"I would say that it feels good, but it also feels scary. I hope that we can deliver on the mission that we want, which is for every meal you buy, we donate a meal," co-founder Nasser Jaber said. "And with that said, this keeps us going, but it's nonetheless a scary environment out there, especially with food prices going up, of course."
Jaber co-founded the fast-casual restaurant from the back of a Brooklyn bar in 2019. After that, he re-opened inside a market in Dumbo, followed by another spot on the Upper East Side. Now, his third and flagship location on the Upper West Side just had its soft opening.
The concept is simple, yet unique: American food inspired by immigrants.
"We started looking at different migrant communities and looking deep on how flavors can match together," Jaber said.
Jaber is Palestinian and brings his Middle Eastern background, while his partner, Dan Dorado, the CEO and chef, combines his Mexican roots. The menu is a spin on American classics, like a fried chicken sandwich topped with Lebanese-style garlic whip and Persian cucumber pickles. You can order a Jerusalem bagel with smoked salmon and labne cream or mac and cheese made with Oaxaca cheese and Za'atar panko breadcrumbs.
"Growing up my mom used to make mac and cheese — like an Indian version of mac and cheese with all the spices on top but I never had the Za'atar on top but this is excellent," one customer told us.
"We do like to highlight how we see America today through the lens of migrants, and at the same time, through the lens of New Yorkers," Jaber said. "This is a very diverse place, the most diverse capital in the world, and we are proud to be serving American food through the lens of our cultures and how they're mixed together."
One customer told us she ordered street Mexican corn, potatoes, shawarma, and wraps.
Another patron said the crispy chicken sandwich and salmon bowls are great. "Honestly, I haven't had one thing I haven't liked here — all very good," he said.
The Upper West Side location is expected to be fully open for business by the end of April.
The Migrant Kitchen | 157 Columbus Ave., Upper West Side, New York, N.Y. 10023 | 1433 1st Ave., Upper East Side, New York, N.Y. 10021 | 55 Water St., Dumbo, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201 | themigrantkitchennyc.com