25 Most-Instagrammed Dishes in New York City
From #nomnom ice cream cones to #cleandiet acai bowls, these #foodporn all-stars have us #eatingfortheinsta.
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Dominique Ansel Bakery's Cronut
There's no question that Dominique Ansel values extraordinary flavors along with astounding visual aesthetics. But his unmatched artistry and scientific machinations in the kitchen have catapulted him to all-out social media infamy. And while chocolate chip cookie shots, frozen s'mores and magic soufflés have nudged his star ever higher, the spellbinding pastry that started it all is the Cronut, a laminated croissant-doughnut hybrid that gets filled and glazed with a never-repeating flavor of the month.
Black Tap's Crazy Shakes
Essentially creating the blueprint for social media-baiting menu inventions to follow, this OG Instagram star proves that ice cream should have way more than a cherry on top. Versions come with lollipops, peanut butter cups, brownies, cookies, pixie stix, pop tarts and entire slices of funfetti cake, among other fanciful toppings.
Murray's Cheese's Murray's Melt
If one is to master the cheese pull — amongst the most-essential of Instagram maneuvers — there's ample opportunity to practice at Murray's. The seminal NYC fromagerie expanded a few years back into a full-on dairy-centric fantasia, supplying photographers with endless stretchy fodder in the form of fondue, fried cheese curds, rarebit cheddar-cloaked burgers and mac and cheese. And then there's the volcanic Murray's Melt; basically the ultimate grilled cheese pressed on outsized pullman bread, paired with a prerequisite side of creamy tomato bisque.
Taiyaki's Fish Shaped Ice Cream Cones
Offbeat ice cream concoctions are reliable Insta-darlings, especially when attention is paid not just to the scoops, but the vessels as well. While fish-shaped, red bean paste-bellied cakes are hardly a new invention, Taiyaki was shrewd enough to name itself after the century-old Japanese treat, and then smartly market it on social. Their shop remains a go-to for 'grammers grasping piscine waffle cones, a slick of melted matcha or taro soft serve artfully trickling down their wrists.
You wouldn't expect this 130-year-old Jewish deli to be a favorite amongst smartphone-toting millennials, but it helps to it helps to have one of their own in charge of the iconic brand. Jake Dell, the 30-year-old scion, can be credited with keeping the deli's Insta account tight, meaning flooded with suitably luscious images of ruby-hued smoked meats, chocolate syrup-streaked egg creams, glistening pickles and saucy pastrami Reubens on rye.
The End Brooklyn's Unicorn Latte
Though unicorn lattes became far less rare when Starbucks jumped on the bandwagon, you can still score a sighting of (and selfie with) the mythical original at the End. And unlike the giant coffee chain's imitation, which owes its dreamy pastel tint to artificial additives and plenty of food coloring, this beachy Brooklyn cafe's creation acquires its high-flying qualities (and enchanting color palette) from naturally healing and rejuvenating ingredients, such as ginger, lemon juice, dates, cashews, maca root, vanilla bean and algae.
Avocaderia's Avocado Toast
The reason millennials can't afford to buy houses is that they funnel all their funds towards avocado toast... such is the infamous, much-ridiculed theory of Australian millionaire Tim Gurner. Well, we say the entire continent is to blame, for importing their obsession overseas, and placing New Yorkers in a similar bind. And Industry City's Avocaderia certainly isn't helping. Veritable catnip for Insta-snappers, the "world's first avocado bar" facilitates wallet emptying and actively courts #forkyeah shots, via puffed quinoa bowls, matcha smoothies and of course, a panoply of toasts, artfully fanned with segments of trendy fruit.
Egg Shop's Egg Sandwiches
Put an egg on it, and you're pretty much guaranteed to have love lavished on you on Instagram. Open an eatery that's an unabashed ode to them, and you ensure yourself a revolving door of enthusiastic food photographers, composing both stills and slo-mo videos of B.E.Cs, BLTs, fried chicken sandwiches and grain bowls, cloaked in explosive rivers of that broke yolk.
DO's Cookie Dough
To be sure, thumbing one's nose at the age-old admonition not to eat raw cookie dough is definitely part of the charm (Don't fret: This version is eggless!). But pure, iPhone-enticing magnetism also helps account for DO's Cronut-level lines, especially when one forgoes one-flavor containers for indulgent ice cream sundaes, ice cream sandwiches and cookie bombs - or better yet, a Jenga stockpile of all three. Good thing your mom probably isn't on Instagram.
The Bagel Store's Rainbow Bagel
The originator of the rainbow bagel inspired not just a multiplicity of imitators, three-hour lines, and an outpouring of global press (even encouraging Japanese filmmakers to undertake a pilgrimage to Brooklyn), but motivated the makers of all manner of foodstuffs to go full ROYGBIV. Preferably slathered with funfetti cream cheese — and occasionally twisted into other trend-referencing shapes like unicorn horns — the shop has given a whole new definition to a bagel with a schmear.
Emily's Emmy Burger
Beauty shots abound of Emily's pizzas, from the bacon, kimchi and miso queso-gobbed squares, to the wood-fired honey-pistachio- truffle sottocenere-anointed rounds. But what started as a limited-quantity special turned into the pies' greatest Instagram rival. That would be a fat, clarified butter-seared burger formed from dry aged DeBragga beef, with a domed pretzel bun that barely withstands the onslaught of umami-rich juices, courtesy of melted Grafton cheddar, caramelized onions and a spicy special sauce.
Loopy Doopy's Prosecco & Ice Pops
It's a simple yet crafty equation for a steady stream of likes: Insert boozy People's Pops popsicles (such as the Raspberry Basil Smash, made with fresh fruit and white rum), into a giant fizzy goblet of prosecco. Considering the Conrad Hotel's rooftop bar is situated 16 stories above the sidewalk, positioning the seasonal tipple in front of a panorama of the glittering NYC skyline certainly doesn't hurt.
Flip Sigi's Plan B-Rito
As camera-ready as his Cali-meets-the-Philippines dishes, Cooking Channel star and chef Jordan Andino was unabashed in his intentions, to open an dynasty of eateries with food not just worth eating, but sharing, too. Not only will you find hashtags on the mirrors, secret-password-based dishes and, of course, fast and free Wi-Fi, on-trend items come conveniently pre-captioned at Flip Sigi. Consider the "Poke Me" Bowls, "Nice Buns," "Bi-Curious Tacos" and ever-popular "Plan B-Ritos;" a weekends-only assemblage of longanisa sausage, salsa, bacon, hash browns, ham, egg and cheese. Despite its hefty proportions, it can still be expertly stacked and palmed in one angled, manicured hand.
Black Seed's Baogel
While the pressure is high for restaurants to outdo each others' Instagram feeds, many eateries have ound that they're best served by collaboration. Individually, Black Seed and Nom Wah are far from slouches in the social media department. Yet they managed to raise their games still further this past November with the Baogel; a pork belly-filled, chile cream cheese-schmeared sesame bagel "bun," that stole some serious hybridized food thunder from Momofuku Milk Bar's heralded Thanksgiving croissant.
Sweet Chick's Chicken and Waffles
Brunch is king on social media. And Sweet Chick conveniently serves up the goods seven days a week, ensuring 'grammers a steady supply of golden eggs and powdered sugar-dusted pancakes. And then there's the signature lineup of chicken and waffles, which double down on the interplay of sweet and savory with permutations like The General (rice and broccoli waffles paired with General Tso's sauced chicken), and the Mike's Hot Honey, joints of chile-spiked honey-slathered bird, positioned over cakes poked with cinnamon apples, pecans, bacon and cheddar, or dried cherries.
Little Tong's Mixian
A set of chopsticks held aloft, balancing a cascade of dangling noodles, is as elemental an Insta image as webs of melted cheese. And Little Tong serves as an ideal photography studio thanks to its Yunnan-inspired mixian - translucent rice noodles rising from pots of spicy oil-dotted broth, and flecked with everything from minced pork and mushrooms to flowers, tea eggs and pickled mustard stems.
Vinnie's Pizza on Pizza
Though it looks like a standard pizza parlor, Vinnie's daily-changing selection of specials — illustrated via hand-scrawled cartoons, and saved for posterity on a collection of 700+ dry-erase boards — categorically reveals otherwise. Themed pies like the Soup Doggie Dogg (strewn with the components of chicken noodle soup) and the Beauty and the Beet (dotted with ruby roots and goat cheese) ensure locals never need to eat the same slice twice. Yet the creations that truly took social channels by storm (and catapulted Vinnie's to national recognition) were the pizza in a pizza box - the cardboard carton replaced by a mammoth, structural square of burnished dough — and the pizza-topped-pizza; a round adorned with a sea of miniature slices.
Thaimee's Magic Noodle Salad
From unicorn lattes to amethyst-streaked bagels, purple has definitely proven itself a social media darling. But the strikingly hued salad at the quick-service Thaimee Box owes nothing at all to food coloring. Initially blue thanks to a bath in butterfly pea flower tea, nests of cellophane noodles magically turn lavender right at the table, after being spritzed with a cooling splash of citrus.
Two Hands' Matcha Bowls
While serious Insta real estate is devoted to columns of fried chicken sandwiches, towers of cake-topped ice cream, and cones of liberally sauced French fries, there's quite a bit of attention lavished on virtuous lifestyle staples. We're talking avo toast, market veggie plates and meticulously arranged matcha and acai bowls, featuring tidy atolls of superfoods, such as nuts, goji berries and chia seeds. And brunch favorite Two Hands has the mind, soul and body beat covered, making it a lightning rod for hashtags like #healthychoices, #eatrealfood, #plantbased and #eatclean.
Drunken Dumpling's XL XLB
Dumplings — especially the soup-centered Shanghainese xiao long bao — already make for some pretty dynamic 'grams. But this East Village slurp shop's supersized, steamer-encompassing version (so comically big, the broth needs to be sucked out with a straw), casts a pretty intimidating shadow over anything dainty enough to be lifted with a chopstick.
King's Pink Radicchio Salad
The refined, critically admired King hardly goes out of its way to be trendsetting. Yet it inadvertently found itself smack in the middle of a burgeoning craze, with the recent debut of a "millennial pink" chicory salad. Composed of radicchio del veneto - a rosy radicchio available only in late winter and spring - it takes the prevailing theme of all-pink restaurants, and temptingly transfers it to the plate.
Seafood with a View at Grand Banks and Pilot
Glistening tiers of quivering, briny oysters and butter-bunned, generously proportioned lobster rolls are already ideal fodder for Instagram. But Grand Banks and Pilot - a sister act of seafood-centric restaurants on boats - provide an unmatched maritime backdrop. The former is a historic, hand-built fishing vessel, which bobs atop the Hudson in Tribeca's Pier 25, while the latter is a wooden 1924 schooner, set astride the East River in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Ice and Vice's Over-the-Top Ice Cream Structures
Thoroughly modern options like the Breakfast Club (brown butter and candied bacon waffles) and the Burnt Out (toasted black rice and mandarin citrus jam) allow Ice & Vice to stand out in a sea of nostalgic scoop shops. Yet it's hard to capture such nuanced flavors on camera. So the social set simply devised an eye-catching workaround by piling as many selections on top of artisanal waffle cones as humanly possible, and augmenting them with offset ice cream sandwiches or anchored wedges of ice cream cake for good measure.
aRoqa's Chicken Chops
Not only are Indian restaurants beginning to assert themselves as fine dining options, they're making a play for NYC's influencer crowds as well. The year-old aRoqa is certainly a case in point. Instead of serving rustic, home-style platters of saag paneer and lamb vindaloo, Chef-Owner Guarav Anand sets the stage for Insta-infamy with tiny bicycles, sporting baskets filled with fritter-esque corn paddu, and incendiary chicken chops, which are rolled out on a cart before being doused with Old Monk's rum, and ceremoniously set aflame.
Salt Bae at Nusr-Et
While certainly synonymous with meat — from hulking tomahawk steaks to torched beef rolled into sushi — Nusr-Et is primarily a stage for its charismatic proprietor Salt Bae, who's secured millions of followers through his mysteriously sunglassed, carefully cultivated persona and flashy seasoning style, rather than individual dishes.