01/16/2014 09:19 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

30 Food Reasons NYC Is Worth The Struggle (PHOTOS)

Flickr: cherrylet

Making the decision to live in NYC basically means that you are an insane person. No individual with their wits intact would voluntarily live in a place where rats rule the public transportation, the apartments are glorified shoeboxes and one single cocktail can set you back $20. So why do millions of people live here, many of them transplants from kinder, gentler places? It's because of the food, no question.

Even when our landlord has just raised the rent -- again -- and we've had to commute home on a jam-packed subway car (with someone's elbow digging into your side and another person breathing their terrible hot breath on your neck), we have NYC bagels. When we can't get a cab in the freezing winter rain and we just lost out on THE dream job to someone who graduated from university yesterday, a pastrami sandwich from Katz's makes all the wrongs feel right.

The foods that make up this city come to define us as we live in it. They mark our celebrations; they help us deal. And so, for better or for worse, we struggle in New York because we could never say goodbye to its food. Here are the foods that make New York City worth the struggle. These 30 rank as being particularly special to us at HuffPost Taste, but of course this list could go on and on. If you think we've missed an all-too important one, let us know in the comments below.

  • 1 Bialys
    Flickr: BrownGuacamole
    New York's best kept secret.
  • 2 City Bakery Hot Chocolate
    Flickr: ohocheese
    It's more like chocolate soup, and it can mend your battered-down spirit.
  • 3 $1 Pizza Slices
    Flickr: Paul Lowry
    We appreciate it for not letting us go hungry after we've handed our life savings over to our landlord.
  • 4 Pastrami Sandwich At Katz's
    Flickr: Kimtaro
    This is the sandwich you eat when you just lost your job. Again. And if you're extra nice to the guys behind the counter, they'll load you up on half sour, full sours and pickled green tomatoes.
  • 5 Anything From Peter Pan's Donut & Pastry Shop
    Flickr: *Bitch Cakes*
    The fact that you can get a cup of coffee, a donut and a killer breakfast sandwich for under six bucks makes this place a true gem. And the 1950s feel of the place is pretty great too.
  • 6 Luke's Lobster Roll
    Flickr: amlamster
    Yes, we know $18 is a lot to spend on this tiny sandwich. But we'll cough up our last 20 for just one bite of their lobster roll. Or their shrimp roll. Or their crab roll.
  • 7 Black And White Cookies
    Flickr: stu_spivack
    This cakey cookie makes us momentarily forget that we dodged two rats on the subway ride home.
  • 8 Momofuku Pork Buns
    Flickr:erin & camera
    Worth the wait, every time. And if you go for lunch, there's no wait. (Which means you should definitely call in sick tomorrow so you can go.)
  • 9 Lard Bread
    Flickr: missmeng
    How could you not want to live in a place where a loaf of bread made with pork fat, cheese and salumi exists? It's comfort food at its finest. And if you live in New York, you need good comfort food.
  • 10 The Pickle Guys
    Flickr: fussy onion
    Order anything from here, and your day just got light years better.
  • 11 Porterhouse Steak From Peter Luger
    Flickr: JeromeOD
    Yes, this dish will cost you your first born. But, it's worth it. Blow your entire paycheck on this meal and don't think twice, because you just can't get a steak this good anywhere else.
  • 12 The Coffee
    Flickr: ercwttmn
    There is SO MUCH good coffee. (Which is reason alone to move here.) Every block has one, if not two, options for a cup that will jolt you back to life and make you forget that you worked a 14-hour day yesterday and are just about to do it again -- and again. Cafe Grumpy, Mud, La Colombe, Abraco, the list goes on and on.
  • 13 Disco Tots From Queens Comfort
    Flickr: cherrylet
    Disco tots are tater tots smothered in sawmill gravy and cheddar cheese. Each bite makes us forget that we can't afford the subway ride it cost us to get here, let alone the breakfast that sits in front of us.
  • 14 Shake Shack's Frozen Custard
    Flickr: star5112
    Ice cream doesn't even rank when there's frozen custard. And Shake Shack does it best. It's one of the main reasons summers in New York are so great.
  • 15 Everything Bagels
    Flickr: AJU_photography
    The fact that you can find an everything bagel at almost every corner deli means you're never far from an awesome (and cheap!) breakfast.
  • 16 Egg Cream from Gem Spa
    Flickr: tanyalazar
    You don't understand how great milk and soda water go together until you've tried it at Gem Spa. This simple drink will make you feel like a child again, and wash away all your worries.
    Flickr: goodiesfirst
    We're not talking dollar slices here, but the real good, art-in-the-craft type of pizza. Here are some of our favorites: Best Pizza, Motorino, Paulie Gee's, Lucali, Artichoke, Sullivan St. Bakery, Roberta's, DiFara's, Totonno and grandma-style pizza from L&B Spumoni Gardens.
  • 18 Xiao Long Bao
    Flickr: tedmurphy
    Xiao Long Bao, or Shanghai soup dumplings, are the only way we ever want to eat soup -- and they are the one thing getting you through the brutal NYC winter.
  • 19 The Burger At Diner
    Flickr: roboppy
    There are so many good burgers in this city, but this one, this one is special. Just look at the way they blanket the patty in cheese. You'll remember this burger for the rest of your life.
  • 20 Ramen
    Flickr: star5112
    It's particularly great from Ippudo, but you can get good ramen almost anywhere in the city. That alone is reason to never leave this place.
  • 21 Hibiscus Donut From Dough
    Flickr: juliusmayojr
    Donuts from dough aren't cheap -- almost nothing is in this city -- but the fact that they're the size of your face makes up for that.
  • 22 White Fish From Russ & Daughters
    Flickr: stu_spivack
    There's a reason this place has been around since 1914, and it's because of this white fish salad.
  • 23 Prosperity Dumplings
    Flickr: K.Muncie
    The fact that you can get five dumplings for $1 makes NYC feel like the kindest place on earth.
  • 24 Shaved Ice From People's Pops
    Flickr: abstract duck
    When you're in the middle of summer's third heat wave, and your AC is busted, you know you have People's Pops shaved ice has got your back. (In that it will help you avoid a heat stroke.)
  • 25 Smoked Meat Poutine At Mile End
    Flickr: missmeng
    This is not just your everyday gravy-and-cheese covered fries. This poutine is made with smoked meat by the guys that don't mess around when it comes to meat. And it's just the type of food you need after sending out 98 resumes in one week and not hearing back a single response.
  • 26 Mille Crepe Cake From Lady M
    Flickr: cherrylet
    When just one piece of cake won't do, a slice of mille crepe cake will set you straight.
  • 27 Grilled Octopus In Astoria
    Flickr: Klearchos Kapoutsis
    The number of Greek restaurants in Astoria means that there's no shortage of perfectly charred, tender octopus. One bite from this dish and you'll forget for a moment that you live in a concrete jungle.
  • 28 Noodles From Xi'an Famous Foods
    Flickr: jasonlam
    We have one thing to say about this: hand-pulled noodles are worth fighting for.
  • 29 Pierogis At Veselka
    Flickr: FunkBrothers
    Not only will eating these pierogis feel like you're being hugged by a Polish grandmother, but you can get them 24 hours.
  • 30 Deep Fried Cadbury Egg From Chipshop
    Yelp: Sidney E.
    Just because you can get everything you've ever wanted in NYC, definitely means you should -- like a deep-fried Cadbury egg. Eat that and relish in that fact that you can get it any old day of the week. Along with deep-fried pizza, deep-fried cherry pie, deep-fried mac and cheese. You want it, you got it. That's the NYC way.

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