My Favorite New York Eats

October 20, 2021

In the summer of 2021, I traded in foggy San Francisco summers for humid New York City summers. Despite the sewer rats and smelly hot summer streets, I fell in love with New York City. The people, the places, and the energy makes New York so special. There’s never nothing to do and always something new to try.

These are some of my favorite restaurants in New York City.

Scarr’s Pizza

slice of pizza outside of Scarr’s pizza

Slice of the Grandma Pie

Scarr’s Pizza is my favorite pizza shop in New York City. Yes, I know, bold statement.

After hearing Scarr’s mentioned so many times in Bon Appetit, I knew I had to check them out. The first two times I went to Scarr’s, the line was too daunting and I ended up grabbing a bite from nearby restaurants in Chinatown (Wah Fung No 1. is a few blocks away). But the third time’s the charm with only a 10 minute line. They were out of all individual slices at the time except for the Grandma Pie, so that’s the slice I got. And that slice was the best slice of pizza I had all summer. The inside of the crust was light and airy but held the weight of the sauce and toppings. The outside of the crust was crispy and crunchy. It would make for excellent ASMR. The sauce was incredibly flavorful and complex with a touch of garlic.

Scarr’s is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Orchard Street. The storefront is pretty small and easy to miss, but the long line that forms outside is definitely not easy to miss. Knowing what I know now, I would definitely wait in line for a slice (more like a whole pie).


Joe’s Steam Rice Roll

Rice noodles on a plate

Rice roll

person making rice noodles

Rice roll making in action!

Joe’s is a Cantonese restaurant in New York City. They started in Queens and have since grown to two locations in Manhattan.

The rice rolls at Joe’s are different from the rice rolls (cheung fun) I’ve had in the Bay Area. The rice roll sheet itself is much thinner, resulting in more layers of rolls. The texture is also more bouncy and less chewy. Joe’s rice rolls also have more filling and topping options. Joe’s is a classic for both locals and tourists.

There are three locations:

  • Chinatown in Manhattan
  • Upper West Side in Manhattan
  • Flushing in Queens

The Flushing location is small with limited seating, but you can watch them make the rice rolls! There are also other food stalls in the mini-mall building if you are looking for other snacks to pair with your rice rolls. The location in Manhattan’s Chinatown has more seating and other food stalls in the mini-mall as well. They’re located closer to the center of the mini-mall and have pretty high walls, so you can’t watch them make the rice rolls.


Russ and Daughters

Bagel with cream cheese and lox from Russ and Daughters

Bagel with lox and cream cheese

As a San Franciscan, I haven’t had too many bagels in my life and didn’t think much of them. That was until I went to New York, a city famous for its bagels. Russ and Daughters changed my world view on bagels.

After trying many bagel shops all over Manhattan, Russ and Daughters is my favorite. A plain bagel with cream cheese and lox (no red onions or capers) is my go-to. The plain bagel is a staple. It’s crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. The salmon is oh so fresh. And the cream cheese is smeared on a little too thick but balances out well with the salmon.

It’s simple, but I always go back. They’re quite pricey compared to other bagel options you can find in the city. It’s a special treat for me every time I visit New York

There are two locations in Manhattan. The one on Houston Street is deli style with no seating. I’d usually head over to the office or to Tompkins Square Park to enjoy my breakfast. The other location on Orchard Street is a restaurant with seating and more options.

Interesting note: Historically, businesses were named after sons. Joel Russ only had daughters, which is why the store was named Russ and Daughters. All his daughters helped run the business.


Golden Unicorn

dim sum including cheung fun, shrimp dumplings, spare ribs, shui mai, stuffed bean curd

Cheung fun, shrimp dumplings, stuffed bean curd, spare ribs, shui mai, stuffed beancurd skin roll (left to right to center)

Growing up, dim sum and tea was a weekend ritual. Finding homey spots while traveling always brings me comfort. Golden Unicorn is a spot that brings me comfort in a hustling and bustling city.

With the gold and red decoration, fresh dim sum aroma, and sounds of chatter and clinking chopsticks throughout the restaurant, Golden Unicorn feels like home. My dim sum go-tos are chicken feet, cheung fun, shrimp dumplings, spare ribs, and shumai. They all hit the spot (minus the cheung fun that were cold).

Golden Unicorn is located on Broadway Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown. There’s an outdoor seating area, a small indoor space at street level, and a huge indoor space on the third floor via the elevator from the entrance around the corner.


Saigon Shack

bahn mi sandwich

Bahn mi

New York is a notoriously expensive city. Despite this, there are food spots that are still relatively more affordable. Saigon Shack is one of them. Compared to other meals I’ve had in the city, this was delicious and a great deal.

Saigon Shack is a Vietnamese sandwich and noodle shop. They are my go to spot for banh mi sandwiches. My favorite is the S.S. Classic Sandwich. It’s made with Vietnamese ham, house bacon, pate, mayo, cucumber, cilantro, carrots, and daikon. The bread is crispy on the outside, oh so fluffy on the inside. The pate is rich and creamy. The pickled carrots and daikon brings acidity and cuts the pate. The cucumber adds crunch and texture. Each bite is perfect. The Vietnamese iced coffee is also great on a hot afternoon. In total, everything was under $15.

Saigon Shack is located on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. There’s usually a long line during dinner. But things move efficiently so the wait goes by pretty quickly. It’s in a busy neighborhood near NYU so there’s plenty to do around the area.

Also, they’re cash only. Bring cash!


For more New York eats, check out

Profile picture

Written by Sophia who is currently traveling around the United States.