Pretzels on a vendor’s stand near Columbus Circle, Manhattan — Photo courtesy of pisaphotography / Shutterstock
New York is a dynamic food metropolis that offers an incredible array of diverse cuisines. But the city’s food and dining experiences go far beyond the traditional restaurant, bar, or café. So if you’re passionate about food but crave gastronomic adventures that offer more than just sit-down dining, these nine destinations in the Big Apple should be on your menu.
Kitchen Arts & Letters, 1435 Lexington Avenue
Cookbooks at the Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore — Photo courtesy of Laura Stewart
Nestled in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper East Side lies a treasure trove that every food lover needs to know about — Kitchen Arts & Letters. With over 13,000 books that cover baking, grilling, food history, culture, and culinary science, Kitchen Arts & Letters is a feast for the mind and palate. Explore the flavors of diverse cultures with the shop’s remarkable collection of international cookbooks, including rare and imported titles. Boasting a 40-year legacy, this culinary institution is celebrated by professional chefs and all who harbor a burning passion for food and drink.
Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue
People enjoying the food at Chelsea Market in Chelsea, Manhattan — Photo courtesy of agsaz / Shutterstock
If shopping is more your bag, step into Chelsea Market, a historic indoor food hall in New York’s lively Chelsea neighborhood. Indulge in fresh seafood, international dishes ranging from Chinese noodles to Jamaican jerk, and irresistible sweet treats like crepes and doughnuts, all under one roof. And the delights don’t stop at food — the market also features shops that sell clothing, accessories, and homewares.
Smorgasburg, multiple locations
People relishing al fresco dining at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — Photo courtesy of gabriel12 / Shutterstock
Smorgasburg is heaven for foodies. Held every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from April to October across four locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, this open-air food market showcases an eclectic selection of dishes from every corner of the world. Whether you’re a food aficionado or seeking a fun, local activity, Smorgasburg offers a buzzing atmosphere and some of the city’s best eats, from oxtail nachos to fried pasta and Iranian desserts.
Food tours in NYC, various neighborhoods
A street vendor on Mulberry St. in Little Italy, Manhattan — Photo courtesy of Stuart Monk / Shutterstock
NYC has a plethora of unique food tours — there’s truly a gastronomic adventure for every unique taste. Explore the secret dining scene of Greenwich Village, uncover hidden sweet treats on a New York City Underground Donut Tour, discover the best pizza in Brooklyn, immerse yourself in Harlem’s rich heritage with a soul food and jazz tour, or experience the diversity of the Lower East Side food scene. These outings are packed with delicious tastings and insights into the cultural history behind each dish, promising a mind-expanding and palate-pleasing experience in the Big Apple.
The Tin Building, 96 South Street
People sitting outside the Tin Building in the Seaport area of Manhattan — Photo courtesy of Anne Czichos / Shutterstock
Sitting in the shadow of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and once part of the historic Fulton Fish Market, the Tin Building is 53,000 square feet of good eats. The brainchild of famous French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the Tin Building is a hub of gastronomic delights, featuring specialty gourmet groceries and tons of dining options that focus on sustainable, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. Here, you’ll find everything from haute French dining and an elegant Italian to a swank Chinese restaurant and a sushi spot, as well as plenty of casual options like a burger bar and a Mexican eatery.
Kalustyan’s, 123 Lexington Avenue
Kalustyan’s specialty food and spices store in the “Curry Hill” neighborhood of Manhattan — Photo courtesy of DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock
Kalustyan’s is a renowned specialty food store in New York City. Founded in 1944, this beloved destination in Manhattan’s “Curry Hill” neighborhood boasts over 30,000 products sourced from around the world. From rare spices to teas, oils, and sauces, Kalustyan’s provides an unparalleled selection of diverse flavors. The store also features a deli counter that serves Middle Eastern and Indian-inspired dishes.
The Essex Kitchen, 88 Essex Street
A deli in the Essex Market in the Lower East Side, Manhattan — Photo courtesy of Milton Ekman / Shutterstock
Located within the bustling Essex Market, which has been selling fresh grocery items and prepared meals in the Lower East Side for over 100 years, the Essex Kitchen is a state-of-the-art demonstration and teaching kitchen. Here, the talents of local chefs, food entrepreneurs, and artisans are showcased, as the dynamic space offers a platform for pop-up events, cooking demonstrations, and tastings.
Queens Night Market, Queens
Visitors at the Queens Night Market in Corona, Queens — Photo courtesy of Tom Wurl / Shutterstock
Established in 2015, Queens Night Market is a renowned open-air night market in New York’s most diverse borough. Featuring over 100 vendors serving international street food, snacks, desserts, and beverages, you can eat your way across the globe, from Burmese snacks to Romanian sweets. Because many dishes cost around $6, you can sample to your heart’s content. You’ll also find handmade crafts and jewelry made by local artisans, as well as live music, all of which create an electric atmosphere that celebrates the multicultural tapestry of Queens.
SOS Chefs, 104 Avenue B
SOS Chefs food boutique in Alphabet City, Manhattan — Photo courtesy of SOS Chefs
Looking to step up your cooking game? Look no further than SOS Chefs, the ultimate destination for a unique selection of top-notch ingredients and food products. This specialty food store is a real gem, specializing in sourcing those elusive and hard-to-find items that’ll make your dishes stand out, like Persian limes and Egyptian ajwain seeds. Explore the store’s wide range of products, including spices, herbs, salts, grains, oils, vinegar, and condiments.