New York City is a polyglot place with ethnic food enclaves from around the world. It also is Trend Central, where a restaurant can be hot one season, then dead the next, and where celebrity chefs become more famous than their meals. It is such a hyped-up food scene that it can be difficult to discern what dishes and dining experiences are unique to New York, or at least at their very best here. Our list of essentials includes a great (and greatly expensive) prime steak with hash browns in one of the legendary steak houses, pizza cooked in a coal oven, a glittering Mid-Atlantic seafood meal, a street-food hot dog, a true-deli pastrami sandwich, and a simple slice of perfect cheesecake.
Beyond the City, New York State is a rich lode of distinct regional specialties. Buffalo itself has several, well beyond its wings. These include roast beef sandwiches on kummelweck rolls (“beef on weck”), spectacular candy shop/ice cream parlors where everything is made from scratch, and a culture of yummy charcoal cooked hot dogs.
Hot dogs are big upstate as well, where they come as white hots (“porkers”) or red hots. Red hots are the basis of the legendary Garbage Plate of Rochester, and also are served under a sort of Bolognese sauce in and around Plattsburgh, where they are known, somewhat mysteriously, as Michigans.
Other upstate foods worth a detour include grilled skewers of marinated meat around Binghamton, where salt potatoes are the right side dish; marinated charcoal cooked Cornell chicken in the Southern Tier; and creamy, spicy chicken riggies around Utica.