From savory spiced Jamaican patties to the slow-cooked goodness of Mama G’s Ghanaian stews, the Bronx has a lot to offer for those who want to experience a diversity of eateries rich in tradition. From Oaxaca to Accra, Saigon to Sicily, in the Bronx you can eat your way across the globe. Here’s a small sampling of what the Bronx is cooking. 

Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều

This unassuming spot under the 4 train on Kingsbridge Road greets visitors with a warm atmosphere that smells of basil, coffee, and rice. Cơm tấm is Vietnamese for broken rice, referring to a dish made from fractured rice grains, explains Ruby Nguyen, the co-owner of the restaurant, and Ninh Kiều refers to the urban waterfront district Cần Thơ. Many of the restaurant’s dishes are classics from Saigon, the hometown of chef Chang Lam, Nguyen, and many of their Vietnamese neighbors in the Bronx. Nguyen’s favorite dishes are Bún bò Huế, inspired by the city of Huế, with spicy beef, pork broth, beef brisket, Huế-style sausage, pork knuckle, and blood cake, and Cơm tấm Ninh Kiều, a rice plate with grilled pork chop, meatloaf, eggs, crispy shrimp dumplings, and shredded pork. Don’t forget to try the Vietnamese iced coffee, made with sweetened condensed milk and strong enough to power you through a 12-hour day. 

Price: $, family-friendly

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La Morada 

La morada is Spanish for both purple and dwelling place or home. The menu offers traditional Oaxacan dishes, including six different types of mole. Two favorites are mole Oaxaqueño, which is made with seven types of chiles, and mole blanco, made with pine nuts, almonds, and cashews. Chef-owner Natalia Mendez and her daughter Carolina created the menu. Mendez owns the place with her husband, Antonio Savaadra; all three of their children are involved in the business. Marco, an artist and poet, is the host; his watercolors can often be found on the purple walls. “It’s about sharing who we are,” he said. Protest banners and art also adorn the space, and there’s a sizable lending library in the back. Try their food and the need to return that book won’t be the only thing calling you back!

Price: $-$$, family-friendly

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La Masa

La Masa is a bustling family restaurant in the heart of Morris Park. The founders, Joswar Montalvo and his wife, Laura, started the business five years ago, showcasing food from Montalvo’s homeland of Colombia. Empanadas are what La Masa is famous for, and there is one for everyone’s taste; they’re filled with everything from cilantro lime chicken, shrimp, and roasted eggplant to Nutella and apple pie—made special for Montalvo’s daughter who wouldn’t eat any of the others. Try the passion fruit flan!

Price: $-$$, family-friendly

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 Al-Aqsa + Premium Sweets

Al Aqsa is a Bengali restaurant on Starling Avenue in Parkchester that makes everything from biryani to bhorta. Biryani is a dish made of fragrant rice, meat, and ghee, and often prepared for holidays. Bhorta is a mash of vegetables, fish, or legumes and is a staple dish in many Bengali homes. Mohammed Hasnat, the owner of Al-Aqsa, said his favorite dishes are the fish curries. This writer’s favorite is the shutki bhorta which is made of dried fish and red chili peppers. Hasnat started the restaurant in 2007 because there was a growing population of Bengalis in the community; his dishes are ones that you would find in a traditional Bengali home. After you’re done with lunch or dinner at Al-Aqsa be sure to stop by Premium Sweets, just across the street, for a cup of cha and Bengali desserts.

Price: $, family-friendly

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Mama G’s African Kitchen

Marked by a graffiti mural on White Plains Road, this spot has a bar-like ambiance complete with a large TV playing soccer in the back. But unlike other sports bars, you won’t find burgers and fries coming out of the kitchen. Africans from Nigeria to Senegal gather in this welcoming spot, where house favorites include okra stew and banku, a kind of bread made with fermented corn mixed with cassava. The owner, Mama G, said the menu is full of recipes passed down from her mother and grandmother. Mama G, short for Gina Nti, is from Accra, Ghana, but the Bronx has been her home for over 20 years. The borough is her heart, she said, and she encourages those who have never had African food to stop in and try some. 

Price: $-$$

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Havana Cafe  

Havana Cafe was opened in 2010 by three friends, Troy Perez, Kevin Alicea, and Ruben Rodriguez, all of whom grew up in the East Tremont area where the restaurant is located. The New York State Assembly citation framed on the wall inside reads, “Havana Cafe brought the Cuban experience to the Bronx, celebrating Cuban culture, cuisine, and customs.” The trio has extensive experience working in the restaurant industry in Manhattan, and they wanted to bring that Manhattan vibe to their home in the Bronx. Their menu includes many Cuban classics, but also features dishes from Puerto Rico and other Latin cuisines. Try the pastelon, a lasagna layered with meat, cheese, and sweet plantain. 

Price: $$, family-friendly

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Ali’s Roti Shop 

Ali’s Roti is a small hole-in-the-wall place that packs a serious flavor punch. The family-owned Trinidadian restaurant has been around since the ’70s. It’s located next to a Montefiore Hospital, so you’ll see many nurses in line for lunch. They are famous for their enormous roti, round flatbreads made with flour and served with either meat or vegetables. The menu offers a lot of vegetarian options, including lentil, chickpeas, and cabbage dishes. The roti can easily be split between two people and come with a tangy tamarind sauce. Try their juices; their peanut punch is a perfect post-roti desert.

Price: $, cash only

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Kingston Jamaican Bakery

Kingston Jamaican Bakery was started by John and Joyce Levi in 1970 in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. There is always a long line here, especially on weekends, but it’s well worth the wait. There are three options for patties: beef, chicken, and vegetarian. These are not your typical patties, says Caroline Sinclair, the sister of the owner, with a smile. Many locals say that you haven’t had a patty until you’ve had one made with coco bread from Kingston Jamaican Bakery. The patties are freshly baked using seasonal ingredients, and the dough is made from scratch. Their carrot cake rivals Lloyd’s Carrot Cake in the Bronx. It’s dense with butter and laces your tongue with nutmeg. 

Price: $, cash only

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Narciso Bakery 

Take note: not all the Bronx Italian bakeries are on Arthur Avenue! This one, on White Plains Road, is a family-owned business run by Sicilian native Vincent Passafiume, his wife Giovanna, and his daughter Rose. The signage out front is simple and the window displays a line of freshly baked bread. The place has an old-world vibe complete with a vintage bread slicing machine. The raisin swirl bread is filled with walnuts. Mini-cheesecakes are filled with custard and berry jams. Passafiume has been baking here for over 30 years. He immigrated to the United States in 1974 when he was 17 years old and has worked only in Bronx bakeries ever since. What’s special about this bakery is the diversity of people who come through the doors. The customers hail from the Caribbean, Korea, and everywhere in between, and Passafiume and his family all make them all feel at home.

Price: $, cash only

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Seven Spices

An ode to Guyana, Seven Spices is adorned with an awning brightly decorated with palm trees and the Guyanese flag. George DaSilva, a gold miner from the nation’s Berbice region with a passion for food, opened the restaurant in 2011. It is one of only three Guyanese restaurants in the Bronx. The vegetable sides are almost like desserts. The pumpkin and spinach have a creamy consistency and a light sweetness from coconut milk. The okra is lightly spiced, a perfect companion to rice and peas. The mac and cheese and oxtail here are customer favorites. Both are cooked to perfection: a crispy crust of cheese sits on top of the mac and the butter beans in the oxtail dish are melt-in-your-mouth soft. Also on the menu are goat curry roti, baked salmon, and cook-up rice, a dish made with a variety of meat and herbs. DeSilva’s father and grandfather were bakers in Guyana and he has kept up the tradition. He makes pastries from scratch including cassava pone, a cake made from yucca. Their lunch special is $6 and keeps you full all day. 

Price: $, family-friendly

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Go forth and eat!