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Food

39 Delicious New York City Foods That Deserve More Hype

Congratulations, you’ve graduated from the Cronut-and-Katz’s pastrami level of your NYC eating education. In this advanced class, we’ll explore lesser-known and often overlooked foods that actually taste better anyway.

1. Patacones at Cachapas Y Mas

A sandwich, but instead of bread, the insides (the best ones are filled with cheese, shredded chicken, or pork) are held together by two giant smashed, fried plantains. (1329 St. Nicholas Ave., Manhattan & 107 B Dyckman St., Manhattan)

2. Sesame Pancake at Vanessa’s Dumplings

Vanessa’s is best known for its cheap eponymous dumplings, but the sesame pancakes — which consist of warm bread stuffed with pickled vegetables and either duck, beef, chicken, or egg — are the real stars. Dousing with sriracha recommended. (In Manhattan: 118A Eldridge St. & 220 E 14th St; In Brooklyn: 310 Bedford Ave.)

3. Egg, Cheese, and Chorizo Sandwich at Eggs Travaganza

The East 50s are basically a barren desert when it comes to food that tastes good and doesn’t cost as much as a plane ticket. The Eggs Travaganza truck (silly name aside), parked daily on 52nd and Park, is the desert’s oasis. An oasis in the form of fresh chorizo and hot carbohydrates with egg and cheese in the middle. A pretty good oasis. (Northeast corner of Park Ave. and 52nd St., Manhattan)

4. Peking Duck Bun at Corner 28

Corner 28 in Flushing is a whole restaurant, but what you want is the $1 Peking Duck bun from the stall outside. (40-28 Main St., Queens)

5. Royale With Cheese at Royale

Debate all you want about the best burger in town — this one is at the top of the list. Plus, it’s called the Royale With Cheese! Also on site: “bacon picklebacks” and a nice garden in the back. (157 Ave. C, Manhattan)

6. Two Doubles at A&A Bake and Doubles Shop

The Trinidadian speciality — a chickpea-based filling with crusty bread around it — makes for a really good breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. (481 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn)

7. Perfect Little Egg Sandwich at Dominique Ansel

The cronut turned Dominique Ansel into an international celebrity and his bakery into a madhouse with lines stretching to New Jersey, but did you know he also makes a great little egg sandwich? (He calls it “perfect”). And you don’t have to wait in the stupid cronut line for it. (189 Spring St., Manhattan)

8. Sandwich at Alidoro

Alidoro’s sandwiches — which get stuffed with various permutations of prosciutto, chicken, mozzarrella, eggplants, and so on — manage to be huge without being sloppy. They’re like a refined version of an Italian deli sub and they will make you very happy. (105 Sullivan St., Manhattan)

9. Wontons In Chili Oil at White Bear

I mean, just look at it. (135-02 Roosevelt Ave., Queens)

10. Soba at Cocoron

Ramen gets a lot of hype, but if you don’t want to fall into a food coma after your meal, soba is the superior Japanese noodle. Cocoron offers “dipping soba,” where you dip cold noodles into a hot, concentrated broth (and then dip them into your mouth). When you’re done, you get a pot of the water used to cook the noodles, which, combined with the broth, makes a soup. It’s two delicious meals for the price of one. Also, try the desserts — namely, the ingenious “green tea affogato” — and appreciate the cute manga characters illustrating the menus. (37 Kenmare St., Manhattan & 61 Delancey St., Manhattan)

11. Peel Noodles at Sheng Wang

Hillary Reinsberg

The deliciously chewy, slippery peel noodles at Sheng Wang, a mostly tourist-free noodle shop on Eldridge, are hand-cut with a knife so that they end up in jagged uneven strips. (3 Eldridge St., Manhattan)

12. Pierogies at Lomzynianka

If you’re going to have Polish food, you should do it in Greenpoint, at Lomzynianka. A big plate of excellent pierogies (potato and cheese recommended, but take your pick) topped with onions and sour cream costs just $5.50. (646 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn)

13. Spicy And Sour Lamb Dumplings at Xi’An Famous Foods

Xi’An Famous Foods indeed has a bunch of famous foods — their noodles, soups and lamb burgers are beloved by everyone with a brain who likes cheap spicy food. Now they make dumplings too, which is great news. (In Manhattan: 67 Bayard St., 2675 Broadway; In Brooklyn: 86 Beadel St. The Queens and Midtown locations don’t currently carry the dumplings, but you can get them at Xi’An’s sit-down restaurant Biang! in Flushing.)

14. Ramen at Benkei Ramen

If you’re looking for ramen on a Tuesday night at 3 a.m., meet Benkei, a late-night ramen pop-up that opens in the space of Lower East Side restaurant Hill & Dale after they close up for the night. It’s currently open from midnight to 4 a.m. on Monday through Wednesday, and from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays. (115 Allen St., Manhattan)

15. Pumpkin Bun at Golden Steamer

It’s a Chinese steamed bun, but instead of a roast pork filling, you get gooey pumpkin paste. For less than a dollar. All year round. Stand down, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes. (143A Mott St., Manhattan)

16. Date, Lime, and Banana Smoothie at Taim

Taim is famous for its excellent falafel, but the real star is a drink made from dates and bananas blended with…soy milk and…lime. One sip will convince you the odd-sounding combination is in fact one of the best non-alcoholic beverages in this city.(222 Waverly Pl., Manhattan & 45 Spring St., Manhattan; plus a mobile truck that’s regularly in Flatiron and FiDi.)

17. Takoyaki at Otafuku

Takoyaki are Japanese fried balls of savory pancake-like patter, with octopus in the middle (they look a little like Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins). At Otafuku in the East Village, they’re served piping hot with gooey insides, and covered in a bunch of sauces and bonito flakes. (236 E 9th St., Manhattan)

18. Chickpea Fries at Peacefood Cafe

Unlikely as it may seem, fries made out of chickpeas can taste better than fries made out of potatoes. (41 E. 11th St., Manhattan & 460 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan)

19. Arepas at The Arepa Lady

Since 1990, Maria Cano has sold highly satisfying cheese-filled arepas at her Arepa Lady cart on Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights. She’s opening a restaurant nearby soon, which is great news for everyone. (Cart at Roosevelt Ave. nr. 78th St., Queens; Restaurant will be at 77-02AA Roosevelt Ave.)

20. Carte De Musica at John Dory Oyster Bar

If there’s a trendy bar in heaven, I hope they have this as a bar snack. Slices of bottarga (pressed mullet roe) and little chiles are placed between two Italian crackers spread with butter, which are called carte de musica because they’re so thin they look like sheet music. If you like briny, salty things, you will like this very much. (1196 Broadway, at 29th St., Manhattan)

21. Chocolate Babka at Breads Bakery

Not your grandmother’s babka. Really. Your grandmother’s babka is great, I’m sure — but Breads’ version tastes less like dried-out coffee cake and more like challah French Toast, delicately striped with super-high quality chocolate. (18 East 16th St., Manhattan)

22. Cheetos Macaron at Macaron Parlor

Macarons are everywhere. Cheetos macarons are not everywhere. ( 111 St. Marks Pl., Manhattan & 560 Columbus Ave., Manhattan)

23. Almond Croissant at Almondine

This DUMBO bakery sustained serious damage after Hurricane Sandy, and was forced to close for almost a year. They’re back up and running now, and their almond croissant makes New York a better place. (85 Water St., Brooklyn)

24. Gelato at A.B. Biagi

Come once for the rotating selection of esoteric gelato flavors, like gorgonzola, or the pesto-like basil and pine nut. Come back for the hazelnut, which tastes like a cold jar of Nutella. (235 Elizabeth St., Manhattan)

25. Black Sesame Ice Cream at The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

Sesame Seed is the ice cream flavor you never knew you needed. Soy Sauce flavor is sometimes available here, too — it tastes surprisingly like salted caramel. (65 Bayard St., Manhattan)

26. Swingle at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie

swin·gle [swin-guhl] (n.): A frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate, on a stick. Best enjoyed with a view of the Statue of Liberty from a pier in Red Hook. (204 Van Dyke St., Brooklyn)

27. Cream Puff at Caprices By Sophie

French sources confirm this might be the best French pastry in the five boroughs. (138 N. 6th St., Brooklyn)

28. Carrot Cake at Lloyd’s Carrot Cake

A few blocks past the very last stop on the 1 train lies the best cream cheese frosting in these five boroughs. Or anywhere, maybe. (6087 Broadway, Bronx & 1553 Lexington Ave., Manhattan)

29. Pesto Slice at Dani’s House Of Pizza

The best pizza place in Queens has been around since 1959. And their best slice of pizza is the pesto slice. (81-28 Lefferts Blvd., Queens)

30. M.O.R. Pizza at Denino’s

A perfect iteration of Staten Island thin crust pizza. BTW, M.O.R. stands for meatball onion ricotta. (524 Port Richmond Ave., Staten Island)

31. Square Slice at L&B Spumoni Gardens

Instead of waiting in an hour-long line for grumpy service at Di Fara, enjoy Brooklyn’s actual best pizza (maybe) with a square slice here. (2725 86th St., Brooklyn)

32. Tacos at Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos

A taco place that also happens to be a tortilla factory. (271 Starr St., Brooklyn)

33. Breakfast Burrito at Stan’s Cafecito

Those who swear no good breakfast burritos exist on the East Coast have not been to Stan’s. (172 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn)

34. Smoked Salmon at Acme Smoked Fish

From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays, the Greenpoint warehouse that supplies Russ & Daughters is open to the public. Pro-tip: Acme doesn’t provide carbs on which to place your smoked fish, so get a bagel at Bagelsmith when you get off the L at Bedford. (30 Gem St., Brooklyn)

35. Banh Xeo at Bún-Ker Vietnamese

It’s a crepe with bacon, shrimp, and bean sprouts, and it’s what we’re having for brunch. (46-63 Metropolitan Ave., Queens)

36. Mozzarella at Casa Della Mozzarella

The freshly-made, still warm mozzarella makes this place worthy of the name “House of Mozzarella.” (604 E 187th St. (Arthur Ave.), Bronx)

37. Sushi at Bugs

There are dozens of places to eat creative sushi in New York, but nowhere will it be as much fun as at the homey Bugs in the East Village, run by Sho Boo, one of the city’s few female sushi chefs. (504 E 12th St., Manhattan)

38. Ghenet Combination at Ghenet

Here’s what you do: go with four people, order the $60 combination, which gets you basically all of the restaurant’s best dishes for $15 a person. (348 Douglass St., Brooklyn)

39. Grits at SCRATCHbread

Top your grits with pesto and bacon. And bring those people who say good grits are only in the South. (1069 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn)

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