Which came first, the meal or the drink? Today, booze and food seem to play on equal fields in the restaurant world, especially in NYC—many small plate favorites are essentially just glorified bar snacks, made trendy in either presentation or with a flourish of upscale ingredients.

As restaurants and bars meets in the middle—with less distinction between fine and casual dining—you’re more likely to find the scrubbed-up versions of classic drinking foods, like kobe sliders and truffled popcorn, than the tried-and-true classics. Sometimes, we miss the real thing.

Classic bar food is designed as a companion to drinking. From potato skins to mozzarrella sticks, these beloved dishes succeed in fortifying a night hoisting pints (or sipping Pinot)—they are rarely the draw themselves, but that complete the picture perfectly. With that in mind, FWF has devised a definitive ranking of the best bar foods in America, including rules for success in each category, immediate red flags for failure, and the best place in NYC to get ’em. Got a favorite that got dissed? Let us know in the comments.