Every few months, it seems, there's a new culinary fad that everyone in New York City simply must try. Many times these trendy snacks aren't just simple nourishment, but offer up a real feast for the eyes. That explains why Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds fill up with delicious-looking photos of these must-have eats.
Many of the NYC food fads of the last few years have stuck around and are still sought after by local gourmands as well as foodie-minded tourists. Here are 10 of the most Insta-famous snacks that have taken New York City—and social media—by storm.
French pastry chef Dominique Ansel had an undeniable sensation on his hands when he invented the Cronut back in 2013 — a tasty treat that combines the shape of a doughnut with the texture of a croissant. At the height of the Cronut craze, hundreds would line up at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, waiting for hours just to buy and savor a single Cronut. Luckily, the lines have died down some since, but this novel creation can perhaps be attributed to birthing the fancy/high-end doughnut trend that's still running rampant throughout New York City. Plus, the popularity of the Cronut has led to many other croissant/doughnut hybrids, including "doussants," "zonuts," and "crogels." None of the knockoffs can match the original, however.
The Rainbow Bagel
If you can believe the hype, the rainbow bagel might just be the new Cronut. Created in 2016 by Scott Rossillo at The Bagel Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this multi-colored take on the simple breakfast bagel has attracted the curiosity of thousands. Colorful pics of rainbow bagels have saturated social media, including variations on the traditional rainbow bagel bejeweled in sprinkles and glitter. Plus, color schemes for rainbow bagels can vary by the season and holiday. Unsurprisingly, The Bagel Store also made a Cronut-inspired bagel/croissant hybrid in 2014 called "the cragel." Cragels are popular, sure, but they're no rainbow bagels.
The Raindrop Cake
No, that's not a blob of Jell-O you're seeing on your social media feed. It's not a giant raindrop or a jellyfish either. It's actually a Raindrop Cake, a curious and alluring snack that was created by NYC-based chef Darren Wong. Made from seaweed rather than gelatin, the consistency of Raindrop Cakes is gel-like, and the flavor is refreshing and subtle. The ube-flavored version was unveiled earlier this year at the Smorgasburg food market in Brooklyn, which is held on Saturdays in the Williamsburg neighborhood, and Sundays in Prospect Park.
The Ramen Burger
The Ramen Burger replaces the traditional hamburger bun with ramen noodle discs, for a texture that is both juicy and crunchy. Its unique taste serves to bring together familiar American fare with distinctly Japanese flavors. Keizo Shimamoto, the chef-creator of the Ramen Burger, was inspired by pork bun sandwiches in Japan that similarly use ramen noodles rather than bread. Originally available at different foodie-focused events and venues in New York City such as Smorgasburg and Berg'n, you can currently grab a Ramen Burger for lunch on weekdays at the Ramen Shack in Long Island City, Queens.
Taiyaki Ice Cream
Taiyaki is a fish-shaped Japanese street food made from waffle or pancake batter, that's traditionally filled with red bean paste or custard for a sweet pastry treat. The Chinatown/Little Italy ice cream shop Taiyaki NYC has transformed the waffle fish into a waffle cone, and in the process, reimagined soft serve into delicious works of art. There are plenty of ice cream flavors to choose from, and special seasonal/holiday designs that are just begging for social media shares.
Eggloo is another excellent option for photogenic ice cream. The Little Italy eatery is most famous for their ice cream served in sweet Hong Kong-style egg waffle cones called gai dan jai (or, little eggs). With unlimited toppings, you can stack up some remarkable flavor combinations that look great on camera. Eggloo also offers colorful, eye-catching ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip, ube, matcha, or chocolate cookies.
Poké is a Hawaiian raw fish salad traditionally made from tuna or octopus, with seasoning influenced by the cuisines of Japan and other Asian cultures. While poké usually comes in a bowl, a number of restaurants also offer poké wraps/burritos, which are made with sushi rice and seaweed. Whether served by bowl or in a wrap, the contrast of colors can be quite striking. There are plenty of places in New York City to try poké, including Chikarashi in Chinatown, Gotham Poké in the Meatpacking District, and the Pokéworks chain.
There's something to be said about a nice frozen margarita, but sometimes you crave something a bit more light and delicate. Enter the frosé (a play on "frozen rosé"), the trendy adult beverage of the summer. A frosé turns delicious rosé into a refreshing slushie that's pretty and pink. It goes well with brunch, over dinner, or simply on its own while relaxing in the warm weather. There are several restaurants and bars in New York City where you can order a frosé, including Bar Primi in NoHo, Vandal on the Lower East Side, and Le District in Battery Park City.
The XL Xiao Long Bao
Xiao long bao (aka soup dumplings) are a lovely and filling dish, particularly when the weather gets colder. There are plenty of great soup dumpling spots all over New York City, but only one restaurant makes the gigantic soup dumpling of your Instagram dreams: Drunken Dumpling, in the East Village. Their XL xiao long bao (or, XL XLB) is roughly the size of a person's face, which is six to seven times the size of a normal soup dumpling. Keep in mind that Drunken Dumpling only makes 25 of these extra-large soup dumplings each day, so get in early to give it a try.
If cheese makes everything better, melted cheese makes things downright fantastic. And while the fondue craze of the 1970s (and its brief resurgence in the 1990s) may not be making a comeback anytime soon, its culinary cousin, raclette, has caught on in a big way in recent years. This gooey cheese dish, hailing from France and Switzerland, is scraped from a hot wheel (or personal heated pan) right onto the plate, enveloping roasted vegetables and charcuterie in dollops of creamy cheesy goodness. The Raclette restaurant in the East Village is the premiere NYC spot at which to give these rich cheese wheels a spin.