Ask any New York City local, and you will get a list of several restaurants to avoid because they have a reputation for being “tourist traps.” Of course, it’s easy to forget that all of these restaurants became popular for a reason–they serve good food. In order to really experience all that New York cuisine has to offer, therefore, it’s worth it for you to check out some of the restaurants that seemingly everyone goes to. Here is a look at seven of these restaurants and the menu items that make them infamous. You may just find that NYC’s worst-kept secrets provide you with some of the best meals you’ve ever had.
The competition has always been stiff when trying to figure out what restaurant in New York serves the best pizza, but Grimald’s tends to top more lists than any other pizza place in the city. Visit the original Dumbo location in Brooklyn if you don’t mind waiting in line for a coal-fired pie with fresh mozzarella, or you can check out the newer location at Manhattan’s Limelight Marketplace in Chelsea.
2. Junior’s Restaurant
In the heart of Times Square, you can find some of NYC’s best cheesecake at Junior’s Restaurant. The original incarnation of the diner, however, can still be found in Brooklyn, where it has been serving loyal customers since 1950. No matter which outpost you go to (there’s also one at Grand Central Station), you can be sure that you will get the same delectable desserts.
3. Joe’s Shanghai
It’s easy to tell when it’s someone’s first time at Joe’s Shanghai because they have no idea how to eat the restaurant’s signature dish–soup dumplings. This Chinese eatery has locations in Chinatown, Midtown, and Flushing, and you can choose between two variations on the specialty dish: pork meat only or a crab and pork mix. The secret to eating these dumplings without making a mess is to bite a small hole in the side and slurp out the soup before you eat the actual dumplings themselves.
4. Shake Shack
When the first Shake Shack location opened in Madison Park, the lines were so consistently long that proprietors had to install a webcam so people could check online to see how much time to allow. As the restaurant has spread to several other locations around the city, the crowds have died down, but the food is as good as ever. Try the signature Shack Burger and pair it with a milkshake of your choice.
5. Katz’s Delicatessen
Founded in 1888, this Lower East Side staple is the oldest remaining deli in New York City. Don’t miss out on one of the best pastrami sandwiches you’ll ever have–and be aware that each sandwich is so big that you’ll easily be able to share. You’ll also get to experience a piece of film history, as Katz’s Deli was the location of Meg Ryan’s famous orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally.
Be ready to splurge if you plan on heading to this SoHo hotspot, and be sure to make a reservation well in advance. Always bustling from brunch until late at night, Balthazar has a reputation for being one of the most likely places in the city that you’ll get to spot a celebrity. Try the steak frites or the duck confit while you keep your eyes peeled for an A-lister.
7. The Halal Guys
New York has halal food carts on almost every street corner, and almost all of them are indistinguishable from one another. The one exception, however, is The Halal Guys–located at the corner of 6th Ave and 53rd St in Manhattan. With a reputation for serving up the best “street food” in the city, you won’t be disappointed when you order the combination platter with extra white sauce.