China in Lower Manhattan
Located within the east side of lower Manhattan, Chinatown is a world apart from the rest, yet so connected with the spirit of New York City. It is one of the largest Chinese enclaves in the country, and boasts markets, shops, hotels and restaurants indicative of a bustling Chinese city like Hong Kong or Shanghai. Several train lines makes stops in this city within a city where tourists flock for inexpensive goods. The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) shows a glimpse of Chinese history, and Columbus Park is where many festivals and other outdoor events take place every summer.
Korea in Midtown
Koreatown sits in the eye of tourist central in midtown offering a slice of a dominant Korean culture to the masses. It stretches from 31st to 36th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, so yes, location, location. Korean BBQ at Don’s Bogam BBQ and Wine Bar BBQ? Check! Karaoke at 5 Bar Karaoke Lounge NYC? Check! This enclave is a bit small due to its lack of residential spaces, but it’s a good place to experience a piece of Seoul.
Italy in NoLita
Little Italy is an enclave in lower Manhattan known colloquially as NoLita or “North of Italy.” Handmade pasta shops, pizzerias, gelato and of course cannoli joints are available to explore. Intimate standout shops of fine leather, in bags, shoes and hats show the craftsmanship that is part of the Italian culture. Creatures of Comfort, and Will Leather Goods ‘World Store’ are worth mentioning. The Feast of Gennaro street fair, which is 11 days long celebrates all things Italian and is highly recommended to visit.
Creatures of Comfort, 205 Mulberry Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 925 1005
South Asia in Jackson Heights
Bollywood, Saris and Kurtas represent south Asian culture to most outsiders. Not everyone can travel to this great diverse region for the real thing, but a slice of that experience can be found in Jackson Heights, Queens, known as Little India and largely populated by Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Vendors selling gold jewelry and other goods fill the street of Roosevelt Avenue. The delightful cuisine is a given and it’s no surprise to find variations of tandoori, biryani or samosa on restaurant menus.
Latin America in East Harlem
East Harlem in upper Manhattan is home to a huge Latin American community in the ethic neighborhood El Barrio, consisting mostly of Puerto Ricans. Rich in culture and heritage of music, food and attitude, is where diverse Latino people with African roots live and thrive. La Fonda restaurant is great to visit for a nice home-style Puerto Rican meal. Cultural flavor is amped up during and around the celebration of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which millions of Latin Americans attend.
La Fonda, 169 East 106th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 410 7292
Ghana in Bronx
A walking tour of Concourse Village in the Bronx can immediately feel like Accra, Ghana. A community of Ghanaians who represent the largest group of Africans in the city have made this area home. Shops with goods of West African fabrics, and specialty grocery stores to buy ingredients, are alive and well here as the Black Star people proudly promote their culture. For a taste of Ghana, pop into Ebe Ye Yie and try some Jollof rice with Shito or peanut butter stew with fried fish and Fufu.
Ebe Ye Yie, 2364 Jerome Avenue, Bronx, NY, USA +1 718 220 1300
West Indies in Brooklyn
Jamaicans, Haitians, Trinidadians, Dominicans, and more make up a huge Caribbean culture in Brooklyn – mainly around Bedford-Stuyvesant, Flatbush and Crown Heights. The Caribbean Carnival usually held on Labor Day celebrates this community of people whose roots go back deeply to Africa, but now have their own identity. Calypso and steel drums are the sounds, and beef patties, plantains, rice and peas, oxtail stew and of course jerk chicken are the tastes that represent this energetic yet laid-back culture. Eat at Glady’s in Crown Heights after spending time walking on Nostrand Avenue.
Glady’s, 788 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 622 0249
Guyana in Richmond Hill
Little Guyana in the Queens neighborhood of Richmond Hill is home away from the real thing for most Guyanese of south Asian descent in New York City. The culture is a mixture of Caribbean and Indian cultures. The mile-long street of Liberty Avenue has markets with fresh produce, fish and poultry. Sari and Jewelry shops are abundant and bars welcome you, with rum as the popular drink of choice while watching a game of cricket and dining on curry and roti.
Poland in Greenpoint
A large concentration of Polish culture resides in Greenpoint, a northern part of Brooklyn. The best way to get there is by bus or the East River Ferry, which docks on India Street pier. Meat markets, Polish bakeries and restaurants are ever-present in this neighborhood. Greenpoint Avenue is the street to find some delicious kielbasa. Acme Smoked Fish is the joint for herring white fish or salmon and other specialties. Several delis set up shop selling everything Polish, and Warsaw Bar and Lounge is a popular venue that holds musical concerts and other cultural events.
Warsaw, 261 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 387 0505
Russia in Brighton Beach
Little Odessa in Brighton Beach is a neighborhood fittingly named after the port city of Odessa in Ukraine. Its Russian heritage is evident in the residents who call this area home, speak the language with joyous pride and conduct enterprises of specialty stores including food delicacies, fur shops and other clothing boutiques. Catch a performance of a Russian traveling theatre group at the Master Theater and drink beer at Winter Garden before or after getting a bite to eat at Primorski Restaurant.
Master Theater, 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 732 3838
By Yvonne Ngundam
Yvonne loves sharing great food, music and film as a way to connect with others. Originally from Cameroon, Africa, she grew up in northern Virginia and relocated to the NYC metro area last year to pursue new career goals. Creative and positive people inspire her to stay open minded.