A Moveable Feast: The Best of New York Street Food

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!

A tray of corn tacos with shredded beef sit at the front of a food truck, with food in the background
Get ready for a tongue-tickling journey when you start devouring New York street food. Photo credit: Los Muertos Crew

Hot Dogs

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.

A hot dog stand with vendor on a rainy day
Hot dogs with sauerkraut, onion sauce, or spicy brown mustard…the option is yours! Photo credit: Susan Sermoneta

Pizza

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 man serves up one slice of pizza from an enormous pie
Pizza comes in many shapes and sizes in NYC, and is a classic street food staple. Photo credit: City Foodsters

Tacos

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.

Customers wait in line at an indoor taco stand in New York during the winter
Don’t fear the line – Los Tacos No. 1 is worth the wait. Photo credit: Eden, Janine and Jim

Insider’s tip: Don’t miss our guide to the best Mexican restaurants in New York City!

Halal

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!

A take-out bowl of halal chicken and rice from a new york street stand
Make sure to add white sauce to dishes at The Halal Guys, including the chicken and rice dish pictured here. Photo credit: T. Tseng

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.

A plate of grilled, seasoned meet with sauce and onions on a plate
Suya, a typical Nigerian street food made with grilled meat, is one of the many offerings at Divine Express. Photo credit: Bukky658

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

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.

Three plates with 5 small tacos, radishes, and limes on a red tray
Make sure to try street tacos in New York. Photo credit: T.Tseng

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!

A New York nut vendor smiles while standing beside his food truck
These honey-roasted morsels garner rave reviews from visitors and locals alike. Photo credit: Ryan Ready

NY Dosas

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.

Uncle Gussy

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.

4 squares of Greek spinach pie overlap on a white plate
We’re suckers for a good spanakopita with salty feta and flaky dough. Photo credit: gatimetradicionale.alb

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.

A takeout container with one waffle topped with powdered sugar and strawberries

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.

Two young people wearing coats pick out snacks at a food truck in new york at night

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.