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Eat Your Way Through a Day in New York

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
Whether you’re into finding the best cheap eats, sampling high-end cuisine or heading to a timeless culinary institution, New York has something for everyone. Welcome to MojoTravels, and in this video, we’re going to lead you through a perfect day of noshing in New York, focusing on iconic eats that you just can’t miss.

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Eat Your Way Through a Day in New York

Whether you’re into finding the best cheap eats, sampling high-end cuisine or heading to a timeless culinary institution, New York has something for everyone. Welcome to MojoTravels, and in this video, we’re going to lead you through a perfect day of noshing in New York, focusing on iconic eats that you just can’t miss.

We’ll be focusing on the island of Manhattan for this list, even though we know there are tons of great options in the rest of the city . . . because the other boroughs deserve videos of their own!

There are plenty of food traditions that this city is known for, and one of them is, of course, the classic New York deli. While this may not be strictly breakfast food, there’s nothing wrong with starting your day with a great cured-meat sandwich. If you want to head to the most popular and renowned of the many deli options in Manhattan, that’ll mean heading to the Lower East Side to Katz’s Deli. Yes, the place where the iconic moaning scene takes place in “When Harry Met Sally...”. Yes it’s super touristy, but it’s nonetheless an institution you don’t want to skip. This joint has been around since 1888, and for good reason. The classic order? Pastrami on rye; and don’t forget to tip your slicer!

If you’ve already been to Katz’s more times than you can count, check out nearby Russ & Daughters, which has been around for almost as long. Head to the shop if you want to grab one of their classic bagels and lox (delectable smoked salmon) to go, or stroll over to the café a few blocks away for a more refined sit-down meal. The fried potato latkes are not to be missed!

However, if you’re far to the north in the Upper West Side, you wouldn’t want to miss popping into the legendary specialty food store and deli Zabar’s for . . .well, they’ve got just about everything. But smoked fish is always in style.

The next New York food quest to cross off your list: finding the perfect slice of pizza. There are, innumerable parlors scattered throughout the city that claim to serve up New York’s best pizza . . . and to be honest, quite a few will still be better than what you can find in your hometown. (Please don’t come at us, Chicagoans.) There are a few establishments, however that are worth seeking out, because a truly perfect slice is hard to find. The first, and perhaps most well-known, is Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village. Beware of any other place that calls itself “Joe’s” and head straight to the Carmine Street location. The slices are ultra-thin and straightforward, but simplicity is bliss.

If you’re up near 117th Street in East Harlem, or willing to make the trek, it’s worth it for a stop at Patsy’s Pizzeria. They’ve been serving up their full pies and slices from the same location since 1933. It’s claimed that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett were all regulars there. They’re also one of the last pizza parlors around using a coal fire oven. The best part? The slices are still under $2.

Across the city on the West Side is Sal & Carmine’s. Noted foodie Ed Levine, pizza lover and creator of the Serious Eats website, numbers this restaurant as one of his favorites.

Considering how much you’ve already eaten at this point, you may not exactly be ready for a snack. Regardless, we’re going to delve into some of your best grab-and-go options for when you’re feeling a mite peckish. It may feel unnecessary to bring up Shake Shack, because it’s likely you’ve already heard of it, but we’d be remiss to leave it out of our guide. Often compared to its West Coast counterpart, In-N-Out Burger, Shake Shack started as a hyper-regional fast food chain that has since slowly expanded outside of the 5 boroughs. Line up at the original Madison Square Park location, it’s totally worth it. Two words: Frozen custard.

If burgers aren’t your thing, what about yet a different style of savory meat sandwich? There are, of of course, countless street food options throughout the city, from hot dogs to pretzels to hot nuts to knishes. But the fantastic go-to is a gyro from The Halal Guys, which started off as a humble cart but has expanded to include proper storefronts throughout the city. This place is so popular that they even had to hire bouncers to manage their lineups!

And now it’s time to get dressed up and get ready for a night out on the town. Put away your walking shoes, take a disco nap and dress up in your finest, because you know New York is the city that never sleeps. Before heading to dinner, it’s worth making a stop at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. The seafood is incredibly fresh, and more importantly its atmosphere is unlike anywhere else in the world. Then, after you’ve had an appetizer and a cocktail, it’s time for dinner!

Surprise! There are hundreds, if not thousands of incredible restaurants where you can dine in New York, so how can you possibly narrow it down? Well, we reasoned that the best pick for the most important meal of the day is somewhere truly iconic that has stuck around long enough to gain institution status. Fitting the bill, in Soho, is our first pick, French brasserie Balthazar. It’s a favorite haunt of celebrities, and, decades after opening, still boasts long wait times at almost any hour. You’ll have a hard time making a wrong choice on this menu.

We also have Delmonico’s, which claims to be the oldest fine dining and steakhouse restaurant in the country, which used to have locations across the city. Meat is what they’re known for, so if you’re not a carnivore, you may want to skip this one. Teddy Roosevelt was a patron, and so were Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. (Yes, the real icons, we’re not talking CGI!)

We’d be surprised if you had any stomach room left at this point, but considering how many stellar late-night food options there are in NYC, we couldn’t possibly let you go without mentioning them. The first stop, on the Lower East Side, is Mission Chinese Food. This place is a party in itself, and is a great place to go for a few drinks with friends where you can also get excellent food, like an elaborately-roasted whole chicken.

And if you’ve somehow managed to stay out past last call, your best option for a great restaurant that is open 24/7 is Veselka, the Ukrainian mainstay in the East Village. Their pierogies will hopefully lessen the effects of your hangover and, if you’re feeling up to it, you could even grab a plate of pancakes or waffles to get your next day jump started.

With only one day in New York, there’s only so much you can eat, so we know we’ve left off a ton of great places. We’ll just have to make more lists!

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