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Often referred to among foodies as the "Fast Food Capital of the USA", the city of New York has around 1, 261 fast-food style eateries to its credit. This makes fast-food restaurants the most numerous food type in the city. Presided over by Lady Liberty, New York is renowned for its immigrant culture and the diverse range of nationalities who now call it home. As a result, the fast food available in New York is equally varied and offers countless options for new eating experiences for visitors.

From traditional US burgers and Polish and German bagels to Italian pizzas and Mexican tacos, food and drink experiences in New York are like studying a map of the world.

Statistics show that the fast-food industry in the US has increased in market size over the last decade from $209,4 million to $296,6 million, and New York is part of this trend. In the following sections, we’ll explore why fast food continues to be a thriving industry in the city that never sleeps and some of the options available on its streets when you want something sensational to eat prepared in minutes.

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Time to Eat Fast Food in New York

In the 1960s, the phrase New York minute was reportedly coined by a Texan who found the pace too hectic for his southern tastes. While there’s no doubt that New York is a fast-paced environment, it’s also full of rich colours and constant activity around the clock. Additionally, with so many exciting eating opportunities available, it’s understandable that those visiting the city to try out its food won’t want to waste any time.

Busy people and fast food are a perfect combination. Fast food can be prepared and picked up quickly and swallowed down while on the move, whether you’re walking or driving, making it an ideal option. So, it’s unsurprising that this style of the eatery has become a favourite of New Yorkers, but as mentioned, with such a wealth of different types of food to try, it’s also impossible to get bored. Read on as we tackle four of the biggest fast-food types found in the city.

Fast food can still be good food

If you’re visiting New York to try out the fast food it has, remember that you don’t have to settle for the fare served by global chains. While it’s definitely down to individual taste, why travel across the Atlantic to encounter fast food you can find in your city? Instead, embark on a fast-food tour with a local guide who can show you that gastronomic wonders can still be delivered swiftly when made by those with a passion for food.


The World Food Travel Association suggest that food tourists get a sense of what the place they’re visiting is like by trying the tastes it offers. As a result, every visitor to New York will likely add eating a real American burger to their list of to-dos. Accompanied by a thick creamy shake and perfectly sizzled French fries, the city delivers an unbeatable range of burgers to suit all budgets and tastes.

Gourmet burgers combining skirt steak, short rib and dry-aged ribeye are served at Minetta tavern, while the Shake Shack serves burgers topped with a fried mushroom loaded with mouth-watering melted cheese. Those looking for a simple classic will love the menu at Burger Joint, while those with an adventurous appetite will find burger patties made from ostrich, elk, and bison at Bareburger.


Around 2.6 million American Italians and Italians currently live in and around New York. In terms of food culture, Italy has introduced a wide range of delicious dishes to eat on the go to the city, from Arancini to Cannoli, but the most famous fast food is served in New York’s pizza parlours.

Invented in Naples, Italy, this classic dish of leavened wheat dough topped with tomatoes, cheese and assorted ingredients is a New York favourite. The East Village’s Motorino Pizza serves artisan slices in the classic Neopolitan style, while Brooklyn-based Roberta’s Pizza serves wood-fired pizza pies in a hipster environment.

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Yeast bread rings that are boiled and then baked, bagels are synonymous with New York. Many say the city’s water is responsible, but most travellers agree that a New York bagel beats others across the country hands-down.

Those on an NYC food tour will want to drop by Murray’s Bagels for a traditional choice. The perfect bagel should have a chewy texture with a crunchy crust while being stuffed with fresh ingredients. The Lower-East side’s Russ & Daughters serves its classic bagel sandwich. Filled with scallion cream cheese and lox, it’s a must for those seeking an authentic taste of New York.


While New York’s efforts at Mexican treats were once scorned by food critics, the city now offers unparalleled offerings in this category. Made from wheat or corn, tacos are hand-sized by design, making them a perfect snack to eat while walking and talking. Stuffed with meat, beans or vegetables and topped with crisp salad and cheese, these cantina classics are well-represented in New York.

The Chipotle chicken taco at Brooklyn Taco is acclaimed, while Otto’s tacos serve mini tacos for perfect finger food. Based in New York’s Chelsea Market Los Taco’s No. 1 is always busy during peak hours, but the line moves incredibly fast thanks to the speed of its taco makers. For a decadent delight, the Especial is essential. A deep-fried quesadilla, it is stuffed to plumpness with countless ingredients.

New York Food and Drink Experiences

If you’re ready to explore the Big Apple's enduring love of fast food first-hand, would love to help with a host of New York Food and Drink Experiences. Inspired by fresh ingredients and unrivalled recipes from around the world and our love of food and drink, we’ve assembled the best gastronomic experiences across the globe, making them easier to access than ever before.

Whether you’re looking to bite into the best burger ever on a fast-food tour of New York or seeking new flavour sensations on a tasting trip across the continent explore our categories today and start planning your next culinary adventure.

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