"American" foods to try in NYC?

A friend from Europe (Belgian living in Milan but previously spent 15 years in Beijing) is coming to the US for the first time next month, a strange tour including Orlando (not for Disney, a conference), Albuquerque/Santa Fe and NYC. I spent two summers in Santa Fe so I’m good with recs there, but for NYC I’m having a bit of trouble given his request for “American” food. Certainly there are plenty of high-end modern American restaurants here, but I think he is looking for more casual, homier meals. What are some regional American foods that you think NYC does well? Thus far I have deli/bagels, hot dogs/burgers, cheesecake - what else? Lobster rolls/NE style fare? Diner? I don’t think NYC does Tex-Mex or BBQ particularly well - in fact, I am guessing he can cover those more easily in Orlando. And I can’t think of a single restaurant serving what I would classify as “midwestern” American food. Appreciate your advice, HOs!


I will simply ASSUME you will send him for a slice or two of pizza and consider it so obvious as to not be worth mentioning.

I’m sure in NYC there’s really good southern style fried chicken to be had, something quintessentially American.


Some American foods a Canadian thinks a European might want to try in NYC.

Egg on a roll from a cart or bodega

Bacon & eggs or a Greek (feta and tomato) omelette at a coffee shop like Viand or Luncheonette like Johny’s or Lexington Candy Shop

Doughnut Plant donuts

Cobb Salad

Fried chicken & waffles

Fried chicken (a posh one at Perry St, very good)

For upscale American food
Gramercy Tavern

Things I don’t know where I’d find in NYC, but someone here would know
Hot Turkey sandwich
A Reuben
A Rachel
Patty Melt
Fried clams

Midwestern food in Prospect Heights

Red Velvet Cake
Banana Pudding (Magnolia near Rockefeller Centre and Radio City Music Hall)


I know you said you got hotdogs covered – doesn’t get more american than Coney Island Nathans…just eat about 70 fewer than Joey Chestnut and it’ll be fine…the Oyster Bar in GC Station keeps coming up here for a reason too…Oysters have a long history in NYC (reminded of the high on the hog series)…cheers!


My favourite American shellfish invention: Oysters Rockefeller

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Rockefeller’s NY, but Oysters Rockefeller is NOLA all the way (hey what about that NOLA board)…invented at Antoine’s and not improved upon elsewhere (I love it too @Phoenikia )

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True, but there has to be a steakhouse with a pretty good version in Manhattan .

They’re hard to find in Toronto.

I’ve only been to New Orleans once, in 1998, so all versions have been elsewhere since then!

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I find 7/10 places just gloop on creamed spinach and parm, brown it up and call it a day…no spinach in original.

I’d hit this in lieu in NYC, along with a variety of raw oysters and clams

Oyster Pan Roast in New York City - Famous NYC Foods | Eat Your World

The Oyster Pan Roast at NYC’s Grand Central Oyster Bar - Eater


Of course! NY pizza is its own thing :slight_smile: Fried chicken also a great idea.

Hadn’t thought of doughnuts, but they are definitely American. Keen’s too - the best of the NYC steakhouses IMO!

Very good point!


Cronut from Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo.

Ice cream from Mr. Softee ice cream truck

Black and White Cookie from Amy’s Bakery

Egg Cream from Ray’s Candy Shop or Shopsin’s

Pretzel from … any street corner cart.


A deli, a diner, and a steakhouse. There, that should cover it :joy:

I wasn’t really kidding about the 3 above, it’s a good cross-section of New York and Americana both.

Aside from those and pizza:

Soul food: Sylvia’s or Charles (new location too)

Italian American / Red Sauce: Go big like Carbone, or a bit less at one of the places on listicles (Don Angie, Frankie’s, etc), or get a decent but convenient version somewhere like Parm or Meatball Shop or then any neighborhood pizza and pasta shop.

Chinese American: I think this is pretty distinct from chinese elsewhere


yes yes yes yes yes

where are all the knish carts these days by the way?

Oh yeah - I totally forgot about egg creams! Good call.

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Everywhere? I must’ve passed three yesterday, and I wasn’t walking around that much.

Honestly, I think the Halal Carts should now constitute “American” food.


great! I had a hard time last fall.

Now, bring back raw onions to the hot dog carts and there will be progress…

Honestly, whenever I visit nowadays I see more nut carts than I do Knish carts.



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Katz’s Deli. https://katzsdelicatessen.com
2nd Ave Deli https://2ndavedeli.com
Russ & Daughters Cafe. https://www.russanddaughterscafe.com/
Keen’s Pub https://www.keens.com/pub/ (attached to the steakhouse)
Peter Luger (lunch - burger) https://peterluger.com/menu/
Gage & Tollner (not inexpensive but not formal at all) https://www.gageandtollner.com
Junior’s (the food’s ok – the strawberry cheesecake is iconic) https://www.juniorscheesecake.com
Knickerbocker Bar & Grill (has music too) https://www.knickerbockerbarandgrill.com
Nathan’s (Coney Island Location! - cant get more NY than that!)