America’s Top 30 Burritos to Try in 2020

LuchaLibre

Congratulations, you’ve come to the right place for the definitive, inarguable list of the best burritos in the country. I’ve lived in New York, Southern and Northern California and have tried the best burritos this country has to offer. Is there anything more perfect than a burrito? A well-wrapped bundle of joy that will give you a sense of pure elation as you take a bite.

There are a number of things I look for in a burrito:

  •     The reproducibility/consistency. Have you ever had the most delicious burrito of your life and taken your friend back to try it aaaand…well, it wasn’t quite as good. You swear to your friend that it was better last time. If a restaurant is not consistent with the burritos it serves, it can be a bummer and drop some spots on our list.
  •     The flour tortilla that surrounds this beautiful creation.
  •     Of course, the meat (the heart), how it is seasoned, how savory it is
  •     Accompaniments really put a burrito over the top and takes a good burrito to a great, unforgettable experience.
  •     Salsa added to the burrito (separate from the accompaniments inside a burrito)

 

  1. La Pasadita (Chicago, IL)

Having lived in California most of my life as well as in New York, it is my pleasure to kick this list off with a famed, historic Chicago taqueria that has been serving juicy, tender, smoky, perfectly seasoned carne asada for over 40 years. Every ingredient of their carne asada super burrito (onions, cilantro, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, rice, beans and guacamole) is solid, not amazing, but solid; they all come together to make what is quite the well-rounded burrito. We recommend taking the tomato out. Their barbacoa is also not to be missed. Consistency has been an issue with La Pasadita, but when you get a good one, you’ll be glad you stopped by. Those that say there’s no good Mexican food in Chicago have not been to La Pasadita.

La Pasadita

Carne Asada Super Burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Ashley C.

  1. Chile Pepper (Yuma, AZ)

We continue this list with a burrito from Yuma, AZ. Yuma is a small city located on the 8 freeway in between San Diego and Phoenix. Little Pepper boasts the best tortilla I’ve ever had, you really can taste the freshness as the tortilla was made literally 5 minutes before your burrito is put together. The burrito to try is the bean, rice and cheese (minus rice and plus machaca or adobo chicken depending on how carnivorous you are). The simplicity of this small burrito highlights how enjoyable and easy it is to devour 4 or 5 of them! The cheese tortilla (yes, their tortillas are that good that a quesadilla is called a “cheese tortilla) is also worth a try; again plus or minus meat. If you’re making the drive from SD to Phoenix, do yourself a favor and stop at Little Pepper…be sure to buy some tortillas to go!

ChilePepper

Bean and cheese on their unbelievable tortillas

  1. El Tepeyac Cafe (East Los Angeles, CA)

El Tepeyac Café boasts some of the most authentic inland Mexican food in Los Angeles. Manuel Rojas, who passed away in 2013, and who was one of the original founders of El Tepeyac can rest in peace knowing that the next generation of his family is still serving up the same high-quality Mexican food. The Original Hollenbeck de carne asada (seared pork simmered in the traditional red tomato based chile verde recipe with rice) along with the Manuel’s special (the supersized version of the Hollenbeck) are the people’s favorite but don’t skip on the Hollenbeck de Carne Asada. The simmered pork in the Original Hollenbeck is some of the most deliciously flavored meats in any burrito, but it’s the lack of accompaniments and average quality of the tortilla that prevent this burrito from being higher on our list. Nonetheless, this is definitely worth a try when in Boyle Heights.

ElTepeyac

Original Hollenbeck. Photo credit: Yelp user Joshua M.

  1. JVs Mexican Food (San Diego, CA)

Surf aaaaaand turf, has there ever been a better pair of rhyming words? I think not. The monstrous surf and turf burrito with guac has one of the best surf and turf flavor profiles I’ve ever had…and they do not skimp out on the shrimp or steak. The familial vibe at JV’s along with the value you get with these huge and savory burritos make it a no-brainer to include on our list. Also try the steak or shrimp quesadilla or, honestly, anything at JV’s. While you will certainly be satisfied/full after going to JV’s, this is only the first of many burrito spots in sunny San Diego.

JV's

Surf and Turf. Photo credit: Yelp user Steve F.

  1. Taqueria y Fonda (New York, NY)

I stumbled on Taqueria y Fonda by accident with friend in NYC. This reliably delicious taqueria serves up absolutely massive burritos with a flavor profile that is on par with the best of them. The tortilla or accompaniments aren’t anything to write home about, but the flavor of the carnitas and chorizo in their respective burritos make it worthy of a spot on our list. They even have a vegetarian burrito! Try not to fill up on their fresh tortilla chips and delicious salsa, you’ll need all the room you can get to finish this burrito (unless you get their baby burrito), which can get a bit too messy as the tortilla will not hold it all in.

Taqueria y Fonda

Carne Asada Burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Hope T.

  1. Juanitas (Encinitas, CA)

This is one of the best burritos in the Northern County of San Diego (North of La Jolla). The only reason it isn’t higher on our list is the inconsistency of this institution. I’ve had a California burrito (burrito with fries) at Juanitas that has made me believe it’s worthy of the top 10, but I’ve also had a burrito that wouldn’t even make my top 100. Either way, the California burrito is the burrito to get here. The combination of the delicious flour tortilla, savory carne asada and crispy fries encompasses what a great California burrito is all about. Don’t skip on the green salsa either and do yourself a favor and add guac.

Juanitas

California burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Esme M.

  1. El Zarape (University Heights, San Diego, CA) 

El Zarape sits in the heart of San Diego’s up-and-coming trendy University Heights area. Perhaps the best thing about El Zarape is the variety of amazing flavors. You can get the shrimp, lobster, carnitas, carne asada, chicken mole or even a calamari burrito and still be more than content. However, the real winner here is the scallop burrito – unique, perfectly cooked, and perfectly sauced-up; you can’t go wrong ordering this or the California burrito. They also serve quite a variety of vegetarian burritos. This variety will make you want to come back time after time. Also try their carne asada fries, nachos supreme, quesadillas, shrimp tacos layered with Oaxacan cheese or their famous 99-cent fish tacos.

ElZarape

Scallop burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Roger M.

  1. Little Donkey (Homewood, AL)

Nestled in the Homewood suburb of Birmingham, AL lies one of the top burritos in the country. Their Adobada burrito embodies this hip restaurants slogan “Mexican food with a southern soul.” Their smoky pork shoulder is stewed in spicy Guajillo chile and comes with crema, onions, cilantro, guacamole, rice and beans. The tortilla is grilled to perfection with just the right amount of charring. Come during happy hour, get a delicious margaritas or four and chow down on some of the best Mexican food in the South. Be sure to order two burritos, as they are relatively small and we have no doubt that you will want another.

Little Donkey

Adobada Burrito

  1. Taqueria los Anaya (Culver City, Los Angeles, CA)

With some of the most authentic coastal Mexican flavors in Los Angeles, Taqueria los Anaya is a popular favorite for those around West Adams. The Del Mar burrito with shrimp, Veracruz style (asking for only a tad bit of coleslaw and a smattering of chipotle sauce), is the star here, although the El Ciudadano with asada or barbacoa is another crowd-pleaser. The juiciness of the fresh shrimp in combination with the Veracruz style accompaniments make this burrito one of the most uniquely delicious burritos on our list. Also try their vast array of vegetarian options or the quesadillas, which are lathered with melted Oaxacan cheese and melt-in-your-mouth meat. The freshly made corn tortillas are some of the best corn tortillas in the country and make any of their tacos worth a try.

Taqueria Los Anaya

Carne Asada burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Julia L.

  1. La Azteca Tortilleria (East Los Angeles, CA)

With some of the best tortillas in the country, La Azteca Tortilleria is famous for its chile relleno burrito and chile relleno con carne asada burrito. The fresh tortillas, oozy cheese in combination with the texture and delicate sweetness of the roasted chile relleno make this burrito a force to be reckoned with. The unique flavor blend of the chile relleno con carne asada burrito may not be for everyone, but rest assured, there is a burrito for everyone at La Azteca Tortilleria, a family-run institution prided on friendliness and fresh, mouth-watering tortillas.

LaAztecaTortilleria

Chile relleno with carne asada. Photo credit: Yelp user Shaina L.

  1. El Castillito (Duboce Triangle, San Francisco, CA)

This hole-in-the-wall taqueria on Church St. is known for its quesadillas and super burritos. In all honesty, the quesadillas are preferred here and earned its spot on our list…but wait, this is a top burritos list, right? Well the Quesadilla Castillito here is really a griddled, cheesy burrito with a meat of your choice, guacamole, pico de gallo and jalapeños. We recommend the carne asada or the chorizo, both of which boast meat flavor profiles that when combined with the sensational accompaniments and griddled tortillas will make your mouth water. El Castillito challenges (and frankly, upgrades) the classic mission burrito with a style all of its own.

ElCastillito

“Quesadilla” Photo credit: Yelp user Pancham P.

  1. Taqueria Tlaxcali (Bronx, NY)

You know a taqueria is good when the Michelin Guide reviews it. I’ve lived in New York for 4 years and the only thing missing from the culinary wonder that is NYC was a great burrito spot (although there is no shortage of great Mexican places, my favorite of which is Casa Enrique). Taqueria Tlaxcali has now fixed that problem. Located high up in the Bronx, the journey to seek the savory, juicy carne asada burrito covered in a quartet of colorful creamy sauces (black bean sauce, avocado sauce, chipotle and sour cream) is well worth it. It is the seamless combination of these tastes that take this burrito to another level and gives it the title of best burrito in NYC.

 

 

Carne asada burrito. Photo credit: Yelp users Alina M. and Kevin H.

  1. Los Comparres (Tampa, FL)

Tampa? Oh yes, Tampa. Los Comparres is an unassuming taco truck in West Tampa that dishes up some of the most flavorful Mexican food in Florida. While they also serve some amazing shrimp, ceviche and campechana, their carne asada burrito is not to be missed. The fresh grilled, juicy carne asada complimented with melted queso really puts this burrito head and shoulders above its competitors. It’s definitely worth a visit and relatively close to the Tampa airport!

LosComparres

Carne asada burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Gregorio R.

  1. Carolinas Mexican Food (Phoenix, AZ)

Machaca is dried spiced beef or pork that is then pounded to make a tender meat. When done right it can be one of the most satisfying tastes you’ve tried. Carolina’s in Phoenix cooks their machaca to perfection. The red machaca burro comes on their famous handmade flour tortilla and you can see the staff in the back toss and stretch the masaas if it were a homemade pizza; you can even buy a dozen tortillas for yourself! While I prefer the handmade burritos at Little Pepper, Carolina’s red machaca is a flavor blast of moist, slightly fatty shredded meat that has the slightest kick to it. This burrito truly needs no sauce and comes with green chile and melted cheese. Don’t skip on their pure green chile burro. Phoenix, you have surprised me yet again.

Carolinas Mexican Food

Green chile burro. Photo credit: Yelp user John L.

  1. Lolita’s (Kearny Mesa, San Diego, CA)

When it comes to consistency, Lolita’s is king. I’ve never had a bad, or even average, burrito from Lolita’s. The California burrito is the star here- a burrito that has carne asada that is consistently flavorful and made fresh as well as crispy skinny fries. The tortillas themselves are some of the best in San Diego. Top it off with some of their Verde Salsa and you have one of the best burritos in San Diego that is beyond delicious every time. Don’t skip out on the shrimp burrito, tsunami fries or “just” the carne asada fries. If you’re feeling ambitious/voracious try the 2 in 1 (carne asada burrito with 2 rolled tacos inside) or the tsunami burrito (surf and turf with cabbage, guac and jack cheese).

Lolitas

California burrito. Photo credit: Brittany T.

  1. Papalote (Mission District, San Francisco, CA)

It is alllllll about the sauce at this popular Mission District restaurant. While their menu boasts a variety of options from Soyrizo to Mole Tofu to the Triple Threat (a combination of carne asada, chicken and shrimp), the classic fire-roasted tomato creamy sauce exponentially enhances the burrito experience. In all honesty, this is an above average burrito without the sauce, but the creamy, tomato flavor of this salsa takes this burrito to number 13 in the country. Do not leave Papalote without buying a jar (or 7) for yourself to eat at home; the salsa goes with just about anything.

 

 

Must-try salsa and asada super burrito. Photo credit: Yelp users Sean S. and James S.

  1. Aztek Tacos (Temecula, CA)

An unexpected surprise in the heart of wine country is Aztek Tacos, a taqeuria serving up burritos with some of the juiciest carne asada in Southern California. There are a number of burritos to get here; the California burrito, Quesaburrito (choice of meat with crunchy cheese, onions, cilantro, guac), steak and shrimp burrito, shrimp and mushroom burrito or even a simple asada burrito. Whatever you get, it will be fresh, the asada (and even the al pastor) will likely be freshly grilled and the guac will be extraordinarily creamy. Although I’ve had some burritos with extraordinarily juicy carne asada (some of the best burritos I’ve ever had), I’ve also had average burritos where the carne asada was not as fresh and contained more gristle than one would like, therefore consistency brings this burrito down on our list.

Aztec

California burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Crystal W.

  1. El Chato Taco Truck (Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA)

Is there anything more Angelino than buying tacos and burritos from a taco truck in the middle of the night and proceeding to eat it on your car? El Chato Taco Truck is open from 9pm – 3am (yes you read that right) and is a hotspot for college students, entrepreneurs and gas station workers alike. While the carne asada quesadilla (please get this) and carne asada, adobada, and pollo asada tacos are my favorite here, a burrito with any of these meats with the fresh salsa verde and all the “fixins” available at El Chato is certainly worth a top spot on our list. Their meats are fresh to order and the flavor blend of their spices will leave you satisfied. Also try their life-changing carne asada quesadilla. Go here after your meal at a fancy restaurant where the portions were far too small or not good enough and enjoy food that is a fraction of the price.

ChatoTacoTruck

Al pastor burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Kevin T.

  1. Adobo Taco Grill (Lakewood, CA)

The star at Adabo Taco Grill is the vampiro (grilled corn taco toppen with fresh sour cream and fantastic guac), but what puts these tacos over the top is the meats; the carne asada, pollo asada, shrimp and al pastor. All these meats have their own individual appeal to them and when placed in a handmade tortilla with their famous guac (some of the creamiest in the country), onions and cilantro, it’s no question that the burrito at Adobo Taco Grill earns the number 12 spot. Don’t skip out on the vampiros and their extremely flavorful free beans (which also come in their burritos).

Al pastor quesadilla and pollo asada burrito. Photo credit: Yelp users Huy T. and Matt C.

  1. Tacos Chukis (Seattle, WA)

Yes, you read that right. Seattle has one of the nation’s top burritos (and tacos). Tacos Chukis is a small, unassuming taqueria located on the second floor of a small strip mall in the heart of Capital Hill. Their adobada baby burrito with grilled pineapple is one of the best combinations of sweet and savory flavor blasts in the country, but don’t skip on their carne asada. The beauty of a baby burrito is you try many of their different meats. Be sure to also get at least 5 tacos chukis (adobada pork with melted cheese, guacamole, grilled pineapple and a tortilla grilled to perfection).

Tacos Chukis

Adobada baby burrito

Honorable Mentions:

Before we divulge our top 10, here is a list of our honorable mentions in no particular order; those burritos that would’ve made a top 40, top 50 list:

Otra Dia Tacos (Beverly Hills, CA)

Taqueria Guadalajara (San Francisco, CA)

La Perlita (Palm Springs, CA)

El Pelon Taqueria (Boston, MA)

La Pasadita (Chicago, IL)

Chandos Tacos (Sacramento, CA)

Lolitas (New York, NY)

Dinosaur BBQ (ask if they still do a burrito, New York, NY)

Café Ollin (New York, NY)

Al & Beas’s (Los Angeles, CA)

Lupitas (New York, NY)

Taco Mix (New York, NY)

El Toro Bravo (Costa Mesa, CA)

Dos Toros (New York, NY)

Adolfo’s (San Clemente, CA)

Mi casa burrito (Manchester, UK)

The bistro (Stanford, CA)

Mission Cantina (NOW CLOSED, New York, NY)

  1. La Playa Taco Shop (Mission Beach, San Diego, CA)

Fresh ingredients come to mind when I think of La Playa Taco Shop. Nestled in Mission Beach, the California burrito at La Playa Taco Shop is up there with the best of them. This burrito comes out piping hot at a temperature that will continue to melt its cheese even after it’s served. The flavor blend of the perfectly cooked carne asada, the fries and the creamy guacamole at this authentic, familial taco shop will make you want to come back again and again. Their quesadillas and shrimp burritos are also worth a try. Cap off a long stressful day at the beach or Belmont Park with one of the most consistent California burritos San Diego has to offer.

LaPlayaTaco

California burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user K N.

  1. Zacatecas (Hawthorne, CA)

Located in the heart of Hawthorne, CA, Zacatecas is a small, genuinely family-friendly and family-run restaurant that will make you feel right at home. They have amazing wet burritos that are so juicy and flavorful without getting the tortilla soggy. You will need a knife and fork for this hunk of heaven. Tom’s Burrito, tender carne asada, beans, perfectly flavored guac, sour cream, onions and topped with Zacateca’s famous medium spicy green sauce with cheese both inside and on top of the burrito, is no doubt the star here. They have a multitude of other burritos with shredded pork or beef that are complimented fabulously with their famous green sauce. Be sure to also try their Camarones a la Diabla (shrimp sautéed in spicy red sauce), Campechana (shrimp, oysters and crab meat cocktail), ceviche or Governor taco (shrimp with bell pepper & melted jack cheese). After stuffing all this down, you must get their flan. I never thought of flan as a dessert that would cap off a meal to utter perfection, however the flan at Zacatecas (which is sometimes complimentary) is thick, creamy, caramel-laden and is the perfect coating for a great meal.

Zacatecas

Tom’s burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Joanna L.

  1. El Farolito (Mission District, San Francisco, CA)

This hole-in-the-wall, cramped, cash-only taqueria in the heart of the mission district between 24th and 23rd street delivers consistently delicious and massive Super Mission-style burritos. Their carnitas and carne asada are crowd favorites here. Their refried beans, usually an ingredient that one wouldn’t consider a game-changer, are fresh and flavorful beyond belief. Their salsa verde and creamy avocado are the perfect accompaniments to round out their superb Super Burrito. Don’t let the lines shoe you away, they move fast and always remember, if there’s a long line…its for a good reason. Also try their Quesadillas Suiza which are griddled to perfection with the same flavorful meat you will soon know and love.

El Farolito

Carne Asada super burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Christina M.

  1. Lucha Libre (San Diego, CA)

Like many of our burritos on our list, Lucha Libre has been featured on countless TV shows. When I was dropped off at college at UC San Diego, I made sure to bring my family to Lucha Libre. Every time they visited “me” (I’m convinced they wanted more Lucha Libre) in San Diego, we would always eventually find ourselves at Lucha. Their Surfin’ California is one of the most unique flavor blends in the nation; tender grilled steak, savory grilled shrimp, French fries, pico de gallo, jack cheese, avocado slices and their secret chipotle sauce…I’m getting hungry just thinking about their amazing combination of flavors. They have a variety of other unique burritos, tacos, quesadillas, fries or even hotdogs (TJ dog and Baja Cali) but the Surfin California or the Surf and Turf burrito (Surfin California minus fries, plus rice) are my favorites. Whatever you decide to get, be absolutely certain to also get a heaping amount of the most amazing cilantro creamy salsa verde available at their salsa bar. Get three times as much as you think you’ll need, trust us. I have only visited the Washington Street location in Mission Hills, and there are various reviews that say the other locations are not as good. If Lucha Libre delivered consistently amazing burritos, they would likely be number 1 or 2, but once again consistency brings another restaurant down on our list…although not too far down.

LuchaLibre

Surfin’ California. Photo credit: Yelp user Kristopher L.

  1. Taqueria Cancun (Mission District, San Francisco, CA)

Taqueria Cancun between 19th and 18th street in the Mission District of San Francisco represents the popular Mission-style burrito well. This style of burrito is characterized by its large size, inclusion of extra rice (no fries or potatoes SoCal) and being wrapped in foil. Mission burritos are some of the best in the country and it’s no wonder they are appropriately represented on our list. Taqueria Cancun’s carne asada super burrito is one of the best burritos I’ve ever had. The perfectly seasoned carne asada, flavorful Mexican rice and ratio of appropriate accompaniments (guac, salsa, cheese, sour cream, beans, onions and cilantro) made me come back again and again. Unfortunately, consistency has been a problem for Taqueria Cancun “dropping” it to number 6 on our list.

TaqueriaCancun

Carne asada super burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Ann S.

  1. Cali Tacos (Orange, CA)

Orange County, the place I grew up for 18 years, is not well-represented on our list, however, Cali Tacos is one establishment that I couldn’t leave out. There is one burrito that stands out in my opinion and that is the monstrous Monarch burrito which comes with your choice of meat, BACON, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, rice, fries, chipotle and chipotle sauce. This may seem overwhelming, but the flavor profile of the Monarch with carne asada is astounding given the variety of accompaniments in it. It is made fresh once ordered. Furthermore, their chipotle sauce (which you can ask for an extra bottle of and should be squirted on every bite) is one of the best sauces I have ever had the pleasure of trying. Their California burrito is alright and the other burritos do not measure up to The Monarch. I can’t stress this enough, do not get anything other than The Monarch burrito and as with every place on our list, eat it there/fresh (not to go or delivered).

The Monarch

  1. Lupe’s Mexican Eatery (Dana Point, CA)

Lupe’s has locations in Huntington Beach and San Diego, but there is something extremely special about their Dana Point location. Perhaps it’s the friendly atmosphere, perhaps it’s the great beer, or perhaps (and most certainly) it’s the quality of their signature burritos. The California burrito is my favorite, although they have quite a variety of other delicious burritos on offer such as the Surfin Cali, Surf n Turf, Smoked Tuna, Mushrimp, Lupes (steak AND bacon), Oceanside (smoked tuna, shrimp and octopus) or Spicy Shrimp. The California burrito comes out piping hot with carne asada that has virtually no gristle to it, extraordinarily crispy fries, melted cheese to perfection, guac that brings it all together and a brilliantly soft tortilla. Be sure to ask for a side of their chipotle sauce which only further enhances this gem. Lack of consistency is what pushed it back to number three, but even on their “off” days, they’re still on. They have also recently remodeled to include a full-service bar to enhance your burrito-eating experience!

Surfin’ Cali, Oceanside

  1. The Taco Stand (La Jolla and Encinitas, CA)

The Taco Stand is the quintessential San Diego taqueria; no frills, delicious salsas and some of the freshest, best California and surf and turf burritos in the nation…and San Diegans know it, as evidenced by the usually long lines far out the door at lunch or dinner time. Their creamy, flavorsome chipotle sauce is the perfect topping for every bite of any burrito. The Taco Stand serves up some of the juiciest carne asada and freshest shrimp in the nation. The Taco Stand truly is a La Jolla (and now Encinitas!) gem and a place many San Diegans claim to be the best burrito in the city. Their burritos come out piping hot and their sauces are some of the best in the nation. Don’t skip out on the carne asada fries (and be sure to lather on more of that chipotle sauce) or honestly any of their seafood tacos or burritos. There is now a location in Encinitas that is every bit as good (dare I say better) than the La Jolla location.

The Taco Stand.jpg

California burrito. Photo credit: Yelp user Erica S.

  1. La Taqueria (Mission District, San Francisco, CA)

Another Mission-Style burrito?! Yes. As San Franciscans can attest to, you can never have enough Mission-Style burritos. La Taqueria has a super burrito that has the best flavor combination of freshly cooked meats with the most terrific accompaniments; the melted cheese, sour cream and creamy avocado come together to create a bite-by-bite experience that truly is unparalleled. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a flavor profile quite as perfect. Be sure to get it dorado style (pressed on the griddle to yield a perfectly crispy, buttery tortilla) for the absolute best burrito experience. The lines are usually long, but while you wait you can watch the spectacle that is the amazing staff efficiently cooking and creating these classics right in front of you. La Taqueria is a fairly consistent taqueria, if you don’t have a burrito that is absolutely life-changing, I’m willing to bet that it was at the very least great.

 

Carnitas super burrito, dorado style

  1. La Perla Cocina (Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA)

La Perla’s California burrito has it ALL. Fresh tortillas made in the back minutes after you order, savory and flavorful carne asada, fresh/crispy fries, creamy guac, melted cheese, delicious salsa rojo and verde AND consistency. I have yet to have a burrito from La Perla’s that is not fantastic or left me feeling satiated beyond belief. The fact that the burritos are made fresh to order, come out piping hot, the true freshness of their ingredients along with the absolute perfection that is the flavor blend and profile of their California burrito make La Perla unbeatable. The high-quality carne asada has no gristle on it, the fries are always crisped to perfection, the cheese is melted to a point that it serves as glue to combine the meat and the salsa verde is the perfect topper for this culinary masterpiece. The proportions are perfect, all the ingredients are outstanding as stand-alones and everything is mixed together just right which means you’ll never have those all fries or all meat bites we all despise. Also try the Oaxacalifornia burrito (California burrito wrapped in a Oaxacan cheese Quesadilla) and King Kong burrito (your choice of meat, usually carne asada, with chile relleno). Did I mention it is just steps from the beach in Pacific Beach in San Diego? Emerald street dead-ends at the start of the Pacific Beach boardwalk, so after putting down this burrito majesty, go for a stroll, scooter ride or simply lay in the hot sand of one of San Diego’s most popular beaches. This family-run, friendly taqueria truly has it all, and that is why it is ranked number 1 on our list.

 

California burrito. Photo credit: Yelp users: Linh V., Margaret A. and Elliesa B.

 

The Top 10 BBQ Spots in America

BBQ; is there any other food that embodies the United States? No introduction necessary, let’s jump right into the list.

10. Kreuz Market (Lockhart, TX)

One of the three BBQ spots in Lockhart that make up what is known simply as “The Pilgrimage” (the other two being Black’s and Smitty’s). Kreuz Market has been smoking BBQ for over 100 years. This old-school establishment, that has been led by pit master Roy Perez for 30 years, discourages BBQ sauce or forks and is the true embodiment of classic Central Texas BBQ. As such, the mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth brisket is the must-get item here, but don’t sleep on their original smoked or jalapeno cheese sausage. Just be sure to leave room for another BBQ spot in “The Pilgrimage” even higher on our list.

Kreuz Market

Photo Credit: Yelp user Joseph S.

9. Central BBQ (Memphis, TN)

“Smoke is Our Sauce” is the motto of what is well-known to be the best BBQ in Memphis. The superbly seasoned dry rub, 24 hour marinade and slow-smoking process make these ribs tender beyond belief. The flavor profile of these fall off the bone ribs make Central BBQ a must for anyone visiting Memphis. Get them dry, wet or half and half, but don’t skip on their original BBQ sauce, which despite their claim that “Smoke is Our Sauce,” is absolutely fantastic. Their slow-smoked pulled pork is no joke either, so oddly enough, don’t skip out on the pork BBQ nachos; just be sure to lather them in their delicious sauce!

Central BBQ

8. Phil’s BBQ (San Diego, CA)

We see you rolling your eyes, but as evidenced by the usual hour-plus wait time, Phil’s is one of San Diego’s most prized possessions. While other places on our list usually have one or two items that they are iconic for, Phil’s is relatively well-rounded. Their ribs, BBQ Broham (pulled pork) sandwich, and El Toro (tri-tip) sandwich are all cooked flawlessly and are our favorites. All of these items go great with there ever-so famous sweet and tangy sauce. When you can put a sauce on literally every item that is served to enhance the flavor, you’ve found yourself a sauce that you have to buy and take home. If you’re in the San Diego area, it’d be a huge misteak not to go to Phil’s.

Phil's BBQ

Photo credit: Yelp user Wiseley F.

7. Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas, TX)

Dallas is lucky that Jill Bergus, with the help of her family ties to number 10 on our list (Kreuz Market), brought Central Texas style BBQ to North Texas. As such, Lockhart is renowned for their brisket and will serve you fatty or less fatty cuts based on your preference. The brisket at Lockhart Smokehouse has a beefier, smokier taste than places actually in Lockhart, Tx, but with the unique smoky flavor profile of the brisket here, we are not complaining. Be sure to also get the shoulder clod which is leaner and has a beefy flavor or even go for the same sausages that are served at Kreuz market. If you come to Lockhart on Wednesday, you’d be remised not to get the positively wonderful beef ribs. If you come on Thursday you had better get those burnt ends. It’s all about the beef at Lockhart and in true Central Texas style, there’s no need for sauce here. After getting your BBQ fill, head down the street to emporium pies to get the Lord of the Pies, the best pie we’ve ever tasted.

Lockhart BBQ

Photo credit: Yelp user J C.

6. The Original Black’s Barbeque (Lockhart, TX)

Opened in 1932, Black’s is our favorite BBQ spot on “The Pilgrimage” in Lockhart, Tx. The item of choice here is the giant (each 9 inches long, 2 inches deep and weighs about a pound) beef rib, an item that single-handedly elevates Black’s to BBQ stardom. The smoky outer bark compliments the juicy and amazingly tender interior marbling of the meat. The mouth-watering beef rib is quite fatty leading to a juicy and flavorful undertone to the rib. Some think it’s too fatty, but some also think that the earth is flat. On your stop to Lockhart, Tx, you must get the beef rib from Black’s, an establishment rooted in history and a place that is the reason that number three on our list exists.

Blacks BBQ

Photo credit: Yelp user Simon L.

5. Little Miss BBQ (Phoenix, AZ)

Who knew that Arizona oak and pecan wood could smoke some of the best meats in the country? Well, apparently everyone in Arizona did, because although Little Miss BBQ doesn’t open until 11 am, patrons get there at 9 am to receive a ticket to ensure that they get the best that Little Miss BBQ has to offer. That best is the fatty brisket. It’s smoked to perfection, tender beyond belief and has a flavor profile that will leave you begging for more. The beef ribs have a similar flavor profile and tenderness as the fatty brisket with marbling that makes the Mona Lisa look juvenile. While the house BBQ sauce, sweet and tangy mustard and spicy BBQ sauce are all great in their own right, the meat alone really shines at Little Miss BBQ. Don’t leave without getting Bekke’s smoked pecan pie. Arizona, with a top five BBQ spot in the nation, you continue to surprise and amaze us.

Little Miss BBQ

Photo credit: Yelp user Richard H.

4. Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO)

The best ribs we’ve ever tasted, but don’t take our word for it. Pappy’s has been named the best ribs in America for numerous years from numerous sources. These Memphis Style pork ribs are dry rubbed and smoked for 24 hours over sweet apple or cherry wood. The crisp outer coating bursts with smoky, seasoned to perfection flavor and the tender, fall off the bone interior make these ribs delectable. Do not even think of getting the half-rack, you will regret it, get the full rack of ribs. A pleasant surprise for us was the Sweet Baby Jane BBQ Sauce which complemented the ribs seamlessly. While their other meats are all good, the star here is the ribs and there was no doubt in our mind that Pappy’s had to be in the top five.

Pappys Smokehouse

3. Scott’s Bar-B-Que (Hemingway, SC)

Pulled pork lovers rejoice, Rodney Scott brings you the best pulled pork in the nation from humble Hemingway, SC, a town with a population of just 411. While not easily accessible, this is a must-visit for any BBQ lover. They mop, quite literally, their whole hog in a vinegar, pepper-based sauce/marinade used in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina (not the classic mustard-based sauce the Carolinas are usually associated with) as it’s smoked. This is the same “sauce” that you can add to the pulled pork after you order it. The sandwich you get here is two slices of normal white bread with their pulled pork, and, quite frankly, that’s all you need. The moist, absolutely exquisite flavor profile of the pulled pork and the unique vinegar pepper sauce is truly heavenly. Ask for skins on your sandwich and/or meat for a unique boost in flavor. Rodney Scott has since opened a location in Charleston, but for the full, true experience, make the trip to Hemingway, you’ll be glad you did.

Scotts BBQ

Photo credit: Yelp user Rhett B.

2. Terry Black’s (Austin, TX)

Yet another spot stemmed from Lockhart, Tx, Terry Black of The Original Black’s BBQ passed down his knowledge to Michael and Mark Black who opened one of the most underrated BBQ spots in the nation. We believe that Michael and Mark have taken their heritage to the next level with Terry Black’s, established only in 2014, while still maintaining that old school taste. The brisket and beef ribs here are to die for. This impeccable duo are the most tender, juicy meats with explosion of flavor due to the perfect fatty content. While the stars here are obvious, the jalapeno sausage, chopped beef and pork ribs are all fantastic. Grab your cafeteria tray, grab some sides (their deliciously creamy mac n cheese is some of the best in the country and the banana pudding is no joke) and head to the back where servers are waiting to serve you some of the best BBQ in the nation.

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Photo credit: Yelp users Deanna T. and Kevin P.

1. Franklin Barbeque (Austin, TX)

Did you really think it would be anywhere else? Have you been living under a rock for the past 10 years? Did you doubt that Austin would have the best BBQ in the nation? The only way you answer yes to these questions is if you’ve never heard of Franklin Barbecue, the best BBQ in the United States and, therefore, the world. No discussion about Franklin starts without mention of the wait. Die-hard patrons regularly flock five hours before Franklin even opens to ensure that they are first (or at least first ten) in line. While getting to Franklin at 5 or 6 am seems ridiculous and tiresome, the wait is actually more of a tailgate. Yes, a tailgate for BBQ, imagine that. The friendly staff at Franklin’s gives out lawn chairs as well as umbrellas during the rain. Those who wait in line get along well as we are all light-hearted, crazy people who would wait in line for up to five hours for BBQ. This creates a jovial atmosphere that makes time fly by. Now, onto the meats. Being in Central Texas, it’s no surprise that James Beard Award Winner Aaron Franklin serves the best brisket in the nation. The meticulous preparation of their brisket is only outshined by the flavor profile of this perfectly fatty, perfectly moist, perfectly tender and perfectly seasoned cut of meat. This sacrosanct combination is what attracts people from all over the world to Franklin. While their pork ribs, sausage and pulled pork are expectedly also scrumptiously mouth-watering, the biggest surprise was their turkey which was smoky and juicy beyond belief. The melt in your mouth brisket at Franklin is truly unparalleled, but let’s be honest, you already knew that.

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Photo credit: Yelp users Joseph S. and Hurjane V.

The Ultimate 72-Hour Food Guide to NYC

Congratulations! You have just landed in the best gastronomic city in the world. The bad news? You have such a plethora of options easily available that it can be quite overwhelming. Luckily for you we have broken down some of the must-haves while you’re in the city.

First and foremost, there are a few group of foods that you NEED to have while in NYC, types of food that New York inarguably does better than anywhere else: Pizza, Bagels, Desserts, Fine Dining, Cosmopolitan/International. Now let’s get started.

Day 1:

You’ve just landed and are hungry! Grab a classic NYC bagel to start your trip off right! If you’re in Manhattan we recommend Ess-a-Bagel (see our “Top 10 Bagels in NYC” https://thefoodheaven.com/2019/03/07/the-top-10-bagels-in-nyc/ ), but if you’ve flown into JFK you’re already near some of the best bagels in NYC, we recommend Baker’s Dozen Bagels in Kew Gardens.

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Ess-a-Bagel with lox cream cheese

Photo credit: Yelp user Simogne C.

After getting to your extremely spacious hotel/AirBnb/corner of the street you’ve decided to stay in and you’ve settled down, go for a walk around this great city and build up an appetite! Whenever you’re ready for lunch, go to one of NYC’s famed food trucks. We recommend Uncle Gussy’s during the weekday (open from 10AM – 4PM), a friendly Greek food truck serving some of the best souvlaki, gyro and chicken at very cheap prices. We also recommend Royal Grill Halal Food in Midtown West, a classic halal food cart serving fresh Indian cuisine at extraordinarily cheap prices; don’t just take our word for it, this food cart won the 2018 Vendy Award for all food carts in NYC.

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Photo credit: Yelp user John Z.

Alright, alright, you’ve had bagels and street food. You’ve saved enough money for a nice, fancy meal tonight, treat yourself!

We recommend Marea, a two-star Michelin Restaurant that is actually relatively affordable if you order correctly. If you cannot get a reservation, promptly go to the bar when Marea opens at 5 and enjoy their full-service menu while sipping on some of the finest cocktails in the city.

Another slightly more affordable option is L’Artusi, yet another Italian gem with some of the best pastas and ricottas in the city (and therefore the world). You must make a reservation here well in advance.

If you’ve saved up and really want to splurge on the best dining in the city, we recommend Daniel. A two-star Michelin Restaurant that many agree is the best in the city. The price is roughly $200 a person, but believe it or not, this is fantastic value for the quality of service and food that you’ll get here.

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Octopus and bone marrow fusilli from Marea

Photo credit: Yelp user Jasmine W.

Day 2:

We get it, you’re full, you had a lot to eat yesterday. Well, welcome to New York. Maybe skip breakfast today and have an early lunch/brunch. If you’re lucky and are in New York from Friday to Sunday go to Smorgasburg, an outdoor market closed during the winter, to sample a variety of some New York favorites. If you’re not up for Smorgasburg and just want some pizza already, head over to Prince Street pizza and get their world-famous square slice with pepperoni. Although this is more of a street style pizza, the flavor profile of the sauce, perfectly cooked dough as well as the fresh pepperonis make this one of New Yorkers’ favorite pizzas, as you’ll soon realize while waiting in their long line.

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Prince Street Pizza

Photo credit: Yelp user Frank E. 

After having a hearty lunch, take a walk through central park to build up your appetite for our first dedicated dessert spot of the trip (finally). You have three amazing options (or feel free to go to both!): Levains on the Upper West Side, Two Little Red Hens and/or Wafels and Dinges. Levains serves up the most perfect chocoalate chip cookie, Two Little Red Hens serves a variety of amazing desserts, while Wafels and Dinges are famous for their Belgian waffles and speculoos. We’ve written about them extensively in our post: https://thefoodheaven.com/2019/03/14/the-best-desserts-in-nyc/

Dinner time! New York has some of the best Asian cuisines in America. We recommend Totto Ramen (Midtown West), Joes Shanghai for dumplings (Chinatown, a little touristy, but delicious and authentic nonetheless) or Thursday Kitchen (a Korean-American fusion, serving small dishes in a quant East Village setting).

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Totto Ramen

Photo credit: Yelp user Philip T.

Day 3:

Last day in New York! Let’s make it great start to the day by going to Dominique Ansel Bakery and getting their famed cronut – a mix of a doughnut and croissant. Their flavors change every month, but their quality does not. They open at 8AM but you’ll want to get there slightly earlier than that to make sure that you get a cronut as they will sell out quite fast (you can also pre-order their cronut, skip the line and ensure you get one of these delectable morsels).

While you’re on the West side, head up to Chelsea Market – a sprawling market serving food, drink, clothes and knick-knacks. Visit Los Tacos No. 1 for the best tacos in the city (and even all of America, don’t believe us? Try it for yourself and be converted) and Los Mariscos for seafood tacos and ceviche. There are so many food vendors at Chelsea market that there truly is something for everyone: Cambodian sandwiches, doughnuts, freshly pulled noodles, pizza, chocolates, the list truly is endless.

 

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Los Tacos No. 1

Photo credit: Yelp user Nam T.

There is no better or iconic way to end a trip to New York by getting the best pizza in the city. Lucali is a famed Brooklyn establishment with ridiculous, but warranted wait times. There are no reservations and they start taking names at around 5:45PM, but to guarantee that you’ll be eating the best pizza in NYC you have to get there at 4:45PM at least and even earlier if you want to dine before 9PM. The restaurant is BYOB so bring your favorite bottle of wine or a 6 pack of beer and enjoy the best of the best, no toppings needed. Don’t skip out on the calzone with an extra side of their unbelievable tomato sauce. What better way to end a trip in the best gastronomic city in the world. We’ll see you back soon.

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Lucali

Photo credit: Yelp user Carlos E.

The Top 10 Dessert Places in NYC

It’s no secret that New York is one of the culinary capitals of the world. With that responsibility comes a duty to have some of the best desserts in the world; here is our favorite 10 desserts in New York.

10. Magnolia Bakery

There is only one dessert you should get here, the famous banana pudding. With vanilla wafers, vanilla pudding and fresh bananas, what’s not to like? The blend of these ingredients creates a deliciously creamy, smooth flavor profile that is the ultimate coating after a great lunch, dinner or even breakfast as they open at 7:30AM. They have a small size for snacking or a large party size (serves 20) for those who want to really go to town. Their expansion to Chicago and Los Angeles proves just how popular this bakery is. Again, stick to the banana pudding as other items are good, but not great.

Magnolia Bakery

Photo credit: Yelp user Min C.

9. Veniero’s

On old-fashioned Italian bakery, Veniero’s has boasted a large variety of pastries, cakes and other sweets since 1894! However, older does not always equal better. Luckily for New Yoker’s Veniero’s serves some of the best cheesecake, lobster tails and cannolis in the city. While their cheesecake is often hit or miss, when it hits, boy oh boy does it hit. This amazingly creamy, velvety cheesecake has bursts of flavor that will make you wish you had gotten a bigger slice (and since they sell by weight, you can pick how big you would like your slice to be). Don’t stop there though, try some of their world-famous cannolis with a chocolate or normal shell and experience the cream cheese and ricotta blend of filling that defines what a cannoli should taste like. Don’t skip out on their lobster tails, a puffier pastry filled with filling similar to a cannoli, or their large variety of other pastries. Their dining area is emblematic of an old-time pastry shop and that greets you with warm, open arms.

Venieros

Photo credit: Yelp user Karen N.

8. Ample Hills Creamery

On a hot summer day in NYC, there is nothing better to cool off with than ice cream from Ample Hills. Ample hills is renowned for the deliciously creamy nature of their ice cream and the huge variety of exquisite flavors (without going over the top) that they offer. We love the Snap, Mallow, Pop with a fluffy marshmallow base for the ice cream mixed with buttery rice krispie clusters and the Astoria shop’s Nectar of the Queens which is a honey cinnamon ice cream with galaktoboureko and baklava. The combinations are unique here, but Ample Hills does a fantastic job ensuring that the flavors of their combinations go well with one another to create the ultimate flavor. If you go to their factory in Red Hook, you can even propose a new flavor inspired by a backstory.

Ample Hills

Photo credit: Yelp user Roman A.

7. Molly’s Cupcakes

With lusciously moist, soft and center-cream-filled cake, delectable creamy frosting, a variety of unique flavors, there is so much to love about Molly’s Cupcakes. With flavors like our recommended The Ron Bennington (chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, chocolate ganache, crushed butterscotch topping), Boston Cream (classic vanilla cake, delicate pastry cream filling, chocolate ganache), Cake Batter (vanilla confetti cake, raw cake batter, vanilla buttercream, festive sprinkles) and many others, you’ll want to get at least a dozen of these angelic cupcakes. The ambiance is reflective of how joyful their cupcakes are, there are swings and various games in this small West Village establishment, as if we needed more excuses to spend more time at Molly’s!

Molly's Cupcakes

Photo credit: Yelp user Jessica N.

6. Aux Merveilleux De Fred

“Merveilleux” literally means “marvelous” and we certainly marvel at these perfectly flakey masterpieces originating in Paris. They are every bit as scrumptious as they are visually appealing and with flavors like the Incroyable (meringue, speculoos biscuit, whipped cream coasted with white chocolate) the classic Merveilleux (meringue, chocolate whipped cream coated with shavings of dark chocolate), the Magnifique (meringue, praline whipped cream coated with almond chips and caramelized hazelnuts) or a few others, there is something for every desserter’s palate. The incredibly light, wafery texture of the merveilleux make it a guiltless treat and the rich combinations of flavor in every bite reminds us why Paris is the one of the food capitals of the world (it’s no New York, though).

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Photo credit: Yelp user Anna C.

5. Tres Leches Café

While the previous desserts on our list are fairly famous and well-known, Tres Leches Café is a hidden gem. Tres leches cake is a sponge cake made with three kinds of milk (good job all you “Spanish speaker”): evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream. While there are many variations and additions one can add to tres leches cake, Tres Leches Cafe serves it’s tres leches in the classic, no-frills style. This small, unassuming shop in East Harlem serves up the most moist, fresh, sumptuous tres leches cake in New York. The cake is drenched with a rich creamy taste without being soggy or overly sweet and every luscious bite is a bite of heaven. This friendly establishment will customize a full-size cake for any occasion.

Tres Leches Cafe

Photo credit: Yelp user David T.

4. Lloyds Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is often controversial, there is a dichotomy amongst carrot cake lovers and those who are ambivalent about carrot cake (since there is no such thing as a cake hater). That being said, there is unanimity that Lloyds Carrot Cake is one of the best desserts in New York. The moist, spiced carrot cake with nuts and raisins is our favorite option here and while they have many varieties of other cakes (red velvet, chocolate, etc.), we strongly recommend the carrot cake with nuts and raisins (or if you’re allergic, carrot cake without nuts and raisins). Even those who don’t like nuts or raisins in their cake rave about this specific carrot cake as all the ingredients come together perfectly to create a moist, rich cake. The cream cheese frosting is loaded onto this cake and some argue that it’s the best part of this cake. Buy a full cake for a heavenly experience with the ultimate moisture and perfect amount of sweetness to the cream cheese frosting. It’s so affordable, that you’ll find yourself buying Lloyds for any excuse to celebrate.

Lloyds

Photo credit: Yelp user Heidi V.

3. Wafels & Dinges

Anyone who has been to New York is sure to have seen one of these iconic Belgian dessert trucks. They serve a Liege Wafel which is made with pearl sugar and dough which instantly caramelizes when it hits the wafel iron, leading to a wafel that one could eat by itself for dessert. While that would be a fantastic dessert on its own, we must remember the dinges (aka toppings) that seamlessly compliment this wafel. Our favorite dinges are the classic speculoos (a Belgian cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and cardamom-spiced shortbread cookie spread) the Belgian chocolate fudge, bananas and whipped cream, however with nine different dinges, the possibilities are numerous! They also have various classic creations with preselected dinges for those who can’t decide. The crisp and flavorful wafel in combination with the creamy, spice-based speculoos make this dessert delectably unique. Our favorite location is the brick & mortar location in the East Village, but there is something magical about getting a piping hot wafel and eating it in Central Park. Thank you, Belgium.

Wafels and Dinges

Photo credit: Yelp user Emily X.

2. Two Little Red Hens

This is without a doubt the best all-around bakery in New York; you could randomly pick any item on their menu and it will likely be the best you’ve ever tasted. That being said, there is one dessert option that you simply cannot leave here without trying and that is the Brooklyn Blackout cupcake (or full cake); stunningly moist chocolate cake with chocolate pudding filling topped with fudge frosting. This ambrosial experience has turned those who did not think they were “chocolate fans” into chocolate lovers. New Yorker’s infatuation with the cupcakes from Two Little Red Hens extends to their other amazing flavors like Marble (black and white cake with a swirl of chocolate fudge & Swiss vanilla buttercream), Boston Cream (chiffon cake, vanilla pastry cream, topped with a fudge & chocolate glace with chocolate shavings), Key Lime (chiffon cake, key lime cream filing with lime zest), PB Fudge Swirl (chocolate cake, PB buttercream filling topped with PB chocolate fudge swirl frosting) and many others. They also have miniature cupcakes for those who don’t want to splurge on one of their fairly large cupcakes. It is much more than a cupcake shop, their morning scones are some of the fluffiest, airy delightful pastries in NY, their cheesecake is one of the best this city has to offer, their cinnamon rolls are some of the best we’ve ever tasted and even their numerous pies are dangerously addicting. Two Little Red Hens is one of the (if not, THE) best bakeries in the country. The excellence of their desserts is only superseded by the friendliness and helpfulness of their staff. Hens, you are a true American Bakery and a true American Hero.

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Photo credit: Yelp user Joy W. and Connie H.

Notable Mentions:

S & S Cheesecake (this would have been very high on our list, but a recent change in management/ownership has at times affected the quality and consistency)

Caprices By Sophie

Breads Bakery

Ladurée

Bibble and Sip

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake

Junior’s Cheesecake

Stuffed Ice Cream

Petee’s Pie Company

1. Levain Bakery

What do Oprah, Taylor Swift, Neil Patrick Harris, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have in common? Correct, they are part of the millions of Levain fanatics. If I had a 4-hour layover in New York, Levain Bakery is a place I would absolutely HAVE to go. In New York, there is no better pizza in the world, the bagels are unparalleled and there is a myriad of uniquely cosmopolitan cuisines, but I would want to go to Levain Bakery, which serves a cookie that ruins all other cookies. Levain Bakery is a rite of passage for newcomers to New York; you cannot consider someone a New Yorker if they do not know about Levain. These 6-ounce behemoths come in four flavors (chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter cup and oatmeal raisin) and are $4 each, but we would gladly pay at least five times that much for this glorious cookie. So, what makes this cookie so good? The size of the cookie actually contributes to its taste, the large size of this cookie allows it to be superbly crisp on the outside, while still having that warm, gooey, slightly doughy center that is oh so comforting. The flavor profile of this cookie is off the charts, it is impeccably sweet, has just the right amount of sweetness and is cooked to absolute perfection. Our favorite is the chocolate chip walnut and we recommend getting at least one of these (as we have no doubt you will get more than one cookie). They also serve delicious scones, bread rolls, muffins, brioche bread and sticky buns, but make no mistake, the cookies are the star of New York. Warm, fresh, gooey, yet crisp, a perfect 10 out of 10, Levain truly makes the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie and is a holy experience every visitor or resident of New York needs to have.

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Photo credit: Yelp user Ty H. (@TastesWithTy) and Brandon F.

The Top 10 Bagels in NYC

Ah yes, nothing gets a New Yorker’s morning off to a better start than a bagel; whether it be egg and cheese, a variety of cream cheeses or (for the purists) just a plain bagel with butter. The crispy exterior, yet fluffy insides make this quintessential breakfast item the perfect start to the day.

We have complied a list of the top bagels in NYC based on a combination of the crunchy yet chewy texture of the bagel itself, the cream cheese/other fillings and of course how fresh the bagel is.

10. Russ & Daughters

Let’s start this list out with an absolute classic; Russ and Daughters has dished up bagels, bialys, latkes and smoked fish since 1914. They have locations in the Lower East Side, in the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side and in Navy Yard in Brooklyn. Now, although this iconic bagel shop may be high on every bagel seeker’s must-have list, the quality of their bagels themselves are “just” above average. However, where Russ & Daughters excels is the freshness of their fish, they will cut several hearty slices of a variety of salmon and slap on scallion or regular cream cheese right in front of you to create a mouth-watering lox bagel. Yes, the price might be a little hefty, but you better believe that it is worth every penny, just ask customers from the last 100+ years.

Russ and Daughters

Photo Credit: Yelp user Tracy T.

 

9. Best Bagel & Coffee

When it comes to breakfast food within a block of Penn Station, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a high-quality, classic NYC institution. Best Bagel & Coffee certainly lives up to its name. Its location near Penn Station leads to long lines, but lines that move fairly quickly. Their egg and cheese (+/- sausage or bacon) on a variety of chewy, scrumptious bagels are some of the best in the city and is the perfect order at this bagel shop. Their savory breakfast bagel sandwiches are the perfect start, middle or even end to a day. Enjoy this classic on your commute out of Penn Station.

Best Bagel and Coffee

Photo Credit: Yelp user Stacie K.

 

8. Barney Greengrass

Much like Russ & Daughters, the bagels here are not anything to write home about, however the lox here is unparalleled which makes this Upper West Side Jewish deli worth a visit. While Barney Greengrass is “The Sturgeon King,” the melt-in-your-mouth salmon placed on a solid bagel with a hint of scallion or regular cream cheese is the ever-so-classic lox bagel that we New Yorker’s know and love. We recommend the Nova Scotia Salmon on your favorite bagel with plain cream cheese; the classic. While Barney Greengrass is not an ideal grab ‘n go venue, it is a great spot to sit down for breakfast or lunch and watch the Upper West Side go by.

Barney Greengrass

Photo credit: Yelp user Sarah Y.

 

7. Tompkins Square Bagels

When you think of a classic bagel, I’m sure you think of a birthday cake flavored cream cheese on a French toast bagel. While Tompkins Square Bagels boasts a plethora of cream cheese flavors (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chipotle Avocado, Peanut Butter, Cucumber Dill to name a few), their spot at number seven is due to their hand rolled, kettle boiled, oven baked bagels. These crunchy yet chewy bagels are so heart-warming that you could even get a plain bagel with no toppings and be happy. For a sweet bagel with cream cheese, we recommend a cinnamon raisin bagel with Apple Cinnamon or Walnut Raisin cream cheese. You can also opt for a variety of their savory cream cheeses. No matter what you get here, be sure to get more than one bagel and be adventurous with your cream cheese selection.

Tompkins Square Bagels

Photo credit: Yelp user Lauren B.

 

6. H & H Midtown Bagels East

These bagels are “proofed, kettle boiled, bathed in cold water, and baked on burlap covered wood boards in our vintage revolving tray ovens…each step in our process is crucial to making the finest old world bagels.” With a description like that on the website, expectations are sky high and H & H lives up to these expectations and more. When ordering, be sure to ask “anything hot?” This is a phrase that should be branded in the vernacular of any bagel seeker. If any type of bagel is indeed hot out of the oven, get that bagel (despite your bagel type preference) and do not get it toasted. There is something spectacular about a fresh-out-the-oven bagel from H & H. All types of bagels and flavors of cream cheese are very solid here, our recommendation (as simple as it sounds to some) is to get your favorite combination!

H and H

Photo credit: Yelp user Jonathan C.

 

5. Absolute Bagels

This Upper West Side bagel shop has a religious following in and outside of the area for good reason. They churn out hundreds of hand-rolled, boiled and rotating oven-baked bagels a day and are even open on Christmas due to the high demand. Columbia students will know how deliciously crispy yet soft a hot-out-of-the-oven bagel can be. More so than most bagel shops, try to get there early to get a fresh bagel. Our favorites are the everything or yellow, buttery egg bagels with scallion or plain cream cheese or a variety of their sweet cream cheeses such as strawberry, blueberry or apple cinnamon on a plain, cinnamon raisin or pumpernickel bagel.

Absolute Bagels

Photo credit: Yelp user Jenny W.

 

4. Ess-a-Bagel

When New Yorkers line up for over an hour for a bagel at the Midtown East (crowd-favorite) location, you better believe it’s worth every second. Ess-a-Bagel has been serving up some of the freshest bagels in the city for over 40 years. The delicate balance between a crunchy exterior and soft interior is close to perfection here and their variety of cream cheeses and sandwich options make it so that there is something for everyone. Pro tip, skip the long lines and go to the express line at the back of the store, they are constantly turning over fresh bagels in that line and you can get a bagel that has quite literally just come out of the oven. You can order a tub of cream cheese and spread it on your fresh-out-the-oven bagel yourself to maximize your ideal bagel to cream cheese ratio.

H and H

Photo credit: Yelp user JL C.

 

3. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company

“Every crunchy bite of our high-quality bagels leads you through a delicious journey into the chewy center.” Wow, this quote from their website has us hooked! Their location in Astoria (not in Brooklyn oddly) is by far our favorite, and despite the efficient way they move their long lines, their dedication to every customer speaks to the popularity of this establishment. They have quite large bagels that are chewy beyond belief without losing their crisp exterior. We love their apple cinnamon cream cheese, some the best sweet cream cheese we’ve had, but you honestly cannot go wrong with any cream cheese flavor or bagel type; the lox, the scallion, everything at Brooklyn Bagel lives up to the hype demonstrated by a 20 minute line at 11 AM on a Tuesday. Again, when New Yorkers line-up this long for bagels, listen to them.

Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee

Photo credit: Yelp user Lindsay H.

 

2. Utopia Bagels

To get to Utopia Bagels, you’ll have to venture far into Queens to the suburban neighborhood of Bay Terrace, but the journey is well-worth it. Utopia Bagels is an establishment that swears by the “old-fashioned way,” which is hand-rolled (not machine-rolled) placed in a refrigerator, and kettle boiled to perfection where the cook has a feel on the paddle for the perfectly boiled bagel. The bagel then goes into a rotating oven and flipped once to a crispy, brown perfection. It is unbelievable that these bagels alone cost $1 as I could eat these heavenly fluffy bagels by themselves with no cream cheeses, toppings or anything else no problem. Add the variety of cream cheeses here as well as the many sandwich options and you have a bite of heaven that you won’t want to end. We recommend getting some bagels to bring home, they even have gluten-free bagels.

Utopia Bagels 2

Photo credit: Yelp user Alice N.

 

1. Baker’s Dozen Bagels

This Kew Gardens gem has it all; a variety of cream cheeses, a variety of types of bagels and a rotating oven that churns out the most mouth-watering bagels in NYC. The lines here can get up to 30 minutes on a busy day, which says a lot given that it is fairly isolated in Kew Gardens about a 45 minute subway ride out from Manhattan. Similar to Utopia Bagels, Baker’s Dozen is dedicated to the “old-fashioned” hand-rolled way of making bagels (we think we see a trend here). On an early cold winter morning, there truly is nothing better than a fresh-out-of-the-oven crisp, chewy, heavenly bagel with the perfect amount of cream cheese to warm your insides and set you off for your day. For a sweet bagel, the cinnamon raisin or plain bagel with cinnamon raisin cream cheese is the perfect treat. For a savory bagel, there are a variety of sandwiches, but you can’t go wrong with an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese. Definitely get some bagels to bring home as you will not encounter this type of perfection in a bagel anywhere else.

Bakers Dozen 1

Photo credit: Yelp user Marlena K.

Our top two bagel spots were very close in the rankings. Our top three are all in East Queens, perhaps Queens and Long Island aren’t lying when they say they have some of the best bagels in the country.

5 Affordable Michelin Star Restaurants in NYC

The highest achievement any restaurant in NYC can obtain is receive a Michelin Star.

Many of these Michelin Star restaurants come at a heavy price, but fortunately there is a way to experience cuisine that has earned a Michelin Star without having to break the bank. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 most affordable Michelin Star rated restaurants in New York; they have earned the honor and privilege of earning one Michelin Star.

Casa Enrique

Ask me what my favorite restaurant in New York City is and I’ll tell you…that’s an unfair and ridiculous question. However, Casa Enrique certainly comes to mind as I ponder this unanswerable question. Not because it is in the fanciest place in New York (it’s located in Long Island City, welcome Amazon), not because it has the fanciest décor and certainly not because it is the most expensive. The atmosphere at Casa Enrique could not be more familial, it’s a Michelin Star restaurant that welcomes you with open arms. My favorites here are the extremely flavorful enchiladas in a verde tomatillo sauce, the mouth-watering rajas con crema (roasted chilies poblanos, onion, wrapped in a corn tortilla, tomatillo sauce, crema fresca, queso fresco and avocado) and of course the to-die-for, juicy, tender carne asada (a skirt steak marinated in tequila, roasted poblanos and beans). At $20-30 a plate, this restaurant serves up value and quality that simply cannot be beat. Don’t skip out on their tres leches cake!

Carne asada con rajas con crema and tres leches; photo credit: Yelp users Eric A. and Akira D.

Café China

A traditional Szechuan style restaurant “where the East is embracing the West for the first time.” One walk past Café China, and you won’t think twice about coming in…one smell of what they have to offer and you’ll be hooked. With classic dishes such as Ma Po Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken, Wonton Soup, and Steamed Soup Buns along with less traditional dishes such Spicy Diced Rabbit, Slow Braised Ribbonfish and Pickle Fish Stew, there truly is something for everybody at Café China. We recommend, the Dan Dan Noodles, the Pork Buns and the Spicy Cumin Lamb, but go on and be adventurous, your taste buds will thank you. Most dishes range from $12-22 so get multiple dishes, try new things and be astounded by the flavor profiles of some of the best Szechuan that New York City has to offer. They even deliver, yes a Michelin star meal delivered right to your apartment.

Photo credit: Yelp users Lucy Xue F. and Xinting Y.

Gotham Bar and Grill

Google Gotham Bar and Grill and you’ll come face to face with the dreaded four dollars sign. However, like many Michelin Star Restaurants, it serves a very affordable lunch, but unlike other Michelin Star Restaurants it’s lunch menu might be better than it’s dinner menu. One item in particular stands out on the lunch menu and is not even available at dinner time. The Gotham Burger is a classic style burger that comes with nothing but Plymouth cheddar and the slightest bit of aioli along with a side of pickled vegetables to cleanse your palate between bites and Kennebec potato French fries. This is what a pure burger looks like and at $22 it’s an absolute steal. If you’re looking for that classic “New York” feel (whatever that is), there is no better place to come than Gotham Bar and Grill. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES (especially if you’re a dark chocolate lover) leave without getting the Gotham Chocolate Cake which is served with salted almond ice cream and is regarded as one of the best desserts in New York.

Photo credit: Yelp users Alexander W. and Benz M.

Jeju Noodle Bar

Jeju Noodle Bar earned it’s first Michelin star in the 2019 edition. Like many first-time winners that came before it and will come after it, Jeju’s prices do not reflect their Michelin Star status. Jeju serves Ramyun (no, not a typo). Ramyun is the Korean equivalent of Japanese Ramen and “is a comfort dish enjoyed by Koreans of all social class and ages.” Chef Douglas Kim has worked at multiple prestigious Michelin Starred Restaurants in the business (Chef Ramsay’s Gordon Ramsay NYC, Nobu, Per Se, amongst many others), and we are so glad he opened up one of his own. Chef Kim breaks away from the traditional Korean cuisine, importing chilies from Italy and incorporating them into his Ramyun. Anytime you can get four different classic Ramyuns for less than $20, it’s a win, throw in the fact that you’re eating America’s only Michelin Star noodle restaurant and it feels like stealing. Opting for the fancier Wagyu Ramyun or Truffle Bibim Myun and you’ll be charged at $39 and $35, respectively, but trust New Yorkers, it is well-worth the price point. Start out with their famous chicken wings, throw in another appetizer or just jump straight to the noodles; we recommend adding a Sooran (poached) egg and if you’re up for it, adding uni…yes, uni.

Photo credit: Yelp users Go B. and Tom. Y

Oxomoco

Another newcomer to the Michelin Star 2019 edition, Oxomoco boasts amazing quality food at affordable prices in a tranquil, upscale setting. Oxomoco serves Mexican cuisine from areas all over Mexico. They serve a variety of tacos with amazing fresh tortillas; favorites are lamb barbacoa, arrachera flank steak and for vegetarians, the beet “chorizo.” They also serve some of the freshest and most delicious guacamole in the city and even serve burritos during brunch…that’s right a Michelin Star burrito. Most of their dishes area around $15-30, but nobody would blame you for getting the Carne Brava, a 32oz dry aged bone in ribeye, salsa roja, chimichurri, charred poblano, chorizo beans and cilantro, which costs a cool $99. Their mouth-watering Hambuerguesa Pambaza is a unique fusion of an American favorite with Michelin quality Mexican accompaniments, it is an 8oz dry aged beef with smoked onions, queso asado, salsa macha; add a fried egg for only $3. Greenpoint, Brooklyn has added another gem.

Chorizo burrito and Hambuerguesa Pambaza; photo credit Yelp users Emily B. and Megan C.

The Top 10 Pizzas in NYC

New York City. The Mecca of the pizza world (Sorry Chicago); the pizza in this city is unlike any other pizza you will try. While many judge pizza restaurants using a cheese slice as their gold-standard, we will compare the best pizzas at various locations throughout New York City. We will even compare different styles against each other; Neapolitan (wood-fired or gas-fired), Sicilian, the classic New York greasy slice to go.

Here are a few factors we consider when ranking our pizzas:

  • The dough/crust: Too doughy? Too crispy? That perfect blend that creates a firm, yet flavorful base that you can truly only get in New York?
  • The sauce: Is the sauce out of a can or can you really taste the homemade freshness and heart of a restaurant? The flavor profile of the sauce speaks wonders about a restaurant.
  • The cheese/other toppings: The quality and freshness of the cheese can take a pizza to the next level and we’ll analyze how in our rankings.
  • The consistency of the pizza: Is it burned or undercooked sometimes? Or does it always give you the same consistent flavor profile?
  1. Ribaltas

As traditionally Neapolitan as it gets. Both restaurant owners Rosario Procino and Pasquale Cozzolino are from Naples and even host watch parties for Italian soccer and in particular for Napoli, a European force based in (you guessed it) Naples. Now to the pizza: the DOC has the most amazing buffalo mozzarella and basil to accompany their sauce and perfectly crispy base. It truly is freshness straight from Napoli that you can taste. Go with that special someone and get a heart-shaped pizza.

ribalta

Photo credit: Yelp user Tasha C.

  1. Motorino

This relatively small wood-fired restaurant in the East Village boasts some of the best dough/crust I’ve ever had. It really is the perfect blend of being light, chewy and crispy at the same time (seems impossible to possess all these qualities at once but try for yourself!). Go simple and get the Margherita or Soppressata Picante or be brave and go for the Brussels Sprout (you won’t regret it). The sauce and cheese are good, not great. Despite some consistency issues, Motorino earns the respectful number 9 position on our list.

motorino

Brussels Sprouts and Soppressata Picante Photo credit: Yelp user Alexa B.

  1. Rubirosa

Rubirosa creates a homey, warm environment that is perfect for a cozy winter night. The classic tomato and mozzarella pie is as simple as it gets, but there is nothing simple about the flavor profile of this 50-year old family recipe. Their vodka and tye-dye (vodka plus pesto sauce to create the perfect Instagram pic) pizza are also popular favorites and are indeed also delicious. The crust is nothing to write home about, however the intensely flavorful sauce and cheese at Rubirosa truly make it a stand-out restaurant.

rubirosa

Half vodka, half classic. Photo credit: Yelp user Cara S.

  1. Juliana’s

Juliana’s is names after the mother of master pizzaiolo Patsy Grimaldi, original founder of the legendary Grimaldi’s Pizzeria which is now under new management. While I could write an entire blog on the history of pizza, I will get straight to the pizza at Juliana’s. A classic Margherita pizza (plus or minus pepperoni) will take you to heaven. It truly has an almost flawless combination of chewy, yet crispy dough, homemade fresh sauce and the perfect amount of cheese. If Patsy Grimaldi is in the restaurant, rest assured you will get one of the best pizzas of your life. Unfortunately, the consistency at Juliana’s can be questionable, “dropping” it to a respectful number 7 on our list.

juliana's

Photo credit: Paul T.

  1. Totonno’s

Another restaurant drenched in history. Totonno’s has been making pizzas the same way since 1924 when Anthony (Totonno) Pero immigrated from Naples, became the first pizzaiolo and began to work for Lombardi in Spring Street in Manhattan. This family restaurant which is still run by Totonno’s two granddaughters has survived two major fires and Hurricane Sandy. Michael Gammone is the current pizzaiolo at Totonno’s and uses the same coal-fired oven from 1924. He says that a couple inches can make the difference between a burnt pizza and a perfectly cooked pizza. The pizza itself is to die for, the perfectly crispy crust, the fresh mozzarella and the tomato sauce that gushes like flavorful lava with every bite. If you’re ever in Coney Island, be absolutely sure to stop at Totonno’s; even if you’re not in Coney Island it is worth the trek! Get the margherita plain and take a trip through time to enjoy pizza how it’s supposed to be made.

totonno's

Photo credit: Yelp user JohnnyPrimeC. C.

Honorable Mentions:

Before we divulge our top 5, here is a list of our honorable mentions in no particular order; those pizzas that would’ve made a top 20 list:

  1. San Matteo (UES)
  2. Keste (West Village)
  3. Patsy’s (East Harlem)
  4. Bleeker Street (West Village)
  5. John’s (West Village)
  6. Little Luzzos (UES, whole pies only)
  7. Sottocasa (Cobble Hill)
  8. Barboncino (Crown Heights)
  9. Lucia (Flushing)
  10. Grimaldi’s (DUMBO)
  1. Pauli Gees

The cozy interior of this restaurant along with the delectable wood-fired pies churned out every night will make for a quite the dinner experience. Pauli himself regularly visits every table to strikes up a meaningful conversation with all his customers…if he really likes you, he’ll even give you free limoncello! The Delboy is our favorite and comes with fresh mozzarella, flavorful Italian tomatoes, the perfectly spicy Berkshire soppressata picante and fresh-shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Add Mike’s famous Hot Honey to the pizza and you have the ever popular Hellboy. If you haven’t tried honey on a pizza, Pauli Gee’s (or Roberta’s) is the place to do it, the honey perfectly complements the soppressata picante to create a unique sweet, yet spicy taste that when combined with the fresh mozzarella creates a truly unforgettable flavor profile. Although we highly recommend going to the original location to get a full pie, their newly opened slice shop is a fun atmosphere to hang out and grab some of the best slices Pauli has to offer.

pauli gee's

The Delboy. Photo credit: Yelp user

  1. Prince Street Pizza

This is the home of the best Sicilian slice on the planet. I regularly walk in, hold up anywhere between 2 and 5 fingers (depending on how many slices I want), pay and exit with my Sicilian slices without having said a single word. That is because the ONLY slice to get at Prince Street Pizza is the SoHo square, a Sicilian slice which comes with the most exquisitely flavored pepperoni with the perfect spicy, yet meaty flavor. The owner, Frank Morano, and his son, Dominic Morano, have mastered the consistency of the SoHo square, every time you will get a slice that has dough that is extremely fluffy, has spicy diavolo sauce that literally oozes flavor, the best pepperoni’s you’ve ever had in your life and cheese that serves as glue to bring it all together. The liquid that built up in the cups of pepperoni slices on top of the pizza is olive oil, NOT grease, so please don’t grab a napkin to soak up that extra flavor. Prince Street Pizza is not a fancy sit-down restaurant, but it is a place where you can expect to wait, be cramped, eat outside and experience what it truly means to be a New Yorker.

prince street

Photo credit: Yelp user Janice H.

  1. Roberta’s

This hipster restaurant out in Bushwick (in Brooklyn) embodies a “new-school” attitude to wood-fired pizzas while still serving up all the classics. They boast unique combinations like their Beastmaster which brings together tomato, mozzarella, gorgonzola, pork sausage, onion, caper, jalapeno for a uniquely savory pie or the Bee Sting which has tomato, mozzarella, soppresassata, chili flake, chili oil, honey to create that perfect blend of spicy yet sweet that we also experienced at Pauli Gee’s. They are always coming out with new and unique pies; however, our favorite is the Famous Original which has tomato, mozzarella, caciocavallo (delicious stretched curd-cheese), parmigiano, oregano and chili. The Famous Original is the true embodiment of why New York pizza is the best pizza in the world. The combination of the perfect dough you can’t find anywhere else in the world (ok ok, maybe in Italy), the fresh tomato sauce and the cheese that is homemade every day at Roberta’s makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Roberta’s has recently opened up a location in Los Angeles, but don’t kid yourself LA, it is nowhere as near as good as the pizza heaven that is Roberta’s in Bushwick. They also have a location near Grand Central, however for the full experience and for the best flavors, venture out to Bushwick, you’ll be glad you did. While there is usually a long line, they have a take-out option, where you can eat in their garden or under a trendy, large tent that serves amazing beer.

roberta's

Photo credit: Yelp user Asia C.

  1. Di Fara’s

Di Fara’s not being number 1 is nothing short of blasphemous as their pizzas are nothing short of life-changing. Dom De Marco is the king of pizza, he emigrated from Caserta, Italy in 1965 and eventually settled in Midwood, Brooklyn. He’s been the inspiration for numerous pizzerias throughout the city and is the unquestionable king pizzaiolo in town. Customers do not even think twice about the $5 a slice or the $30 a pie price point, because the pizza is that good. Dom used to make every single pizza himself, however not even the king himself can beat father time, and he understandably must take breaks and allow his children (who do a fantastic job) to make pies. I could literally watch Dom make pies for hours a day, it’s clear he still has a mastery when making pizza. The first time I tried this family owned and operated institution 5 years ago, I didn’t think I would ever have a pizza that good again. I have come back time and time again to experience the magisterial flavors that are the tangy yet intensely flavorful tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella, perfectly crispy dough topped off with fresh basil and drizzled with olive oil by the master himself. Words do not describe how monumentally life-altering the sauce at Di Fara’s is. We recommend the regular pie, but the classic pie (sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions) or even their square pie are solid options. So why is it number 2? The consistency at Di Fara’s has recently come into question. Consistency is one of the hardest things to master for a pizzaiolo. There are times where Di Fara serve pizzas that are slightly over or undercooked or just not quite as magical as it once was. Customers that wait 3 hours and get an overcooked pizza may be disgruntled, but the legend that is Di Fara’s pizza will always live in pizza folklore.

di fara 2 di fara 1

The king and his masterpiece. Photo credit: Yelp users Nic G. and Becky L.

  1. Lucali

Ladies and gentlemen, the torch has officially been passed; Mark Iacono now owns the best pizzeria in New York (and therefore, the world). Although Mark humbly pronounces Dom De Marco the king of pizza (as evidenced by his latest Instagram post https://www.instagram.com/lucali_bk/?utm_source=ig_embe where he was honored to have Dom sign his shirt), we truly believe that Mark serves the best pizza in New York. Lucali patrons often line up well over an hour before this Carroll Gardens establishment opens to put their name down as there are no reservations. We went at 5:00 pm (an hour before it opens at 6:00 pm) and got a seating for two at 8:15pm. It is clearly no secret that Lucali serves some of the best pies in town and the simplicity of their menu (large or small pie, large or small calzone, choice of various toppings, side of sauce) along with its BYOB and cash only policy make it an extremely warm and family friendly atmosphere. We recommend the large pie as is (no toppings needed) with basil on it and a calzone (small or large) with a side of sauce. Their pie really is flawless. You can see the dough be transformed from a dough ball rolled into the immaculate base of the pie in front of your eyes. You can taste the freshness and profound flavors of the can’t miss sauce. You’ll drool over the perfectly melted and fresh mozzarella. Top it all off with some basil and, if you like, a bit of parmigiana you have a pie that consistently delivers time and time again. We never thought we’d say this, but do not skip on the calzone; the blend of fresh mozzarella, ricotta and parmigiano create an exquisitely creamy texture that in combination to the perfectly crispy and fluffy dough come together to create a flavor profile that you can’t miss on. Add some of their unparalleled tomato sauce and it really is game over. Lucali truly is perfection personified and will be for many years to come.

lucali  lucali 1

The master, Mark Iacono, and his creation. Photo credit: Yelp users Michelle G. and Alex W.

About Me

Welcome! My name is Rishi Trikha. I’m a medical doctor with a serious passion for everything food. You’ve come to the place for the best restaurant, cooking and other food-related recommendations. Browse around and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments!

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