If America is a melting pot, then New York’s diversity of cuisine is one of its finest manifestations. In the foodie capital of the USA, it’s not so much a question of finding a cuisine, as trying to choose between them. The numbers say it all: over 180 nationalities – and counting – live in New York. You could find your way through the neighborhoods by scent alone, from the smoky tang of caramel-skinned duck in Chinatown (Peking Duck House is one of its best restaurants) to the chunky tomato sauces that hark back to grandma’s kitchen in Naples, ladled out at many of Little Italy’s trattorias.
And of course, New York-style pizza is a city obsession and the ultimate urban fuel, often wolfed down while on the run – try the thin-crust slices at Lombardi’s. The city’s Jewish heritage introduced such favorites as bagels with cream cheese, which have become synonymous with New York cuisine. You’ll find old-world delis across town, particularly on the Lower East Side, where one of the best is Katz’s Delicatessen. And if you’re in the mood for spicy food, try some fiery salsa at the Mexican and Latin American taquerías (taco stalls) of Spanish Harlem, or head to Koreatown – or K-town – for kimchi (a spicy vegetable dish) and karaoke on and around West 32nd Street.
Farther afield, munch on grape leaves and tangy feta at the lively Greek restaurant Agnanti in Astoria, Queens, and for a vodka-fueled Russian feast, make your way to the restaurants of Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, where nothing’s done in moderation, from the velvet paintings to the bubbling vats of beef stroganoff.
Agnanti 19–06 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, Queens;
Katz’s Delicatessen 205 East Houston Street, Lower East Side;
Lombardi’s 32 Spring Street, SoHo;
Peking Duck House 28 Mott Street, Lower East Side;