Food in NYC – 7 Recommendations from the Locals

As you might have noticed, we like to write about food on Bay Essence, and it’s an important part of our travel experiences. However, another important thing we don’t mention enough is meeting our friends abroad. Not only have our friends been so generous to take us in when we need a place to crash, but they’ve shared priceless tips and showed us some really cool things along the way that we would have otherwise never discovered.

Some of these discoveries happen to be related to food. Fortunately, we’ve had the opportunity to visit New York City several times, and it’s one of those places that you can’t get tired of exploring because there is simply so much to see and do… and the food in NYC equals limitless options! Here are 7 places we loved and got to visit with our local NYC friends (in no particular order).

1. Pizza Pies at Luzzo’s in East Village


My cousin from South Africa and I met in New York for the first time. One of the things on her must-do list was to have a slice of the famous New York pizza. Although this sounded like the easiest of tasks, there are thousands of pizza shops and I had no clue which one served up a typical New York slice. Thankfully, we met with a friend of mine and she brought us to Luzzo’s.

Luzzo’s is a great place to have a more authentic Napoletana pizza or Italian pastas in a quirky farm-house ambiance.  They’ve inherited a coal oven, so their pizzas are crisp and sticking to the only the best combination of basics. We had the Michelle – mozzarella, prosciutto, mushrooms, truffle pate, and added tomato sauce. Order a bottle of wine with friends, and you’re set!

Visit Luzzo’s Website

2. All in One at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Smorgasburg

The Brooklyn Smorgasburg, held on Saturdays, is a place where you can’t go wrong because there’s something for everyone. Lines of 75-100 delicious food stands with diverse options, I recommend doing a lap around the place first to pick the best option. One of the best things I’ve had here is the ice cream sandwich with vanilla bean ice cream between two chewy almond macaroons, so make sure you leave room for dessert.

The Smorgasburg is on Williamsburg’s waterfront, AKA the hipster part of Brooklyn. Nearby, there are tons of boutiques, restaurants and an indoor market full of vintage clothes and accessories, handmade things that are generally associated with hipsters. As much I would like to sneer and hate on hipsters along with the rest of the world, you have to admit some of the things you’ll find here are pretty cool.

Visit Brooklyn Smorgasburg’s Website

3. Korean Hot Pot at BDC Tofu House in Koreatown, Manhattan

BDC tofu house

My last trip to NYC was in November, and coming from summer weather in Santiago, I was absolutely freezing! I met up with my high school friend Jen, and she knew I had to have missed Asian food in Chile so we went to a classic Korean spot in town, BDC Tofu House.

Per Korean custom, they brought out 7 appetizers for us to share (Banchan), including a small fried fish for each of us. I had the Kimchi Soon Tofu, brought out in their hot-stone pots and it really hit the spot – the flavors were on point and it was really filling.

Visit BDC Tofu House’s Website

4. Chinese Brunch: Dim Sum at Jade Asian Restaurant in Flushing

Photo: Patricia C. on Yelp!


You know you’re in an authentic and good Chinese place when all the clientele is Chinese and the staff have no need to speak English, that’s what you get at the huge, two-floor Jade Asian Restaurant specializing in Cantonese food and weekend dim sum. Luckily, I didn’t have to speak a word because my friend Jen is Chinese-American and she took care of all the ordering.

This was my first dim sum experience, and I’m so glad I made this discovery. They came around with a cart of dumplings and, I’m glad I wasn’t picking because everything looked good. We had so many plates and unlimited tea that we could have stayed here for hours trying new things.

Visit Jade Asian Restaurant’s Website

5. Over the Top Bloody Mary at Station House Pub in Forest Hills

Station House

A classic Bloody Mary with muddled arugula, pecorino cheese, rosemary, beef broth, and bacon. Enough said. It’s a beast, and a must try.

Visit Station House’s Website

6. A Different Side of Japanese Food in East Village


I LOVED this place, it’s in a fun and playful environment (they have a cotton candy machine!), and I have to go back to try more dishes. We went with a group of 6, and our friend Charlie was an expert on Japanese culture and food. As we chose our plates, she shared stories and cultural bits about Japan which really completed our experience.

I had two of my first here – the turkey testicles and bull penis (photo on the top right). Not sure if I would order them again, but I enjoyed the turkey testicles. Perfect place to try something out of the ordinary or more traditional ramen, soba, or udon dishes. Everything we had been delicious, and I recommend ordering a sake and a couple of plates to share family style to try as much as possible.

If you’re lucky, you can try their tuna bone and scrape off the meat like a cheap version of sashimi.

Visit Kenka’s Website

7. Sharwarmas and Falafels with The Halal Guys

Photo: Vivian N. from Yelp!


Another classic and with two stores and four carts around the city, this is the place to go when you need something good, cheap and filling in New York, which isn’t the easiest thing to find! It’s also open late, so if you need something after partying, stop by for their tasty platters or a gyro/shawarma.

Visit the Halal Guy’s Website

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