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The Best 14 Places to Eat in NYC That Aren’t Restaurants

Last Updated on May 14, 2021
visit these 15 places to eat in nyc that aren't restaurants

There’s more than one way to take a bite out of the Big Apple, and the best places to eat in NYC aren’t always restaurants.

Sure, New York City brims with elegant eateries and chic sidewalk cafés. It's a place beloved by adventurous eaters, hungry tourists and respected chefs — just see the list of Anthony Bourdain's top NYC restaurants for proof. But, some of the best foodie finds in New York are actually street food stalls, homey bakeries and cooking classes. You don’t need to butter up the maître d' just to access the tastiest eats in NYC. 

Below, you’ll find some of the best places to eat in NYC that aren’t traditional restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for a crusty Parisian baguette (fresh from the oven) or a slice of Brooklyn cheesecake, NYC teems with unexpected taste bud adventures. 

 

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1. A Walking Food Tour

There’s so much deliciousness in NYC that picking just one place to dine can feel like doing a disservice to the city’s countless cooks. So, instead of noshing in only one locale, explore the best places to eat in NYC on a food tour led by an expert guide.

You’ll skip the tourist traps and savor multiple gems only the neighborhood residents know about, from where to find the best Brooklyn bagel to sussing out the Lower East Side’s top Neapolitan pie to scouting the best warm and cozy restaurants for future date nights.

take a food tour to experience the best places to eat in nyc
via Cozymeal

2. The Kitchen of a Professional Chef

Some of the best chefs in the world live in New York City. It would make sense, then, that their kitchens are some of the best places to eat in NYC. 

Cooking classes in NYC give you the opportunity to pick up expert kitchen techniques and gourmet menu secrets from culinary pros. Classes span the culinary gamut and appeal to every taste, dietary preference and skill level. Some chefs are also available to travel to your location!

homemade pasta with spinach and tomatoes
via Cozymeal

3. Your Own Kitchen

Yes, you can turn your own kitchen into one of the best places to eat in NYC! Prepare your own gourmet spread with the help of interactive online cooking classes, virtual wine tastings or online mixology classes. Online classes are led by professional chefs, esteemed sommeliers and master mixologists stationed all over the world. You’ll follow their instructions live, get to ask questions and then indulge in your culinary creation at the end.

Prefer to do less cooking? Private chefs in NYC are available to come to your home with all of the ingredients and equipment necessary to make you a stunning five-star meal. They’ll even provide cleanup at the end. It’s a special way to experience NYC fine dining without leaving home.

turn your own kitchen into one of the best places to eat in nyc with cooking classes and private chefs
via Cozymeal

4. Chelsea Market 

Serving up noshables since 1997, the Chelsea Market in Manhattan is part European-style promenade and part elevated food court. Befitting one of the best places to eat in NYC, it’s even housed inside the former National Biscuit Factory building where Oreos were first made. 

Vendors like Buddakan (Asian fusion), Doughnuttery and Tings (Jamaican jerk chicken) call Chelsea Market home — occupying the stretch from 9th to 10th Avenue and filling 1.183 million (million!) square feet on the ground level alone. 

buddakan in chelsea market is one of the best places to eat in nyc
via Buddakan

5. Amy's Bread 

Tucked in a tiny and flour-dusted shop off bustling 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, the original Amy’s Bread crafts crusty treats alongside a bevy of sticky sweets. If carbs are what you’re craving, this locale will surely top your list of best places to eat in NYC.

Proudly serving “the real thing,” Amy’s Bread was one of the first modern bakeries in New York to return to slow fermentation (i.e. sourdough) and traditional hand-kneading techniques. They’re also good people — donating 8,000 pounds of unsold baked goods each month to local hunger-fighting non-profits

amy's bread bakery in hell's kitchen in nyc
via Amy's Bread

6. Junior's Cheesecake 

Ask any born-and-raised Brooklynite where to find the borough’s best cheesecake and you’ll hear one name on everyone’s lips — Junior’s. It’s for good reason this iconic cheesecake shop is often considered one of the best places to eat in NYC. 

In business since 1950, this temple to sweet temptations is found in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn, featuring a swivel-stool counter, danishes baked all day and huge deli sandwiches. But, let’s be real, diehard fans go to Junior’s for one thing: Classic NYC-style cheesecake. Pick from original, crowned in berries or swirled with chocolate. 

junior's cheesecake is one of the best places to eat in nyc that isn't a restaurant
via Junior's Cheesecake

7. Yankee Stadium 

When considering the best places to eat in NYC, “stadium” likely doesn’t come to mind. Once upon a time, the only eats you could find at a sports stadium were rubbery hot dogs and grease-soaked pizza. Not the case anymore, especially at the world-famous Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. 

Food-loving fans will be pleased to find that Yankee Stadium is one of the best places to eat in NYC that isn’t a restaurant. Here, you’ll find surprising upscale options like vegetarian sushi (Haru Sushi) and bison burgers (Bareburger). Other tasty choices include Kosher deli wraps, 20-hour smoked brisket at Mighty Quinn’s or a “tres leches” milkshake at Yankee Stadium Gourmet Shakes.  

yankee stadium gourmet food vendors
via Yankee Stadium

8. Café Sabarsky 

Housed inside the elegant Neue Galerie, Café Sabarsky in the Upper East Side is one of the best places to eat in NYC if you like a little fine art mixed in with your incredible food. 

Led by the culinary talents of chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, Café Sabarsky’s sweets specialize in Viennese patisserie, vaunting sculptural chocolate cakes, raspberry-hazelnut tarts and a world-class Sachertorte. If you’re not craving cake, order the apricot-filled crêpes or crumbly apple strudel.   

cafe sabarski is one of the best places to eat in nyc
via Café Sabarsky

9. Eataly 

First opened in Turin, the experiential cafeteria-cum-market Eataly boasts locations around the world — from Bologna to Dubai, and from Instanbul to NYC. In fact, New York actually hosts two locations — one in the Financial District and the other in the Flatiron. Both locations will satisfy your craving to find the best places to eat in NYC that aren’t restaurants.

At Eataly, you’ll enjoy nibbles while walking throughout the food hall, showcasing everything from wood-fired focaccia to hand-carved salami, and from nonna-approved pasta to slow-churned gelato. As you stroll, you’ll eye wheels of Parmigiano nearby and legs of prosciutto dangling overhead. 

spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil from eataly
via Eataly

10. L'imprimerie 

When in New York, there’s more to baked goods than that mythical NYC bagel. And the best places to eat in NYC have this all figured out. If you know where to look, you can even find French-approved baguettes. 

L'imprimerie — located inside a former print shop in Bushwick — hand-crafts French bread and pastries throughout the day, fired (of course) in small batches. The honey they serve on-site is so local that it’s actually gathered on the building’s rooftop! 

L'imprimerie is one of the best places to eat in nyc
via L'imprimerie 

11. Arthur Avenue

Tourists in NYC go to Manhattan’s Little Italy. But, New Yorkers in-the-know head instead to the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue, an authentic stretch of Italian delis that hold their own among the best places to eat in NYC. 

You can order an enormous Italian sandwich at Mike's Deli. Or, you might eye Orazio Carciotto stretching muzzarell’ by hand at Casa Della Mozzarella. And, if you’re really wanting to pig out, go to Calabria Pork Store for their spicy house-made soppressata. 

parmesan cheese wheel at mike's deli on arthur avenue
via Mike's Deli

12. The Halal Guys 

Some street eats aim to kill your hunger (i.e. that not-so-memorable pretzel). Others will make your mouth sing. The Halal Guys  — who serve up spit-roasted lamb and spiced shawarma in locations around Manhattan and Long Island — fall into the second category.

At the 53rd Street cart, a queue of people line up each day (for over an hour) just to grab a plate from what is undeniably one of the best places to eat in NYC that isn’t a restaurant. Be sure not to skip the white sauce here — it’s creamy mayonnaise elevated with tangy sumac, caraway seeds and fresh lemon juice. 

the halal guys is one of the best places to eat in nyc that isn't a restaurant
via The Halal Guys

13. Queens Night Market

Queens is one of New York’s most multicultural boroughs, home to Asian, European, African, Caribbean and Latin communities. So if you’re looking for the best places to eat in NYC, chances are you’ll find plenty of options here.

One of the best places for a culinary journey through Queens is the International Night Market that runs every Saturday from April–August and then mid-September until the end of October. Food purveyors here include Balkan Bites, Arepalicious, Bengali Street Eats and Momos Tibetan Dumplings. On top of being one of the best places to eat in NYC, you can also take in cultural performances while you dine. 

the queens night market is one of the best places to eat in nyc that isn't a restaurant
via Queens International Night Market

14. Staten Island Ferry 

It’s no trendy speakeasy. It may not be a red-roped bar. And it definitely doesn’t have 99 craft brews on tap. But, the Staten Island Ferry is a true NYC experience, and yes — it’s one of the best places to eat in NYC that isn’t a restaurant.

Board for free at Whitehall Terminal right before sunset, snatching a beer from the concession booth in the center of the boat. Then enjoy one of New York’s most matchless views – the lower Manhattan skyline in the golden hour as Lady Liberty herself raises her torch as if to say, “Cheers!” 

the staten island ferry vessel on the water
via Staten Island Ferry

 

When it comes to food scenes, New York City is arguably the world's reigning capital. But, if you think your only chance of experiencing the best places to eat in NYC is limited to restaurants and cafés, think again: You just might be surprised where you'll find your next memorable meal.

Many of the best places to eat in NYC are actually hidden gems, street vendors, old-world bakeries and food halls. Which will be your first stop?

For even more palate-pleasing ways to explore food, check out other experiences on Cozymeal happening in a city near you.

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