Bagels And Bodegas: 23 Things About Food Only True New Yorkers Understand

New York City is a magical place. TV shows from SATC to Seinfeld have shown us what it's like to live there, and in both of these cases, the city itself is in its own character. From Carrie Bradshaw twirling around in her beautiful skirt to Jerry Seinfeld eating at the same diner all the time, it's tough not to look at these people and think, "I want to make my dreams come true there, too."

I'll never forget the first time I went to New York. I was 13 years old and my parents and I stayed with our cousins who had an awesome West Village loft (with a spiral staircase and a celebrity who lived in the building). I was amazed by the creative energy of the city and how the sidewalks are crowded with both people and inspiration.

Every time I've been back since, it's all about the food: breakfast at the trendy, wonderful restaurant Jack's Wife Freda and any burger that I can get my hands on (yup, it's my favorite food ever). But I'm not a New Yorker, and so I can't really say that I truly get the things about food that people who are from there know.

The following 23 things are what only true New Yorkers get about food.

23 Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bagel Sandwiches Are The Best

via MyRecipes

When you're a true New Yorker, you eat this for breakfast: a sandwich on a bagel that has bacon, egg, and cheese. There is really no question about it, this is what you want to eat in the morning.

A lot of people who live in the city also talk about buying these from corner bodegas and how those taste amazing. These are also known as a good thing to eat if you stayed up a bit too late the night before.

22 Why Cook When You Can Order Takeout (Or Go Out)?

via Pinterest

As someone who rarely cooks (thankfully, I don't starve thanks to my personal chef/my foodie fiance), I totally understand that many New Yorkers would rather not cook. It seems like their motto is, why cook when you can order takeout or go to a fun restaurant?

Someone posted on Reddit and talked about this: "Seems like no one I know in NYC cooks. Not a single person. Not even people making less than 40k/year. A couple friends light up their ovens once or twice a week to bake frozen pizzas. One friend makes stew once every couple weeks. There seems to be an almost anti-cooking culture here. Has anyone else noticed this?"

21 You Need To Have Access To Every Cuisine All The Time

via eatkubeh.com

Something else that only true New Yorkers get is that you should be able to eat any type of food that you want at any given time.

This is definitely because New York is such a massive city with so many cuisines and restaurants. And the cool thing is that so many of these places are legit. In other places, you have a lot of hit and miss meals and it can be tough to find the gems in a sea of restaurants, but in NYC, a lot of these restaurants are amazing and worth a visit. As someone who goes to the same few places all the time, I'm jealous of New Yorkers and their choices.

20 The Best Restaurants Need To Be Kept Under Wraps

via Yelp

The Huffington Post says that New Yorkers know that the best restaurants should be kept hidden.

It's not considered cool to tell everyone that you know about the awesome place that you just went to last night with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Most of the time, these are tiny restaurants, so you don't want other people to find out about them. You know, for selfish reasons. It would suck to not be able to get a table. I can relate to that: there's a magical pub near my apartment and it's the worst when it's super crowded. There's something uniquely New York about discovering a great restaurant that's still under the radar. I respect that.

19 Pizza Is Best Eaten Standing Up

via Popsugar

Travel and Leisure says, "Eating pizza doesn’t require a table. The best way to eat a slice of pizza is while standing on the street."

The rest of us are totally eating pizza wrong and we don't tend to eat it while standing, but know we know that New Yorkers eat pizza standing up sometimes. This is good to know because if you ever go to New York (and of course you should since it's one of the most exciting cities ever), then you want to eat pizza the right way. So forget the table and eat it while standing.

18 You Don't Want To Go To Tourist Traps

via Yelp

Time Out says that going to tourist traps when you live in New York just isn't done: "You consider iconic NYC foods (Juniors cheesecake, John's pizza, Shake Shack burgers, etc.) to be "overrated" but are still weirdly proud that they started here."

I definitely understand not wanting to go to touristy places when you live in a place like New York where you basically have anything that you could ever want to eat right there at your fingertips... or least a long walk, taxi ride, or subway ride away. Why would you eat a regular old burger and fries? You just wouldn't.

17 When You Eat Pizza, Please, Please, Please Fold It

via GQ

The Culture Trip tells us the only process that we should be following should we find ourselves eating pizza in New York: "There is a right and wrong way to eat New York pizza. Don’t let us catch you with a fork and knife! Use your hands. Fold, and enjoy."

We have probably heard of this folding method before, but if we hadn't, we're glad that now we're in the know. It would definitely suck to be seen eating pizza wrong in New York, aka the coolest city ever.

16 Brunch Is Basically A Way Of Life

via Hostelworld

It's awesome that brunch has become such a big deal pretty much everywhere. I know I'm not alone in counting eggs, bacon, and all kinds of breakfast foods among my most favorite (and the stuff that I will eat any time of day).

In New York, though, brunch is such a massive thing that it's basically a way of life. You find the best brunch spots and make a real day of it. You don't mind the lines because you know it's going to be epic. You might even have to wait for hours and hours because some places are that popular, but you know it'll be worth it.

15 Food Trucks Are Actually A Great Place For A Good Meal

via amNY

The Culture Trip says that food trucks in New York City are actually really good places to get food from. The website notes that's not the case everywhere but it's definitely true in NYC.

This is good to know because if you're planning a trip anytime soon, you want to know where to eat. And it seems like if you're a foodie, you want to have the authentic New York foodie experience, and that includes going to some food trucks. Look up some types of food that you want to try and make a list before you go, and you should be good to go. (Of course, you have to post your food on social media, but you already knew that, right?!)

14 Ramen Is The Best

via Vogue

BBC Good Food notes that eating ramen is a thing that New Yorkers love to do. There are all kinds of ramen restaurants and this food is part of the NYC way of life. The combination of broth, noodles, veggies, and meat is truly delicious and worth seeking out if any of us find ourselves in New York City.

In fact, eating ramen is such a big thing that there are countless articles about where the best places to get it is. When there are tons and tons of top 10 lists about a type of food and where to get it, you know that it's good.

13 Bodegas Are A Legit Place To Grab Food

via The Trace

As Time Out says, New Yorkers shop for food at bodegas quite a bit, and it sounds like any of them are totally fine. The publication says, "Pick a bodega, any bodega will do. The smaller and [grimier] the better. Become friends with the guy behind the counter, pet the cat. Hey, you asked how to eat like a local."

I'm jealous of New Yorkers who can go to a corner bodega at any given time because that seems like such a fun thing to do. Going to the gourmet markets or regular old grocery stores in my neighborhood just doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

12 The Stuff On Bagels Is Called "Schmear"


A bagel with "schmear" is a bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, or any combination of toppings. You simply can't say that you're getting a bagel with toppings on it without using this word if you're a true New Yorker.

I love this so much and think that we should all use this word all the time. Also, I think it's awesome that bagels are such a big deal in NYC because it's nice to see people loving carbs so much. Maybe all of us carb-loving people should go ahead and move to New York? That seems like a really good (and delicious) idea.

11 Early Bird Dinners Don't Need To Happen

via The New York Post

I went to the University of Toronto and dinner actually started at 4:30 p.m. While, yes, that's super early and I would never eat at that time today, I would go pretty early sometimes so I could make it to my evening classes.

But in New York, early bird dinners aren't a thing at all... or a thing that most New Yorkers believe should exist. The Huffington Post says eating dinner at 11 p.m. is truly no big deal for a New Yorker. That makes sense. There's so much to do in that amazing city, why go for dinner super early?!

10 New York Bagels Are The Only Ones Worth Eating

via Stars Insider

According to The Huffington Post, this is something that New Yorkers know: New York bagels are the only ones that are worth eating. Don't go for any other bagel.

Are you wondering what makes a New York bagel taste the way that it does? Me too. According to Delish, "New York bagel shops (the real, genuine ones, that is) ferment their dough overnight in wooden containers, which allows tasty yeasts to grow and create complex flavor compounds. They then poach the bagels before baking them. The poaching is what you can thank for that true chewy texture of a New York bagel."

9 Takeout Can And Should Be Ordered 24/7

via My Jewish Learning

Something I always hear from people who live in New York is that they order takeout pretty much all the time. They feel very strongly about ordering food morning, noon, and night, and they don't understand how this isn't even possible in every single city or town.

I totally get it. Sometimes you have a massive craving for a certain food and even if it's midnight, why wouldn't you want to order in? New Yorkers have it made in the shade when it comes to ordering takeout. The rest of us are have to settle for finding restaurants that are actually open late (or going for fast food instead... yawn).

8 Waiting In Lines Is A Normal Part Of Eating Out

via NHPR

On my first NYC trip, my cousin brought us to a super packed restaurant for dinner and when my parents and I weren't keen on waiting in line, she informed us that everyone in New York waits in lines at restaurants.

This is something else that you only get if you're a true New Yorker. I personally hate waiting in lines, especially for food. I want my food and I want it now (I'm also impatient in general). But if you live in NYC, you get that the restaurants are so amazing and the food so epic that lines are no big deal to you.

7 You Probably Need A Reservation

via Pinterest

Another thing that true New Yorkers know is that it's probably a good idea to make a reservation if you want to go somewhere.

Reservations are a big deal since there are so many restaurants that have become very popular and trendy. You might not be able to get a table if you just show up, and in some cases, places get booked up weeks or even months in advance. Sure, you don't mind lines if you really want to eat somewhere, but you could be waiting forever and still not get in. It's good to be prepared and make sure that you can experience the restaurant that you want to.

6 On That Note, You Can Totally Snag That Reservation If You Try Hard Enough

via Vogue

Bloomberg.com says that there is definitely a way to get into the place that you're dreaming of. The publication interviewed Jim Meehan who says, “Ask to be put on the cancellations list and tell the contact that you will be standing by for their call—and then do. Most restaurants lose 10 percent of their reservations to no-shows or last minute cancellations. If they can rely on you to fill a slot, they’ll be more inclined to offer it to you, first.”

It sounds like New Yorkers know that reservations are always possible if you try hard enough. I respect that and think that this is a philosophy that we could all stand to use on a daily basis. Hard work pays off... and then you get to eat delicious food. Sounds good to me.

5 There Are Snacks Sold Everywhere... And They're Good

via Pinterest

When I think about New York snacks, I think of pretzels. You do too, don't you? These are definitely super popular.

As The Culture Trip points out, you really do want to try the snacks in NYC, including pretzels and nuts. The website says, "If you’ve ever walked down a New York City street, you’ve probably encountered the delicious aromas of honey-roasted nuts and gigantic, salty pretzels. Your first instinct may be to ignore those sweet scents, but we strongly recommend that you give them a chance." These do sound good. Those New Yorkers know what they're talking about when it comes to snack food.

4 Hot Dogs Should Be Gourmet, Not From Street Vendors

My Social Mate

According to BBC Good Food, "Hot dogs are as ubiquitous to New York as yellow taxis. Traditionally made of ground pork, beef or both, these frankfurter-style sausages are flavoured with garlic, mustard and nutmeg before being encased, cured, smoked and cooked."

We've all seen the hot dog carts that seem to be on almost every single street in New York. There are hot dog vendors in other places, too, of course, including a ton in the city where I live. But there is something unique about the ones in NYC. They just seem part of the fabric of the city. But you want to get them from a fancier restaurant that is gourmet and has cool, fun, toppings, not from a vendor.

3 Fancy And Casual Food Is Eaten Equally

via Today Show

Tucker Shaw decided to write down and take photos of all the food that he ate back in 2004, and as he wrote for New York Magazine that he realized that he ate both fancy and more casual food. He said, "Like many New Yorkers, I live a high-low culinary life. Last year, cold pizza and cereal shared stomach space with fluke four ways from Le Bernardin and raspberry financiers from Café Gray. Most important: Food is everywhere. It happens not just around the table but in the street, at the office, in front of the television, even on the subway."

This seems like something that is true for many people living in New York. I definitely associate NYC food with casual fare, like pizza and pretzels, along with five-star restaurants run by celebrity chefs.

2 Deli Food Is A Way Of Life

via Migrationology.com

One of the things that I love about New York is the delis. I grew up watching characters in movies and TV shows eating deli food in the city, and deli food is something that I ate a lot as a kid as well.

In New York, deli food is basically a way of life. A lot of New Yorkers absolutely love it. Think corned beef sandwiches, bagel sandwiches with cream cheese and lox, matzo ball soup, chicken noodle, and all kinds of delicious things. I have fond memories of deli food (I haven't found good gluten-free stuff yet) and bet that the deli food in NYC is the best that there is.

1 Food Trends Are For Tourists Only

via Popsugar

As The Huffington Post says, the Cronut is among the many food trends that New Yorkers know aren't necessary to try. New Yorkers feel that food trends are for tourists only.

This makes a lot of sense to me since, first of all, I think that the Cronut sounds pretty gross (but then again, I've never had one). And second of all, if your city was known for starting or continuing all kinds of food trends, you don't necessarily want to jump right in. You want to be cool and decide on your own what kind of food you're going to eat.

Who wants to head to NYC for a food-filled weekend?

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