The 14 Most Overrated New York City Foods and Restaurants

May 9, 2017

Overrated New York City Foods

Do yourself a favor and just say no to flavorless mush!

Come on, who doesn’t love to pay top dollar for an assortment of overrated New York City foods (insert sarcasm here)? I know you do! It just makes my day when I spend a ton of money on something that I didn’t even enjoy eating. Okay, I’m totally kidding. I actually hate that feeling and that’s why I made this list. It’s the worst feeling in the world when you spend a ton of money, and calories, on food that isn’t even that great.

That’s why I have created this list for you. Chances are, you’ re a human being (Unless you’re a comment bot that leaves comments on my blog in gibberish. But if they’re nice comments then it’s totally cool) who probably enjoys the amazing taste sensation that food gives you.

Okay, well even if you don’t LIKE food, you still HAVE to eat to stay alive. So why not make that experience as enjoyable as possible by dinning at some of the best restaurants that New York City has to offer? Only problem is, when you’re from out of town, you hear a lot of restaurants are great, but are they? This list exposes some of the most overrated restaurants in the city. Restaurants that charge too much and pass off flavorless mush as gourmet food (a dish Oliver would kill for! Please sir, I want some more!). Don’t become victimized by this plight of restaurant mush and check out these 14 overrated New York City foods and restaurants (do it now! Save yourself!).

1. Tao

Tasty Hand Pulled Noodle. Just do yourself a favor and go now!

I honestly think that most people dine here just to be a part of the New York City “scene”, whatever that
means. Me, I’m all about taste and that’s why Tao’s just doesn’t do it for me. The bold food flavors that I want just aren’t there. On top of that, it’s extremely overpriced, a word that doesn’t belong anywhere near Chinese food.

Instead, head on over to Chinatown. Anywhere you go in this neighborhood, you can find several restaurants serving amazing Chinese food, at a fraction of the cost of Tao. Some of my personal favorites include Tasty Hand Pulled Noodle, Prosperity Dumpling,  Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, and Mission Chinese. The names may not dazzle you, but the food sure will.

2. Serendipity

Serendipity has a reputation for being the quintessential, dessert destination in all of New York City. Romantically set amongst the sprawling avenues of New York, people from all over the world flock here for their legendary, Frozen Hot Chocolate. Only problem is, it’s not that great. It’s basically a giant chocolate milk with whipped cream that has been renamed and packaged as some innovative, frozen dessert creation. But I’m not going for it (Plus, grownups tend to order a Frappuchino from Starbucks instead).

Why settle for a frozen hot chocolate when you can have a Moly’s cupcake instead? Yum!

On top of that, the place is overrun with tourists and long lines. And don’t even get me started on the fact that you can barely walk through the restaurant because it is overrun by people snapping selfies and tagging themselves at Serendipity on Instagram. Totally not worth the price, wait, or general aggravation since there are so many other amazing New York dessert spots to that you can try (If you need a list of desserts to try in New York City, click here.

3. High Tea at the Plaza

It’s not that high tea at the Plaza is bad, it’s just that it’s expensive and super popular, so if you want to have tea here, you need to book a reservation like maybe, oh I don’t know, six months in advance. I mean, who knows where they’re gonna be in 6 months. I could be living in a foreign country or knocked up or both! (hopefully not the later). Save yourself the hassle and try Lady Mendl’s, Bosie Tea Parlor, and Alice’s Tea Cup (this place is really cool because they make the Mad Hatter’s tea party come alive) instead.

4. Dos Caminos

Look, we all know that Mexican food in the city sucks in general, but this place is probably the number one offender.I suggest that you only go here if you like under flavored,  overpriced Mexican food, that is topped off with a generous helping of heinously bad service. And to add insult to injury, this place is located in the ever popular meatpacking district, so expect insane crowds of party goers who have no idea where else to go. I would just stay away and go to Rosa Mexicana instead.

5. Carnegie Deli

Words fall to describe how light, smooth, and creamy this spinach ravioli with pistachios was. So good. And don;t even get me started on the pizza.

Let’s be honest here. What is the draw of this deli, because that’s all it is, a deli. Sure, they’re sandwiches are huge, but who could possibly eat all the meat in one sitting (and why would you even want to)? And it’s not like this place has $5 sandwiches either. No, here you wait an hour in line just to get a $20 pastrami sandwich that you could never possibly finish. On top of that, this sandwich place is actually just a knock off of Katz’s Deli. So if you’re gonna wait in line and pay too much for a sandwich, wouldn’t you want to do it at the original location? #justsayin’

6. Babbo’s

There is really nothing about this Mario Batali restaurant that justifies a several month wait for a reservation.  This proclaimed
mecca of Italian food, in New York City, just falls short. The pasta here is okay, but there is nothing about these noodles that really sets them apart, except the outrageous price. Plus, the restaurant only allocates two-hour time slots to diners, which makes the experience feel more like an assembly line than a fine dining experience. If you’re a fan of Mario Batali (and I am), try Eataly. The food is great and reasonably priced, at least for New York City anyway.

7. Shake Shack

I’ll stick with the shake and you can keep the shack.

You know your restaurant is iconic when you have a location in Grand Central Terminal, and Shake Shack is no exception. Everyone has heard of this gourmet burger chain that opened in 2004. Ever since then, each and every location has been riddled with lines since the chain uses high quality ingredients in fast food products.

Now, while I do love the shakes and veggie burger here, I have heard that Shake Shake meat burgers are often under seasoned and over salted, resulting in a less than desirable burger experience. Plus the fries just really are not that special. They remind me of the frozen crinkle fires that you can get at the grocery store. Seriously, where’s the crunch? Try Burger Joint or B and B instead.

8. Any Pizzeria with the name Ray’s

Honestly, these places are all just second rate knock offs of the original Ray’s, which stood at Prince Street Plaza. This Ray’s closed back in 2011 but the new restaurant here serves tasty, authentic pizza that is worth a try. The rest of them are just trying to capitalize on the Ray’s name by selling mediocre,second rate pizza.

And since New York City has an assortment of awesome pizza destinations, you don’t want to waste the time at any of these places. Try Grimaldi’s, Luzon’s, or Artichoke’s for an authentic, New York style pizza experience (Don’t even talk about Chicago deep dish pizza because in New York, those are fighting words. LoL).

9. Cake Boss Cafe

Forget Cake Boss, give me a Levain Bakery cookies any day!

Oh wow, another reality star is trying to capitalize on their fame by opening their own restaurant. Awesome! Seriously though, there are so many amazing bakeries in New York that there is really no need to set foot into this glorified tourist trap that typically has lines out the door.

If you really NEED to visit Carlo’s Bakery, check out their original location in Hoboken. But you really didn’t come all the way to New York City just to go to New Jersey, did you? Especially since there are amazing bakeries here like Butter and Scotch, Momofuku Milk Bar, and Duane Park Patisserrie,

10. Peter Luger Steakhouse

I actually don’t know too many people who can actually afford to dine here. But from what I’ve heard,  for a Michelin Star rated restaurant, it’s really nothing special. I mean, I don’t want to pay $50 for a hunk of dry aged steak on a plate. The quality of the food here just doesn’t justify the price that you pay. That’s why I would only go here if you have a corporate expense account or a trust fund that is burning a hole in your pocket.

11. Any Times Square Chain Restaurant

Need I say more? These places are just like the chain restaurants that you have at home, only they’re way more expensive because the price of rent in New York City is ridiculous. Save yourself the time and money and just don’t do it. If you really need to go to Olive Garden, just wait until you get home.

12. Nathan’s Hot Dogs

This immortal hot dog rand is a piece of New York City history. Started over a hundred years ago along the boardwalks of Coney Island, this hot dog brand has become synonymous with an “authentic” New York hot dog experience.

Yeah, I’m not buying it. Today, Nathan’s lacks quality ingredients so the flavor profile of the hot dog just isn’t there. Plus, increasing innovation from competitors means that Nathan’s just doesn’t make the list of New York City’s best hot dogs.  Do yourself a favor and just check out Bark Hot Dogs or Crif Hot Dogs instead.

13. Little Italy

I have said this a thousand times but no matter what you do, just stay far away from Little Italy. And if you need any further proof of this, the latest census revealed that there’s not even a single, Italian born re
sident currently living in this entire neighborhood. No wonder the food is overpriced and mediocre at best, with a series of long lines that just don’t make any sense. The only place here that is acceptable is Ferrara’s, and that’s for a cannoli. But other than that, this neighborhood is devoid of decent Italian food. Any true New Yorker knows that Arthur Avenue is where
it’s at.

14. Halal Guys

This humble street vendor has been serving up chicken and rice for over 20 years. However, in recent years, this street cart has become mobbed with tourists. Therefore, this charming, reasonably priced, street food experience has become a distant memory. Now, a combination of long lines and hordes of tourists make this place feel like you’re being squished into Times Square, trying to watch the ball drop, on New Years Eve. Plus, many other street vendors have now tried to capitalize on this cart’s popularity and have created a series of innovative dishes with higher quality ingredients. That’s why I’d take my money and head over to Ilili Box, Zizi Lemona, or Taim for veggies and falafel.




Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.


  • Rachel 10 months ago

    I have to say I haven’t tried most of these yet (I live in NYC), but I agree on the cookie. Levain bakery is the so good!!

    -Rachel @ Backcountry Petite

  • Kristine AARSHEIM 10 months ago

    I’ve been to Serendipity – but not in New York. There’s one in Vegas too. No line. Immediately got a table. We had vouchers and got ourselves some free Frozen hot chocolate. I found the seven layer white chocolate coconut cake to be a lot more interesting than their choc milk dessert, though. Mainly because the cake was the size of my head, and I found it amusing to take pictures of it.

    • girlwiththepassport 10 months ago

      That sounds great. Yeah, the one here is not my fave. I went once and was like yeah, that’s enough for me.

  • Aina 10 months ago

    In NYC I ate the worst ice cream in my life. But I’m sure there are places with amazing food, you just need to know where to go:)

  • Katie 10 months ago

    Some great points here! Why go to the overpriced, tourist ridden places when you can find tasty good quality food elsewhere?! That’s why I tend to do research before I travel to find out where the locals eat!

  • Danie 10 months ago

    So excited to comment on this as a native new yorker!! I agree with so much if what you wrote, though I have a soft spot for Nathans hotdigs, since my grandparentes grew up i Sea Gate, newr Coney Island, and its part of our family lore. The food does not impress me, however.

    A few more ideas:

    Mexi alternatives:
    Mezcal (west village)
    La Superior (williamsburg)
    Dos Toros (quick but delicious)

    Love your Pizza Suggestions! I would add:
    Motorino (village, brooklyn)
    Neopolitan Express (pizza truck)

    I do like shake shack… but I also see your point on this one.

    If you do want to wait in line for a.cookie.. at least do it at Levain! or better yet…go during an off hour.

  • Xinen Chua 10 months ago

    Shake Shack and Halal Guys!!! Nooooooo! I’m from Singapore and I love them!! hahahah sorry, the grass on the other side is always greener..Unicorn frappuccinos are definitely overrated though. But what’s underrated – Levain’s bakery!! Them cookiessssss hahahah omg so hungry right now!!

  • kesi irvin 10 months ago

    Wait. I love shake shack! I think it’s so good! And I’ll go to Tao only if someone else is paying lol 😉

  • Tara 10 months ago

    Great article! I am going to NYC in July and I am going to take all of your suggestions, thank you for this!

  • Glenny 10 months ago

    O wow i love this take on ur blog post. Ive never been to NYC but now I know where to go and where to NOT go hahaha

  • Esther 10 months ago

    This list is super helpful! I’m happy to say that I’ve eaten at more of your “better recommendations” than the overrated ones you listed. Although….I do love me some Shake Shack and Halal Guys. I haven’t had Tao in NYC, but in Vegas (because a friend had connections), but I don’t remember it much…which probably means it was underwhelming. Do you have another “must try in nyc” list??

  • Leah 10 months ago

    Any pizza place with the name Ray! Hahaha that made me laugh so hard!

  • val hansen 10 months ago

    These all sound amazing..I ate at the shake shack in Vegas for the first time last was so yummy! Great post ,!


  • Jill at Reading the Book 10 months ago

    OMG now I really want that spinach and pistachio ravioli!!! I really enjoyed this post, especially the fact that you suggested better alternatives to the overrated restaurants. Definitely a few ideas worth trying there!

  • Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie 10 months ago

    I agree with most of this list, but no matter what, I just love the Halal Guys! Of course, with a Levain cookie for dessert! 😉

  • Iva 10 months ago

    Food is always an adventure, a hit and miss so it really depends on the one eating. I’ve never been to any of the places you’ve mentioned (and have not been to NY, gasps!) but if I happen to chance by one, I will probably remember your review. 😉

  • Meghan 10 months ago

    So glad I saw this. I’m headed to New York for a week this summer for work and this will definitely come in handy! I need to know where to eat while there!

  • Meghan 10 months ago

    (Or should I say not eat) haha

  • work legal advice 10 months ago

    Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, good site!

  • career guidance 10 months ago

    Very good article! We will be linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.

  • electronic stores 10 months ago

    I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

  • te caldo 8 months ago

    Excellent blog here! Also your site so much up
    very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to
    your host? I desire my site loaded up as fast as yours

  • 7 months ago

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a article
    author for your weblog. You have some really good
    posts and I believe I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Many thanks!

  • paintball 6 months ago

    Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo
    News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Appreciate it

  • NY Nana 2 months ago

    I agree with some of what you said. I must disagree with you about Little Italy. I’ve had awesome food there in several restaurants. Loved the article.

Leave a Reply