High-level thoughts on the NYC food scene:
- NYC has many restaurants that specialize in one dish, rather than a cuisine. Go for these, e.g. soba (Cocoron), udon (Raku), broth (Brodo), beef noodle soup (Ho Foods)
- NYC is strong in: Japanese food of all kinds (especially ramen), Korean food in Ktown, Australian cafes, handpulled noodle shops, Italian pasta, Jewish food, and desserts (especially ice cream)
- Haven't found world-class Thai and Vietnamese food here yet. (Somebody feel free to prove me wrong!)
- For bars, check out the speakeasies and rooftop bars, then grab late-night food at Halal Guys (Midtown), Prince St Pizza (Soho) or Five Senses in Koreatown.
- Raku - best udon ever, even if you don't like udon. If you eat nowhere else, eat here.
- Hi-collar - go for japanese vintage pub-style brunch or sake at night
- Cocoron - my favorite soba place with fresh noodles and rarely a wait
- Soba-ya - another one of the top soba shops - they make the soba in house, usually a wait
- Takashi - grill your own meats Japanese-style, meats are beautifully marbled
- Ise Restaurant - favorite all-around Japanese restaurant with soba, sushi, bites and more
- EN Japanese Brasserie - fancy Japanese fare - great for lunch or dinner. Recommend the black miso cod or sashimi lunch sets and fiji apple / black sesame homemade ice cream for dessert
- Ootoya (several locations: Chelsea, Times Square, Greenwich village) - authentic Japanese with dishes like soba, chicken katsu, chawanmushi (egg custard)
- Five Senses - best korean restaurant in Ktown
- Baekjong - best Korean BBQ
- Jongro - 2nd Best Korean BBQ
- Take 31 - really good, homey Korean food, cute decor
- BCD Tofu House - best soondubu (tofu stew) and they give lots of bonchon (side dishes)
- Zundo-ya - arguably the best ramen spot without the crazy waits of Totto and Ippudo
- Totto Ramen - known for their straight noodles. hole-in-the-wall, almost always a wait
- Ippudo - the most famous ramen shop, but wait times are ridic. Zundo-ya is around the corner and just as good.
- Takashi's midnight ramen, avail Fri + Sat nights starting at midnight. Email/call to reserve. Very different than your typical pork-broth ramens, worth it if the time works for you
- MEW MEN - another great ramen spot
- Lam Zhou - handpulled noodle soups & pan fried dumplings - cash only, hole in the wall spot
- Wah Fung No 1 Fast Food - the best cha siu fan. grab-and-go
- Shanghai Cafe - 8 xiao long bao's for $5, super juicy
- Char Sue - fried duck bao sandwich
- Kopitiam - hole-in-the-wall Malaysian breakfast and brunch, cash only
- Tung Woo Co - fresh soymilk and hot sweet tofu
- Shanghai Asian Manor - good xiao long baos, this enoki mushroom watercress dish, ja jiang mien
- Hot Kitchen - get the "assorted spicy wok" and share it among ~3 people
- Xi'an Famous Foods - fast casual xi'an style noodle soups, great value and tasty
- Tim Ho Wan - michelin starred dim sum spot, very inexpensive. Go during off-peak hours or expect a crazy wait
- Russ & Daughters - Jewish deli, amazing bagel sandwiches and other jewish comfort food
- Katz Pastrami - famous, good for if you're in the mood for a huge hunk of pastrami on rye
- Eataly's pasta restaurant - get the bucatini amatriciana, appetizers not worth it
- Malatesta - homemade Italian pasta, cash only
Casual breakfast cafe
- Merriweather Cafe - breakfast sandwich, turmeric ginger oatmeal with poached pears
- Hole in the wall coffee - get the hanging bacon jerky
- Jack's Wife Freda
- Maialino - best, fluffiest pancakes
- Midwinter Kitchen
- By Chloe - tasty vegan place for non-vegans - think vegan mac & cheese, avocado pesto pasta, vegan brunch items. Worth trying once!
- Sweetgreen - It's like chipotle for complex salads, a lot of New Yorkers' go-to for lunch / dinner. Just try it once!
- Lady M - green tea mille crepe cake
- Morgenstern's - best ice cream in the city
- Besfren - Green tea roll cake or salted caramel roll cake
- Greecologies - best traditional housemade yogurt - favorite toppings are rose petal preserves and figs
- Momofuku Milk Bar - cereal milk ice cream, very sweet but very unique
- Eileen's Cheesecakes - NY style cheesecake
- Dough - probably best donut shop in NYC
- Van Leeuwen - unique flavors, also has delicious vegan (!) ice cream
- Takahachi bakery - matcha roll cake
- Two Little Red Hens - huge cupcakes - key lime is my favorite
- Chobani - same brand as the store-bought yogurt, but their in-store yogurt combos taste way better. Greecologies is still better than Chobani though.
- Empire Bakery - all kinds of sweets
- Georgetown cupcake - cupcakes!
- River Coyote - nitro coffee, kombucha on tap, has wifi, my favorite spot in the city
- Coffee Project - deconstructed latte
- Seven Grams Caffe
- La Colombe - an NYC coffee shop staple
- City of Saints Coffee Roasters
For coffee shops that are good to work from, I'm cataloguing SF and NYC ones at wfcoffeeshop.com!