NYC Food Superlatives staff

New York City is an extreme place. We’re the most populous American municipality. We’ve got the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Our people speak the greatest variety of different languages. And just as we excel in all those other areas, our food has achieved superlative status in various important qualities. Here are some of them. —Jonathan Zeller

Black Tap Milkshakes. Courtesy, Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer.

Most Caloric Milk Shakes: Black Tap, Soho, Midtown West and West Village, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: The hefty milk shakes here, estimated to have as many as 1,600 calories each, are more than a meal, with cookies, candy and pretzels decorating overflowing glasses. Warning: there will be a sugar crash.
Objective or subjective: Subjective. Black Tap pleads the Fifth regarding the actual calorie count.
Confidence level: High. —Brian Sloan

Courtesy, Levain Bakery

Biggest Cookie: Levain Bakery, Upper West Side and Harlem, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: This whopper, available in four varieities, weighs in at 6 ounces, making it the heftiest cookie we’ve come across in the City.
Objective or subjective: Objective.
Confidence level: High. If we’re talking overall size and weight, as opposed to mere circumference (looking at you, City Bakery), we think Levain tops the list. —Gillian Osswald

Extraction Lab. Photo: Paul Martinka

Most Expensive Coffee: Extraction Lab, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Why it’s superlative: The Ethiopian arabica (or “gesha”) costs $18 per cup, and could very well be the most expensive joe in all of America. Why so much? We’re told the beans are rare, and there’s a small production yield.
Objective or subjective: Objective.
Confidence level: Fairly high; this story has gotten a lot of attention in the press, and it doesn’t seem another shop has come forward to claim that it sells more expensive coffee. —JZ

Weirdest Ice Cream Flavor: Beer & Nuts at Max & Mina’s, Flushing, Queens
Why it’s superlative: This bitter, sweet and savory combo, just one of the many quirky flavors found at this Flushing family business, mixes the best of dessert with the flavors of an adult beverage and snack you might enjoy at Flushing’s own Citi Field. This shop knocks it out of the park.
Objective or subjective: Subjective. The lox flavor is very popular, and very weird, too.
Confidence level: Medium. Other than the seven or eight staple flavors on offer, the options at Max & Mina’s could change at any time (there’s 36 on tap at the shop, and the ice cream artisans here have created more than 6,000 flavors), so Beer & Nuts could be topped by something even stranger. —BS

Serendipity 3. Photo: Liz Steger

Most Expensive Sundae: Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity 3, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: It costs $1,000. Serendipity says the dessert costs so much because they fly ingredients in from all over the world, it includes edible gold leaf and it's served in a $300 crystal goblet that customers get to keep. If you want the sundae, be sure to call ahead and order it 48 hours in advance.
Objective or subjective: Objective.
Confidence level: High. The Golden Opulence Sundae set a Guinness World Record for most expensive dessert back in 2004. (Serendipity 3 one-upped itself three years later by creating a $25,000 Frrrozen Haute Chocolate ice cream sundae, which was on the menu for only a limited time.) —JZ

Biggest Pizza Slice: Koronet Pizza, Morningside Heights, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: We’re talking size-of-your-arm, hanging-off-the-plate slices at this joint—about 88 square inches of pizza each, to be exact. Good luck folding this bad boy.
Objective or subjective: Objective.
Confidence level: Roughly the size of these monster slices—although the portions at Cross Bronx Pizzeria come pretty close. A Yonkers pizzeria currently proffers a 2-foot-long, slice-shaped pizza, but it isn’t a true pizza slice cut from a pie, nor is it in NYC. —GO

Courtesy, Sadelle's

Everythingest Bagel: Everything 2.0 at Sadelle’s, Soho, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: An everything bagel traditionally contains sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes and garlic flakes. Some places add salt and caraway seeds. The Sadelle’s version, called the Everything 2.0, also features fennel. That’s more!
Objective or subjective: On one hand, it’s objective that Sadelle’s has more ingredients than other "everything" bagels. On the other, we’re not sure “everythingness” can be measured objectively.
Confidence level: Moderate. We haven’t heard of an everything bagel with more ingredients, but it’s easy to imagine that one exists. —JZ


Courtesy, Film Forum

Best Movie Popcorn: Film Forum, West Village, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: Film Forum’s secret is simplicity—it currently uses Morrison Farms kernels popped in peanut oil. That’s it. And a fresh batch is made half-hourly or hourly. Add sea salt to taste—but, honestly, you don’t need to.
Objective or subjective: Subjective. Apparently, some moviegoers like their popcorn covered in fake butter—just not us.
Confidence level: High. Film Forum’s popcorn has gotten praise from outlets like Time Out New York. And many of the City’s cineastes will tell you that this is the theater popcorn they look forward to. —BS

Spiciest Burger:Napalm Burger at Island Burgers and Shakes, Hell’s Kitchen, Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: The blackened beef is topped with jalapeños and doused in spicy barbecue sauce, and habanero sauce is spread on the inside of the bun. Undoubtedly, you’ll be feeling the burn.
Objective or subjective: Subjective.
Confidence level: It’s hard to measure spiciness—even the Scoville scale is subjective—but we’re not alone in our opinion. While everybody’s spice palate is different, a host of reviewers have felt the heat. Chef Michael Symon tried it on Food Network’s Burgers, Brew & ’Que and confirmed: “It has earned its name.” —GO

Angel's Share. Photo: Jinny HaIori

Smokiest Cocktail: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes at Angel’s Share, East Village, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: This bourbon, wine and Bénédictine concoction is served in a brandy snifter swirling with smoke. It’s warm, toasty and strangely delicious—like drinking a campfire, but way less dangerous.
Objective or subjective: Objective.
Confidence level: There aren’t a lot of other places in town that offer smoke in their drink. By the way, it’s fully legal: the smoke is not from tobacco but rather a mix of burnt cloves and cinnamon. —BS

Courtesy, Brick Lane Curry

Spiciest Curry: Phaal at Brick Lane Curry, East Village
Why it’s superlative: Two words: Carolina Reaper (the hottest chili pepper in the world). Add a host of other notoriously spicy peppers and you get a curry producing “more pain and sweat than flavor,” according to Brick Lane’s own menu. In fact, it’s so hot it warrants a disclaimer when diners accept the challenge to finish a bowl.
Objective or subjective: Subjective.
Confidence level: More than 1 million Scoville heat units. Members of the P’hall of Fame can surely corroborate. —GO

Most Animal-Friendly Doughnut: Dun-Well Doughnuts, Bushwick, Brooklyn, and East Village, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: It’s hard to believe, but these delicious pastries are 100% vegan. So you can indulge without any guilt—if you’re prone to dairy- or-meat-related guilt.
Objective or subjective: Subjective. There are other vegan doughnuts, and who can quantify friendliness?
Confidence level: High. The owners pride themselves on their vegan bona fides, so much so that you can’t get cream with your coffee—they offer almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and oat milk instead. —BS

Craziest Ice Cream Sandwich: Holey Cream, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan
Why it’s superlative: Slice a larger-than-average doughnut in half lengthwise and add two scoops of ice cream, and you have a supersize ice cream sandwich. You could eat it by yourself, but sharing is the wiser choice.
Objective or subjective: Subjective.
Confidence level: High. It’s pretty crazy. —BS