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May 26, 2012 06:18 AM

Best "Ethnic" Neighborhoods and International Markets in the US

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?

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

    1. 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

        Adding on:

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

        1. re: JungMann

          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. 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. 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. 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

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

                1. re: EllenMM

                  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

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

                    1. re: Karl S

                      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

                  "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...