Bite the Big Apple: a New York Food Experience

Brooklyn isn't short of top dining options – this is the city that sparks global food trends, after all
Brooklyn isn't short of top dining options – this is the city that sparks global food trends, after all | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lucy Thackray
16 March 2021

From street-food trucks to hip restaurants, knowing where to dine in the five boroughs that comprise New York City can be a tough call. Luckily, we’ve got the inside scoop.

A break in the Big Apple is all about trying something new – especially when it comes to food. Not only are New York City’s restaurants some of the most desired on earth – making headlines and sparking global food trends – it’s also the place to try street food and authentic immigrant fare served up by enterprising locals. But tasting the best mouthfuls – Venezuelan arepas, Korean barbecue, Polish pierogi – does involve a swipe or two of your Metrocard.

“The best way to tap into our food scene,” says Ravi DeRossi, owner of East Village bar Amor y Amargo, “is to explore different neighborhoods. Head to Chinatown or Little Italy, wander Indian Row, or jump on the train to Astoria for incredible Greek food. Try that sketchy-looking hole-in-the-wall joint, and you just may find the best taco of your life.” With that in mind, we’ve hunted down the best ’hoods for you to taste-test – steered by expert local guides, of course – and paired them with a hotel whose honeypot bars and restaurants are a destination in themselves, all bookable right here on Culture Trip.

Outdoor seating at an italian restaurant in Little Italy in New York City. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.
Chef Making Pizza
Eat on the move thanks to NYC's countless food trucks | © Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 3+ / Alamy Stock Photo Head to Little Italy and grab yourself a slice | © dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo Some of the best pizza on the planet can be found in NYC | © EyeEm / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to Stay: the Hotel

Freehand NYC

4.3/5 (1298 Reviews)
Courtesy of Freehand New York / Expedia

Foodie-friendly Flatiron sits between dining hotspots Koreatown and the East Village, and it’s here you’ll find the restaurant-stacked Freehand hotel, which is as famous for its food and drink as it is for its design. You could go on a serious bar and restaurant hop while staying here. Start at neon-lit, tropical-themed Broken Shaker for cocktails on a rooftop patio; move on to Simon & the Whale for bistro treats such as squid-ink tagliatelle or tender beef short rib; then slide into the sultry, gentleman’s club surrounds of the George Washington Bar for an elegant nightcap.

Rooms come in every shape and size from dorm-style dens to chic, homey suites, with snuggly rugs, house plants and, naturally, your own dining table.

More info

What to Do: the Experiences

ToursAfrican Food Tour in Harlem
From $83 per person
4 hours

It’s associated with music, history and soul food, but not everyone knows that Manhattan’s northern neighborhood of Harlem is a hub of African fare. From the cooking of the West African diaspora (think Ghana and Senegal) to lesser-known cuisines from Somalia and the Ivory Coast, this tour will show you a different side of Harlem – led by a Congolese food biologist, who has a great rapport with the chefs and restaurant owners in the area.

ToursFood and Culture Walking Tour in Brooklyn
From $125 per person
5 hours
4.8 (538)

These days, a foodie pilgrimage to Brooklyn is a must-do on a New York city break: it’s one of the most fecund areas in the city for new restaurants, with a strong leaning towards hip farm-to-table concepts and modern takes on immigrant cuisines, such as Polish and Italian. This half-day tour gives you the scoop on the area’s history and also takes you to iconic sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge.

ToursLower East Side Eats Food Tour
From $75 per person
3 hours
5 (3)

New York’s “so now” neighborhood, the Lower East Side, used to be a ramshackle collection of full-to-bursting tenement buildings, where many Eastern European families started their new life in America. It may be trendier, sharper and more expensive to live in now, but the Jewish delis, bagel shops and pickle merchants remain. Explore them on this belt-loosening three-hour tour, where you’ll learn the homespun family tales behind cult-favorite dining spots.

Our methodology

Culture Trip compiled these recommendations based on insights from our global community of travel experts and local insiders, combined with search data from millions of users around the world to understand interest in these destinations.

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