Hot dogs, pizza, tacos… in New York City you can find food trucks and stands selling some of the most emblematic budget meals in the world. Wandering the streets means discovering new flavors and ways of enjoying food like a local. But aside from that, New York is famous for its street food and the culture that comes with it.
Street food in New York is an experience you shouldn’t miss. Check out our picks for your next visit!
When you think of New York street food, you immediately picture a hot dog stand in the middle of 5th Avenue. Hot dogs are to New York what croissants are to Paris and what pizza is to Napoles. When in the city, you need to try this quick and cheap snack as you walk around the streets.
Hot dog stands are spread across New York, and you will find one in pretty much every corner you turn, along with pretzels and beverages to complement your meal.
Sabrett Hot Dogs
One of the most popular hot dog stands is Sabrett Hot Dogs near Central Park. Add both ketchup and mustard for a fulfilling experience.
You didn’t think we would leave pizza off this list, did you? Pizza is such an extensive category of New York street food that we wrote an entire article about it! Make sure to bookmark Best Pizza in NYC: The Definitive Guide for your next trip.
From square-shaped “pizza in reverse” at L&B Spumoni Gardens to the anchovy pizza pie at Louie & Ernie’s, the Big Apple has more than a few places to sink your teeth into an amazing slice.
A runner-up to the hot dog, taco stands are also a favorite part of the New York street food experience. Most of them are Tex-Mex style, filled with juicy meat and other ingredients complementing the fatty filling from pork carnitas, chicken, or carne asada. You can find taco stands all over the city, and there are some famous ones that you shouldn’t miss.
Los Tacos No.1
Los Tacos No.1 is the most famous street-food style tacos in New York. They have different locations around the city, and you will need to get in line to get yours. Don’t worry; it’s worth it. Other well-known taco places are Tacos El Bronco II, Tacos el Chicken (120 Beverley Rd, Brooklyn), and Tacos La Carcachita (Wyckoff Ave &, Palmetto St, Brooklyn), all of which offer hard and soft shell wonders. Birria-Landia, another famous option, was even said by The New York Times to have changed the taco landscape in the city.
Insider’s tip: Don’t miss our guide to the best Mexican restaurants in New York City!
Ever bumped into a line of people wrapped around the block in New York? This likely means that they are waiting to get a plate from a Halal food stand. Halal is an Islamic dietary law where the meat is slaughtered and prepared in a particular manner. In New York, Halal street food means chicken and lamb gyros, salads, and spiced rice drizzled with a creamy sauce similar to tzatziki.
The Halal Guys and Royal Grill Halal Food
The Halal Guys and Royal Grill Halal Food are very popular all around the city, serving mouth-watering bowls of food perfect for a hefty lunch on a weekday. For some cheap Mediterranean or Arabic flavors, any Halal stand will do the trick!
Other amazing options for New York Street Food
Hungry for more New York street food? Check out our honorable mentions for must-eat options around the city:
Divine Flavored Food Truck
The Divine Flavored Food Truck brings West African dishes to the New York street food landscape. Located in front of the Nigerian Embassy, its strategic positioning serves its mission of introducing classic African breakfast and lunch dishes to the west. In the morning, try the akara, a fried bean paste with onions and salt. For lunch, go for the green vegetable stew known as elegusi. The dun dun, or fried yam strips, work as a perfect snack during an afternoon office break.
Jerk Shack Caribbean
Late-night munchies have found an exotic home in New York, straight from Jamaican cuisine. Jerk Shack Caribbean is perfect for those craving Jamaican BBQ jerk chicken, vegan platters, or curry goat. Build a bowl of fresh vegetables and juicy meat, and enjoy the authentic flavors of the Caribbean.
Calexico is one of the few stands in the city that sells traditional Mexican foods. Although they have a Californian touch, most dishes come straight from the original Mexican food repertoire. Smalls carts spread all over the city offer dishes like burritos and tacos, chipotle-seasoned pork with melted cheddar cheese, and even bowls of rice, beans, and fish.
Nuts 4 Nuts
Nuts 4 Nuts is a line of food trucks spread all over New York, a staple of busy areas like Columbus Circle and Herald Square. Going strong since 1993, they are the perfect combination of French roasted pralines and Argentinean love for mellow sweetness. You can smell the cinnamony baked aromas of pistachio and chestnuts from a mile away. Walk towards it and find honey-roasted almonds, pecan, peanuts, and cashews at super affordable prices. You can enjoy any of these foods while walking around the city, but sugared nuts are especially portable!
College students seem to like Southern Indian food, and the NY Dosas food truck might be why this has become so popular. Located on the corner of Washington Square Park, this truck enchants NYU students looking for a quick bite on a weekday afternoon. Vegan dosas, masalas, and warm samosas bring comfort during mid-terms, and the lines that build in front of NY Dosas prove that these little vegetable-filled crepes are delicious and super affordable.
What started as another hot dog and pretzel stand on Park Avenue has become one of the most famous Greek food stands in New York. Uncle Gussy’s serves authentic Greek dishes like keftedes, spanakopita, kokkinisto, and other delicacies prepared under a family-run business, with secret recipes under their sleeves. Fresh Greek salads and stuffed pita bread always win over the crowds.
Makina Ethiopian Food
Makina Ethiopian Food mixes Eritrean and Italian culinary heritage with classic Ethiopian dishes. This may be the perfect spot for those with dietary restrictions–there are plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options on the menu. For the health-conscious, building a bowl of injera flatbread with red lentil stew and chicken is a perfect way to fill up during lunchtime. At this food truck, you will discover new flavors that might become your new favorite thing.
Wafels and Dinges
Wafels and Dinges mean “waffles and things” in Dutch, and the “things” part refers to all of the extras you can add to your waffle at this popular dessert food truck. Classic maple syrup, thick chocolate fudge, fresh strawberries, cookie spread, and many other sweets options complement the crunchy flavor of warm waffles. Most locations go wild on savory toppings, with bacon, sour cream, and cheese melting over a freshly baked waffle.
Find a Wafels and Dinges truck in Central Park and enjoy your waffle as the perfect picnic food on a Sunday afternoon.
Choose a larger ‘liege’ wafel or a bite-sized ‘wafelini’ at Wafels and Dinges. Photo credit: City Foodsters
Ling’s Fresh Made Sweet Mini Cakes
Ling’s Fresh Made Sweet Mini Cakes are more like tiny air-filled pancakes that brighten your day. Once you smell the sweet scent of fried dough, find the $2 pastry bags filled with warm, doughy balls. Sprinkle your mini cakes with chocolate sauce or condensed milk, or enjoy them plain. This Chinatown hotspot has been in action since 1982, and is considered a staple of New York street food.
Not sure what to choose? You won’t go hungry on the streets of New York! Photo credit: Steven Pisano
A final note on grabbing street food in NYC
With New York City’s fast-paced lifestyle, locals need meals and nibbles to squeeze into the tightest of schedules. That’s why NYC is so famous for its street food, along with the flavor fusions and exploration that come with it. A quick bite as you tour the city is an excellent way to understand its culture.
Camila has lived in New York for over six years. Writing about food, drinks, and travel, she has moved around the city gathering tales, flavors, and restaurant recommendations for her fellow explorers. A lover of bars and baos, Camila can introduce you to the most famous and best-kept secrets of New York!