Culinary Culture

Delectable Harlem: the Best Restaurants in Harlem

February 9, 2017
Best Restaurants Harlem

Dining at Red Rooster – chic and delicious. Photo: Red Rooster

For over a century, Harlem has been a nexus of African-American culture – including its cuisine.  The diversity of fare in Harlem reflects the community’s mixed heritage. Over the years, Harlem residents have included African Americans from the Deep South, Caribbean immigrants, African transplants, and more recently, new arrivals from Europe, Mexico, and throughout the U.S.

Here is our guide to the delicious food and Best Restaurants in Harlem!

Best Restaurants in Harlem, Amy Ruths

To die for: a soul food feast at Amy Ruth’s. Photo: Amy Ruth’s

Best soul food restaurants in Harlem

Amy Ruth’s : Acclaimed by critics and diners alike for its authentic southern cuisine. In fact, the chicken and waffles are famous. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Location: 113 W. 116th St. (between Lenox Ave. and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.). Average entree: $15. – $22.

Melba’s : An elegant, intimate restaurant serving “neo-soul food.” Open for dinner and weekend brunch. Location:  300 W. 114th St.  (at Frederick Douglass Blvd.). Average entree: $15 to $20.

Red Rooster : Not your grandma’s soul food. Celebrity chef Marcus Sameulsson’s restaurant, one of the hottest spots in the city, serves upscale soul food and American fare for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Location: 310 Lenox Ave. (between 125th and 126th Sts.). Average entree: $25 to $30. On the pricey side, but worth the splurge.

Downstairs from Red Rooster, Ginny’s Supper Club is a stylish venue offering great food and live music (their Sunday Gospel Brunch is particularly popular).

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too : Serving delicious down-home southern cooking, this casual, inexpensive Harlem spot is open for lunch and dinner. The New York Post praised Spoonbread for “the best fried chicken in NYC!” Location: 366 West 110th St. (between Columbus and Manhattan Aves.) Average entree: less than $15. Lunch specials are a genuine bargain.

Best Restaurants Harlem: Jacob Soul Food

Delicious and fresh – the soul food buffet at Jacob Restaurant. Photo: Jacob Restaurant

Jacob Restaurant : Open daily from 10AM to 10PM, this is an informal, buffet-style spot offering some of the city’s best soul food. The food here is self-service and sold by weight ($4.99 to $6.49 per lb). Jacob’s is quite popular, so the buffet items tend to be fresh from the kitchen. Location: 373 Lenox Ave (at 129th St).

Manna’s : Manna’s offers simple soul food buffets and salad bars (sold by weight). Locations: There are three: 2331 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 125th St.), 70 W. 125th St (between 5th and Lenox Aves.), and 486 Lenox Ave. (between 134th and 135th Sts.). It’s open from 11AM to 9PM; 8PM on Sundays.

Corner Social : This new hotspot offers an organic, “neo-soul American” menu, including lunch, brunch, dinner, and a late-night menu. Location: 321 Lenox Ave. Average entree: $20 to $25.  

Best Restaurants Harlem: Zoma

Great Ethiopian fare at Zuma.

Best African and Caribbean restaurants in Harlem

Zoma : An elegant eatery acclaimed for its Ethiopian cuisine. Location: 2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 113th St.). Average entree: $13 to $20.

African Kine : Enjoy classic Senegalese dishes in their warm dining room.  Location: 256 West 116th St. Average entree: $12. 

Keur Sokhna Restaurant Plus : This casual Harlem restaurant is popular with both locals and dining critics for its Senegalese cooking. Location: 2249 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (at 133rd St). Average entree: $8. Cash only.

Elsie’s Caribbean Café: Elsie cooks up authentic Caribbean delicacies (including Jamaican jerk chicken, roti, curry goat, callaloo, and plantains) in a warm, relaxed environment. It’s inexpensive, too. Location: 2291 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (between 134th & 135th Sts.)

Best Restaurants Harlem: Babbalucci

Scrumptious pasta and pizza at Babbalucci. Photos: Babbalucci

Best European restaurants in Harlem

Babbalucci : This wonderful new addition to Harlem’s dining scene offers superb Italian cuisine, excellent wood oven pizzas (good pizza is scarce in Harlem), and craft cocktails. The environment is cozy, the service terrific, and the food is delicious. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner. Location: 331 Lenox Ave. (at 126th St.)

Chez Lucienne : A French restaurant serving bistro staples. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Entrees: $16 to $25. The pre-theater prix-fixe Menu ($19.95) and Monday steak nights ($12.95) are great deals. Location: 308 Lenox Ave. (between 125th & 126th Sts.)

Bier International : A Euro-inspired beer hall/garden offering a large selection of brews (including Harlem’s own Sugar Hill Golden Ale) and quality pub grub, it’s also a popular choice for its musical brunch. Average entree: $15. Location: 2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd (at 113th St.).

Lido : Elegant dining room offering Italian specialties and chic cocktails. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Average entree: $20 to $25. Location: 2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 117th St.).

Best Restaurants Harlem: Harlem Tavern

The festive beer garden at Harlem Tavern. Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Other great restaurants in Harlem

Harlem Tavern : A lively bar and grill with an outdoor beer garden serving good-quality American fare for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Average entree: $15 to $20. Location: 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd (at 116th St.).

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que : Some proclaim this to be the best barbecue in New York. They grill large portions of pork ribs, steaks, chicken, and brisket with all the traditional fixings. Average entree: $15 to $25. Location: 700 West 125th (at the Hudson River).

Harlem Shake: high-quality burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and fries served in a fun, diner-esque space. True to its name, they serve yummy organic shakes in many flavors. Location: 100 West 124th St. (at Lenox Ave.)

Best Restaurants Harlem: Patisserie Des Ambassades

Irresistible sweet treats at Patisserie Des Ambassades. Photo: Patisserie Des Ambassades

Best bakeries and cafes in Harlem

Patisserie Des Ambassades : This cafe serves fresh-baked croissants, pastries, sandwiches, and coffee. The kitchen also offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, including African, Moroccan, French, and American dishes at reasonable prices (entrees are between $11.50 and $14). Location: 2200 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (between 118th and 119th Sts.).

Best Restaurants Harlem: Lee Lee's Baked Goods

Homemade rugelach at Lee Lee’s

Levain Bakery : Justifiably famous for their large, chewy cookies, this bakery also serves up fresh-baked pastries and breadsLocation: 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 117th St.).

Lenox Saphire : Offers baked goods and pastries, along with an inexpensive French menu of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. In warm weather, the outdoor seating on Lenox Avenue is great for people watching. Location: 341 Lenox Ave. (at 127th St.)

Lee Lee’s Baked Goods : Said to have the best rugelach in town, this homey place also offers fresh carrot cake, red velvet cake, and bread pudding. Location: 238 W. 118th St. (just east of Frederick Douglass Blvd.)

Lenox Coffee : A cozy coffee house brewing excellent coffee drinks and serving pastries, cookies, and bagels. Location: 60 W. 129th St. (at Lenox Ave.).

Great food is just one of Harlem’s many attractions. If you’re heading uptown, check our post on Exploring Harlem’s Black History and Culture.

Best Restaurants Harlem: Red Rooster

Sidewalk dining at Red Rooster – great food and great people watching. Photo: Jeff Dobbins

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