New York, thanks to its amalgamation of various cultures and nationalities, can be considered one of the most international foodie destinations in the world. In one day, you could find yourself having brunch in the Deep South, an afternoon snack in Greece and dinner in Italy. You might think that all these variations may tarnish the authenticity of local cuisine, but think again, the true dedication of chefs to their home fare will leave you wondering if you got off the plane at the wrong stop.
Say this to a New Yorker and many of them will send you to Soho where the original little Italy has been reduced from a whole area to less than a street. Tourists and the overflow of Chinatown have made sure that this region is no longer the place to go for authentic Italian food. Arthur Avenue in the Bronx however, is a well kept secret (even from many of the locals) where generations of Italian families have given it a small town feel with an abundance of restaurants and shops selling authentic Italian fare; Italian sausage, focaccias, pizzas, pastas, olives and antipasti. Artuso Pastry is just one of our favourite establishments on Arthur Avenue. It has been part of the landscape for six decades and its delectable cannoli has to be the reason it is still so popular.
Harlem’s influx of African American culture in the 1920s brought with it a huge appreciation for soul food, closely linked to the food of the Deep South. It takes its name from the African American tradition of doing things to nurture the soul; music, cooking, eating, but there is no question of the healing properties it has; it is designed for comfort and satisfaction. Sylvia’s has been an institution in Harlem since 1962 and is known for its Sunday brunch complete with gospel singers. Expect to chow down on grits, large plates of fried chicken, pork chops, Mac and cheese and sweet potato pie. Amy Ruth’s is another of our favourites. Her recipes have been passed through family generations and the traditional food of Alabama is mouth watering; bbq spare ribs and ham hocks. The waffle menu is extensive and most of them come with fried chicken. Trust us, it’s delicious.
Known as the Dominican capital of New York, Washington Heights has become a hub for authentic Dominican restaurants. It has a smorgasbord of traditional island flavours such as national dishes of rice, brown beans and meat and food carts line its streets. El Peluche, a favourite amongst locals, serves fresh food made on the spot. It is famous for its chimichurris (not to be confused with the Argentinean sauce) which are Dominican’s answer to hamburgers full of spice and flavour. If street food is not your thing, Margot restaurant, known as one of the best Dominican restaurants in the city, makes you feel like you’re at home and the whole street has been invited round for dinner. The pollo guisado (braised chicken) and sancocho (stew) are definitive crowd pleasers.
Greece is the word
Astoria in Queens has been made famous by its Greek Cuisine. With the largest Greek population outside of Greece itself, it’s easy to see why the food is so authentic. Tavern Kyclades is known for its fresh seafood and is so popular you should expect a wait for a table. Even if you are not too sure about Greek food, this place is worth the visit for the fresh seafood alone. Another must eat but less well known Greek restaurant is S’Agapo, famed for its authentic Crete speciality “Kaltsounia” (sweet cheese pastries), but also for its homemade pastes such as taramasalata, beet paste and parsley paste.