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When I plan an itinerary for any trip, even a day trip in my hometown, it always revolves around food. I like to joke that I’m a hobbit and need about six meals a day (because everyone needs second breakfast). I recently went to New York City for the third time with my research group after a summer school program at Princeton. By now, I had seen most of the big touristy sights and since I was only in NYC for a day and a half, I really wanted to try as much food as I could. That was my only plan.
New York has some classic foods like pizza, bagels, hot dogs, cheesecake, deli sandwiches, and more. Plus, there are a number of great wineries near NYC and lots of places to get unique cocktails in the city. If that’s not enough, NYC is the birthplace of many trendy foods like the crazy shake and edible cookie dough. So if you only have 24 hours or even if you’re a local, see if you can try your hand at the best New York City food that I’m recommending below!
1. 99 Cent Pizza – 1723 Broadway
This is the typical thin-crust pizza you expect from New York and it was great! It was cash only (with an ATM inside) so keep that in mind. The location is centered between the southwest corner of Central Park and Times Square. It just far enough from Times Square that it wasn’t too crowded and was actually good for the price! Some of the street vendors in Times Square are notorious for being overpriced and poor quality, but that wasn’t an issue here at all.
Cost: literally 99 cents
2. Sardi’s – 234 West 44th Street
We stumbled upon Sardi’s because a couple of us were going to see Anastasia on Broadway and it happened to be right across the street. The only reason I knew of Sardi’s was because of the musical The Producers, where it is featured in a song. The line is “I want to be a producer, lunch at Sardi’s every day.” Growing up I always thought he said “lunch with sardines everyday”…because that’s how you know you made it in show biz…sardines.
Anyway, Sardi’s is a famous restaurant that features caricatures of well-known show business celebrities on the walls. We popped in for a drink at the bar before our show. The restaurant was very family friendly and it was fun to find the caricatures of the stars you recognize, like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hugh Jackman.
Cost for one cocktail: $15
3. Junior’s Cheesecake – multiple locations (we went to the one on 49th)
This 1950’s era diner has some HUGE slices of cheesecake. They have flavors like red velvet, strawberry, brownie explosion, and dulche de leche. My group of three decided to share one slice because it was so thick, and we barely finished it. The location we went to on 49th was open until 1am on Friday and Saturday. We went in around midnight to the location right off Times Square. Staying in Times Square until after the sun goes down is a really odd feeling because the lights are so incredibly bright, it feels like the middle of the day. It was still a good time for cheesecake though!
Cost for one slice: $7.75
4. Lenny’s Bagels – 2601 Broadway
You have to get a traditional New York bagel when you’re in NYC. It’s just one of those things. We stayed in a hotel near a bagel shop so naturally we went on Saturday morning. When we walked in there was a line, but it moved very quickly. The great thing about Lenny’s Bagels was that it seemed like a local’s shop and it showed in the quality of the food! There were so many people rushing in and out ordering full dozens to take home. I ordered an everything bagel with schmear (cream cheese). It was so great I forgot to take a photo!
Cost of bagel + schmear: $3.00
5. Black Tap – multiple locations (we went to the one at 529 Broome St)
I will admit that one of the perks of actually going to NYC is trying all the food you see on Instagram and Facebook. You shouldn’t only go to those places because they do get crowded and there’s better local food most of the time. On the other hand, it is fun to actually taste what you see in videos and photos. That brings us to Black Tap. Ever since the crazy milkshake trend, I wanted to try this so badly! Sugar is my friend.
Somehow my group got there at a perfect time and there was no line, but as we left they had a line forming down the street. I had a burger and a Sweet N Salty shake. The one in the photo is the “Cookie Shake.” They looked just as crazy as I’d seen. What they never show you is that in the middle of summer, the whipped cream and concoction on top just melts and topples right over. Ask for an extra plate, it will come in handy. The shake itself was good but it’s more about the journey.
Cost of crazy shake: $15
6. DŌ – 550 LaGuardia Pl
The final foodventure was to DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections. Like fools, we went here immediately after Black Tap. We started to get rushed since our flight home left in three hours. If you haven’t heard of DŌ, it looks like an ice cream shop, but they actually serve scoops of safe to eat cookie dough! Two of us (including me) drank the crazy shakes at Black Tap less than 30 minutes ago so we opted out of actually ordering. But, I did have a taste and it was exactly as you’d expect – doughy and delicious. I tried “Chocolate Dream,” but they also had flavors like Oatmeal M&M, Churro, and Sugar Cookie. They also had options for gluten and vegan-free diets.
Cost: ~ $4 for a scoop