Situated in a mere 1200 square feet, Moroccan shop Le Market is a microcosmic reflection of the diverse North Hollywood neighborhood it’s located in. One foot in the door and you’ll be greeted by multiple “shaloms,” from one of the two or more Bitton brothers from behind the front counter that serves as both the deli and the register.
Listen closely and you’ll hear the brothers converse in French and a Moroccan dialect of Arabic. The Bittons represent a large Moroccan Jewish community that moved to the area roughly 30 years ago. Speak with anyone shopping in the market and you my get a response in Hebrew, Spanish, French, Arabic or English.
The oldest brother, David Bitton, was the first of eight siblings to emigrate from Marrakesh to Los Angeles. In 1987 he encouraged his brother Avraham to come to the United States to start a business. That year they opened Le Market in North Hollywood and sold mostly produce. “People told us to open a vegetable market. We tried, but it was so hard. So then we decided to open a grocery market,” Avraham said. Today they sell everything except fruit and vegetables.
Raskin’s Fish Market is a store from another era — it’s the kind of store your bubbe probably shopped at. Located in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Raskin’s has been dolling out fresh fish for more than five decades.
Walking down Kingston Avenue, Raskin’s faded pink-and-blue letters that hang from the limestone building’s façade, advertising free delivery and listing the phone number with both numbers and letters stand out, recalling a past when neighborhoods were smaller and more tight-knit.
Stepping inside the small, narrow storefront, you’ll see piles of salmon, snapper and dorade heaped on top of mounds of snowy crushed ice. Behind the counter a friendly, elderly man still wields his fish knife with startling precision, scooping the skin off a salmon filet in seconds. That’s Schlomo Raskin, the store’s founder, who opened his eponymous fish shop at this location in 1961 after immigrating from Leningrad, Russia.
If you’re on the hunt for a taste of the shtetl in New York City, there’s no place better than the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Home of the Lubavitch community, the neighborhood streets are lined with signs in Hebrew letters, hat makers, wig shops, and displays of silver Kiddush cups, candlesticks, and challah covers in store windows. If you stroll through the neighborhood, you just might catch a whiff of freshly fried schnitzel or the aroma of baking strudel wafting in the air.
Located in the heart of the neighborhood, Kingston Avenue has excellent places to nosh, from great supermarkets, to small prepared-foods shops, to mouthwatering Jewish bakeries. I recently spent an afternoon eating along the avenue; click through the slideshow below for a guide to some of the street’s best offerings.