NYC Tourist Traps Worth the Trip


by Chad Thomas

Being the biggest city in the nation, New York City attracts millions of tourists every year, eager to check off all of the touristy boxes on their itinerary. Naturally, once they’ve nabbed the Statue of Liberty visit and seen the view from the Empire State Building, their focus is going to shift to that of food and drink.

People who consider themselves true New Yorkers wouldn’t be caught dead in the restaurants that are praised in guidebooks and online, but in actuality, a few of these destinations are worth braving—even at the expense of having to wait side-by-side with huge throngs of people from outside the city. Also, if you’ve moved here in the last five years and haven’t crossed these off your list, it’s almost a rite of passage.

Here are the tastiest tourist traps:

Katz’s Delicatessen

Lower East Side

Katz’s Delicatessen

We’ve written about Katz’s extensively here on Forkit, because we truly believe in its merits. The generous portions of meat it throws on its sandwich, nearly-24-by-7 hours, and the fact that it’s been a staple in the city for so long (since 1888) are reasons enough to venture to the famous deli. As far as kosher food goes, you won’t find a better offering in New York. Sure, the lines are going to be astronomical, but come on, you’re in New York—what’d you expect?

Peter Luger Steakhouse

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Peter Luger

Reasons to stay away from Peter Luger: the long lines, the out-of-the-way journey to Brooklyn, the insane price tag for each meal. Reasons to go: it’s the best steak you’ll ever have. Peter Luger Steakhouse has been serving up steaks for well over 100 years, and they’re still consistently rated the highest quality steakhouse in the city. A meal for two here, complete with one of their over-the-top milkshakes, apple pie and a couple drinks, could easily be over a couple hundred dollars, but if you have the cash to burn, it’s worth locking in a reservation and trying it. If you do, it’s a guarantee this will become a staple for you whenever you come back to the city.

Serendipity 3

Upper East Side

Serendipity 3

One look around Serendipity 3 and you may just be running for the hills. The old Tiffany stained glass chandeliers, the house-of-mirrors feel, and the huge crowd packed into this tiny space can make for an anxiety-inducing experience. But stay a little while and know that all of your fears will soon be assuaged with the assistance of a frozen hot chocolate, the restaurant’s staple, or perhaps an order of dumplings. Serendipity 3 actually has a fairly extensive breakfast menu, but it’s the desserts—and the experience—that people come here for. Walk out with a stomach ache but secure in the knowledge that you’ve crossed another New York Staple off your list.

Coffee Shop Bar

Union Square

Coffee Shop

Located in the heart of Union Square is Coffee Shop, a misnomer that is actually a large and comfortable bar. This ample-sized watering hole will fix you any alcoholic beverage you desire, and has a handful of tasty finger foods as well, including great truffle French fries. The typical clientele is a great mix of tourists who are fed up with the Times Square scene, coupled with a great bunch of locals who are taking a load off after a long day, and a fairly large contingent of models who are fresh off their latest shoot and looking for a vodka-and-soda for a meal replacement. The bartenders are friendly and the snaking bar has little enclaves that encourage conversation. Never a dull moment at Coffee Shop.

Dominique Ansel Bakery

South Village

Dominique Ansel

The name of the bakery may not ring a bell, but their signature item, the Cronut, you undoubtedly have heard of before. Yes, you’re going to have to wait at least an hour for one of these delectable morsels, a hybrid of the donut and the croissant, which may or may not be the two most delicious bread-related items in their own right. Chef Dominique Ansel has ingeniously combined them to form his signature item, and though they’ve been around for over three years now, they’re still bringing crowds to rival any other establishment in the city. However, the Cronuts are far from the only delicious offering here: the frozen s’more is our favorite treat.

So we’ll leave you with this: it’s time to swallow your pride, and embark on a touristy extravaganza ‘round the city to the destinations we’ve highlighted above. Afterward, you’ll never have to do it again if you so desire; however, we have a feeling at least one of these spots will be added to your regular rotation.