New York City may not be for everyone, including myself. Personally, I only enjoy visiting my friends, and that’s the sole reason I go there. Afterward, I leave as quickly as possible. Perhaps if I were 30 years old again.

The noise, the crowded sidewalks, the street chaos, and the traffic – really?

One aspect of New York that I do appreciate is the incredible variety and diversity of restaurants, fast food joints, food trucks, and food stands. Each neighborhood has its own unique characteristics, influenced by the ethnicity of its residents.

I recall Astoria as a predominantly Greek neighborhood, with numerous Greek restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. Unfortunately, many of these establishments have now been replaced by Mexican, American, Halal, and various other cuisines.

Nonetheless, I was delighted to stumble upon the familiar Mikel Coffee tucked away in a small side street. Coffee, which is not my preferred beverage here in America, made me quite content at the mere thought of having a Freddo Cappuccino!

Mikel Coffee Astoria

Without hesitation, I walked in and placed my order, speaking Greek without a second thought. To my surprise, the kind young lady behind the counter responded in Greek as well, asking me about the size of the cup I preferred. Moments later, I found myself sitting with a cup of coffee in my hand, blissfully happy, explaining to my friend, who was unaware, that Mikel is a Greek company with over 300 stores in Greece.

It then dawned on me that the young lady who served us, despite having a slight accent, was from Ecuador but was learning Greek because most customers came in and placed their orders in Greek, just like I did!

Freddo Cappuccino at Mikel

It’s heartwarming how something as simple as a cup of coffee and a stranger speaking Greek to you can evoke a sense of nostalgia. Although I have spent half my life away from Greece, my habits, preferences, and actions still reflect my Greek roots. You simply can’t escape your DNA.

My NYC friends Martin and Lefteris

(Check our the list of Savor Greece, Season One episodes on YouTube here)