Best Ethnic Food Neighborhoods in America

Classic favorites and lesser-known finds from around the country


Sure, it'd be nice to score a table at the city's hottest restaurant when in town for a long weekend, but some of the most memorable meals can be had for a lot less cash and a much more adventurous ambience. For that, we look to the many deeply entrenched ethnic neighborhoods across the country for that authentically garlicky Polish sausage or that plate of gnocchi alla Romana good enough to pass muster in Rome.

From New York  to Los Angeles (and everywhere in between), everyone has their favorite hole-in-the-wall spot for those must-have Greek gyros or memorable Korean barbecue. Yet, there are many ethnic neighborhoods that have fallen under the radar — ‘til now. We’ve paired up six of our favorite ‘hoods for good ethnic food (and where to go, of course) and paired them up with their lesser-known sibling.

Is there a neighborhood we’ve missed, or a restaurant we must try? Share your recommendations and comments with us below!

 

Italian

Been There, Done That: Little Italy, Chicago

From Ashland Avenue on the west and Morgan Street on the east, Harrison Street on the north and Roosevelt Road to the south, lies Chicago’s Little Italy. Running through the heart of this Italian community is Taylor Street, the place to go to for any Italian foodstuff you could need.

Don’t miss:

Conte Di Sovia 

Ferrara Bakery

 

Under-the-Radar: South Philly

In the heart of historic Philadelphia, the Italian Market is an area filled with Italian markets, cafes, bakeries, and more. While the area along 9th Street between Christian Street and Washington Avenue is still the market’s center, the term 'Italian Market' is now used to describe the surrounding neighborhood, as well. Whether you’re in the mood for a sit-down Italian meal, some cheese and antipasto to go, or an authentic cheesesteak, the Italian Market has it all.

Don’t miss:

Dante & Luigi's

Villa di Roma 

 

Polish

Been There, Done That: Little Poland, Chicago

Craving authentic kielbasa? Head to Chicago, thought to be home to the largest Polish and Polish-American population in the U.S. While there are numerous authentic Polish restaurants and markets scattered throughout the city, don’t miss the area along Pulaski near Archer and 50th, fondly known as Little Poland to many. It’s also worthwhile to check out North Milwaukee near Belmont and Logan Square and stop in at one of the many Polish delis and restaurants.

Don’t miss:

Gilmart

Kurowski’s Sausage Shop, 2976 North Milwaukee Avenue. (773) 645-1692

 

Under-the-Radar: Little Poland, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Since the early 1900’s, Polish immigrants have gravitated to the area along Manhattan Avenue in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. While there are now other Little Polands in the Tristate area, this part of Greenpoint remains a favorite destination for those in and around the city looking for sausages, babkas, sauerkraut, and more.

Don’t miss:

Christina’s Polish Restaurant

Kiszka Meat Market, 915 Manhattan Avenue. (718) 389-6149

 

Ethiopian

Been There, Done That: Little Ethiopia, Los Angeles

Since the 1990’s, the Ethiopian population along South Fairfax between Olympic and Pico Boulevards has been steadily growing. Officially recognized as Little Ethiopia in 2002, the neighborhood is filled with markets, cafes, and shops where you can eat with your hands using injera, a spongy bread, instead of a utensil, or enjoy the rich coffees that are so important to Ethiopian culture (coffee was thought to be discovered there).

Don’t miss:

Rosalind’s Ethiopian Restaurant

Messob Ethiopian Restaurant

 

Off-the-Radar: U Street/Shaw, Washington, D.C.

Our nation’s capital is home to the largest Ethiopian population outside of the country itself. It’s no wonder that there is a rich concentration of shops and cafes, each with its own set of followers, within the 1900 block of 9th Street near U Street.

Don’t miss:

Queen Makeda, 1917 9th St NW. (202) 232-5665

Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant

 

Greek

Been There, Done That: Greektown, Detroit

Named for the large Greek population that moved into the area in the 1900s, Greektown is one of Detroit’s more lively neighborhoods. The once-residential area is now predominantly commercial, with an array of authentic Greek restaurants and shops (even a casino) lining the street.

Don’t miss:

Mosaic

Pegasus Taverna

 

Off-the-Radar: Baltimore, Md.

While this once-industrial area along Baltimore’s waterfront, south of Lombard, has been home to a Greek community since the 1930s, it is now known as a more up-and-coming area. Whether you’re looking for authentic gyros, fresh fish, or other Greek specialties, there are a large number of Greek restaurants, coffee houses, and bakeries, many concentrated along Eastern Avenue.

Don’t miss:

Samos Restaurant

The Black Olive

 

Korean

Been There, Done That: Koreatown, New York City

In the heart of New York City, along 32nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, lies K-Town, as Koreatown is affectionately called. With both sides of the street lined with Asian markets and Korean restaurants of all kinds, it’s hard not to be beckoned in by the mouth-watering aromas of barbecue, or the bustling shoppers frequenting Hanareum (the Asian market).

Don’t miss:

Madangsui

Kunjip Restaurant

 

Off-the-Radar: Annandale, Va.

This suburb of Washington, D.C., is home to the nation’s third largest Korean population (just don’t call it Koreatown — it’s a divisive topic). In addition to a myriad of good Korean restaurants, the surrounding area has not one but two excellent Asian markets: Grand Mart and Super H Mart.

Don’t miss:

Ye Chon

Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean Grill

(Photos courtesy of Flickr/Shelly Panzarella (top) and Flickr/NYCUrbanscape


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22 Comments

chicagonorthie's picture

Visit West Devon Avenue, in Chicago, starting at North Damen and ending at North Kedzie. This business district is known to locals as "Little India" because of the numerous Indian and Pakistani shops and restaurants. But besides Indo - Pak, here, you will experience a multicultural flavour that will tempt your senses. There are kosher bakeries, a Georgian bakery, Afghan restaurants, Pakistani barbecue restaurants with an emphasis on MEAT, and, just off of Devon, on North California, there is a Korean restaurant and BBQ, called Hae Woon Dae. Visit Devon Avenue, in Chicago. It truly IS a melting pot!

Jackie
Chicago

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Mayslacks in N E Minneapolis

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You want ethnic? Then head on down to Ray's Boom Boom Room in beautiful Goosedahootchie FL.They're serving up chicken and dumplings,sweet potato pie,fish and biscuits,and the hottest leg quarters on white this side of Satan's domain.They will make you take your shirt off and wring it out.If the ladies are eating the hot chicken,we call it a floor show and charge admission.

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You left out the best Italian - pizza - on the East coast (if not the country) -. Wooster Street in New Haven, CT. Pepe's and Sallys for pizza, any number of restaurants for Italian.
And don't forget one of the top (frequently called the best) Spanish resturants in the country - Ibiza also in New Haven.

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I ate at Sally's recently. The service was horrid, and the pizza was just average. Can't compare to classic NY pizza.

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Sorry, but unless you're living in a cave, you can get better than either Pepe's or Sallys from you local big box supermarket freezer section! Their reputations are sustained by patrons who 'eat the legend" of great NH pizza...not the stuff they shove out of their kitchens. And while I do like Ibiza, "one of the top Spanish restaurants in the country" is a stretch that only a NHer would make! Nuff said.

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For great Indian food in Asheville, NC try Mela Indian Restaurant. You will see(taste( why it is voted best restaurant in Asheville. It is heavenly.

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Croatian food.....its San Pedro CA (tons of Croatian transplants); I like Ante's Restaurant. Very homey trandtiional Dalmation food. Under the radar is Watsonville, CA.

For Armenian, it's got to be Fresno, CA. My pick is George's Restaurant.

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How about east Dearborn, Michigan for the best Lebanese food ever?!

starvinmarvin's picture

What about Chinese? (San Fran) Indian? (Queens) Cuban? (Miami) German? (Milwaukee) We'd love to see a much more in-depth piece...too great a topic!

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try the san gabriel valley east of downtown LA for the best chinese in the country!

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korean? try duluth, ga
3rd largest korean population in the US after LA and Flushing, NY

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Love how this piece is titled "Best" when only 6 ethnic cuisines are included. How much lazier can the writer be?

Italian in Little Italy, Chicago? Surely you jest.

- http://www.sinosoul.com

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for great indian food come to edison nj! also, if you want awesome ethopian food in dc, try makeda on the corner of 14th and rhode island!

The Experimental Gourmand's picture

You also missed out on one of Annandale's other gems, btw. Duck Chang's restaurant still has some of the best Peking Duck I've ever eaten, and I've lived in several cities with thriving Chinatowns. Thank Peter for carrying on his dad's tradition and go support them!

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Greektown in Detroit? Greeks haven't been there for ages, and the food reflects this!!!

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Greek? It has to be Chicago once again.

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Devon Ave. in Chicago.. Indian Cuisine.. and others.. best in the USA

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Korean? How could you miss Flushing, NY and vincinity? Greek? How could you miss parts of Astoria, NY?

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Astoria NY? For Greek food? You must have had too much Ouzo!

bigcitygordo69's picture

Ethnic restaurants....try Zen Fine Cuisine in Richmond, B.C., Canada. This place rocks ! Not only has New York Times food writer Jennifer 8. Lee dubbed it the greatest asian restaurant outside of Hong Kong...in the world, but the U.S.A. Today newsgroup named it the tops in Canada, number 4 in North America as well as one of the top ten restaurants to dine at in North America. Tried it, spectacular in every way possible ! A small, sleek new dining spot, very modern, food amazing, service impeccable and the price........very INexpensive. We had a 6 course tasting menu featuring braised abalone, whole Nova Scotia lobster from their Live Tank in the restaurant ( fresh as fresh can be ! ), incredibley silky soft tofu, spareribs with rice..price...$24.88 per person ( although the restaurant manager/sommelier Gordon paired this incredible tasting menu with wines ( one with each course ) for an additional $15. $39.88-six courses food & six different tastings of wine, for an absolute tremendous experience. We have dined at such great restaurants ( Gary Danko- S.F, Per Se- N.Y., Lumiere-Vancouver) and can honestly say, this experience ranks in the top 3 for us, and that is not even considering the price. If that was the case, then Zen takes the honour hands down.
Zen Fine Cuisine, #120-12480 No. One Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada, www.zencuisine.ca
For anyone going to Vancouver for holidays or even business, we strongly suggest to try this great restaurant.

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Except that the article is best ethnic in America!

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