Food and travel just go together. You’re not cooking, so it’s the perfect excuse to try all kinds of new things. One of the best ways to sample NYC’s best comfort foods — with dishes coming from countries all over the world — is to do a little neighborhood hopping. You don’t even have to know which country inspired it to enjoy the delicious options at busy canteens, where the goal is to make sure you always leave full and happy.
Lower East Side
The rumors are true: Nobody does deli like NYC. Crisp kosher dill pickles? Oh, yes. A good old-fashioned New York egg cream? You bet. A bologna sandwich? Of course. Just follow the trail of bagel crumbs to the Lower East Side, and check out Katz’s Delicatessen. You just can’t resist a deli that’s been around for over a century using slogans like “Send a salami to your boy in the army” to drum up business. It’s the place for classic deli sandwiches piled high with corned beef, roast beef, or pastrami. Sample any of the meats at the counter before ordering.
Crazy for smoked fish? Just a few blocks away, Russ & Daughters Cafe is the go-to spot for melt-in-your-mouth smoked sable, salmon, whitefish salad and latkes. If you miss the old country, Second Avenue’s Veselka serves up hearty Ukrainian foods like pierogies, stuffed cabbage, and kielbasa. And save room for the mind-blowing carrot cake. The thick cream cheese frosting is sinful.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Madison Square Garden, Koreatown has a pair of chopsticks and a spoon waiting with your name on them. This energetic area is jam-packed with Korean restaurants (about a dozen open 24/7), karaoke bars, spas, and shops. Get your Korean soul food fix with dishes like gochujang marinated pork ribs at Her Name is Han. For top-notch Korean staples like noodles, dumplings, fried rice, porridge, and pancakes, head to Woorijip Korean Restaurant.
In the West Village, dig into tasty Chinese eats at Hao Noodle, or tuck into Tuscan home cooking at I Sodi. For classic American comfort food, Minetta Tavern is the place for burgers, or Waverly Restaurant is a classic diner that serves up delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers, and milkshakes. If French comfort food is your thing — head to Buvette. Think cheese, ham, butter — and lots of it. If you’re a fan of Indian fast food, Masala Times is the place to go.
Head to Hell’s Kitchen for Mexican fare at Tehuitzingo that’s the real deal. Even breakfast classics like huevos rancheros and sausage and potato tacos are worth the trip. At Sticky’s Finger Joint, chicken fingers and sauces are the stars. The unique sauce choices include buffalo balsamic maple, cheddar cheese with sliced jalapeno, and Greek yogurt with dill and onion.
Flatiron & Downtown
At the massive food hall known as Eataly, you can chow down on every type of Italian comfort food you ever dreamed of, from rich desserts like cannoli to fresh pastas and loaded pizzas. Hello, fried calamari. Grab a seat at one of the many restaurants, cafes, or counters, and get ready to pig out.
Eataly is also an enormous market full of Italian foods, including amazing cheeses, salamis, and sauces. There are two locations in Manhattan, one in the Flatiron District near Chelsea and another in Westfield World Trade Center close to downtown.
Queens: Astoria and Glendale
You’ll have your pick of top-notch Greek restaurants in Astoria, but Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna gets extra points for down-to-earth Greek food done right and a casual, friendly vibe. Whether you’re craving beef gyros, grilled lamb chops, a Greek-style burger, or souvlaki, you’re in good hands here.
Does German sound better? Grab a pair of extra-roomy lederhosen — you’re pigging out, after all — and head for Glendale, where Zum Stammtisch serves stick-to-your ribs German food like bratwurst, Wienerschnitzel, knockwurst, sauerbraten, and potato dumplings. Polish it all off with apple strudel, cheesecake, or Black Forest cake. The owners are so serious about German food that they’ve also opened a German pork store right next to the restaurant.
Where do you go in New York City to satisfy your comfort food cravings? Share your favorites with us on Facebook.