10 Restaurants To Take Tourists To That Won’t Make You Hate Yourself

Not all touristy NYC restaurants are terrible.
10 Restaurants To Take Tourists To That Won’t Make You Hate Yourself image

Visitors to New York inevitably do things differently. Unlike you, they might actually look strangers in the eyes on the street because they're trying to spot Jennifer Lawrence or Matt Damon. They're also more interested in restaurants they've seen someone hit up on TV than any place they've never heard of before. All the spots on this guide will make your non-local friend happy, and you'll have a good time too.


photo credit: Emily Schindler



$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBrunchDay DrinkingKidsLunchOutdoor/Patio Situation
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Yes, you can find Roberta’s pies at Whole Foods, which automatically makes this place more corporate than your average pizza spot. But there’s a reason why institutions like White Castle eventually achieved ubiquity—because widespread love demanded it. Take any tourist in your life to this Bushwick spot, order the Bee Sting with soppressata, chili, and honey, and reminisce about when you thought honey on pizza was a revolutionary idea. If you want a fun setting for throwing back a few frozen rum drinks, sit on the huge patio.

If your friend is coming from a city where the best dim sum is in the frozen aisle at Trader Joe’s, taking them here is your duty. Although there aren’t nearly as many seats at Jing Fong’s new location on Centre Street as there were at its former Elizabeth Street banquet hall, we prefer the smaller space that doesn’t make you feel like you’re at a tech convention at a hotel. (The reduced seating also means you should get here a few minutes before this place opens to avoid a long wait.) The dim sum at Jing Fong is better than ever, and if you don’t see a dish you want rolling by, just mention it to the accommodating staff, and someone will bring it to you straight from the kitchen.

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

We don’t know exactly why or how everyone who visits this city knows about Via Carota, but they do. And since you, us, and approximately eight million of our neighbors also know about this Italian spot in the West Village, the waits here can be laughably long (since they don’t take reservations). So put your name on their list, check out a few places that come up when you search “nearby bars,” and maybe walk to that trees-on-stilts park you’ve been meaning to check out. Before you know it, you’ll be eating cacio e pepe tonarelli while thinking to yourself: “That wait wasn’t so bad.”

You can get things like fried rice with egg and cabbage, pork, and rice cakes in soup here, but the reason you come to this counter-service spot in Flushing is the plate of 12 wontons with hot sauce (no. 6). This order costs barely more than a roundtrip ride on the 7 train. While you’re in the neighborhood, check out a few other places to eat in Flushing like Guan Fu or Szechuan Mountain House. You might as well also attend a Mets game at nearby Citi Field.

Someone who paid hundreds of dollars to get on a giant metal tube with wings to visit this city has a few demands, and one of them is: bagels and lox. This is something you can get on board with, and Russ & Daughters should be your destination of choice. You may have walked by the long line at this 100-plus-year-old Jewish deli on Houston Street hundreds of times, but now you have an excuse to join the masses and try a pumpernickel bagel with one of more than 30 varieties of smoked fish. When your friend shows you the next demand on their list (Statue of Liberty), that’s when you say you have some work to do.

Ippudo is a famous ramen chain from Japan that decided to open their first overseas outpost in the East Village in 2008. Nothing against the city where your visiting friend is flying from, but there probably isn’t an Ippudo opening there anytime soon—so a trip here will feel special. Although new ramen spots pop up in NYC all the time, we still regularly come back here for their bowl of Akamaru Shinaji (tonkotsu broth with garlic oil and a secret house paste) and pork belly with mayo and spicy sauce in steamed buns. There’s another location in Midtown, which is handy if your friend wants to see a Broadway show.

Presidents like Obama and Clinton have eaten here, so, no, Sylvia’s isn’t some obscure spot that you only know about because your coworker happens to live on the same block. This legendary Harlem institution has been around since the 1960s, and you’re going to see plenty of people here from out of town on any given weekend. That’s because people (including you) are generally into fried chicken and waffles, slabs of BBQ ribs, and smothered pork chops. Come here for their gospel brunch on Sundays. It’s a good time.

It’s kind of a travesty that this place on the LES is known more for a fake orgasm scene than for the sliced meats behind their deli counter. Is there better pastrami out there than what's at Katz’s? We'd bet a week's salary that there isn't. Sure, you can come here and just order an egg salad sandwich because "that’s what you’re in the mood for." If that’s the case, you might as well go to Peter Luger (another place on this list) and order the grilled Atlantic salmon too. Don’t be that person. In case you’ve never been here before, you should know they have a weird ticketing system. We could explain it to you, but it’s more fun if you figure it out for yourself.

You’ll see a big “1894” neon sign in front of this place. We won’t make you do any math and just tell you that this Italian bakery in the East Village has been around a long time. The colorful display cases of pastries and gelato will make you feel like your 10-year old self again. Our favorite thing to get is a cream-filled, flaky lobster tail pastry with a double espresso. If you come when there’s a lot of people, be sure to grab a ticket first. That way, your number will be called by the time you figure out exactly what you want to get (which won’t be easy).

photo credit: Blue Ribbon Brasserie



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When you have people in town, there’s no going to bed at 10:30pm. Instead, there’s a lot of “Where should we eat?” being uttered aloud at a bar around 1am. The answer to this inevitable question is Blue Ribbon Brasserie in Soho. Your friend who’s crashing on your couch for the next four nights might be used to a cheesy gordita crunch late at night, so it’s your job to bring them here and order a rack of lamb and a seafood tower. If you come to Blue Ribbon without getting the beef bone marrow with oxtail marmalade, imagine us sending you a face palm emoji.

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