For New Yorkers not lucky enough to spend July somewhere cooler, adventure lies closer to home. From July 11–25th, Atlas Obscura invites backyard travelers on the Tour de Gastro, an “eat-around-the-world” scavenger hunt inspired by the site’s ever-growing food encyclopedia. Intrepid eaters can sample 12 rare dishes across the five boroughs, including Bukharan pastries baked in a walk-in oven in Queens, slices of the world’s most notorious fruit from a Chinatown vendor’s cart, comfort food made by a rotating crew of Staten Island grandmothers, and Oaxacan mole served at a family-run restaurant and immigration activism center in the Bronx.
Brooklynites can conduct their own miniature Tour de Gastro without leaving the borough. A trip to Brighton Bazaar, a local grocery in Brighton Beach, yields a cornucopia of Eastern European delicacies: caviars, cookies, and the unmissable pine cone preserves. Further north, participants can stop for lunch at Ix, a Guatemalan spot in Lefferts Gardens, where top picks include pépian, a stew made with Ix’s homemade B’alam Q’tün, (a smoky, layered hot sauce). Those in the mood for coffee and a snack should check out Café Rue Dix. The French-Senegalese café serves Touba-style coffee, infused with cloves and djar spice. For dessert, undaunted gastronomic athletes can head to Sofreh, a chic Persian restaurant in Prospect Heights known for two stunning desserts: faloodeh, a frozen noodle sorbet, and their sweet and savory ice cream sandwich.
Like countless other New York restaurants, the Tour de Gastro stops are run by immigrants serving food to their communities. As Atlas Obscura editor Samantha O’Brien explains, the food is “isn’t just a product, this is someone’s life […] their history, their culture, their family.” At a time when New York’s status as an immigrant haven is under threat, that’s something to celebrate and protect, alongside the city’s global food culture and endless possibilities for exploration.