Good For

NYC's Best for Local Flavors

Every city has its own distinct vibe and flavor. If we were going on a road trip to find the best local specialties around the country, these are the New York City spots we'd make sure to check out. For more celebration of hometown cuisine, check out the new movie Chef, starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and more, in theaters May 9. And for more stories, check out www.zagat.com/cheffilm.

  • Russ & Daughters
    • Gourmet Grocery Store
    • Lower East Side
    Quality
    29
    Appeal
    24
    Service
    25
    Cost
    M

    Some of the best bagels and lox in the city can be found at this Lower East Side smoked fish legend, serving sable, caviar, herring and more since 1914.

  • Lucali
    • Pizza
    • Carroll Gardens
    Food
    27
    Decor
    20
    Service
    21
    Cost
    $29

    According to our most recent survey, the No. 1 pizza in the city can be found at this neighborhood charmer in Carroll Gardens, serving up old-fashioned brick-oven pies with that thin, crispy, distinctly New York crust.

  • Zabar's
    • Grocery Store
    • West 80s
    Quality
    27
    Appeal
    21
    Service
    21
    Cost
    M

    This iconic maze of gourmet foods is a must-stop on any foodie tour of the city, with some of the best selections of cheese, produce, smoked fish and baked goods in all of New York (plus an authentic, jam-packed-with-locals, grab-the-last-bagel-and-you-die atmosphere).

  • Smorgasburg
    • Williamsburg
    Food
    25
    Decor
    17
    Service
    17
    Cost
    $20

    This roving food market – which pops up in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Dumbo on Sundays – features stands from some of the city’s best vendors, as well as appearances by popular food trucks. It’s a food lover’s dream, with a veritable smorgasbord of options, from hand-pulled noodles to ice cream sandwiches to lobster rolls (and everything in between). Make sure to bring cash – and a big appetite.

  • Katz's Delicatessen
    • Jewish
    • Lower East Side
    Food
    25
    Decor
    11
    Service
    14
    Cost
    $26

    When Harry Met Sally may have put it on the map with “I’ll have what she’s having,” but this Lower East Side institution has been serving mile-high pastrami sandwiches and other deli favorites (with a side of surly attitude) since 1888, making it one of the city’s longest-running and most beloved culinary traditions.

  • Balthazar
    • French
    • SoHo
    Food
    24
    Decor
    24
    Service
    21
    Cost
    $61

    Though it may be slightly past its prime, Keith McNally’s buzzing SoHo brasserie remains the epitome of see-and-be-seen dining in the city, with the occasional celebrity still breezing in for a business breakfast from time to time. Everything about the place – from the belle epoque decor to the Parisian-cool atmosphere to the towering raw bar – screams New York chic, and it’s still hard to get a reservation here after 17 years on Spring Street. (If you can’t get in, check out the dreamy pastries and lattes at the bakery next door.)

  • momofuku noodle bar
    • American
    • East Village
    Food
    23
    Decor
    17
    Service
    20
    Cost
    $39

    David Chang was one of the high-profile chefs who helped Jon Favreau get into character for his role as chef Carl Casper in Chef, giving him advice based on his own time in the kitchens of his wildly popular Momofuku empire, which began with Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village and has since expanded across the globe. Noodle Bar, which has been around for 10 years now, is still a popular haunt for foodie hipsters, thanks to its mouthwatering ramen, pork buns and – of course – soft-serve ice cream in unique flavors like pretzel and cereal milk from nearby Momofuku Milk Bar.

  • Papaya King
    • American
    • East 80s
    Food
    22
    Decor
    6
    Service
    16
    Cost
    $9

    Sweet papaya juice and Coney Island–style hot dogs with plenty of snap – who would have ever thought it would make such an ingenious combination? This New York icon still reigns after 80 years in the biz, with branches around the city creating a “tropical oasis in the concrete jungle,” as the tagline goes.

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