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Where to eat and what are the best restaurants in Harlem, you ask? Gourmet, traditional or exotic cuisine, starred restaurants, or just some finger snacks? As you may have guessed it, the options are plentiful. For this edition of our Harlem Guide, here are our favorite eateries to keep you nice and fed in this iconic neighborhood. Choose what’s best for you on any given moment of the day.
Red Rooster – 310 Lenox Ave
The Red Rooster is the restaurant by star chef Marcus Samuelsson, one of Harlem’s most emblematic chefs of today. Having opened in 2010, The Red Rooster hasn’t emptied out since, is situated on the famous Lennox Avenue, and has even become a flagship destination in Harlem. Drawing its inspiration directly from traditional American cuisine, Red Rooster’s fantastic menu is varied and original comfort food. Its decor and ambiance is especially appealing when the meals are accompanied by live jazzy performances, and it is conveniently opened from brunch until dinner. An extra special favorite here is the sweet surprise: Ginny’s Supper Club, an amusing speakeasy located just one floor below.
Soul Food, the Traditional Afro-American Cuisine
Sylvia’s – 328 Malcolm X Blvd
Are you familiar with Soul Food? It’s a type of traditional Afro-American cuisine originating from southern American states, and Sylvia’s, in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan is the reigning queen, topping the list of the best restaurants in Harlem for Soul Food. Having been opened for many years, this restaurant is certainly a must-visit if you’d like to taste the best Soul Food in the Big Apple. On the menu: their famous cornbread, waffles, fried chicken, and spicy pork ribs. Among other accompaniments: okras, kale, and black-eyed peas. It may not be the most sophisticated cuisine, but it sure is good, and it sure feels good! Besides, the celebrities from Quincy Jones to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who’ve dined at Silvia’s can’t be mistaken either! Go try it for yourself!
Taste the famous cuisine of Sylvia’s “The Queen of Soul Food” on our tours:
A Steakhouse Like No Other
The Cecil Steakhouse – 210 W 118th St
From its long-awaited opening almost five years ago, The Cecil has steadily been attracting crowds. In particular, it was voted Best New Restaurant in 2014 by Esquire magazine. Originally an Afro-Asian-American fusion restaurant, The Cecil has recently become a steakhouse with a menu refocused of American cuisine classics, revisited to a more modern-style sauce. A rather surprising and delicious card so, served in a RnB-jazzy, relaxed atmosphere, one much less formal than in the usual American steakhouses. As a bonus Minton’s: an iconic jazz club, located just next door!
Jin Ramen – 3183 Broadway
Ramen is rather Japanese, originally, to be honest. However, New Yorkers are so crazy about it that it’s become just as synonymous as hot dogs and pizza are with the Big Apple. If you’ve never tried it, New York is the perfect place to (or, well, in Japan, but that’s a little bit further away). In Harlem, Jim Ramen is THE place to go, among the best restaurants in Harlem for Ramens! The staff is super friendly; the bowls are delicious and served in generous portions. And, you’ll even have the choice between traditional ramen and versions a bit more funky, with kimchi, for example. The ideal option to warm up over during a biting cold New York winter.
Harlem Tavern – 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd
One of the best restaurants in Harlem and one of our favorite places to get a drink and have dinner without any frills is, sure enough, Harlem Tavern. If you love beer, this is definitely your best bet because Harlem Tavern is originally a biergarten (beer garden) with hundreds of beers from all around the world. In terms of food, you’ll find classic American bar food: burgers, mac-n-cheese, and fried chicken…. It’s simple, it’s tasty, and the servers are friendly! This is surely a place to go for a lively and loud atmosphere, and of course- its large outdoor patio, opened all year long (and even covered when necessary).
LoLo’s Seafood Shack – 303 W 116th St
If you have a particular craving for seafood, LoLo’s Seafood Shack is the place to go. We love this place because it reminds us of authentic seaside food shacks. The beach-boardwalk-style patio is a rad place if you’re looking for even more of an escape into this beachy paradise. On the menu, they have crab, shrimp, fried fish and breaded fish like in Cape Cod. There are also a bit more exotic or vegetarian dishes that are coconut, curry, or avocado- based like in the Caribbean. LoLo’s Seafood Shack is for sure a delectable delight and also a nice break from all the burgers/hot dogs/pizzas….
Sushi Inoue – 381 Lenox Ave
For the last four years, Harlem has also had its own starred restaurant in the Michelin guide! Sushi Inoue opened in 2015 and quickly won over hearts, undoubtedly become of the best restaurants in Harlem. The sushi here is simply unbelievable: the rice is perfectly seasoned, the fish- divine. The place itself isn’t anything exceptional, except if you decide to sit at the bar to admire the talents and dexterity of the chef. It’s of course a bit more expensive here at Sushi Inoue, however it is hands down- worth it! Suggestion before going: reserve ahead of time!
Our recommendation list ends here. However it could continue on to pages and pages as there are so many excellent restaurants in this fabulous neighborhood. Besides, many agree that today Harlem is the new neighborhood to go out for dinner. And we totally agree! If you are in a hurry, you don’t necessary need to sit down, because there are a number of eateries where you can simply chow down standing up at a counter or take it to go in order to resume your on-foot exploring. Our guided tour, Uptown et Harlem Food tour takes you, actually, to visit four of these best places to eat in Harlem! Not-to-be-missed, under any circumstances!
To learn more about what to do in Harlem, check our articles about the what to see in Harlem, how to attend Gospel in Harlem, and the Harlem monuments you should not miss.
And you, what are your favorite restaurants in Harlem? Don’t hesitate to share your experiences in the comments, and contact us if you need any advice or suggestions. Don’t forget to “like” and share this article if you enjoyed it and, we’ll see you very soon for a new edition of our Harlem Guide!