New York City has made its way to the bucket list for many in recent years. There’s something for each type of traveller visiting the Big Apple, whether it’s their diverse cultures, scrumptious cuisines, or its thriving arts scene 🤩 Alimat Diallo Mahmoud (@halima_muslimswagg), a proud New Yorker shares with us that there’s something more than meets the eye of the city that never sleeps. You will even find yourself entranced by this beautiful city as well! 😉
New York City In Full Transparency: Alimat Shares What It’s Like Living In NYC
1. Salam Alimat! Nice to meet you! Could you tell us more about yourself?
I was born in Togo, West Africa, and raised in New Jersey before moving to New York City almost 3 years ago. I graduated from Rutgers University with a major in Biology and a minor in International Relations 😌 I lived in Malaysia for almost two years after my undergraduate studies. I studied the Islamic Sciences at different institutes in Kuala Lumpur during my time there 😍 I am currently applying to post baccalaureate programs that will help me become more competitive for medical school, Inshallah!
2. What does a day in your life in New York City look like?
Currently, after leaving my job as a medical scribe a few months ago, my day consists of my science studies, application to schools, Islamic programs/halaqas, cooking and running other errands. On Friday I like to make my way to the city or to Jummah prayers at my local masjid 😊
3. What are some of your favourite foodie spots?
Believe it or not, I actually don’t eat out much but when I do I only want the best! 😂There’s a fantastic Senegalese restaurant not too far from my home called Bravo. Their dibi (grilled lamb), thiebou djeun (Senegalese rice also called Jollof in other West African countries), and Poissant brassier (fish) are some of my favourites 😍
I also enjoy the delicious Pakistani restaurant called Aman a few blocks from my home. Their delicious naan, samosas, curries, and especially their chai makes my heart happy 🥰
In Harlem, there’s an excellent restaurant called Massawa, an Ethiopian restaurant. I love their injera bread and rich vegetable sauces. There’s also Teranga, a West African modern twist. They sell delicious bowls with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Djollof rice, plantain, salads, grilled chicken, salmon and delicious West African drinks 🤤
Ginjan Cafe was started by two brothers with an amazing story from Guinea. They sell delicious Ginger juice and Bissap (Hibiscus) drinks and baked goods. They are moving towards selling heavier meals soon! Finally, there’s a Thai restaurant in Manhattan that sells delicious coconut soup, satay, savoury pancakes and Thai iced tea 😋
But of course, the dollar pizzas from the street trucks are the best 😏Just make sure to check that they are halal first!
4. What are some of your favourite places to go to when you just need a break from everything?
The Islamic Centre of New York University is my favourite place in the city 😍 The scholars and students there are always so kind to me. I love that Washington Square Park is right outside of the IC and so after Jummah I can sit outside and enjoy the amazing art, culture, and colours. There’s bubble tea, ice cream, and fun cuisines in the area as well 😌 I can’t overstate how kind the scholars are at ICNYU, especially Imam Khalid Latif. Before the pandemic, I was able to take classes with Sheikha Ieasha Prime, one of my favourite scholars.
5. What about New York City that makes you call it home?
I love that I can walk through different parts of New York City and see so many different faces, coming from different cultures and backgrounds; it really makes me feel at home while also allowing me to learn about new cultures and traditions 😊
Furthermore, New York City has one of the most diverse populations of Muslims as well! I’ve met Muslims who have been in NY for generations and others who are first/second generation Malaysian, Indian, Bengali, Bosnian, Senegalese, Malian, Ghanaian, and the list goes on. It’s spectacular how richly diverse New York City is 😍
6. What are some places you suggest for Muslim travellers to visit?
Because I moved to NYC a few weeks shy of the first shut down I haven’t travelled around fully, but here are some community favourites you should check out: Islamic Center of New York University, Bosniak Islamic Cultural Center, Masjid At-Taqwa (the masjids are an exciting place to visit especially during Ramadan and Jummah 🥰), Bronx and New York Botanical Gardens, The Museum of Modern Art (and all the other museums in the city), The Color Factory, Central Park and Pelham Bay Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway Show at the Theatre District, Times Square, NY Public Library, and Carnegie Hall (one of my professors played in an orchestra there 😉).
7. Why should we visit New York City in the future?
NY is diverse in its population, landscape, food, culture, and vibes. The atmosphere here is truly one of a kind. From the art deco buildings in Manhattan to the castles in the Bronx, to the rich historical movements in Harlem, to the distinguished diversity of Queens, the live music and street art in Brooklyn, I can go on 😅 NYC is definitely a place to plan and visit! 🤩
The endless unique experiences, the bustling streets packed with life and the variety of halal food options from all over the world, makes New York City one of the most vibrant places in the world! Now that borders have reopened, a visit to NYC truly encapsulates our sorely missed travel memories, which makes it a must on your bucket list soon! See you there, future New Yorkers! 😉
This article is in partnership with NYC & Company.