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Opinion
Bobby Ghosh

New York Serves Up a True Taste of the Middle East

A generational shift helps to explain why the city has experienced an efflorescence of restaurants serving Arab, Persian and Israeli cuisine.

A taste of the Middle East in Brooklyn Heights.

A taste of the Middle East in Brooklyn Heights.

Photographer: Courtesy of Al Badawi

When I recently took an Iranian, an Iraqi and an Emirati to lunch on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, a breakthrough ensued. Not diplomatic, mind you, but gastronomic. After feasting on a Jordanian delicacy in a Palestinian restaurant, we arrived at a consensus that it was one of the best meals we’d ever had.

This was a turnabout, and no mistake. For years, Middle Eastern friends — politicians, diplomats, journalists and business executives — visiting New York for UNGA have complained that their cuisines are poorly represented in the city’s restaurant scene. My standard response, that my home city offers the best from everywhere else in the world, has been met at best with grumbling acknowledgment.