NYC's Top Marketplaces for Global Gourmands
Melting pot or center of the world—either way you look at it, there’s no shortage of cultural diversity in New York City. Nearly every country has made their culinary footprint in this concrete stomping ground, and they’ve set up markets to show off their goods. Read on for a few of our favorites.
SOS Chefs blurs the line between professional culinary art and amateur home cooking. That’s because according to their philosophy, it’s sometimes one and the same. The source and integrity of the spices and herbs is what matters here. Persian saffron, Ethiopian berbere, dried flowers (lavender, rose hips), and an array of peppercorns are only the beginning at this mindfully tailored spot.
This is as close to Goa (or Chennai, or Jaipur) as you can get in New York. Opened in 1944, the Murray Hill store is irrefutably an institution for all things South Asian cuisine. Necessities like black pepper mingle with lesser-known items like nigella seed and asafoetida. So if curry is on your kitchen to-do list, Kalustyan’s has you covered. But if cooking isn’t really your thing, the prepared foods section doesn’t disappoint.
Dual Specialty Store
On First Avenue in the East Village is a lower-level shop, which, as the moniker suggests, has more than one specialty. The first of these is certainly the copious selection of spices, homemade blends (garam masala, panch poron, Madras curry powder), and dried herbs. But the second specialty is yours to decide. Perhaps it’s the wall of teas, or the other wall of international beers, or the corner that’s stocked with ayurvedic soaps. Insider hint: those on the hunt for fresh curry leaves should look no further.
Along a small stretch of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue is a little piece of the Middle East. Amid the Yemeni cafes and Libyan restaurants is a go-to shop (opened in 1948) for spice-loving locals and expats alike: Sahadi’s. Wooden barrels of nuts, grains, and dried fruit pave the way toward an extensive selection of over 100 cheeses. Olive oils from far beyond Italy, Greek tisanes, and Turkish coffee blends make this more of an experience than a market.
There’s Little Italy and Chinatown, and then there’s Little Sri Lanka—on Staten Island. The Tompkinsville neighborhood is home to one of the city’s largest Sri Lankan populations, and one of the community’s focal points is Lanka Grocery. Opened in 2005, Lanka Grocery stocks South Asian staples (lentils, tea, rice) and items which are quintessentially Sri Lankan (cinnamon bark, hopper flour, dried Maldive fish).
Le Petit Sénégal, located in Harlem, is a small area with big West African flair. Far from the shores of Dakar is Adja Khady Food Distributor—a market that is a perfect introduction to West African cuisine. Though small, Adja Khady is well stocked with Senegalese staples, like peanuts (in every form), sumbala (a ubiquitous condiment), and palm oil.
Sure, there’s no difficulty finding Italian items in New York, but Buon Italia, in Chelsea Market, is more Milano than Manhattan. Here you will find the somewhat obscure: candied citron, raw Sicilian honey, Piedmontese herbal teas, and taralli di finocchio (a Pugliese specialty). And of course, this food wonderland has every Italian basic you can think of (yes, there’s more than enough pasta).
In need of kombu? Matcha powder? Miso? Sunrise Mart in the East Village has it all—and you’ll need to take an elevator to get there. Opened in the '90s, the market is now a neighborhood fixture and serves as a fully stocked Japanese grocery store, with a wide selection of soy sauces, dashi broths, and cooking sakes.
Bangkok Center Grocery
After months of the Thai takeout, perhaps you feel inspired to attempt your own homemade creation. Chances are it’s going to involve quite a few ingredients. Bangkok Center Grocery, in Chinatown, proffers all the chiles, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and shrimp paste needed to concoct a curry in your own wok (assuming you own one, that is).
A visit to Zaragoza redefines what it means to say “I’m going to the bodega.” What appears to be a hole-in-the-wall is actually a colorful explosion of Mexican pantry must-haves. Think: more dried chiles than you thought existed, chocolate, and herbs like epazote and Mexican oregano. Time to start working on your mole.
Yes, New York’s prime destination Greek and Eastern European cupboard items is in Astoria. (No surprise there.) While it looks more suburban supermarket than Old World corner store, Euro Market retains authentic with its selection of everything from feta cheese to Aegean sea salt to an alarming amount of smoked meat.