The first Chinese immigrants stepped foot in San Francisco in 1848, looking for economic opportunities. Today, the city’s Chinatown is the oldest in North America, and tasting traditional fare from South China is one of the most compelling—and delicious—motives for visiting. Dim sum reigns supreme: Don’t sleep on the steamed BBQ pork buns at Yank Sing or the to-go shrimp dumplings at Good Mong Kok Bakery. For a sweet treat that is less traditional, but equally yummy, take fate into your own hands at the famed, family-run Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.
Founded in 1963, the Chinese Historical Society of America museum promotes understanding of Chinese culture nationwide. CHSA is currently closed for the installation of its “We Are Bruce Lee” exhibition, which is scheduled to open this winter. In the meantime, you can join CHSA on September 11 for a virtual screening of "The Chinatown Files," a documentary that chronicles how McCarthyism impacted the Chinese American community in the 1950s.
Coffee-making is an elaborate Ethiopian custom, a tableside ritual that involves pan-roasting the beans, grinding them with a mortar and pestle, and then brewing the coffee in a clay pot called a jebena. So it’s no surprise that A.T. Oasis Coffee & Tea Shop in Phoenix—home to a growing population of Ethiopian immigrants—serves some of the best java around. Owner Aisha Tedros sources her beans directly from Ethiopia’s Sidamo and Yirgacheffe regions. Although the indoor coffee ceremony is temporarily on hold due to the pandemic, customers can order an aromatic cup of hot joe with ginger to go.
Slow down and connect with friends or family over a full meal at Abyssinia Restaurant and Cafe. Diners here gather around woven-grass tables and use their hands to eat doro wat, Ethiopia’s national dish of spicy chicken stew, with spongy injera flatbread. You might start with an order of flaky sambusas stuffed with green lentils and peppers. Inspired to bring the Ethiopian dining experience home? Stop by Bati Bazaar, where hard-to-find spices such as berbere and other imported goods line the shelves.
San Jose, California
Mexican-American culture and history are woven into the very fabric of San Jose. Labor leader Cesar Chavez organized for the rights of agricultural workers and others while living here. Today, his memory lives on through several landmarks, including downtown’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez, an urban oasis with a water fountain display, and San José State University’s The Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice, a 25-foot-tall plaster arch that commemorates Chavez’s ideals and beliefs.
A must-stop is Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), a contemporary art space that highlights emerging Latino visual, performance, and literary artists. See California culture and its ever-changing landscape in a different light through the All Our Senses exhibit, which features work from artists Dimebag Darla, Felix Quintana, and Wulffvnky while exploring family, intersectionality, and an ever-changing landscape.
Afterward, head to Dia de Pesca for tacos filled with fresh halibut (breaded or grilled) or to Luna Mexican Kitchen for a sizzling, two-person parrillada plate loaded with carnitas, grilled chicken, or steak fajita and served with arroz verde, charro black beans, and their labor-of-love, handmade nixtamal corn tortillas made by soaking corn in an in alkaline solution overnight before it's rinsed and stone ground into masa.