deb’s new york favorites

An ever-evolving list of places I love in NYC, freshly updated.

Forever Favorites | More Favorites | Bakeries and Sweets | NYC Food Essentials

forever favorites

Baar Baar [East Village] I never not order the dahi/pani puri, sweet potato chaat, avocado bhel, cauliflower, and I’m just going to keep reminiscing about the lamb ribs until they bring them back.

Cervo’s [Chinatown] I will unfriend you if you don’t try the crispy shrimp heads, prawns a la plancha, and piri piri chicken, plus any seasonal salads or vegetable starters.

Yellow Rose [East Village] I have an almost religious devotion to the bean and cheese taco, but don’t sleep on the appetizers and mains. They’re so much more than a taco restaurant.

Superiority Burger [East Village] Punk, vegetarian, back and better than ever in the old Odessa space.

M. Shanghai [Williamsburg] I’ve been going here for over 20 years and have not had a better soup dumpling anywhere in the city; other favorites: vegetable wontons in spicy peanut sauce, beef in “awesome” sauce and simply-cooked string beans.

Via Carota [West Village] Every single dish on the changing verdure menu, chicken liver toasts, and cacio e pepe. They make a perfect negroni.

more favorites

Bonnie’s [Williamsburg]

Cafe Spaghetti [Carroll Gardens]

Dosa Man [Washington Square Park] Yes, the line is long but it’s because the dosas are perfect and a classic lunch experience.

Diner [South Williamsburg] I can’t believe it’s 22 years old. We were back recently and it’s as good as the day it opened.

Faiccos [Greenwich Village] For Alex’s favorite Italian sub

Hawksmoor [Gramercy] We’ve now been to the Sunday roast at one of their locations in London and NYC but I’d say my favorite experience has been to sit in the bar area and order from the menu a la carte there.

Joe’s Pizza [Greenwich Village] Before Scarr’s, this was the only slice I loved in NYC and I never go a month without it.

Joseph Leonard [West Village] We love walking over here for a cozy meal in the winter.

Kiki’s [Chinatown] Classic Greek food with nods to the neighborhood (the name on the awning is in Chinese; the vinegar on the table are in soy sauce bottles). It’s crowded every night.

Le Rock [Rockefeller Center] New but already a must for fancy drinks and food at the holidays.

Mimi Cheng’s [East Village] A perfect little dumpling shop. The chicken-zucchini and the vegetable dumplings are my favorites.

Pickle Guys [Lower East Side] They’ve been since before pickles were cool and have the most cheerful staff.

Razza [Jersey City] Yes, not NYC but I’d be remiss not to tell you about my favorite wood-fired artisanal pizza, the kind you order with wine or cocktails and great sides.

Red Hook Tavern [Red Hook] Their burger has a near-religious following.

Rolo’s [Ridgewood]

Skovorodka [Brighton Beach] This is where we go for pelmeni and vareniki, usually in the middle of winter when the promise of cozy food is the only thing that will get us out of the apartment.

Strip House Speakeasy [Greenwich Village] No, you didn’t ask where Alex takes himself on solo “dates” when Deb is away on book tour, but this is the answer.

Scarr’s Pizza [Lower East Side] They just moved into a bigger space and are better than ever.

Wallsé [Greenwich Village] We’ve been going for almost 20 years and it remains consistently excellent. We are always impressed by the perfectly-executed classic cocktails.

Win Son [East Williamsburg]

bakeries and sweets

Breads Bakery [Union Square] They could gold medal in hamantaschen as far as I’m concerned and their chocolate babka is legendary; you’d be crazy to leave NYC without one in your suitcase.

Ciao, Gloria [Prospect Heights] It’s not fair to add this under bakeries when they have a full menu, but I’ve adored Renato Poliafito’s baking since his Baked days and he continues to knock it out of the park in his own space. Rainbow cookies are always on the menu.

Davey’s Ice Cream [East Village and Williamsburg] My “kids” favorite ice cream shop.

Fan Fan Doughnuts [Bed-Stuy] Unquestionably the best doughnuts in the city

Pop-Up Bagels [Greenwich Village] New to NYC but became my instant favorite bagel in the city. I highly recommend preordering.

La Cabra [East Village] They make the best croissants I’ve ever eaten outside Paris, the best cardamom bun in the city (because it’s not crazy sweet or heavy), and my favorite sourdough (I like the sandwich loaf shape, better for freezing).

Le Fournil [East Village] A classic boulangerie with reasonable prices and my favorite baguette in the city. This used to be Moishe’s Bakery.

Morgenstern’s Bananas [Lower East Side] Amazing you-won’t-even-know-it’s-dairy-free ice cream that doesn’t taste like bananas, swear.

Red Gate Bakery [East Village] Modern bakery classics are great, but do know that my own husband has ordered my birthday cake from here in the past, which I hope tells you how good their layer cakes are.

Sullivan Street Bakery [Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen] While everything Jim Lahey bakes is excellent, I love picking up one slice each of all of his innovative pizzas (like the summer squash, or the potato) and warming them up for dinner.

Varsano’s and Li-Lac [Greenwich Village] These are, to me, the classic NYC chocolate shops. I always get dark chocolate nonpareils because chocolate with sprinkles on it > chocolate without sprinkles on it, obviously.


nyc food essentials

Grow NYC Greenmarkets [Union Square + Grand Army Plaza, but also all over the city] The reason NYC Greenmarkets are so special is that every single thing, including the flour for bread, is grown within a 100-mile radius of NYC.

Archestratus Books + Foods [Greenpoint] Bookstore specialized in vintage & new cookbooks, plus an in-store cafe with pastries and guest chefs.

Bonnie Slotnick [East Village] Possibly the greatest place on earth for a cookbook lover, Bonnie sells used cookbooks and is an encyclopedia of cookbook knowledge.

Fishs Eddy [Union Square/Gramercy] Eclectic and vintage dishes and glassware.

Kitchen Arts & Letters [Upper East Side] A cookbook store with passionate staff

Kalustyan’s [Kip’s Bay] Stock up on every spice on earth, the most enchanting baklava selection, the mujadarra and vegetable soup from the prepared food fridge is a longtime favorite of mine.

New York Cake and Baking Co. [Chelsea] If you’re a baker, it’s not to be missed.

Murray’s Cheese [Greenwich Village] Famous for a reason; it’s heaven for cheese-lovers who want to pick up something new.

Sahadi’s [Atlantic Ave or Industry City] A spice and ingredient wonderland.

SOS Chefs [East Village] Cooking pantry essentials and custom spice blends.

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85 comments on deb’s new york favorites

  1. Sammi Green

    I think you are the new-age Julia Child of American cooking. I am a 67 year old cookbook obsessed woman and I have to tell you when I really want to learn how to make something or make something “perfect” I always use your recipe to do it! Thanks for being so obsessed! You are truly a joy, my dear Deb! and those kids are just absolutely adorable! 😘 May you live a long and healthy life! Love you❤️Hubby handsome too( so he doesn’t feel left out!)

    1. cathydellinger

      Absolutely agree. Your spins on recipes are superb. And, you just made me nostalgic for the city. Up in northern Vermont for 30 years. Love it hear, and access to you makes life that much sweeter. Thanks, Deb!

  2. I am so excited to visit these locations! I just recently found you and want to start cooking and baking for my family :) Thank you for everything you do, Deb ❤

  3. Jack

    Deb, made your Zabar’s pickled slaw and was thrilled to feel like I was at Zabar again. An easy and delicious dish. Brought it to a pool party where everyone raved. Thanks, I look forward to trying your other recipes. Jack

  4. Steffanie

    Thank you so much! I will try to visit every of your recommended spots when we fly over from Germany the next time!
    I love your blog and truly appreciate all the time and love you put into it!

  5. Marie Porreca

    Next time you are at Murray’s, pop next store to Faicco’s. Artisan salumi, breakfast sausage, bacon, rice balls… trust me you’ll thank me later❤️

    1. Erek Delin

      Thanks about this travelling post! When I was 20 years old it was hard to be in New York because you always needed a lot of money just to eat healthy food and just to visit local museums. When I last visited it I realized that nothing has changed but I love this city, I always come back here and realise that I need more money. One day I just started looking for a service that can help me with that and I was disappointed but then I found an online one here and then I borrowed some amount and started walking on a street like a millionaire.

  6. Robin Dunne

    Love, love your page and your cook book. This information is wonderful. Not sure if I will ever make it to NY, but it sure is fun to day dream as I read your list. Thank you.

  7. Kathy Bell

    I know foodies stick their nosies up at the UES, yet there are some wonderful spots to check out: Agata & Valentina, Il Vagabondo, The Carlyle, Papaya King, Four Seasons, Quatorze and Eli’s, just to name a few 😘

    1. deb

      There is no anti-UES snobbery here; this is simply a list of my favorite haunts, and like most New Yorkers, I spend the most time in my own neighborhood, the Lower East Side. But I appreciate your recommendations and will check them out.

    1. Kay

      I just went to Izzy’s Smokehouse in Crown Heights. It’s a kosher certified bbq joint. The brisket and beans were delicious. Dining in was a little odd so maybe take out might be the way to go. The location you order and pay in is very small, so there is seating next door but the awning says Medical Supply Store lol.

  8. Kathy

    Love love your blog and appreciate all of this!
    Thank you for the time and energy you put into your work
    Love your cookbook too

  9. I am really disappointed that you think there isn’t enough good Thai here…clearly you haven’t been to Woodside and Elmhurst? In fact, there is no Queens in the above list or Bronx or SI. I have followed you for years and find that a bit disappointing. Glad you listed Buon Italia over Eatily but also think you should check out the 100 year old DiPalo’s in LIttle Italy…Café Gita e was an excellent “old school NYC” nod! Back to Queens, John Brown (bbq), Dutch Kills (cocktails) and oh Chinatown in Flushing deserve some attention. And Afghan, Greek, Egyptian, etc. out here!

    1. deb

      One of the caveats of a page like this, and what I try to express from the top, is that I am not a resource for Best Of recommendations in NYC. It’s not my specialty, or even a gap I aspire to fill, not by a long shot. I’m just someone who lives here and has my favorites — and I happen to live in Manhattan, so that’s where they’re centered. I created this page because despite this, I get a lot of requests for my go-tos, so I rounded them up. This is not intended to replace any of the more serious, well-researched resources for finding the best food in NYC.

      That said, I’d love to hear about your favorite Thai restaurant. When Ngam opened in the East Village, it was like a breath of fresh air in what had been a unending chain of “Spice” restaurants.

      1. Megan

        I realize I am late to this party, but when I read that part I screamed “Little Basil!!!” which is on 26th and 3rd Ave. It’s changed owners in the last few years, but they are just as excellent, if not better, than the old ones. Bonus: it’s BYOB.

      2. eVarese

        came here today from your Threads thread. great list! been in NYC for 22 years and clearly have a lot of new places to try! i also saw this Queens comment, and since i am a proud Sunnyside’r and you asked for some recs… here are a few (not exhaustive; prob not others faves!)….
        FOREMOST is Adda in LIC (Chintan Pandya had a greenwhich village place called Rahi, now called Senna; this is his bistro in Queens… OMG!)
        SECOND is Dawa’s in Sunnyside/Woodside — “…nomadic Himalayan and New American cuisine…”
        THIRD is Bolivian Llama Party (yes that’s the name!) in Woodside — “… traditional Bolivian dishes from our hometown of Cochabamba, Bolivia…”
        FOURTH is Himalayan Yak in Elmhurst — Nepalese/Tibetan
        and FIFTHish, since you mention Thai, is Sripraphai in Woodside — much loved by many, but our go-to is I Am Thai (also Woodside).
        OK there are so many more… but those our are faves.

  10. Sam

    This is a brilliant list for those who are travelling to New York. We are hoping to come over early next year and we always try to jot down at least 5 recommended places of where to eat! Can’t wait to try some new yummy food!

  11. Ginny White

    My friend Renata sent me this blog – I’m visiting NYC this weekend for 5 days and can’t wait to try out some of these places – what a great review x

  12. betsy

    Any other recommendations for restaurants in Brooklyn that are can miss places? M Shanghai looks great, probably going to check that out!

    1. deb

      There are more great restaurants than I could list on 10 pages (but there are 6 Brooklyn ones on this list right now). Eater has great guides to neighborhoods if you’re looking for more. Let’s see, we love King’s County Imperial (the garlic chicken!), we had a great meal over the winter at Metta (sit at the counter), Chez Ma Tante. Roberta’s is now really a classic, so is L&B Spumoni Gardens. And if you’re looking for something vacation-y and retro, Randazzo’s Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay. :)

  13. Lori

    Can you send a tip for two or three great burger places? Not $100 Waygu beef burgers but regular burgers! My son and his girlfriend just moved to NYC July 1 from here (Kansas City). Her birthday is next month, and he’s trying to think of some affordable special things to do. She eats super-healthy, but wants to indulge in a burger for her birthday. He’s been researching– I knew you might have some great opinions! I appreciate all you do, Deb – enjoy those littles. Time flies and 24 years later they do something brave and independent like move to New York. And you are so happy for them, but you miss them like crazy. :)

      1. deb

        But I asked a foodie friend for you, whose favorite is Minetta Tavern. She says that Peter Luger and Little Owl both have amazing burgers too, but only at lunchtime. Enjoy!

  14. Emiles

    I just returned from a 5 day trip to NYC. I got loads of recommendations of places to go…and the only recommended place I went? Sullivan St. Bakery because Deb said to. It. was. AMAZING!!!!!! THANK YOU!

    The prosciutto breakfast sandwich was heaven. I need more soft-scrambled eggs in my life. And I had this yummy broccoli rabe toast that reminded me a lot of you/your food. Of course, I also ordered a chocolate bomboloni and it was divine, as expected.

  15. mmcarlson

    Just a note that I visited NYC for a conference (without kids or husband; I had no shame in eating at the bars, alone!) in Feb 2019. I have been a SK home cook/fan for years and was happy to use this post as my eating guide. I hit Sullivan Street Bakery (amazing zucchini pizza!), Barbuto (best restaurant vibe; I would eat there always if I lived close enough), and Via Carota (I ate at the bar and the place was packed by 6pm). Beautiful recommendations! Thank you.

  16. Thea

    Last day in NY (visiting from Australia) and I just had the most smitten kitchen day. Amazing chocolate babka from breads bakery, went through the green markets and saw ramps on sale, saw an ad that said “best advice: put an egg on it”, had dumplings from Mimi Cheng’s and Ferreo gelato from fresco. I’ve been to so many places on this list this holiday and every single one has been worth it. Thank you so much for your recommendations!

  17. Love love love this list so much that I just linked to it from one of my articles! And I’m so glad you included The Pickle Guys – 1/2 sours for my kids, 3/4 for me, hot sour for hubby.

    On the bagel front… have you tried BO’s on 116th? I swear it’s the best bagel I’ve ever had.

    And of course, my favorite New York eatery of all time has to be Levain. I need to start experimenting to see how close I can get in my own kitchen…


  18. Pam Dixon

    We are eating the delicious cornmeal blueberry coffee cake right now!! I made it for a picnic brunch to celebrate our nephew’s first birthday– but he is sick– so we have to eat it all by ourselves, cutting pieces twice as large. No party? No problem!
    We’ll manage… somehow= ; – )

  19. Thanks so much for this list, we spent a weekend in New York at the end of November, and thanks to your recommendation, had a fantastic Indian dinner at Baar Baar. The cocktails were delicious, as were the lamb ribs, and the restaurant is just so beautiful. We also enjoyed slices from Joe’s – wishing that you could get New York slices in Canada….will just have to come back for a repeat visit!

  20. jessica

    Deb, thanks for sharing this post! We have a plan to visit NY if pandemics allows us to fly in the next month. I will try to visit your recommendation spots and will do the things you mentioned. I am a professional freelance writer and I mainly write health-related topics at this website and help students with assignment ready on different academic topics. But this time, I am having a wish to write something related to travel! You inspired me on my way!

  21. Jane Howard

    HI Deb:

    Thanks so much for the NYC guide to restaurants. How often do you get a chance to update? I know you are juggling a lot.

    Thanks so much,

    jane Howard

  22. Caleb Bassett

    Thanks about this travelling post! When I was 20 years old it was hard to be in New York because you always needed a lot of money just to eat healthy food and just to visit local museums. When I last visited it I realized that nothing has changed but I love this city, I always come back here and realise that I need more money. One day I just started looking for a service that can help me with that and I was disappointed but then I found an online one here and then I borrowed some amount and started walking on a street like a millionaire.

  23. Thanks about this travelling post! When I was 20 years old it was hard to be in New York because you always needed a lot of money just to eat healthy food and just to visit local museums. When I last visited it I realized that nothing has changed but I love this city, I always come back here and realise that I need more money. One day I just started looking for a service that can help me with that and I was disappointed but then I found an online one and then I borrowed some amount and started walking on a street like a millionaire.

  24. Erek Delin

    Thanks about this travelling post! When I was 20 years old it was hard to be in New York because you always needed a lot of money just to eat healthy food and just to visit local museums. When I last visited it I realized that nothing has changed but I love this city, I always come back here and realise that I need more money. One day I just started looking for a service that can help me with that and I was disappointed but then I found an online one and then I borrowed some amount and started walking on a street like a millionaire.

  25. JosiahCousins

    Thanks about this travelling post! When I was 20 years old it was hard to be in New York because you always needed a lot of money just to eat healthy food and just to visit local museums. When I last visited it I realized that nothing has changed but I love this city, I always come back here and realise that I need more money.

  26. Jennifer

    We’re leaving for the city at the end of this week! Thanks for the suggestions, definitely going to check some out.

  27. Meredith C

    While this is counterintuitive to some of the best celebration cakes you have, I was wondering if there were any favorite bakeries near Manhattan, western side of Brooklyn, even the Bronx for celebration birthday cakes? Something decedent and special for a 70th birthday!

  28. Laura Frederick

    This is a great list! so very helpful. But, we will be visiting NYC soon with young adult kids. We’re going to a performance at the Beacon so need to be on that side of town(we’re having drinks at Bemelmans first) any suggestions for maybe upper west side or even upper east near the Carlyle? Not too fancy or long tasting menu meal.
    And thank you for all your recipes……I tell everyone your recipes turn out GREAT every time. My go to Birthday cakes, lasagna , pasta sauces, blueberry muffins….everything!! They are all keepers:)

  29. Nicole Kavanagh

    We first visited NY as young parents on a kid-free vacation in 2013. Back then, thanks to you, we had some fantastic restaurant and bakery experiences, incl. Motorino and Donut Plant!! Now ten years later we are planning a return with our two, boys age 15 and 13. When choosing a hotel I thought, hmmm…let’s stay in Deb’s neighborhood (lol – not in a creepy way, promise!). I’ve been around since you were a contributor to an early website…name escapes me now! Booked for LES for our six night adventure. I will be combing through all the recent recipes for the little nuggets you drop about your fave spots. Thank you for everything!

  30. Lila

    Such amazing recommendations!! Used this as our guide to food for our weekend in NYC and couldn’t have asked for better – PB&J donuts at Doughnut Plant, Ess-A-Bagel sandwiches for lunch (best bagels I’ve ever had!), strecci and pain au chocolat (both amazing!) at Sullivan St Bakery, babka at Breads Bakery, mozza slices at Joe’s Pizza, dumplings and cucumber salad at Mimi Cheng’s (great local spot), and fantastic vegetable dishes and cacio e pepe at Via Carota…couldn’t have asked for a better food guide to use as our inspiration – especially as a vegetarian – thank you Deb!! Took us all over the city to discover great places and delicious food; we’re going home with happy stomachs :)

  31. Stephanie

    I’ve been following your blog since 2007 and never left a comment, at least not that I can remember. I was in college back then and your world seemed surreal and wonderful. I have lived in NYC for 12 years now, and your link on Instagram to this old post has made me nostalgic in a number of ways. So for the first time I’m here to comment! Thank you for what you do, and thank you for continuing to do it. If you had told me when my roommate introduced me to Smitten Kitchen in 2007 that it would be a constant in my life for the next decade and a half, I probably would have laughed. But I so enjoy your recipes, your stories, and your love of what you do and of course your love of New York (a city I’m in what feels like an eternal love-hate relationship with). I look forward to the next decade plus of good stories and great food!

  32. Lizzy

    I make a trip to Kalustyan’s once a year and always buy waaaay more than anyone needs. But I don’t care. That place is amazing and has every spice you could ever want and some you didn’t know you needed (I’m looking at you, little room full of dried chiles). Need a big slab of halva? They’ve got you. Need dried flowers for tea? Yep. Golden raisins the size of your thumb? Check. Amazing.

  33. Gueldzzx

    Fascinated by this. I love your recipes and I’m sure you know about 8,000 times more than I do about food, but damn, there are some spots on here I loathe. M. Shanghai once served me a meal I nearly flagrantly demanded a refund for. It was inedible to both me and my dining companion. Diner a decade back had admittedly fantastic food but I could have murdered the internalized misogyny waitresses in cold blood with my bare hands. Just answering only the questions from men, assuming they’re paying the bill, and treating me like hot garbage. In fact, I’m disappointed to learn it’s still operating. But I appreciate the input! It’s just bizarre how much experiences diverge.

  34. Katie

    We’ve got to get you out to Queens! So many great places where I live in Astoria. Seva is the best Indian food my husband and I have had, and Ruta Oaxaca is fantastic. The Bonnie is a wonderful gastropub near beautiful Astoria Park. Not to mention tons of great Greek food!

  35. Karen

    Lived in Manhattan from ’80 to 2000 and never went to any of those restaurants save Sullivan Street bakery on 9th. My favorite restaurant was Perilla in the west village.. gone but not forgotten. Shops, yes: Samadi, Kalustyans. Murray’s cheese. We moved to nj in Oct of 2000 still consider nyc my “home”. P.S. what about Petey’s Pies?

  36. Rick Lugash

    OMG…thank you so so much for this list. I’m a devoted follower of yours and just stumbled upon this list of NY recommendations to eat and shop. This is priceless!!! Thank you so so much Deb. There’s a whole posse that follows you from here in Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. You’re like a celebrity here in our neighborhood. Please come visit.

  37. Judith Sieber-Küffner

    Good morning Deb
    This is great as my family and I are travelling to NYC in the beginning of September! I have been a reader of your blog for as long as food blogs exist… we are very much looking forward to our trip, this has been long overdue, it was first planned for October 2001 and then stopped for obvious reasons, now my husband and i are celebrating our 25th anniversary and the kids are joining us! Thank you for your inspirational kitchen! Love from Switzerland, Judith

  38. Ami

    I love the baked goods, burekas, and hamantaschen at Michaeli Bakery, on Division St across the street from Cervo’s! Opened by a Breads alum, it is SO good.

  39. Sandra Kramer

    Love your emails. Am always happy to see your logo, as, not only is it my initials, but I know I will be getting som interesting content. Would love it if you would give more seafood a try! Not being a New Yorker, I would love to visit and try out your favs.

  40. Michael

    I walk by Bonnie Slotnick’s place on Greenwich Street. Just above Canal. All the time. Have never entered! Can i say Deb sent me? Does she also have an outpost in the East Village?

    1. deb

      Bonnie Slotnick opened in the EV about 4 years ago; she was previously about a block away from Three Lives in the West Village. She has only one location. Definitely tell her I sent you!