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93. Tunesia - La Goulette

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If there was to be an award for most attractive "fast food" restaurant I would certainly cast my vote for La Goulette. For five years this casual attractive North African/Mediterranean restaurant with specific dishes of Tunisia has been a popular place in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) to go for a quick delicious bite and a feel of the exotic.

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You will find the classic Mediterranean favorites; Falafel, Chicken Shawarma, Ground Beef Kefta Kebab, Babaganoush, Fattoush Salad, to name a few. But, the one dish that makes La Goulette especially worth a visit is the amazing Tunesian Lamb Mergueaz. Merguez sausage a staple in North Africa with origins from Tunesia is reddish in color and peppered with cumin, harissa, sumac, fennel and garlic it is spicy and bursting with big flavor. If you want it even more spiced up you can order the "hot sauce." The platter comes with a substantial salad.

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92. Eritria - Massawa

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Located in Morningside Heights, Massawa named after the port city is an outstanding place to sample authentic Eritrean cuisine. The restaurant sports a very loyal following drawn from the university students and those of Eritrean heritage. It is little wonder that with the delicious food and cozy environment that next year Massawa  will be celebrating it's 20th year.

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Eritrean cuisine is very similar to their southern neighbor Ethiopia, and Massawa serves Ethiopian cuisine as well. This dish is called Tebsi which is beef cubes sauteed with tomatoes, jalapenos and berbere. It has a distinct fire to it. However, if too spicy let the chef know and they can adujst. The bread is called injera (and same as Ethiopia) it has a spongy texture and a slight sour taste, and it is more than just bread, but it is used as an eating utensil to scoop up the food. 

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Now that's a smile!The warmth of service and atmosphere (cool jazz music, paintings/crafts of country)  makes Massawa a restaurant that is easy to fall for and want to come back many times. My waitress Amanda a native of Eritria was extremely helpful in recommending a specific dish and telling me of the country's rich culture.

Massawa                           1239 Amsterdam Avenue (120-121 St.)              (212) 663 - 0505

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91. Nigeria - Baku

Baku the seven year old Nigerian restaurant in the Fort Green area of Brooklyn will give you a good introduction to Nigerian cuisine, as well the music sounds of the country, as the place has a terrific sound system. The owner, a tall handsome man named Lokman (pronounced Lookman) told me that Baku means "a small roadside restaurant that is much loved." Baku is not small, but seems to have that special vibe which makes it much endeared.

There were a couple appetizers that caught my attention at Baku, including; "Igbin" (Large West African land snails) and "Moi Moi," (Ground steamed honey bean cake with hard boiled egg and flaked fish), however, Lokman strongly suggested I get the "Suya", which he  expressed is the most popular "street food item" sold in Nigeria. Suya (photo) is thinly sliced grilled lamb in Nigerian spices on a stick. I found it tasty and could understand why it was so popular. For my entree I went with the "Fish Pepper Sauce," which was a whole tilapia in a spicy peppered fish broth. On the first couple bites I found it crazy hot, almost too much to take. However, then I seemed to find my comfort level with it and end up enjoying it.

Yes, that is a VW bus parked in the restaurant. The masses traveling the roads of Nigeria pile into such a vehicle - as it says on the side of the door "Enter with your change." Unlike its name, Baku is quite spacious with the front room sporting a bar and tables along the side, and themain back room which seats about fifty with high ceiling giving it a sense of roominess. Baku serves the leading Nigerian beers Star and Gulder, and pours three South African wines.

Address - 946 Fulton Street (Brooklyn)               (347) 763-0619   

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90. Ireland - Molly's Shebeen

With hundreds of Irish Pubs across New York City, most offering a congenial experience, decent warming food, and lots of TV sports screens, they seem to blend into each other in look and feel. However, there is one Irish Pub that is truly distinct, and that is Molly's Shebeen. The word "shebeen" means speakeasy, and the place has that look - in a very good way. Located on Third Avenue and 22nd Street, Molly's (and there is no Molly) has been around since 1960 and has a very enthusiastic following, a high majority which are Irish.

As "unique" and aged Molly's looks on the exterior the special fabric of the pub continues on the inside. With sawdust on the floor, low ceiling, wooden beams, fireplace, an amazing assortment of artifacts; from oil paintings of rural Irish landscape, faded newspaper articles, toys, bells, ship's  photos of Irish politicians and sport heroes . . . and much much more. The pub breathes so much character which is lacking in many NYC Irish pubs. There are five deep wooden booths upfront, for more privacy go in the back where it is dimly lit by a couple ornate chandeliers. There are no big TV's blaring sports (a small one) - and actually Gaelic tunes being played via the jukebox. 

Molly's Shebeen has all the Irish pub "classics" and they do them well. I am especially drawn to their Corned Beef with Cabbage, with boiled potatoes, and with a tad of Coleman's Hot Mustard, yum. And washed down with my favorite Irish beer, Harp, on draft.

Address - 287 Third Avenue (22nd St)              (212) 889 - 3361

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89. Laos - Chao Thai*

*Please note that there is not an outright stand-alone Laos restaurant in all of New York City. However, you can still try the cuisine of Laos at select Thai restaurants that serve "Esan" (sometimes spelled "Isan") dishes. Esan is the area in the northeastern part of Thailand with strong cultural and gastronomic leanings to Laos. My favorite place in the city to try Esan dishes is Chao Thai in Elmhurst. Chao Thai is also one of my very favorite Thai restaurants in the city period.

Esan dishes at Chao Thai include; Esan Thai sour sausage, the sausage is huge and yes, very sour, "kai yang" (grilled chicken), "som tam" (green papaya salad) and "larb" (meat salad). I especially love larb, it being either of grilled pork or chicken cooked with thai herbs, chili and roasted rice. The photo above is of pork larb. This is a dish that is spicy, and if requested can be fire-like in taste.

Chao Thai is a tiny restaurant with six tables and unless you go at an off hour, it is always jammed, mostly with Thai-nationals. This only adds to the color and authenticity of the place. There is virtually no decoration on the walls, but the big-time success of the ten year old restaurant is in the fantastic food!

Address -8503 Whitney Avenue              (718) 424 - 4999

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88. South Africa - Madiba

As soon as I entered Madiba the South African restaurant on DeKalb Avenue (Brooklyn) I felt an immediate attraction. First, the interior makes you feel transported to South Africa. Impressive paintings from South African artists, photos, framed LP's from the country's rich music scene grace the white walls, small colorful South African flags hang from the towering ceiling a good 25 feet high. The name "Madiba" is a nickname for Nelson Mandela the late South African President, and images of Mr. Mandela are on display. On top of this, the music  all South African I found enthralling.

South Africa is know as the "rainbow nation" because of the multitude of ethnically diverse people that make up the population. With some dozen "tribes" and Dutch, Portuguese, English, to Malay and Indian. - And this diversity and "mix" is reflected in South Africa's cuisine. The menu gives you an outstanding sampling of this. I was tempted by the fire-hot "Durban Curries," Ostrich Burger and Lamb Chops; but instead, I went for a South African classic "Boerwars Roll" - (South African Sausage, tomato, onions relish with beans) - the sausage had a wonderful bite to it and the relish and beans gave it a unique new taste, I loved it! And washed down by one of South Africa's leading brews, Butcher Block. The restaurant pours 4 red wines and 4 whites from South Africa, which of course is well-know for their high quality wines.

And what made Madiba extra special, beyond the food, vibe, cool interior was it's owner Mark Henegan. Mark is the creator of the restaurant and has owned for 18 years. He is a native of Johannesburg, is very warm and gracious, and terrific source for discussing any future travels to South Africa. Madiba is just a ten minute walk from BAM and would be a terrific place to dine before or after a performance. 

Address - 195 DeKalb Avenue (Brooklyn)                                    (718) 855 - 9190

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87. Singapore - Chomp Chomp

Enter this red door at Chomp Chomp to experience big-time flavorful Singaporean "Hawker" style food. What is Hawker food? Singapore is world-famous for their colorful night food-markets, and wide array of food items so here is from mobile food carts, known as "hawkers." Chomp Chomp the two year old restaurant in the west village on Cornelia Street is the best place in the city to experience this fun and very tasty cuisine first-hand.

Having been fortunate to visit Singapore, looking at the menu, and checking out the dishes others were chowing down on brought back vivid "hawker" memories. Such as; BBQ Stingray, Shrimp Paste Fried Chicken, Salted Egg Yok Calamari Po'Boy, Oyster Omelette, Crab Vermicelli, Pork Belly - to name a few. For me, I went with an old favorite dish - Fried Hakkien Mee (stir fried noodles with seafood and Yu Choy Sauce in Seafood Stock. Found the dish very authentic in taste, with that hint of fire with the juicy noodles - and washed down with Singapore's own Tiger Beer, one of my favorite brews.

Chomp Chomp is an attractive restaurant with white brick walls, contemporary light-fixtures, colorful Asian-themed plates, and a handsome ornate six-door paneled Chinese door, of museum quality. The mood, is relaxed with soft jazz playing. The service is attentive and playful. Above features photo of Gun the manager, and waitress Pete.

Address - 7 Cornelia Street                         (212) 929 - 2888

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86. Panama - Kelso

Let me give a big gastronomic thank you to Kelso, the only Panamanian restaurant in New York City.  Those countries in NYC where there is only ONE restaurant to represent their cuisines, such as Hungary, Paraguay, Cambodia, Burma - must be embraced and cherished. Kelso, located in Crown Heights (Brooklyn), is named after the 1960 Triple Crown winning horse, and has been around for 55 years. The Kelso of today under the ownership of Veronica Carmeolo since 2006 is thriving. 

The menu is diverse and offers the essentials of Panamanian cuisine. I was tempted by the Bacalao (Codfish with tomatoes and onions) and the Costillitas de Puerco (Smothered Pork Ribs). However, when I requested "what is most traditional dish?" My waitress Inga (blonde haired-blue eyed - native of Panama, father from Estonia) strongly pushed me to have the Soupa de Pata (Cowfoot soup with corn, potato, dumplings, yuca, sweet potato) - and she telling me she would throw in a "pig tail" also. The soup sounding quite graphic was very tasty, so thick and full of flavor. Though I did not eat the pig tail, the texture unique in the rubbery texture. I also had three apertivos (3 for $5), having Totillas - fried corn fritter, Hojaldres - fried dough fritter, and my favorite, Carimanolas - cassava fritter stuffed with ground beef. When plied with spicy orange sauce, this was especially tasty. 

Owner Veronica Carmeola for the past eleven years, with the help of her daughter did a complete renovation on Kelso. The restaurant with light grayish walls, contemporary lighting, hard-wood floors and examples of Panamanian folk art, the place looks great! She is a wonderful warm hostess and pleased to share her knowledge of the cuisine and general questions of Panama.

Address - 648 Franklin Avenue (Crown Heights - Brooklyn)             (718) 857 - 4137

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85. Vietnam - Th'ai So'n

I have to start by saying when it come to Vietnamese restaurants, I was spoiled early on. I say this, as before moving to NYC I lived in southern California, (Newport Beach) just a few miles south of "Little Saigon" (Santa Anna, Garden Grove), which makes up the largest concentration of Vietnamese in the US. However, with that said, you can find good Vietnamese restaurants in New York - there are several I enjoy, but my favorite is clearly Th'ai So'n in Elmhurst (Queens). The ten year old Th'ai So'n, which means "Good meat" in Vietnamese, also has another location in Manhattan's Chinatown, (which also is good) but I prefer the Queens location, for it seems more "authentic" as most of people dining are Vietnamese. 

I have eaten at Th'ai So'n probably at least fifty times, and the food is consistently delicious and very fresh. The menu is huge, with 137 food items, including 15 "Phos" (the Vietnamese noodle soup). I always start with a Pho, the photo above is called "Tai' (#6 on the menu) which is a combination of Beef broth, rice noodles, with Fresh Eye Round. My favorite entree, and is pictured is called "Banh Hoi Thit Nuong" (#37 on menu) consists of Grilled Pork sliced with Angel Hair noodle, with lettuce, cucumber and mint leaves. As you wrap the pork in the leaves and then dip into the sweet fish sauce, it is messy, you will use lots of napkins - BUT . . . it is so GOOD! I find Thai Son' does the grilling of the pork better than any other restaurant in the city.

The food is great . . . but another reason why Thai Son' is special is the environment of the restaurant. The interior is adorned by a string of pretty lights, bamboo, and several high-quality paintings of Vietnamese rural scenes. Music is soft, understated, and the service is warm and fun-loving. 

Address - 4010 74th Street (Elmhurst, Queens)                            (718) 476 - 6805

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84. Tajikistan - PadishaH

In my search for a Tajikistan restaurant I could not find one - all the Central Asian restaurants were Uzbek, however, in my Sherlock Holmes-type hunt I discovered Padishah, as the voice on the end of the phone said, "I am from Tajikistan and our cook is Tajik." That was good enough for me as I jumped on the Q line getting off at the Avenue U stop. As you enter Padishah, which means "King" you are immediately struck by the truly amazing murals of life in Central Asia that circle the restaurant. They are done by an artist named Vladirmir who is from Minsk and is now lives in New York.  

This is Mohammed, he was "the voice on the phone" I spoke with. Mohammed is a waiter at Padishall, and from Tajikistan. He is a fascinating young man, just 22, having arrived about one year ago directly from Malaysia where he worked for four years. He telling me Uzbek and Tajik are slightly different in language and customs - however, "the food is the same." He has a wonderful nature about him and was most instructive on my ordering.

I started with "Achichuk" a salad simply of tomatoes and onion - but the taste so fresh and satisfying, followed by "Lagman," a Tajic classic of thick noodles, beef chunks, and red and green peppers. With this came a huge chunk of bread piping hot out of the oven. And then a grilled kebab on not just a skewer, but looking more like a sword. What made this kebab so tasty was that it was half beef - half lamb. Mohammed told me it is called a "Lulya kebab" and is a favorite with Tajiks. (especially good when plying with the hot sauce) The meal was filling and so satisfying - and believe it or not the cost was only $18. To enhance the meal even more was the Tajik music that played. Between the art on the walls, the music, the banter with Mohammed and terrific food, I felt very removed as if I was in the country.

Address - 1920 Avenue U (Brooklyn)            (718) 743 - 9656

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83. Guyana - Angela's

Take a walk down Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant and you will see several small West Indian restaurants, these places offering tasty food, but not more than a places to pick up a roti or various curry dishes, and not really spend time, and enjoy the graciousness of the dining experience. Except for . . . Angela's. Named after Angela Pellew-Whyte a native of Guyana opened her restaurant 15 months. It is interesting to point out that Angela had a restaurant at this same address from 1997 - 2004, then took time off including enrolling in the culinary program at the Art Institute of New York City and catered out of her home. It is great to have Angela back!

There were several items on the menu that caught my attention, including "stuffed fish" (okra, spinach, pumpkin), the "codfish sliders" and the "jerked salad" - but it was Dale, the manager, a handsome engaging man with a glorious deep voice steered me to the "oxtail" - and I am glad he did! I love oxtail, but the oxtail at Angela's is the most most, tender and flavorful I have ever had! This dish is not to be missed. With the oxtail I had a side of Guyanese lo mein, the noodles with red pepper and carrots had a nice bite. With the food, Dale suggested I have the home-made "Pineapple iced tea with mint. Refreshing and delicious.

Unfortunately the day I dined at the restaurant, Angela was not in. However, I did meet the head-chef Kemar. He is native of Jamaica and has worked with Angela even at her original restaurant. He is warm, affable, and a terrific positive energy. The interior of Angela's is small, with just seven wooden two-top tables. But not small as being confined, but cozy and handsome. Note the quality of the wooden ceiling, the handsome exposed brick and ornate wooden chandelier. The environment is enhanced with cool Reggae lounge music.

Angela's                                           417 Nostrand Avenue (Brooklyn)        (718) 552 - 2297

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82. Lebanon - Balade

Balade, in Lebanese means "fresh local of high quality" and this describes this nine year old restaurant very well. High quality in food, warmth of service, and the interior design with wooden beams, hard wood floors, and wall of handsome tan brick and what looks to be logs of wood piled together. The music that is played is soothing, but cool and hip, my waiter telling me it is called "Cafe del Mar" a DJ mix from Ibiza for "chilling out on the beach."

The cuisine of Lebanon has a special taste all its own. The menu is extensive, but make sure to start with some of the "Mezze"  which are Lebanese appetizers/small dishes (there are 25 to select from), the Mohmara, which is considered the signature meze - this consisting of spicy red peppers walnut and pomegranate - crazy about this dish, a very unique taste. (top photo) And for my entree, the waiter Fabian suggested Hebbie Bi Labanie, a classic Lebanese dish (oval shaped Kebbe beef which is minced with bulgar cumin and cinnamon, with rice served in warm yogurt).  Delicious! 

The warmth of the restaurant carries through into the kitchen, as the head-chef Micheline Wakine, a native of Lebanon not does magic on the plate but vivacious and high-spirited. She has been with Balade right from the start, nine years ago.

Address 208 1st Avenue  (12th-13th Street)                (212) 529-6868

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81. Belgium - Petite Abeille

Located on 17th Street off Sixth Avenue Petite Abeille does a good job capturing the country's most beloved dishes. The name mean "little bee" in French and there is a warmth and coziness about the place which is charming in an otherwise pretty pedestrian area of the city. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the restaurant.

Petite Abeille's interior with high ceilings, European theatre posters gracing the walls with old luggage stored above in racks. There are actually four areas you can dine in - the stools along the wall which face the kitchen, the main room in back - then a tiny room (just three tables) even further back which has a working fire place, and during warm weather a small but charming patio.

The menu which does not change that much from lunch and dinner presents the Belgian classic dishes and an impressive array of Belgium's high quality and unique beers. A total of 30 beers, with eleven of them being Belgian. Though the Mussels Marinieres (mussels with wine, celery, and garlic) looked tempting, as did the savory Croque Madame (baked boiled ham and Gruyere cheese and fried egg sandwich) I went the Flemish Style Beef Stew " (beer braised top round with prunes, carrots, and brussel sprouts). This a wise decision as the dish was so tasty and unique in flavor, the Belgian beer giving it a distinct taste - and even though had prunes and sprouts which normally do not care for, here it was very good. served with golden crisp French Fries which the country is so famous for. *Please note on Monday evening all Belgian Beers are 1/2 price - and on Wednesday "all the mussels you can eat" for $27.

Address - 44 West 17th Street (212) 727 - 2989

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80. Trinidad & Tobago - Ali's Trinidad Roti

When you think of the Caribbean, the food roti comes to mind, as most of the island/countries in the Caribbean do roti. However, it seems that Trinidad & Tobago has garnered a reputation for being "the island" for roti. And here on Fulton Street in Brooklyn you can taste the very best of Trinidad roti at Ali's.  For forty years the family Ali has been turning out the best Rotis in New York City

Though just three tables, the majority of the diners do "take out" and the business is brisk. Ali's has a distinct Caribbean feel, and a genuine warmth. A "BE HAPPY" sign dominates, and photos of local beach and map of Trinidad & Tobago grace the walls. Beyond roti, they also serve a fantastic curry stews (of chicken, beef, or goat) and delicious King Fish stew.

But, the roti is the MUST TASTE item. There are five different rotis to choose from (chicken, beef, goat, shrimp, and conch. I had the beef and it was so good, so juicy and succulent. The size of it is daunting, not rolled like a burrito, but more a square, rectangle (5x5 inches) like an envelope - the weight heft of it is substantial. And make sure you try with the pepper sauce.

Mrs. Ali, a native of Trinidad who arrived in New York as teenager. She and her family make you feel very much at home, and a true authentic taste of Trinidad & Tobago.

Interesting Fact - The dance of the "limbo" and calypso" were created in Trinidad & Tobago.

Address - 1267 Fulton Street  Brooklyn     (718) 783 - 0311

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79. Romania - Harmony Terrace

For eleven years Harmony Terrace located in Sunnyside (Queens) has been the go to destination for native Romanians, not just for the home-cooking of the "old country," but the live music as well. The interior has a feel of a 70's disco with big lighting fixtures and a raised dance floor. On weekends especially the place gets very lively with Romanian bands performing.

Ah, yes, the classic "Sarmale Cu Mamaliguta" (stuffed cabbage with sour cream and polenta) this is my favorite entree at Harmony Terrace. I found the "Cioba de Fasole (bean Soup) a little on the thin side. For an appetizer, I like the "Gogonele" (pickled green tomatoes) this had a tart sour taste, though not loved by everyone I found it unique in its flavor. The restaurant has a good listing of wines from Romania, with nine "reds" and six "white" wines.

Alexander, the head-chef at Harmony Terrace. He is a native of the Transylvania region of Romania. 

Address - 4757 41st Street Sunnyside (Queens)        (718) 784 - 4651

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78. Guatemala - Tierras Centro Americanas

For an authentic taste of Guatemala hop on the F Train to 169th Street in Jamaica, and one block away is Tierras Centro Americanas. The restaurant twelve years old is cozy and atmospheric with hanging gords, peppers, and traditional textiles gracing the tables. The restaurant holds about twenty and serves up traditional Guatemalan dishes. 

The "Caldo de Gallina" (Chicken Soup) was one of the best soups that I have ever had anywhere! Hearty pieces of leg and thigh of chicken in the most delicious broth, the soup packed with vegetables; long stringed green beans, golf ball sized potatoes, carrots, yuca, and chayote. The soup served with rice and three fluffy thick tortillas. With this dish, I also had the "Tamalitos de Chipilin" (Tomale with Native Leaf Chipilin) which was outstanding. 

Another aspect that makes this a special restaurant is the warmth of service, radiating from the manager Lorena, and the cook Mirena (photo) both native of Guatemala. Tierras Centro Americanas is the type of place that feels you are eating in a favorite grand-mother's home and that there is a great deal of love in the cooking.

Address - 87-50 168th Street   (718) 206 - 1457

Interesting fact about Guatemala - Denim for blue jeans was invented in Guatemala

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77. Ivory Coast - New Ivoire Restaurant

What a vivid color explosion as the bright yellow cabs line up in front of the even more vivid orange colored front of the New Ivoire Restaurant. Opened for seventeen years, and opened around the clock 24 Hours -  this is an extremely popular restaurant for Ivorian taxi drivers and anyone one who enjoys authentic Ivorian cuisine at inexpensive cost. 

The restaurant located in East Harlem on 119th Street is welcoming and overseen by the manager Saase, who makes a warm affable host, and is pleased to explain the food for you. The restaurant seats about twenty-five and is not very atmospheric, virtually no art or posters, but a large TV. However, the constant flow of native Ivorians (many picking up food) adds to the colorful fabric of the restaurant. 

New Ivoire each day features four daily lunch specials. Saase strongly recommended the Peanut Butter and Okra Stew with Chicken and this was delicious. The dish had a nice flavor, spicy, but not crazy hot, the chicken very succulent and the okra was grounded in more than cut pieces. In the evening the menu becomes slightly more extensive and features dishes such as Lamb Shank, and various fried fish. New Ivoire also serves joloff rice which is very popular in west Africa and recommend. 

New Ivoire                               76 East 119th Street              (212) 410 - 5982

Interesting Fact about Ivory Coast - Ivory Coast celebrated their independence from France on August 7, 1960. 

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76. England - Tea & Sympathy

Attention all hungry Anglophiles, do I have a little place for you. Well, it is not a "new" discovery, as Tea & Sympathy, located in the west Village has been serving up the English classic dishes for twenty-five years. The restaurant is charming and cozy, holding no more than twenty and has a distinct "another time" feel to it. Tea & Sympathy the type of establishment that you could imagine the Bronte sisters lunching at and enjoying.

I have a strong affection for English food, especially on an overcast moody "Weathering Heights" type day, and Tea & Sympathy satisfies fully my cravings. The menu is impressive, with traditional dishes such as; Welsh Rarebit, Bangers n' Mash, Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Tweed & Kettle Pie. I started with a wonderful Stilton Walnut Salad, and for the entree Steak & Guiness Pie, the crust beautifully golden, and opening the crust  aroma intoxicating - the beef tender and full savory taste. For dessert I strongly recommend the Sticky Toffee pudding with custard on the side. 

The restaurant is highly atmospheric, as the  walls are adorned with a wide assortment of "Englishness," from tea pots, to photos of the Royal Family, paintings of Queen Elizabeth, plates of Charles and Dianna, William and Kate, New Yorker cartoons about the English. In today's restaurant world of one restaurant trying to be more trendy than the next, it is reassuring that a place like Tea & Sympathy still is flourishing, and probably still will be in another twenty-five years. Please note that there is a Tea & Sympathy store next door selling English gifts, teas, canned goods, crisps.

108 Greenwich Avenue     (212) 989 - 9735

Interesting fact about England - English people consume more tea per capita than anybody else in the world. They consume 22 times more than America. 

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75. Portugal - Portugalia Restaurant & Bar

This review represents a first for EthnicEpicureNYC . . . in that due to the lack of authentic Portuguese restaurants in NYC (since the closing of PAO),  I am leaving the the city limits to travel to Newark, to find my favorite Portuguese establishment. It makes sense as Newark is the largest Portuguese community in the USA. Head directly to Ferry Street (right outside the train station)  this is the area packed with Portuguese restaurants - you might be tempted by some of the bigger glossier looking places such as Iberia or Sagres, but press on, the most authentic place, my favorite, is at the far end of Ferry Street . . . It's name is Portugalia Restaurant & Bar it is small, a true hole-in - the wall. But for that true Portuguese dining experience this is the place!

On arriving you see two doors, one for "Bar", the other for "Restaurant". On entering the restaurant, it is slightly awkward as no one meets you, it as if you stumbled into a room jam packed with ravenous diners. The place had no ubiquitous music playing - just the sound of Portuguese large families chowing down on a Sunday lunch. I had to find a waiter in the kitchen to be seated, he yelling at me a little. I loved this place immediately. 

My waiter David, a native of Lisbon (the one that yelled at me) we were now fast friends I we spoke about Portugal winning the 2016 Euro Cup. I looked at the menu briefly, but I knew what I wanted, and that was "Carne de Porco Alentejana" (cubed pork and clams braised in garlic) I had this dish during my travels in Portugal, and was crazy about it! The dish was fantastic, the taste busting with flavor, and add a tad of "hot sauce" and it is truly one of my favorite of any dish of any cuisine! And to top it off they had the Portuguese beer Sagres which I have always enjoyed.

Portugalia Restaurant & Bar has been around for twenty-two years, it has such an authentic atmosphere. I encourage you to visit the connected bar as well. The walls adorned with banners and black and white photos. The bar is jam packed with native Portuguese yelling at the televised soccer game from Portugal. This is a type of restaurant that truly "transports" you to the country - the essence of a terrific ethnic restaurant. 

Address - 280 Ferry Street  (973) 465 - 0609

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74. Jamaica - Feeding Tree

In my search for my Jamaican restaurant of my dreams who would think that I would find it in the shadow of Yankee Stadium? But, yes, it is true! Not in Brooklyn along Flastbush Avenue or Crown Heights, but on Gerard Avenue two blocks from Yankee Stadium. The name is  Feeding Tree and it has been open for twenty five years and it is the real deal!

They do a fantastic job with classic Jamaican dishes like Oxtail Stew, Curried Goat, Calaloo and Cod Fish, Curry Shrimp, Pepperpot Soup - all delicious . . . but my favorite is still that iconic dish - Jerked Chicken. The serving of four big pieces of chicken so succulent it almost falls of the bone, and with that hot "jerked taste" just like I love - but hard to find in NYC. This is the place! The dish comes with rice, beans and cabbage. Make sure also to have the homemade Cornbread or Blueberry Bread. 

However, beyond the authentic Jamaican cuisine is the "feel" of  Feeding Tree. The interior, done in vivid orange and yellow, sporting an impressive mural painting of a colorful Jamaica beach scene.  Posters of Bob Marley, Air Jamaica, and handsome charcoal drawings of Martin Luther King and Malcom X add to the atmosphere. And on top of this the service, overseen by the handsome and charismatic Manger Tristan, a native of Kingston. The restaurant has two rooms, the first used for "ordering food" and the second larger room seating about 30 for dining.

Address - 892 Gerard Avenue (Bronx)   (718) 293 - 5025

Interesting fact - Jamaica with 2.8 million people is the largest speaking country in the Caribbean.

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