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Brush Off The Ban, By Embracing NYC’s Middle Eastern (and African) Restaurants

p033cb8tIt’s often said that food is love, which goes to show why New Yorkers have reliably come out in force against the so-called Muslim ban.  Because when you’re constantly surrounded by the hospitable, culinary culture of a wealth of international neighbors, it tends to arouse feelings of solidarity and community, rather than irrational fear.  Which is why now, more than ever, it’s important to show our support to the families that have fed us over the years — from Yemen Café in Brooklyn to Persepolis on the Upper East Side.

Tanoreen

Tanoreen
7523 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn,New York 11209
(718) 748-5600

Chef/owner Rawia Bishara may have been born in Nazareth, but she knows no borders when it comes to her cooking.  In addition to taking inspiration from her adopted home of NYC (resulting in highly modern offerings like Cauliflower Steak swathed in pomegranate molasses, and amba-marinated Schwarma Sliders), she borrows liberally from throughout the Middle East, serving up Kibbie Jazareya (a staple Syrian stew made with braised beef and carrots), a Gaza favorite of brown lentils, spices and butternut squash, and Chicken Fetti; toasted pita and poultry layered with rice and almonds, and swathed with yogurt-tahini sauce.

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Nomad

Nomad
78 2nd Ave
East Village,New York 10003
(212) 253-5410

Located in North Africa and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Libyan cuisine is also heavily influenced by its neighbors; Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.  Which makes the East Village’s suitably named Nomad an apt place to experience those intermingling flavors — embodied in Harrira Soup with lamb meatballs, Tajine baked with prunes, caramelized onions and couscous, Flatbreads topped with preserved raisins and pumpkin seeds, and crumbly, date-stuffed cookies.

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Yemen Café

Yemen Café
176 Atlantic Ave
Cobble Hill,New York 11201
(718) 834-9533

Boasting locations in Downtown Brooklyn and Bay Ridge, this almost 30-year-old stalwart is beloved for staples, like honey-slathered Fatah (Yemeni-style sliced bread), Chicken Agda (mirepoix-boiled bird, with vegetables and spices), and Saltah; a bubbling pot of assorted tubers combined with whipped fenugreek and lamb sauce, and served with clay oven-baked bread.

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Salam Restaurant

Salam Restaurant
104 W 13th St
West Village,New York 10011
(212) 741-0277

This 30-year-old, family-run restaurant honors the fare of Syria (situated in Western Asia) and other Levantine cuisines; namely from surrounding countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.  Look for Sfia; a flatbread paved with ground lamb or cheese, traditional stews featuring lamb, tomato and okra or lamb with swiss chard and lima beans, and Macloubee, curried chicken layered with eggplant and rice.

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Persepolis

Persepolis
1407 2nd Ave
Upper East Side,New York 10021
(212) 535-1100

Named after the ancient capital of Persia (now modern-day Iran), the Upper East Side eatery offers appetizers like Eggplant Halim (roasted with lentils, garlic and tangy yogurt), Olivieh Salad (a Caucasian mix of chicken, potatoes, pickles, mayo and egg), entrees such as Ground Beef Kubideh (skewered kebabs of marinated, aged sirloin), and stews including Khoresht Gaimeh; filet mignon with split peas, cinnamon, tomato and dried lime.

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Safari Restaurant

Safari Restaurant
219 W 116th St
Harlem,10026
(646) 964-4252

One of NYC’s only Somali establishments, look for hard to come by dishes culled straight from the Horn of Africa — from hot cardamom and clove tea topped with steamed goat milk, to Chicken Sambuza (deep-fried patties dipped in lime and coriander bizbaz sauce), to Busketti (ginger-marinated flank steak over pasta saltada), to Malab Iyo Malawax; fermented, crepe-like pancakes drizzled with honey and sugar.

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Eat Offbeat

Eat Offbeat

New York
(646) 934 6287

The edible bounty of the Middle East is delivered straight to your door through Eat Offbeat — a catering service run by refugees resettled in NYC.  Collaborators include chef Dhuha from Iraq (whose specialties include Sumaq Salad, Iraqi Biryani, Potato Kibbeh and Baklava), and chef Carmen from Syria; who serves up Chicken Shawarma, Baba Ghanoush, Hashwe (basmati rice with chicken) and Eech; a sprightly salad of bulgur wheat combined with tomatoes and green onions.

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Moustache

Moustache
90 Bedford St
West Village,New York 10014
(646) 963-6132

You have Iraq to thank for these Middle Eastern “pitzas;” clay-baked flatbreads supporting roasted bell peppers and parsley; leeks, scallions and herbs; spinach and cheese; lemon-marinated chicken, and ground lamb, onions and spices.

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