Perhaps more than any other American city, NYC truly represents the melting pot of nationalities, ethnicities and cultures represented in the United States. A stroll through its neighborhoods, whether you’re a visitor or a local, can easily turn into an international food tour thanks to the city’s many culinary enclaves. Some to check out include:
1. Italian – Arthur Avenue, the Bronx
Photo courtesy of littleny via Shutterstock.
Also known as Belmont or “Little Italy in the Bronx,” Arthur Avenue is considered a well-kept New York secret, and it’s a must if you’re looking for Italian cuisine. This neighborhood is home to well-known names like author Don DiLillo and actor Joe Pesci (discovered by Robert DeNiro in a local restaurant), and the enduring traditions of the Italian families who have lived and worked here for decades. One of Arthur Avenue’s highlights is the Retail Market, your all-in-one site for pastries, sausage, coffee, flowers and more. Explore the neighborhood’s robust merchant list to pick where you’ll enjoy your first meal when you visit.
2. Middle Eastern – Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
Seth Kugel of the New York Times said it simply: “If your knowledge of Middle Eastern food starts with falafel and ends with hummus, a few hours on Atlantic Avenue should set you straight.” Specifically, you’ll want to make a beeline for Sahadi’s, the centerpiece of Atlantic Avenue, a market that houses more Middle Eastern fare than most could imagine. Standout restaurants include Tripoli, Damascus Bakery and Bedouin Tent, though, like Arthur Avenue, this is clearly a neighborhood replete with opportunities to eat your fill on more than one occasion.
3. Jamaican – Gun Hill/Boston Road, the Bronx
The Gun Hill/Boston Road intersection in the Bronx is hands down the best place in NYC for delicious Jamaican food. Wandering freely is easy to do, though a few exceptional establishments for oxtail and ackee and saltfish include Caribe Restaurant, Golden Krust Bakery, 7 Spices, Fish N Ting, Jerky’s Caribbean, Crossroads Restaurant, Harry’s Jerk Center and more. More generally speaking, the Bronx is a international foodie’s paradise, and its proximity to Yankee Stadium makes it a popular and affordable pre- or post-game dining option.
4. Spanish – Chelsea & Greenwich Village, Manhattan
The Spanish tapas tradition is one that combines eating and drinking for short periods of time at a string of tapas joints, a sort of bar crawl known as a poteo. In the West Side’s Chelsea and adjacent Greenwich Village neighborhoods, you’re certainly able to make this happen by sampling small plates and enjoying sangria at joints like Tia Pol, Toro, El Quinto Pino and Txikito. The tapas approach to dinner is a great way to share a textured dining experience with friends and family, getting to know the neighborhoods and its restaurateurs along the way.
5. Korean – 32nd Street, Manhattan
The formation of Koreatown began in earnest during the 1970s, and by 1995, 32nd Street’s official nickname was Korea Way. This is another street densely packed with businesses and eateries that are respected, not seen as touristy, kitschy drop-ins. Newer K-Town spots are setting an even higher restaurant standard for this neighborhood, like Korean barbecue joint Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong’s 32nd street location, which has caught the attention of Bourdain, Danny Bowien and Scott Conant.
From broad strokes to deep dives into specific cuisines, New York offers an astounding variety of foodways and opportunities to better appreciate the rich cultures found across the city.
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