Lebanon itself is a mosaic, a country of many ethnical, linguistic, and religious denominations, making it a perfect fit for the inherent nature of New York City. It is a nation of blended cultures, where Arabic, French, Greek, and Armenian can be spoken, and the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East.
The first Lebanese immigrant to set shore on the United States is Antonios Bishallany, arriving in Boston and living in Brooklyn until the time of his death in 1856. Since 1856, there has been a myriad of Lebanese immigrants to follow in Bishallany’s footsteps, particularly in the 1990s, as the Lebanese sought refuge from the Lebanese Civil War.
Due to a tumultuous history of displacement, it is estimated that out of the 18 million Lebanese in the world, the vast majority is in the diaspora, residing outside of Lebanon. Most Lebanese expatriates are in Brazil and the United States, each nation with populations of 10 million and 3.3 million Lebanese, respectively.
A booming Lebanese community graces New York City, Brooklyn being home to one of the oldest Lebanese populations for over 125 years. Their presence is not limited to Brooklyn, however: In Manhattan, a Lebanese Club, “provides the means for Lebanese Americans, expatriated Lebanese, or "new in town" Lebanese to meet other Lebanese people in this city.” In the past, this has included social cruises along the Hudson River, cultural performances, and casual dinner dates.
The Lebanese cuisine is certainly filled with acclaimed signature dishes, which are known for being both healthy and delicious. According to CBS, the top five Lebanese restaurants in the city are literally only subway stops away, including Ilili in Chelsea, and Le Sajj in Brooklyn.
If you’re on the go, there’s even the Lebanese Toum Food Truck to track down. Perhaps what makes Lebanese food so delicious is the blend of exotic flavors from the many cultures that the nation has adopted over the years—accessible to us only ‘a stop away’.