Ask any globe-hopper about traveling and they’ll tell you one of the best parts of seeing the world is the experience of sampling different global cuisines. But as New Yorkers know, living in our city provides this same experience — without the cost of a plane ticket.
While New York has the reputation of being a melting pot that transforms cultures into its own unique blend, there are still many shops and restaurants across the city serving international foods that are true to the region of the world where they originated. If you’re ready for a taste, here are some of the best ethnic food spots NYC has to offer.
Best Authentic Italian Market: Cerini Coffee & Gifts
If you’re looking for authentic Italian food and ingredients, skip Little Italy in Manhattan and go instead to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. There you will find Cerini Coffee & Gifts where, along with a great selection of coffee beans, you’ll find an array of imported Italian products that are difficult to find anywhere else. Be sure to pick up Novellini Biscuits, the popular milk and honey-flavored breakfast snack, as well as the famous Italian brand of Rumo pasta.
Best Authentic Indian Restaurant: Awadh
Awadh is the creation of Gaurav Anand, one of the most impressive and acclaimed Indian chefs in the US. It’s named after an Indian region known for slow-cooking its food, a technique which brings out the richness of the spices and seasonings. Even Indian meals that may be familiar to American palates, such as saag or paneer tikka masala, are brought to a whole new dimension from the care taken at Awadh.
Best Authentic Chinese Market: Po Wing Hong Food Market
For over forty years, Po Wing Hong Food Market has been a Chinatown institution. The Market provides the local community with Chinese goods and ingredients, particularly those that come from the owners’ home city of Hong Kong. In addition to Chinese-origin packaged goods and vegetables, Po Wing Hong Food Market is stocked with specialty food and spices that are staples of Chinese cooking, such as dried abalone and peach resin.
Best Authentic Middle Eastern Restaurant: Yemen Cafe
One of the best culinary regions of the Middle East is Yemen. If this is news to you, then you have to check out the Yemen Cafe, with two locations in Brooklyn. Yemen Cafe serves classic Yemeni dishes such as fassolia, fatah, and chicken kabobs. Its specialty is lamb over rice, which they cook to perfection so that the meat is tender and juicy while retaining the punch and flavor of the spices cooked in.
Best Authentic Greek Market: Titan Foods
Astoria in Queens is known for its large Greek community, and Titan Foods, America’s largest Greek specialty food store, is truly a titan in the neighborhood. While your eye might be initially drawn to the large selection of cheeses and olive oils, you’d be remiss to avoid the sweeter side of Greek cuisine, which is infused with rich spices. Try out the Attica Apricot with Honey Marmalade or Chrisanthidis Handmade Kourabiedes if you want to feel as luxurious as a Greek God or Goddess.
Best Authentic Peruvian restaurant: Urubamba Restaurant
The best thing about Peruvian cuisine is its ability to combine finely-spiced flavors with rich, soulful heartiness, and Urubamba does so better than anywhere else in the city. Many of its menu items come with ají panca, Peru’s unique red pepper sauce – think of it as a rich, Latin barbecue sauce. And meat lovers will rejoice at “Parrillada Urubamba” – a heaping selection of grilled chicken and beef for two.
Best Authentic Russian Market: Brighton Bazaar
Brighton Beach is known as Little Russia, and a hub of that community is the Brighton Bazaar. If you’re new to the area, you’ll come across some surprises, like a selection of Russian cakes in its confectionary aisle and a deli with more types of bologna than you thought possible. You also have to check out its jars and tins of caviar – if you thought caviar was just for fancy restaurants, Brighton Bazaar will make you think again.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your ability to explore the world through your taste buds in New York City. If you want to go deeper, research what kind of cuisines each neighborhood is known for and ask locals where they like to grab a bite to eat.