THE 24 MOST ICONIC PLATES OF FOOD IN NEW YORK CITY

These legendary dishes have shaped the restaurant landscape in New York — everything from centuries-old standbys to game changing modern classics. What did we miss? Leave it as a suggestion!
  1. 1.
    Bagel and Lox at Russ & Daughters
    One of the single most iconic New York dishes is bagels and lox, and Russ and Daughters is the ne plus ultra of lox. Four generations and over one hundred years of business give this place history, but it's the quality that keeps people coming back.
  2. 2.
    Recession Special at Gray's Papaya
    Hot dogs are available on every block in New York, but there's something special about a Gray's Papaya dog. You know a place is important to a community when its closing causes the sort of uproar that broke out over the loss of the Greenwich Village outpost. Luckily, the Upper West Side Grays is still going strong. The recession special is the order— two snappy, salty dogs, and some sweet juice to wash them down.
  3. 3.
    Pork Buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar
    A cornerstone of David Chang's Momofuku empire. They're simple, with tender pork belly, perfectly offset with hoison and cured cucumbers, and by now have spawned countless copycats (not to mention a whole range of other Momo buns). But the original is still great.
  4. 4.
    Pastrami on Rye at Katz's Delicatessen
    The 127-year-old deli turns out some excellent sandwiches, and none are better than the classic pastrami on rye with a light smear of mustard. The meat is cut thicker than many deli competitors, and is as Robert Sietsema describes, "richer and emphatically smokier" than most.
  5. 5.
    Pizza at Di Fara Pizza
    Getting a slice requires a pilgrimage to Midwood and a long, long wait for a pie, but each moment of waiting is worth it. Every pizza is made by the elderly Domenico DeMarco who shuffles back and forth between the oven and the counter all evening. His pies are rich and messy and really in a category of their own.
  6. 6.
    Soup Dumplings at Joe's Shanghai 鹿嗚春
    Joe’s is no longer the only place to get xiao long bao, or soup-filled steamed dumplings, in Chinatown, but it put the dumplings on the New York map. It just takes a little mastery to suck the broth out of the dumping before eating the meaty filling.
  7. 7.
    Black and White Cookie at Glaser's Bake Shop
    Black and whites are the unofficial cookie of NYC, and Glaser’s offers some of the best, says Robert Sietsema. The cookie batter itself is fairly plain, but the icing is fluffy and flavorful, putting to shame copycats at Midtown chains.
  8. 8.
    Mutton Chop at Keens Steakhouse
    Keens, one of the oldest steakhouses in the country, is famed not for its steak (though that's good too) but for its mutton chop. This massive, flavorful cut (actually a saddle of lamb) is well worth a trip to the restaurant, especially when you tack on a wedge salad, or a side of the famed prime rib hash.
  9. 9.
    Arepas from The Arepa Lady
    The queen of crisped corn meal cakes, the Arepa Lady, has mythical reputation that extends well beyond the borough of Queens. People line up to visit her Jackson Heights food cart just to get a taste of her expertly prepared arepas filled with fresh, crumbled queso.
  10. 10.
    Baked Clams at Randazzo's Clam Bar
    You'd be remiss to visit the legendary Randazzo's Clam Bar without ordering the baked clams. As you'd expect from an Italian American restaurant, the portions are large, the use of garlic ample, and the ambience warm and inviting, all of which add up to an essentially New York experience.
  11. 11.
    Combo Over Rice at The Halal Guys
    Quintessential New York street food, from the halal cart that manages to draw a line down the block at almost every hour of the day. Whether you're drunk or just in the mood for a meaty gut bomb, this place delivers. Order a chicken and lamb combo over rice and make sure to ask for plenty of white sauce.
  12. 12.
    Egg Cream at Eddie's Sweet Shop
    The improbably good combination of milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup is said to have been invented in New York, either in Brooklyn of the Lower East Side. There's still no better place to drink one than at the counter of old school soda fountain like Eddie's, where it comes in a nice tall glass.
  13. 13.
    Porterhouse at Peter Luger Steak House
    Butter-glazed, dry-aged glory. This is the New York steak to rival them all. Eater's resident meat expert Nick Solares put it perfectly: "The Peter Luger porterhouse is the quintessential NYC steakhouse steak. It has spawned a legion of imitators but has yet to be equaled."
  14. 14.
    Pretzel Croissant at The City Bakery
    The pastry mash-up from before pastry mash-ups were a thing. City Bakery's pretzel croissant combines the flaky, richness of a croissant with a crunchy, salty pretzel shell, and has been feeding New Yorkers (without the wait) since long before the Cronut came into being.
  15. 15.
    Falafel at Mamoun's
    At $3.50 for a sandwich, Mamoun's falafel is cheap, filling and delicious, and a favorite among college students. The original shop has been operating in Greenwich Village since 1971, and the hole in the wall outpost on St. Mark's Place is just as much of an institution on that ever-changing block.
  16. 16.
    Peking Duck at Peking Duck House
    Dinner here is part theater, part feast. Whole ducks with perfectly crisp skins are brought to tables and carved before diners by skilled servers. Bring a group and a few bottles of wine — the restaurant is BYOB, making it a favorite among the city’s sommeliers.
  17. 17.
    Pollo al Forno at Barbuto
    Among a city full of roast chicken dishes, the one at Jonathan Waxman's West Village staple Barbuto is famous. A juicy marvel of a bird, it's enduring place on the restaurant's menu is testament to its quality and tastiness.
  18. 18.
    Octopus at Taverna Kyclades
    No round-up of iconic dishes would be complete without a contribution from Astoria's Greek community. There are plenty of standouts at Taverna Kyclades, but the octopus is a must.
  19. 19.
    Pierogies at Veselka
    The most popular restaurant in Little Ukraine, Veselka is famous among drunk college students and celebrities alike for its delicious carb-laden menu, which it's been serving 24 hours a day since 1954. Pierogies with sour cream and caramelized onions is the essential order.
  20. 20.
    Meatball Parm at Faicco's Italian Specialities
    Since 1900, this West Village Italian shop has made some of the best cold cuts in the city. Their classic roster of sandwiches recently expanded to include hot heroes, like a perfect meatball parm. There can be a line at lunch time, but these sandwiches are well worth the wait.
  21. 21.
    Burger at P.J. Clarke's
    There are thousands of burgers in New York, many of them great, but this one is a tried-and-true classic. Nothing fancy here, just a good patty, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Get it with bacon and cheese and you'll be eating what Nat King Cole famously dubbed "the Cadillac of burgers."
  22. 22.
    Chocolate Chip Cookie at Levain Bakery
    This small two-location bakery offers four types of cookies, but the chocolate chip with walnuts is the superior order. All are enormous, six-ounce creations, thick enough to balance crispy exterior with a slightly gooey center. It may be too much to eat in one sitting, but why should that be a problem?
  23. 23.
    Bone Marrow at Blue Ribbon Brasserie
    The signature dish at Blue Ribbon Brasserie, is everything you want from bone marrow dish—salty, rich and accompanied by a perfect oxtail marmalade.
  24. 24.
    Square Slice at L&B Spumoni Gardens
    Boasting a 75 year history, L & B Spumoni Gardens is the place to go for square Sicilian slices. The crust is crisp and thick, and it's made "upside down" style, with the cheese beneath the slightly sweet tomato sauce.