Eat Like a Local: The Immigrantly Podcast's 9 Best Restaurants of NYC

photo credit Saadia Naeem

photo credit Saadia Naeem

Every summer, thousands of people descend upon New York City to explore the city which has given us such cultural monuments as Billy Joel, dollar pizza, and Broadway. Everyone is in search of an authentic, local experience in this city, and yet sometimes it feels like it could not be further from reach.

You might have a friend in the city who can provide recommendations, or maybe you lived here in your younger years and remember your favorite haunts. But if you told yourself you would just ask around when you got here, I’m sorry to say you may be out of luck. It may be Summer in the City, but that doesn’t mean any of us are gonna be all that happy when you stop us in the middle of 42nd street to ask where the nearest Shake Shack* is.

But, if you’re looking for an authentic meal, you’ve come to the right place. All of our suggestions come from a guest of the Immigrantly Podcast, each of who have verifiable experience with each of these restaurants. From Russian cuisine in Brighton Beach to upscale Turkish fare in SoHo, this list might actually take you on the best tour of NYC (and its cuisine) you could ever have imagined.

  1. PANCA — The Best Peruvian Restaurant in NYC

    This suggestion is from Kelly Yzique, who was featured on episode 2, I am Home. To hear more about her experience and about PANCA, take a listen!

  2. Arrepas Café — The Best Venezuelan Restaurant in NYC

    Juan Escalante, a renowned immigration advocate, suggested Arrepas Cafe on episode 3 of the pod!

  3. Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery — The Best Bakery in NYC

    Nadine Ali, a pastry chef based in NYC, suggested this bakery in her episode, Oh Sweet Diversity. Tell me their instagram feed isn’t delectable 😍.

  4. Bettolona — The Best Italian Pizza Place in NYC

    This is one of Alessia Valfredini’s many suggestions from her episode, We Are More Similar Than Different. All of her suggestions are centered in Harlem, which apparently has the “highest concentration of delicious pizza” anywhere.

  5. Tanoreen — The Best Palestinian Restaurant in NYC

    This suggestion comes from accountant-turned-comedian Suzie Afridi from her episode Because I Sucked At It.

    BONUS: Zaatar — The Best Palestinian Restaurant in Baltimore!

    This is a suggestion from Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of the short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home. You can hear moreon her episode, My Immigrant Mother.

  6. Antique Garage — The Best Turkish Restaurant in NYC

    Apparently, this restaurant really is built in an old garage! On episode 14, Melike Ayan also provided two other suggestions for quality Turkish cuisine: Sipsak in Midtown East and Turkish Kitchen.

  7. Accra — The Best African Soul Food in NYC

    This suggestion comes from Edafe Okporo, from his episode I am a Bridge. People have travelled from near and far to eat Accra’s delicious food in a low key environment. It’s open late, never too busy, and sure to become your new go-to African restaurant.

  8. Cafe at Your Mother in Law — The Best Russian Restaurant in NYC

    This restaurant, whose name is a rough translation of the Russian name, features a fusion of Korean, Russian, and Uzbek cuisine. On episode 13, Lisa Genn calls this restaurant a true hole in the wall. It’s not too fancy, but it’s open late, and sure to wash you in the soft comfort of home.

  9. Haat Bazaar — The Best Bengali Restaurant in NYC

    This suggestion comes from journalist Samira Sadeque on episode 17. Jackson Heights is the heart of the South Asian community in NYC. At any given moment, you might find yourself next to a local or a visitor, a taxi driver or a UN ambassador.

BONUS: Bengal Tiger — The Best Bengali Restaurant in Seattle!

This is a suggestion from nationally renowned immigration attorney Tahmina Watson. What she loves about this restaurant is that the chef and owner is Bengladeshi himself. On the episode Immigrants Make America Great, Saadia and Tahmina discuss the unprecedented actions of the Trump Administration on the immigration front. Even though it was recorded a few months ago, it is just as relevant today.

For more suggestions like these, keep tuning into the Immigrantly Podcast each Tuesday! Episodes are available on all major platforms.

* Despite its origins as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, Shake Shack isn’t really so unique to NYC anymore. For a more under-the-radar option, try this one or this one

photo credit Saadia Naeem

photo credit Saadia Naeem

Saadia Naeem