny meatballs, bacon wrapped dates, ripping hot shrimps, and crusty breads. In Spain, tapas is often free. In America, tapas is over priced. Tapas is great for a first date; you get to share food in a romantic environment, and they usually cram so much seating in tapas bars that you’ll most likely be cozied up to each other.

Boqueria: Various locations, see website.

Estiatorio

Estiatorios are Greek restaurants serving food traditionally cooked in the oven or on the grill. They emphasize fresh fish, spreads (such as hummus) as well as appetizers called mezedes. The term ‘estiatorio’ is used more over in Greece, and rarely do you see it here. More common are tavernas, which are smaller Greek cafés. Not to be confused with a tavern, these are unpretentious restaurants serving casual Greek food; a toned down version of an estiatorio.

Estiatorio Milos, 125 W 55th St. New York, NY, USA, +1 212.245.7400

Osteria

You won’t find chicken parma or eggplant rolitini at these upscale Italian restaurants. The menus are small and whittled down to their respective specialities. Most menus have a great selection of pasta dishes, a cured meats and cheese section to go with their selection of wines, as well as a small antipasto and entrée section. Go for the pasta. The majority of osterias take great pride in their hand-made pastas.

Lupa Osteria Romana, 170 Thompson St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212.982.5089

Trattoria

Less formal than an osteria but more formal than a regular Italian restaurant, trattorias are casual but still inventive. The portions and menus are typically larger than an osteria. In less formal trattorias, they can be considered Italian-American. You’ll find everything there; pizza, chicken, fish, pastas, risottos, salads, sandwiches, veal, lamb, beef, and desserts. More upscale places like al di la in Park Slope serve traditional, rustic Italian dishes, the kind of food you would find in Italy.

al di la Trattoria: 248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718.783.4565