New York City’s Three Chinatowns
Two hundred thousand-plus Chinese Americans live in Southern Brooklyn, including Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend with the largest concentration being in Sunset Park. Sunset Park’s 8th Avenue, known for Chinese culture, is called Brooklyn’s Chinatown and its Chinese population is comprised of a majority of Fuzhounese Americans. Serious Eats provides a roundup of the local favorite Chinese restaurants and dishes in Sunset Park, including the Spicy and Cold Jellyfish at Bamboo Garden.
Incidentally, a very large number of Chinese restaurant workers in the U.S. are from Fuzhou. In Manhattan’s Chinatown, Little Fuzhou is a central gathering spot for Fuzhou residents. Time Out New York’s guide to the best Chinatown restaurants is an excellent roadmap for those looking to sample some local Chinese eats. Additionally, there is a large concentration of Chinese in Flushing, Queens – NYC’s third Chinatown.
The neighborhoods of Borough Park, Williamsburg, and Flatbush are the stomping grounds for many Brooklyn Jews. There are more than 600,000 Jews in NYC – particularly Orthodox Jews and Hasidic Jews. Kosher food is the order of the day for most of these folks. Try the kosher restaurant Vostok in Borough Park for some local flavor.
The Upper West Side of Manhattan is populated with German Jews as well as some of the last remaining Jewish refugees from WWII. The UWS is also home to a large community of young modern Orthodox singles. The Manhattan neighbored populated by a large number of non-Orthodox Jews. Meanwhile, the Lower East Side is another popular enclave for Jews in NYC. The Nosher weighs in on the best Jewish food in NYC.
Fuhgeddaboudit: Italian Fare
New York City has the largest population of Italian Americans in the U. S. as well as North America. In Manhattan, Little Italy is the densest Italian neighborhood. Italian-Americans in Brooklyn are mostly concentrated in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Gravesend, and Carroll Gardens. In these communities, you can find many different Italian restaurants, bakeries, delis, pizzerias, and cafes. NY Eater provides a list of the top 10 old-fashioned Italian-American restaurants in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Thrillist gives recommendations for the best Italian restaurants in NYC.
Bushwick, More than Just Street Art
Brooklyn’s largest Latino American community is located in Bushwick. Like other Latino neighborhoods in NYC, Bushwick has an established Puerto Rican presence. Along with Dominicans, South Americans, Central Americans, Mexicans, Bushwick’s Latin residents comprise approximately 80 percent of the neighborhood. One Bushwick spot you should try is the tortilla factory-based Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, where you won’t want to miss the taquito with chorizo. Additionally, there is a range of Latin restaurants in Brooklyn. Check out Foursquare’s 15 Best Latin American Restaurants for inspiration.
No Polish Jokes, Please
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, home to Little Poland, has the largest concentration of Polish residents in NYC. The Lower East Side, that ethnic mosaic, is home also to a large number of Russian and Ukranian folks. If you don’t know about the legendary Polish restaurant, Veselka, on the corner of 9th Street and 2nd Avenue, go and order a plate of pierogies with sour cream and caramelized onions as soon as possible! Also visit Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen, the basement cafe that serves as a fundraising arm of the St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Many Russians and Ukrainians are concentrated in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, nicknamed Little Russia and Little Odessa. Initially mostly Jewish, more recently, the non-Jewish Russian and Ukrainian communities of Brighton Beach are prevalent in the local ethnic culture. At the Ukranian Café Glechik in Sheepshead Bay, which boasts an endorsement by Anthony Bourdain, try the Pelmeni, boiled dumplings with small portions of ground meat and onion wrapped in a thin, unleavened dough.
More NYC Food Tips
Visit the Museum of Food and Drink for a spotlight on the culture of food.
For a sampling of a variety of ethnic eats, take Local Expeditions Midtown ethnic food tour.
Finally, pay a visit to the Tenement Museum, an institution dedicated to urban immigrant history, for the very best historical view of the shifting cultural and ethnic population in New York City.