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Aug 27, 2008 07:54 PM

Uniquely New York?

During my travels I make it a point to eat something that is unique to the city I'm visiting or that had originated in the city. For example my last trip was to New Orleans, I skipped the gumbo and cajun food and went straight for the Muffelatta Sandwich. I ate one at the origninal shop, Central Grocery, then I ate one at a small restaurant that added their own twist to it that the locals raved about. So my question is what is unique or originated in New York? Please don't say pizza because while I know that NY is famous for thin crust pizza I have gorged myself on pizza on a trip to Naples, Italy. This is my first trip to NYC and I'm more interested in eating where the locals eat and not at the "chef of the moment" overpriced eatery. Thanks for any guidance.

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  1. everyone says pastrami on club bread at katz's deli for a reason.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sam1

      rye. not club. rye.

      and despite your request - pizza - there- i've said it

      1. re: thew

        I agree re thew's pizza suggestion -- Neapolitan pizza is a different beast than NY style.

        I also agree with the bagel suggestion -- my own favorite is Murray's. Just don't make the rookie mistake of asking them to toast your bagel.

        I'd also suggest some Israel-style falafel at Azuri, Olympic (get the laffa bread), or Taim. Still haven't found any places like these in the US outside of NYC.

    2. Russ and Daughter is the only appetizing store I've every seen, anywhere. It is a real slice of old New York and is unique to NYC and possibly unique to all of America.

      Russ & Daughters
      179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

      1 Reply
      1. re: KTinNYC

        My preferred appetizing store is Barney Greengrass. I think the smoked salmon and sturgeon are miles better, though Russ & Daughter does win points for their whitefish salad. Plus it comes with an H&H bagel! Down the street at Zabar's you can get your knishes before hopping on the 1 to get Junior's cheesecake in Midtown.

        Of course pastrami and rye is a classic along with the egg cream, but if you really want to eat how the locals eat, get a hot dog from Grey's Papaya and wait in line for 15 minutes at Duane Reade so a surly clerk can roll her eyes at you before ringing up your now warm Fresca. Snack on falafel from Ali Baba, and enjoy lamb on rice with white and hot sauce at the truck on 53rd and 6th. For extra authenticity, pay $11 for a sandwich, chips and soda in Midtown. Then walk around for 5 hours until you're exhausted and grab some Chinese takeaway that you paid $30 for. As you eat dinner, look in your empty wallet and wonder what on earth you spent all your money on. Then you'll really eat like a New Yorker!

        Barney Greengrass
        541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

        H&H Bagels
        2239 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

      2. Smoked salmon and bagels (Russ and Daughters is awesome), maybe a bialy, pastrami on rye at Katz's Deli, an egg cream.

        Disagree about skipping pizza because NY pizza is distinctly different from Naples style pizza (coal burning vs. wood burning oven, etc).

        There are also tons of places that are interesting for historical or atmosphere reasons: McSorley's, Keens, 21 Club, etc.

        See also:

        1 Reply
        1. re: kathryn

          Speaking of lox, here's Mark of Russ & Daughter's on the different varieties:

        2. Egg and cheese sandwiches on a toasted roll, with or without bacon. - maybe people eat these mutant breakfast sandwiches elsewhere and i'm not aware of it....but it seems pretty New York to me.

          Kosar's Bialey - Everyone has bagels but...
          Zabar's Knishes - the last of a dying breed.
          Gray's Papaya hot dogs. Grilled by Filipinos, and served with foamy juices if you want them. The 'recession special' is classic New York at this point.
          Italian rice balls - probably not entirely unique to NY, but still.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sugartoof

            papaya king, not grays. gray's is a papaya king copy.

            1. re: thew

              No, I said Gray's. I could care less which one came first. There's a Papaya King at the airport. I send my friends to Gray's for a genuine New York experience.

              1. re: sugartoof

                I have to agree with Papaya King - and the original on 86th and Lex is still the best.

            2. re: sugartoof

              Ah, GREAT call on the egg-and-cheese sandwich, which apparently doesn't exist in LA, much to my annoyance.

            3. Definitely an egg cream -- the quintessential NYC drink.