Chicken & rice platter at The Halal Guys

East Village (& other locations)
NYC has countless halal carts lining the streets, but only one franchise has earned a distinctive “THE” in front of its name. The beautifully simple chicken over rice platter (tossed with vegetables, optional hot sauce, and the non-negotiable white sauce) is a staple of a wide variety of New Yorker diets — the cab driver, the post-party NYU student, the Midtown office worker, the 20-something looking for a cheap but filling meal — and the reason THG, which started as a single cart on 53rd St & 6th Ave and has now expanded to nearly 200 restaurants across the globe, truly deserves that “the” in front of its name. – Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Bee Sting pizza at Roberta’s

The irreverent pizzeria that put Bushwick on the must-visit map has one pie that every pizza-obsessed New Yorker simply has to try. It’s called the Bee Sting, and it injects your tongue with all the right flavors: savory tomato, salty sopressata, sweet honey, and spicy chili. In a town that takes its pizza traditions more seriously than traffic laws, simply adding an uncommon element like honey might draw swift rebuke, if the end product weren’t so damn delicious. – Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Gnocchi at Hearth

East Village
As someone who cooks pasta for a living, I am constantly seeking out great pasta from other chefs. Marco [Canora]’s gnocchi is pure perfection from texture to flavor. It is as simple as can be but warms the soul every time I eat it and inspires to keep pushing me to make the perfect pasta. It is always consistent and you can count on it as a staple on his menu. – Missy Robbins, Chef/Owner at Lilia

Passion Fruit “Tart” at wd~50

Lower East Side (now closed)
I’m not quite sure how relevant this dish is for other people, but for me it marked a great time in New York dining. When I moved to NY from Mexico City there was a sort of boom in progressive pastry that was fascinating, Alex Stupak at wd~50, Sam Mason at Taylor, Johnny Iuzzini at Jean Georges, all of them doing unique and mind blowing desserts. They were the ones who gave pastry the same importance as savory in NY, at least for a while. This kind of thought is something that inspired me and Contra to take pastry seriously and make it a big part of the experience.

This dish consisted of a passion fruit curd encapsulated by a tahini gel that was shaped to be the tart shell, so in essence everything was “liquid” — there was a little bit of merengue and some different components of argan oil and black sesame. When I tasted this for the first time I understood that no matter what you are trying to do, whether it is trying to shock someone or do something completely out there, the most important thing is to share something familiar and delicious with whoever is eating it; there has a to be a connection between the product, the maker, and the consumer. This dish was so different but so familiar at the same time. – Fabián von Hauske, Chef/Owner at Contra & Wildair

Pierogies at Veselka

East Village
Pierogies are the most perfect post-drinking food and no restaurant has proven that more than Veselka. The 24-hour Ukrainian diner, which has fed hoards of inebriated revelers in the East Village since 1954, makes about 3,000 of the popular dumplings every day. While Veselka does make the occasional trendier pierogi (filled with things like short rib), the perfectly pan-fried or boiled classic flavors like potato, cheese, and meat are what keep lines out the door over half a century later. – Khushbu Shah, Senior Food & Drink Editor at Thrillist


Oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar

Midtown East
If you’re ever craving a real “New York” moment — the kind of moment that reminds you what you love about living here (despite all the high rents and rat kings) and maybe makes you feel a little bit like Don Draper (minus all the personality disorders) — grab a seat at the counter at Grand Central Oyster Bar and order a dozen oysters and a dirty martini. You can find good oysters at any number of places across the city, but no other place has such diverse clientele, servers that appear to have been around since the place opened in 1913, or a “whispering wall” just outside its doors. – Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Spring pea guacamole at ABC Cocina

When The New York Times published the recipe for ABC Cocina’s green pea guacamole in the summer of 2015, the internet — from denizens of the Twitterverse to President Obama and even the Texas GOP — freaked out. Whether you’re of the camp that the peas are a positive or a negative addition (for what it’s worth, they do soften the heat of the jalapeños and give a textural boost), you can’t deny that it’s a dish that got people talking. – Meredith Balkus, Video Homepage Editor at Thrillist

Grandma slice at Best Pizza

While dollar slice shops are prolific and rapidly multiplying, Best Pizza opened a perfect representation of the greatest food in New York. The square grandma slice has creamy melted cheese with pungent and robust red sauce interspersed. It tastes like the ideal dream of what pizza used to taste like “when you were a kid.” The city needs more Best Pizza and less cheap pizza. – Matt Hyland, Chef/Owner at Emily & Emmy Squared

Hundred-layer lasagna at Del Posto

Part of the allure of this gourmet take on your favorite Italian-American casserole is obviously the impressive tally in the title, which sort of begs the question: Are there really a full 100 layers of pasta, sauce and cheese inside? Maybe, if you also count the layers of mystery. Each pasta sheet is razor-thin, making a proper fact-check nearly impossible. One thing is certain: There are an awful lot of layers, and the entire build-out is a thing of beauty — a bolognese-stained monument to the lofty culinary status that Italian cuisine has finally achieved in NYC and rightfully deserves. – Chris Shott, Senior New York Editor at Thrillist

Pollo al forno at Barbuto

West Village
I have been a fan of Chef Waxman’s cooking since the first week he opened JAMS in 1985. His cooking is classic American comfort food, superbly executed — it’s what New Yorkers want to eat every night of the week. And to make fickle New Yorkers loyal to your food — that’s iconic! Chef Waxman cuts Bell & Evans birds in half, seasons, and grills them before roasting in the oven. But the magic is the basting! The herb-based salsa verde makes the dish pop. – Daniel Boulud, Chef/Owner at Daniel, DBGB, and other Boulud restaurants

Any bagel (untoasted) from Ess-a-Bagel

Stuy-Town (& Midtown East)
New Yorkers have strong opinions about where to find the best bagel, but the only way to really judge a bagel is to try it in its natural form — without any cream cheese or toasting. A plain, untoasted Ess-a-Bagel passes the test. The bagel is dense but not bloated, and has a nice crunch that gives way to a pillowy and slightly salty interior. When the original Ess-a-Bagel closed its First Ave location in 2015, everyone who lived remotely nearby was distraught (even with a new location in Midtown). Luckily, it’s since returned to its original location, complete with Ess-A-Bagel’s first-ever toaster (though it should be noted, Ess-a-Bagels still do not need to be toasted). – Elaheh Nozari, Restaurant Venues Editor at Thrillist

Nachos from El Atoradero

Prospect Heights
California transplants will forever bemoan the fact that New York has no good Mexican food, which, if we’re using California as a point of comparison is mostly still pretty true. One of the few exceptions, however, is El Atoradero, which evolved from a Bronx bodega to a full-fledged sit-down restaurant in Prospect Heights. El Atoradero is best known for Chef Denisse Lina Chavez’s carnitas, but it’s her nachos that prove New York does indeed have good Mexican food. Far from your average microwaved version, these come with perfectly crispy homemade chips (made from the restaurant’s tortillas) topped with beans, cheese, jalapeños, crema, and optional chorizo (which really isn’t an option). – Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Porterhouse at Peter Luger

The porterhouse steak at my neighborhood’s iconic Peter Luger is such an institution that you barely have to order it. Just tell the gruff-but-lovable waiters that you’re ready for steak and they take care of the details. Presentation counts here — with the steak still sizzling as it’s whisked from the 800-degree broiler to your table. – Pat Kiernan, anchor at NY1

Beef cheek ravioli at Babbo

Greenwich Village
Former Times critic Sam Sifton once described Babbo’s beef-cheek ravioli as “one of the singular pleasures of eating out in New York City in the early years of the new century.” A lot has changed in New York culinary-land since then, but neither Mario Batali’s ravioli nor the joy of the pasta wrapper yielding to the meltiest, meatiest beef beneath a shower of pecorino and black truffles are on that list. – Hannah Howard, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Khao Soi at Pig & Khao

Lower East Side
There is nothing I love more than being apologetically noisy as I slurp up a big bowl of this perfect spicy turmeric coconut broth, braised chicken, and both crispy and tender egg noodles. Balanced with a squeeze of fresh lime, pickled mustard greens, and brunoise shallots, it has been my savior on many a cold New York night! – Janine Booth, Chef/Owner at Root & Bone

Cheese slice at Joe’s Pizza

West Village (& East Village)
If you’re looking for the quintessential “New York” pizza slice, you’ll find it at Joe’s. The slices here are everything they’re supposed to be: big, cheap, cheesy, easy to fold, and perhaps most important, available after all the bars close. While the original Bleecker St location has been closed since 2005, the legacy lives on at the Carmine St location — in addition to two others on busy streets (14th St and Bedford Ave) which perpetually garner late-night lines out the door. – Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Peking duck at Peking Duck House

Chinatown (& Midtown)
A meal at the OG Peking Duck House is as much of a show as it is dinner. The birds are done up as they traditionally are — puffed with air, dried, and roasted — then carved up tableside into thin slices with equal parts juicy meat and burnished, crackly skin. – Patty Lee, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Black & white cookie at Glaser’s

Upper East Side
There was a time, BC (Before Cronut®), when the most exciting dessert you could get in New York was a cookie that let you have both chocolate and vanilla frosting at once. For over 100 years, Glaser’s on the Upper East Side has had the best rendition of the black & white cookie, opting for dry fondant icing over the fudgier kind you’ll still find at your local bagel shop. Sure, there are more elaborate desserts these days, but how many of them can you easily split down the middle to share with a more chocolate (or vanilla)-inclined friend? – Lucy Meilus, New York Editor at Thrillist

Falafel at Mamoun’s

East Village (& Greenwich Village)
From tourists seeking out an iconic shop to over-served NYU students looking to get in one last bite of fried food before the restaurant shuts down at 2am, Mamoun’s falafel may be New York City’s great equalizer. Frying up crispy, herb-specked falafel balls on plates and wrapped in pita since 1971, Mamoun’s moist, flavorful falafel is some of the city’s best — and the semi-secret spicy sauce available by request only is no joke. – Melissa Kravitz, Contributing Writer at Thrillist

Gnudi at The Spotted Pig

West Village
Going to The Spotted Pig feels like you’re walking into beautiful NYC, and this dish makes the experience even more beautiful. What’s great about it is that you don’t expect this dish to be on the menu there, but when it arrives, it’s perfect. It’s literally only six ingredients, yet you can feel and taste the love and history in this dish in every bite. It’s apparent when you bite into it, that a real authentic grandma showed April how to make this dish. You can feel/taste the history behind it. I’ve never had a gnudi like it before, even to this day. April’s food is always quality. The restaurant feels old and feels like it’s been here forever. The bones of the old space — it’s a true experience to dine there, and you can’t say that about too many places in NYC these days — royalty has been there and you can feel it when you enter. – Dale Talde, Chef/Owner at Talde & Massoni