Yes, New York City hogs all the attention, but you’ll find outstanding dining and drinking destinations all across the Empire State. Seafood restaurants in Long Island, farm-focused gastropubs in the Hudson Valley, and microbreweries and iconic snack-serving pubs on the edge of a Great Lake are all part of the great New York food experience.
New Yorkers love variety, meaning you’ll never run out of options no matter how many weeks (or years) you stay. Here are some of the best food and drink experiences in New York State.
Eat your way around the globe in Queens
New York City’s biggest borough by size at roughly 109 square miles, Queens is nearly five times larger than Manhattan. Its vast neighborhoods also boast greater ethnic diversity than nearly any similarly sized area on the planet. Anyone seeking authentic global cuisine should head to Queens, where you’ll find everything from Tibetan momos (dumplings) to Ethiopian siga wot (beef stew). The subway will get you anywhere you need to go, meaning you can cross continents for the mere price of a MetroCard.
Where to try it: Head to Taverna Kyclades in Astoria for the city’s best Greek fare. Along Roosevelt Avenue, you’ll find a wide variety of Latin food trucks, including Mini Picanteria El Guaquileño, where you can have the Guayaquil favorite of encebollado (fish stew). Further east, Flushing boasts New York’s biggest and best Chinatown. The New World Mall has dozens of vendors selling Uyghur-style lamb, Korean bibimbap, Vietnamese pho, Peking duck, Thai street food, boba tea and much more.
Bite into a slice of brick-oven pizza
Entire books have been devoted to New York’s famous pizza, which is probably the most popular food in the Empire State. In 1905, Sicilian immigrant Gennaro Lombardi was the first to introduce the dish to the region when he opened a pizzeria in Manhattan’s Little Italy district. New York prides itself on pizza with a thin crust, an even thinner layer of sauce and the highest quality ingredients, which are best fired up in a brick oven.
Where to try it: You’ll find legendary pizzas across the five boroughs of New York City, from Juliana’s in Brooklyn to Zero Otto Nove in the Bronx. Of course, you needn’t be in the Big Apple for a perfect Italian pie. It’s well worth the train ride up to Rhinebeck, where you’ll find Pizzeria Posto serving authentic pies fired up in a wood-burning oven.
Enjoy farm-to-table dining in the Hudson Valley
North of NYC, in the fertile Hudson Valley, wood-paneled taverns and imaginative gastropubs make brilliant use of the agricultural bounty of the area. Farm-to-table food of all varieties can be found across the region. Picture locally sourced pork, brightly colored heirloom vegetables and foraged ingredients combined to create menus that change by the season – and sometimes by the day.
Where to try it: Nearly everything is grown or raised onsite at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, one of the best restaurants in New York State. There's no menu at this two Michelin star dining room, just a multi-course feast based on whatever is fresh that day. Wm Farmer & Sons in the town of Hudson has a first-rate seasonal menu, and you can also book a guest room above the restaurant.
Sip New York's finest wines in the Finger Lakes
In western New York, the rolling hills are sliced by 11 long narrow bodies of water called the Finger Lakes. With its cool climate and short growing season, the region is not unlike Germany’s Rhine Valley and is similarly strong in off-dry whites such as Riesling. There are numerous vineyards to explore, many with tasting rooms where you can learn all about the region’s wines.
Where to try it: Tucked along the densely forested shore of Cayuga Lake, the waterfront Sheldrake Point Winery has a beautifully set tasting room where you can sample award-winning Riesling, pinot gris and chardonnay wines. Over in sparkling Seneca Lake, you’ll find the pioneering Hermann J Wiemer Vineyard with intensely flavored Rieslings.
Have a seafood feast on Long Island
Aptly named Long Island (indeed the longest island in the lower 48 states) has a shoreline of golden beaches and seaside towns, where you’re never far from a meal of fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Old-school clam shacks, food trucks doling out lobster rolls and award-winning waterfront dining rooms are all part of the culinary largesse. Whether you’re on a road trip from Manhattan to Montauk or just spending your time in one or two places (the Hamptons, Greenpoint), you can have a sea-centric feast every day of the week and never run out of options.
Where to try it: The no-nonsense Clam Bar at Napeague is a Long Island classic and a must-visit when out on the eastern part of the island. Avoid the lunchtime rush (noon-2pm) when the crowds are thickest. At the dockside restaurant of Claudio’s in Greenport, you can slurp locally sourced North Fork oysters before delving into seafood combo platters.
Explore the craft beer scene in western New York
Two waterfront cities in western New York have become top destinations for brewery lovers. Near the northeastern tip of Lake Erie, Buffalo is home to nearly 50 craft breweries, along with beer-minded bars where you can taste a wide variety of classic and cutting-edge brews. While you're in town, don't forget to try the Buffalo wings, which were invented at the Anchor Bar back in 1964.
Just south of Lake Ontario, Rochester has a legendary beer scene and is home to the Genesee Brewery, one of the oldest continually operating breweries in the USA. It's worth planning your trip around Rochester's Flour City Brewers Fest. The August festival features breweries from across New York State, as well as local food and live music.
Where to try it: In Buffalo, Community Beer Works is a small-batch nano brewery with an ever-changing lineup of innovative beers, plus great food with recommended beer pairings. Rochester’s much-loved Swiftwater Brewing Company calls itself a farm brewery and uses fresh and seasonal ingredients whenever possible.
Vegetarian and vegan diners
New York is a relatively easy place for travelers who stick to plant-based diets. You’ll find vegetarian restaurants across the state, as well as plenty of purely vegan eateries. Many high-end places that once served few meatless dishes now have many more options for vegetarians.
NYC’s Eleven Madison Park, a three Michelin-star winner, even went vegan in 2021, a move that may inspire other restaurants nationwide to explore the idea of creating entirely plant-based menus. Also worth checking out is the Garden Cafe in the charming Catskills town of Woodstock for some fresh vegan eats (all of their ingredients are organic!).