People who live in New York or visit the city frequently know how easy it is to seek out food experiences here that can’t be found anywhere else. Just consider the city's rate of restaurant density; based on data collected during the last census, there are roughly 233 sit-down restaurants in the Lower East Side.
With so many eateries for diners to choose from, chefs and restaurateurs need to dedicate themselves to offering an experience that will knock New Yorkers off their feet. And while some food lovers’ tastes gravitate toward finding an authentic slice, a classic pastrami on rye, or a piece of New York cheesecake, many enthusiasts are burned out on the boroughs’ staples and are searching for cuisine that pushes boundaries. Here is a collection of out-there dishes featuring outrageous flavor combinations that are sure to satisfy an adventurous palate.
The signature savory dish from Wafels & Dinges, a New York City food truck serving up Belgian-style waffles with outrageous toppings, features expertly prepared pulled pork piled atop a classic Belgian waffle. But that's not even the weirdest part of the dish. This food truck crew mesmerized TV's Al Roker with a coolickle: a pickle marinated in red Kool-Aid for an extra sweet punch.
Ask your local bartender for a Grasshopper, and you'll probably end up with a glass full of crème de menthe. Yet, if you make the same request at White & Church, you could end up with cocktail containing actual dried grasshoppers. Blogger Katerina Vorotova includes the TriBeCa bar on her Weird Food Club tour of New York City, daring guests to try the Brazilian summer concoction that blends the insects with oatmeal milk, sugar, and batida de coco.
If a street vendor's soft pretzel doesn't satisfy your cravings, consider a more exotic treat from just across the river in New Jersey. Somerset farmer Gene Rurka carefully selects earthworms that he'll dehydrate and form into a familiar pretzel shape. Rurka supplies his "wormzels," along with salted roaches and other exotic snacks, for special events like the annual Explorers Club dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Hakata Ton Ton's owners will tell you they specialize in Japanese "soul food." The restaurant's New York Times review corrected that to "sole food," since nearly every dish on the menu contains pig's feet. This restaurant serving up small plates isn't afraid to glaze bibimbap with "sticky foot broth" or to feature a "healthy collagen salad" on its seasonal menu.
The Luxury Pizza
You can argue with New Yorkers all day about the differences between pies from Famous Ray's, Ray's Original, or World Famous Original Ray's, but if you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, give Nino's Bellissima a day's notice and they'll make you their own famous Luxury Pizza. The extra prep time gives owner Nino Selimaj a head start on finding the fresh lobster and six distinct styles of caviar he uses to top this $1,000 indulgence.
Even if you're working 80 hours a week and busting your hump at one of the many online colleges in New York City, a caviar pizza may be out of reach. But in a town where eating at some food trucks can cost more than sitting down for a meal, every penny counts.
Joe Taylor Jr. has covered travel, personal finance, business, and online schooling for more than two decades. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. When not writing about business, Joe serves as a business sales manager for a Fortune 500 technology company.