Instagram Famous NYC Foods That Are Actually Overrated

If you browse some of the top posted foods on Instagram, you’ll notice that a lot of them are served in the big apple. But do social media famous foods taste as good as they look in their filtered glory? Not necessarily.

In 2017, food pilgrimages are totally still a thing.

But nobody is taking journeys by foot to the next town (or country) over to find arable land or better food supply, they’re taking mini vacays in search of the next cronut.

There are plenty of other new, unique, and most importantly–Instagram worthy– delicacies popping up all around the world, and especially in NYC

If you’re unfamiliar with the cronut, let me enlighten you. The croissant and donut combo was beautifully frankensteined by Levain Bakery in NYC. The treat began being sold in 2003 and continues to be a top draw for Levain (their chocolate chip cookies and cookie shot glasses are also incredibly popular), resulting in the ever-present line that you’ll see in the mornings at one of their shops.

Cronut Line by H.L.I.T. (Flickr Creative Commons)

Cronut Line in 2014 by H.L.I.T. (Flickr Creative Commons)

For those of us who’ve had the “pleasure” of waiting in line for an hour in order to have approximately five bites of a baked good, never fear, there are plenty of other new, unique, and most importantly–Instagram worthy– delicacies popping up all around the world, and especially in NYC as of late.

Unfortunately, like Levain’s cronut phenomenon, many of the hottest eats come at a price. While that price is occasionally a big blow to your wallet, it’s more often than not a long wait in a line. But even if the latest food fad doesn’t mean a two-hour wait or a $100 tab, you may still ask yourself, “does it live up to the hype?”

We’ve found that some of the most ‘grammed and pinned foods aren’t always quite as life-changing as you’d expect

Well, just like your mother told you not to judge a book by its cover, you can’t always judge a goody’s taste by its photogenic Instagram presence. In fact, we’ve found that some of the most ‘grammed and pinned foods of the last year aren’t always quite as life-changing as you’d expect.

Black Tap Milkshakes

Whoever was the genius behind Black Tap’s marketing and decided they should start making insane, over-the-top milkshakes needs a raise. The New York burger joint became a household name very quickly last winter when its overloaded milkshakes started making the rounds on social media. Whether you were a cookie-holic who wanted cookie dough, cookie crumbs, and chocolate drizzle, or a gummy-obsessive who wanted gummy bears, worms, sour straws, and more–Black Tap had a milkshake for you.



The only catch? As soon as videos of the concoctions started getting passed around on Facebook via sites like Insider and Elite Daily, Black Tap’s lines went out the door–literally. After attempting to try the milkshakes for myself in February of last year and not wanting to wait in line for an hour, I eventually went the insider route and had a friend who did their PR secure me an unofficial reservation on a weeknight.

My favorite part of the whole experience? The delicious bison burger that I ate. Oh, and the fact that I got a pretty cute Instagram photo of me with my milkshake, despite the horrible lighting in their Meatpacking District location.


Une photo publiée par Ashley (@ashleyuzer) le


You may not be able to tell how large the milkshakes are from your iPhone screen, but trust me, one milkshake is enough for three people–unless you’re really looking to amp up your calcium or sugar intake for the day. The milkshakes are by no means bad, but all the copy-cats who DIY-ed their own Black Tap inspired milkshakes had the right idea. There’s no secret recipe, the appeal is all about the extras placed on top, extras which can mostly be picked up at your local grocery store or even gas station.


Poke is another exotic treat that New Yorkers made their own, with the original dish coming from Hawaii. But the thing about poke is that it’s been made in Hawaii for years, whereas New Yorkers are just catching on. Not to mention that Hawaiians have a plethora of fresh fish, whereas not all New York city joints have that


Une photo publiée par lynn chen (@mslynnchen) le


Another mistake that New York poke spots are making is that they’re adding rice to their poke, making it more of a Chipotle burrito bowl version of sushi instead. If you’re looking for authentic poke, try Sons of Thunder in Murray Hill, which is one of the restaurants that served poke before it was “trendy.”

Acai Bowls

Black Tap milkshakes, cronuts, and mac and cheese are all big winners when it comes to garnering Instagram likes, but a fresh salad is a much harder sell. After all, even if healthy food tastes delicious, it never seems to have the same aesthetic appeal as a mozzarella cheese pull or oozing chocolate chips.



But the Acai Bowl aimed to change that. The brightly colored, intricately decorated, smoothie in a bowl was eye candy, but a healthy version.


Une photo publiée par Grubbable (@grubbable) le


The only thing is, Acai bowls aren’t actually that healthy. In fact, their loaded with calories and sugar. Are they pretty tasty? Sure. Are they the answer to your New Year’s diet? Definitely not.

Acai bowls are another treat that you’re better off making at home–if at all.

Rolled Ice Cream

The plus side is that this Thai treat will never having you fret over a cone vs. a cup again, since the only choice available for rolled ice cream is a cup. The minus side is that rolled ice cream turns the soft scoops of ice cream you once dreamed of into an awkward, semi-hard, cold treat.



Despite the intricate rolling and “exotic” toppings such as lychee or toasted marshmallows, rolled ice cream tastes pretty darn similar to regular old ice cream. Do it for the gram, but don’t expect anything life-changing.

Shake Shack Burgers

Shake Shack is the type of fast food you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen eating on your lunch break. It’s the type of place casual enough for a Tinder date, but doesn’t make you look like a total cheapo. But is the east coast answer to In-N-Out actually as amazing as people claim it is? Not particularly.



The burgers are tiny, and mostly consist of bread. If you have a decent sized appetite, you’re going to need at least two to be semi-full. The fries are average at best, and definitely improve when smothered in their cheese sauce, but what food doesn’t improve when extra cheese is added?



A redeeming quality of Shake Shack is that the burgers are pretty cheap for an average NYC lunch, and they’ve added gluten free burger buns to keep up with their customer. But if you’re only visiting NYC, there’s no need to pay Shake Shack a visit.

Artichoke Pizza

If you live, breathe, and sleep for artichoke dip, then Artichoke’s signature slice is worth a try.



If you’re perfectly content with a good slice of cheese or pepperoni, save the money and the time and get yourself a $1 slice from Two Bros Pizza. It’s the authentic New York thing to do, after all.

Ashley Uzer is a NYC-based writer and artist with small hands and a big appetite. She dares you to find a food she won't try.
  • Kt

    That photo of the cronut line is at Dominique Ansel Bakery (which also sells cronuts with lines out the door) so you’re not only using a completely wrong reference but also debunking your own “good-luck finding a knockoff” line at the same time.