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Best "Ethnic" Neighborhoods and International Markets in the US

l
lapositivista May 26, 2012 06:18 AM

One of my favorite things to do is visit neighborhoods with a high concentration of immigrants and find authentic food and/or interesting grocery shops. I live in NJ so I've done some exploring in this area but I'd like to plan road trips around "ethnic" neighborhoods in other parts of the country (or local spots I've missed). What are some of your favorite places to visit and/or if you are a recent immigrant yourself where do you go to get an authentic food experience and/or shop for ingredients to make dishes from your country of origin?

Some of my stops have been:

Indian food in Edison/Iselin, NJ
Italian in NJ, Philly, Providence, Manhattan and Staten Island
Korean in Central NJ, Queens and Manhattan
Mexican (Oaxacan) in New Brunswick, NJ
Salvadorean in Elizabeth, NJ
Spanish in Newark, NJ
Russian in Brighton Beach

Some local places I want to visit:

Korean in Palisades Park, NJ (Apparently has the highest concentration of Koreans outside of Korea? Don't know how I haven't been there yet.)
Mitsuwa Japanese Market in NJ

So help me broaden my horizons! What part of the country do you live in and where would you suggest somebody go for an authentic experience of another food culture?

  1. buttertart Jun 3, 2012 05:27 PM

    Portuguese in the Ironbound in Newark. The Seabras markets are a joy.

    1. t
      travelmad478 Jun 3, 2012 02:08 AM

      Chicago: Devon Avenue (pronounced deh-VONN, for those who have not visited--as counterintuitive a pronunciation as Houston St. in Manhattan). Runs the gamut from Pakistani/Indian to Azerbaijani/Georgian/Russian. Also in Chicago you have the Maxwell Street Market, which in another burst of illogic, is not on Maxwell Street (it used to be). Great Mexican food, among much else.

      Falls Church, VA: Eden Center, the best Vietnamese shopping center in probably a thousand-mile radius.

      Nashville, TN: Nashville Farmers Market. In one of those "only in America" situations, Nashville has become one of the largest settlements of Somalis in the US, and there is a large community of Bosnian immigrants, too. The Nashville Farmers Market has a lot of stalls that you'd think were airlifted direct from Lagos, or elsewhere in Africa. The food choices there are astonishing.

      1. raytamsgv May 30, 2012 11:00 AM

        In the Los Angeles area:

        1. San Gabriel Valley: Chinese .
        2: Westminster/Garden Grove: Little Saigon.
        3. Glendale: Armenian
        4. Mid-town Los Angeles: Korean Town
        5. East Los Angeles: Mexican

        2 Replies
        1. re: raytamsgv
          Searching4Dunny May 31, 2012 10:25 PM

          I echo these choices. Possibly the best in each category in the entire country.

          Also, West LA/Westwood for Persian.

          1. re: raytamsgv
            b
            bulavinaka Jun 2, 2012 10:36 PM

            Adding on to raytamsgv's and Searching4Dunny's LA list:

            - The South Bay, mainly Torrance and Gardena, parts of West LA, and downtown LA's "Little Tokyo" (to a lesser extent) for Japanese as well.

            - Hollywood/North Hollywood for Thai

            - So many parts of California have Mexican food - good to great examples can be found in many neighborhoods. But as raytamsgv listed, a heavy concentration is in and around East LA.

            - raytamsgv's mention of Chinese in the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) is too modest. The extent and the breadth of Chinese cuisines in the San Gabriel Valley is hard to fathom unless one has been here. This area is roughly 200 square miles, of which probably half of the population is Chinese, then Vietnamese, and to a much lesser but growing extent Korean. Most have come across an ethnic restaurant where knowing the language helps. In many of the cities within the vast area of SGV, knowing Mandarin, Cantonese or Vietnamese is de rigueur.

            - E Eto already mentioned Armenian communities in the general Glendale area as well as Little Armenia. But there is a growing population of Armenians in the western half of the San Fernando Valley area as well. This area is also becoming popular with the Persian and Israeli communities.

          2. Karl S May 30, 2012 09:02 AM

            In southeastern New England, we have significant Portuguese-Lusophone diaspora communities in an arc from Gloucester to East Cambridge to New Bedford, Fall River and East Providence. In NJ, I think you're missing the Portuguese-Lusophone diaspora communities around Newark.

            Watertown MA has an important Armenian-American community.

            South Tucson AZ is the heart of Sonoran Mexican cuisine in the USA.

            I always think of Dearborn MI as the heart of Syrian-Lebanese cuisine in the USA.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Karl S
              e
              EllenMM Jun 2, 2012 10:51 AM

              I heartily second the Armenian stores in Watertown, MA. There's also some Greek, mid-Eastern influence there.

              1. re: EllenMM
                E Eto Jun 2, 2012 11:54 AM

                While there is definitely an Armenian presence in Watertown, it's microscopic compared to the plethora of Armenian shops you can find in the Little Armenia section of LA, or in Glendale.

                1. re: E Eto
                  Karl S Jun 2, 2012 12:08 PM

                  True, but if one is in New England, it's a bit handier....

                  1. re: Karl S
                    E Eto Jun 2, 2012 08:33 PM

                    True, it's handier, but not sure if that was the criteria. As for my experience while living in the Boston area, I really had a hard time finding some of the great homemade Armenian ingredients I can easily find in LA. Otherwise, I found the quality to be below what I was used to. If I were going to promote an ethnic niche local to the Boston area, I would say Cambodian in Revere. Although I'd again argue that you'll find a larger one in Long Beach in LA.

              2. re: Karl S
                huiray Jun 3, 2012 05:43 AM

                "I think you're missing the Portuguese-Lusophone diaspora communities around Newark. "
                -------
                I presume you mean the Ironbound neighborhood primarily. Yes, I was wondering about its absence from the OP's list...

              3. woodleyparkhound May 30, 2012 07:51 AM

                Annandale, VA for Korean.

                I haven't been, but I saw a TV show that made me wild to check out Hamtramck, MI for Polish and other ethic cuisines.

                1. Motosport May 30, 2012 07:47 AM

                  Atlantic Ave between Court St and Clinton St has several fabulous Middle Eastern markets. Malko, Oriental, Damascus Bakery and Sahadi.
                  In Manhattan Kalustyan's has almost everything ethnic that you could imagine.

                  1. JungMann May 29, 2012 07:18 AM

                    In NYC
                    Jackson Heights/Curry Hill/1st Avenue near East 6th Street for Indo-Pak
                    Woodside for Filipino
                    Spanish Harlem for Mexican/Puerto Rican
                    Washington Heights for Dominican
                    Chinatown (Manhattan, Sunset Park and Flushing) for Chinese and general Asian goods
                    Brooklyn Heights/Bay Ridge for Levantine/Yemeni
                    KTown for Korean
                    West Village for British
                    Woodlawn/Woodside for Irish
                    Astoria for Greek/North African/Egyptian/Brazilian
                    Stuyvestant Street for Japanese
                    Greenpoint/1st Avenue near East 7th for Polish
                    Brighton Beach for Russian
                    Yorkville/West Village for German

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: JungMann
                      DarthEater May 30, 2012 08:30 AM

                      Adding on:

                      From Flushings' Northern Boulevard and upwards to Bayside is a slew of Korean restaurants, bars and markets.

                      1. re: JungMann
                        b
                        bob96 Jun 3, 2012 10:40 PM

                        Can't imagine how anyone would miss Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for the best bread, fresh pasta, cheese, fresh fish, and all around anything Italian food and dining--the densest concentrations anywhere. There are 3 superb old world bread bakeries just blocks apart--any city would die for even just one. The ambience, too, is completely unique.

                      2. coney with everything May 29, 2012 05:24 AM

                        Detroit area...Dearborn's Warren Avenue for Arabic

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