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Ask Ari: How to Feed a Foodie in NYC

From “secret” sandwiches to the best omakase, Ari has all the ideas and options you could want.

Photo by Gary He

When an out-of-town friend with high culinary expectations visits, a nascent foodie turns to Arielle (Ari) Tepper for tasty tips.

Have a burning planning problem of your own? Ask Ari at Problem solved.

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Hi Ari,

My foodie friend is visiting, and I want to impress him with a full day of culinary exploration, but I’m more of a corner hot dog kind of guy. Where should I take him? What should we try? —Ethan

About 15 years ago, I met Bobby Flay at a dinner party, though I had no idea who he was. (I’ve had an annoying number of food allergies in my life that long limited my diet to oyster crackers and Jolly Ranchers, so keeping up with chefs and food trends was never my forte.) I was seated next to Flay’s business partner, who assumed that I, like everyone else there, was a total foodie. He asked me what kind of restaurants I liked, and I responded by saying that I love a good diner! At the time, I practically lived at Burger Heaven and Silver Star. So you’ll get no judgment from me when it comes to getting a dirty dog (I love them with onions) for lunch. 

But I also know that New York City is home to the best, most varied, and most inventive food in the world. Luckily, at What Should We Do, we have a staff of dining and drinking experts who know just how to show your friend a delicious time. Here are a few ideas:

  • Try the city’s high-end takes on tacos with delicious upgrades like salmon ceviche and bone marrow. Then go for a tour of our favorite hole-in-the-wall taco joints all over the city. Which do you prefer?

    places to eat in nyc
    High-end tacos never looked—and tasted—so good. / Photo courtesy of Nobu Restaurants 
  • Trigger warning: New York City’s barbecue is just as good—if not better—than the smoked meat anywhere Down South. Bring your Wet-Naps to these urban meat meccas.

    places to eat in nyc
    Does NYC barbecue rival Kansas City’s? Taste for yourself! / Photo by Chris Gampat/Courtesy of Arrogant Swine
  • If your pal is obsessed with the latest and greatest, impress him with reservations at one of the best new restaurants of the year.
  • You can’t come to NYC without sampling at least a few pizza slices. We’ve got (or, rather, our in-house pizza guru has) recommendations, of course. If you like your pie with a side of history, sample the time-tested ones at the oldest, most famous pizzerias in each borough.
  • Head to the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park, where you can enjoy three culinary worlds in one: the city’s largest Chinatown; a vibrant Little Mexico; and Industry City, where you can sample au courant Brooklyn fare including avocado everything, house-brined pickles, and craft sake distilled on-site.

    places to eat in nyc
    A pair of treats—paired nicely. / Photo courtesy of Bar Moga
  • Speaking of sake, you could also go on an all-Japanese eating-and-drinking bender, starting with onsen eggs topped with sea urchin for breakfast; bowls of ramen at one our five favorite slurp shops for lunch; and an outstanding omakase (Japanese for “chef’s choice”), the ultimate foodie adventure, for dinner.
  • Hunt down the tastiest “secret” sandwiches in the city, from a bodega B.E.C. (your friend can’t leave without having at least one bacon, egg, and cheese sammie) to a Southern-fried cemita.
  • Should the vibe with your friend turn romantic, cook up some chemistry at NYC’s most underrated romantic restaurants.

    places to eat in nyc
    Well plated, well sated. / Photo courtesy of Signe Birck
  • End the visit on a sweet note: Try our favorite boozy desserts, dig into the city’s best pies, and eat all the under-the-radar doughnuts.

Bon appètit!

Do life well,

Want some more of the best places to eat in NYC? Get in touch with one of our experience planners now, or write to Ari at