New York's 10 Most Overrated Dishes

10/25/2011 04:39 pm ET Updated Dec 25, 2011

Love 'em or hate 'em, the dishes below are some of the most debated in New York. On one hand, you have hordes of people willing to wait in epic lines for the chance to try these city favorites. On the other, some dissenting voices say these dishes are nothing but hype. Click through the slideshow to see 10 dishes that plenty of folks would call overrated - and let us know where you stand on each in the comments. Think we missed some debate-worthy options? Be sure to nominate your picks below.

Famous Halal Guys' Street Meat

Why People Love It: With street meat so ubiquitous in Midtown, the Famous Halal Guys are thought to be the best by many. Spicy red hot sauce, juicy lamb and chicken draw lines down the block into the wee hours of the morning. Also - the stuff is a total bargain, you can score a heaping platter of meat and rice for around $6 (topped with your favorite sauces). Just be warned - many imposters try to take advantage of this cart's reputation. The real deal is located on the Southwest corner of 53rd and Sixth from 7 PM onward. Just look for the signature yellow bags.

Case That It's Overrated: It's no wonder people get confused as to which street meat cart is the actual "famous" halal guys - at any given moment, there are two or three options in a few block radius. Those who think that this famous street cart is overrated claim that it's really not that much better than the numerous other options in the surrounding area. The key difference? Those other carts come with less of a line, and does it really matter what kind of pita you're stuffing your face with when you have the drunk munchies?

Is the Famous Halal cart the only one worth going to, or will the others in the area suffice? Let us know in the comments.

Momofuku's Pork Buns

Why People Love It: If there is one chef in New York that truly has a cult following, it's David Chang. His pork buns have followed him from the early days of Momofuku over to Ssam Bar and have recently turned up on the menu at Ma Peche. The pork belly is caramelized and fatty, the buns are soft and warm, add a dab of sriracha and - bam - you'll see exactly why this peasant-food favorite put Chang on the map.

Case That It's Overrated: When polling our foodie friends about the most overrated dishes, Chang's pork buns was the most often mentioned. Chang's reputation seems to be the culprit here - it creates an expectation that perhaps no one could live up to. One avid diner sums the "over-it" camp pretty well: "They were hyped as the end-all, be-all to new-wave mind-blowing low-price gastronomy, and I was utterly underwhelmed." Many diners - especially those who weren't there at the beginning of Chang's movement - think that his buns just aren't all that (even when spiked with sriracha).

What do you think? Can these buns ever live up to their reputation?

Magnolia's Cupcakes

Why People Love It: The reason people stand in line forever at the original West Village location of Magnolia is simple: this is the cupcake of cupcakes. The bakery arguably started the cupcake trend that lives on to this day when it opened in 1996. Pouring fuel on that fire was the shop's appearance on Sex and the City - to this day it's still part of the Sex and the City tours that invade the Village. Even if you're not a fan of Carrie and Co., how can you argue with the pleasure of eating a cupcake?

Case That It's Overrated: Some claim Magnolia's cupcakes are too sweet, some say the whole cupcake trend has jumped the shark and still others say it's the bakery's overexposure that makes the dessert overrated, with hordes of tourists flocking there for a "genuine New York experience" that's anything but. Are the lines too out-of-town to make the shop worthwhile? Let us know in the comments.

Scarpetta's Spaghetti

Why People Love It: If there is one dish that has turned Scott Conant's Scarpetta into a multi city empire, it's his spaghetti. Diners love the simplicity of the dish - it's just spaghetti with red sauce and basil. In his review of the restaurant, Frank Bruni said that Conant's dish has "a roundness of flavor and nuance of sweetness that amount to pure Mediterranean bliss." Fans also argue that it's one of the more authentic pasta dishes in town. 

Case That It's Overrated: $24. For spaghetti. For every diner that is transported to the outskirts of Rome, another one is transported to somewhere more familiar: their kitchen, where they can make a similar dish for a fraction of the price. It's the same problem with those mono-chromatic, über-trendy paintings you see at MoMa - a certain subsection of person will see a canvas painted black and snicker, "Yeah, I could do that myself."  Despite all the bells and whistles associated with the dish - a celebrity chef, a swanky restaurant, the highest quality ingredients - can a traditional pasta dish like this one ever transcend its low-key roots and merit the price tag?

What do you think - is this Italian eatery's signature dish truly life-altering, or would you rather spend that 20 bucks somewhere else? Let us know in the comments.

Milk Bar's Crack Pie

Why People Love It: Fans of Christina Tosi's signature dessert at Milk Bar know that it's called crack pie for a reason: have one bite and you'll be addicted for life. Dense, sugary and chock-full of oats and butter, the pie contains a little bit of everything, which was the dream you had as a kid as you dumped every ingredient imaginable into the bowl in the attempt to make the perfect dessert. The pie also marks a departure from snooze-worthy chocolate dishes that dominate pastry menus around town.  

Case That It's Overrated: The main complaint? It's too sweet! Detractors think that Tosi's pie is more about the hype than it is about the flavor - which is basically a wallop of sugar mixed up in a crusty, cookie like crust. A bit of it is good, two bites and you'll be more hopped up than you are after an espresso. Despite its appearance, the pie is also very heavy - those two bites will fill your stomach more than you bargained for.

Are you addicted to this crack, or is the pie totally overrated? Let us know in the comments.

Serendipity 3's Frrrozen Hot Chocolate

Why People Love It: Because it tastes like childhood! This ice cream-shop has many nostalgic concoctions on its menu, but this icy treat (served for over 50 years) most evokes wintery visits to NYC (with perhaps a stop at the nearby ice skating rink in Central Park). A combo of hot chocolate mix, sugar, milk and chocolate, it's like a gigantic chocolate smoothie that's topped with ample amounts of whipped cream.  

Case That It's Overrated: New Yorkers have a grown-up alternative to this drink: the mocha frappuccino. When an icy, chocolate concoction is available on pretty-much every street corner, is there really a reason to head over to a small shop on the Upper East Side that's packed with tourists? All those extra r's in the name won't make that experience any cuter. Maybe you should just hit Starbucks before your trip to the ice rink instead. Does this dish still pack the magic, or are you too growed up? Let us know in the comments.  

Artichoke Basille's Signature Pizza

Why People Love It: Actually, this category should read, "Why tipsy people love it." Artichoke's signature pie has become a late-night staple for bar hoppers, who now have three locations to choose from. Topped with artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella, pecorino and romano cheese, a surveyor from our recent New York Restaurants guide sums it up when they call the pizza "artichoke dip on crust." The ultimate comfort food. 

Case That It's Overrated: While some folks call this pizza a gooey delight, others call it a greasy mess. Yeah, spinach and artichoke dip at a Super Bowl party is fun, but eating a gigantic piece of dough slathered with the stuff is too much of a good thing for many pie lovers. Couple the epic calorie counts with the long waits at the East Village location, and it's no wonder it didn't crack the Top Pizza list in our recent Survey.

Is the artichoke pie too much for you, or are you ready for a second slice? Let us know in the comments.

Rickshaw's Dumplings

Why People Love It: Rickshaw was one of the food outlets to popularize the food trucks that are currently such a huge part of the NYC dining scene. Its dumplings have caused devotees to stand in lines down the block, patiently waiting their turn to don the chopsticks and go to town. Rickshaw lovers claim that the dipping sauces really make these dumplings stand out - the chicken dumplings are served with a spicy peanut sauce, while their veggie option comes with a lemon-sansyo dipping sauce.  

Case That It's Overrated: Rickshaw's review says it best, with surveyors pointing out it's "kinda pricey" for "small portions" that are "not very filling." While the truck's signature dishes are undeniably tasty, having it parked outside your office creates what can be known as the "Rickshaw lunch conundrum." Do you spend $6 for six dumplings and walk away feeling hungry, or do you spend $12 for two orders and feel like you blew too much money on lunch?

Do these dumplings hit the spot, or are they overrated and overpriced? Let us know in the comments. 

Shake Shack's Burger

Why People Love It: Many New Yorkers have been in love with Danny Meyer's version of fast food since the Shack first launched its original Madison Park location in June of 2004. The burger is the outright favorite on the menu, with fans loving the grab-and-go vibe without having to worry about factory-farmed, antibiotic laden meat that is the norm at many national fast-food chains.

Case That It's Overrated: Calm down people - at the end of the day, it's just a burger! This patty has developed a such a cult following that people will wait in epic lines for it, but not everyone's a fan: it's pretty small when compared to the city's other top burgers, and some claim that it lacks proper seasoning. And don't get us started on those crinkle-cut fries that come with it. The bloom may be off the Shake Shack rose: it failed to make our Best Burger list in this year's guide.

Are people just lining up because of the hype? Let us know if this burger's day has come and gone in the comments.

Junior's Cheesecake

Why People Love It: Plenty of people equate New York with Cheesecake, and Junior's is arguably the brand that's the most synonymous with the The Big Apple's signature dessert. Having made the cakes since the 1950s, the folks at the Brooklyn original have a lot of experience honing their recipe. Which is good, because you shouldn't mess with a classic. 

Case That It's Overrated: Junior's success may also be the reason why many New Yorkers think it's overrated - the Times-Square-area location is kind of a tourist trap, while the take-out stand is in Grand Central for a reason. While this dessert may be a mainstay on the dinner tables of Long Island residents, Big Apple dwellers surrounded by pastry-innovations find cheesecake in general to be kind of a snooze. It's like the dessert version of a pastrami sandwich - associated with NYC and popular with tourists, but does anyone who lives here actually eat it anymore?

What do you think - is Junior's what you dream of when you're looking at a dessert menu? Let us know in the comments.