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Chicken yassa sits in a white bowl alongside sweet plantains and tomato rice at Teranga.
Chicken yassa served with sweet plantains and tomato rice at Teranga.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Where to Eat in Harlem

From a satisfying Somali restaurant to Caribbean seafood, this upper Manhattan neighborhood offers much more than the soul food that put it on the map

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Chicken yassa served with sweet plantains and tomato rice at Teranga.
| Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Harlem has a reputation for its stellar soul food offerings, especially with classics like Sylvia’s, but the uptown neighborhood reflects the diversity of New York City, and its restaurants follow suit — food from Ethiopia, Mexico, Japan, Jamaica, Somalia, and more are all represented. On this list of standout restaurants in Harlem, find everything from a new, groundbreaking wine bar to fast casual spots that have put this part of Manhattan on the culinary map.

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The Honey Well

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A sibling to Harlem Public and At the Wallace, the Honey Well is a downstairs lair that’s become a premiere date spot in West Harlem with its craft cocktails and kitschy, neon-lit, ’70s-inspired decor. The backyard garden is currently open daily and is accepting reservations via its website. Expect small plates like Beyond Meat tacos, mini shrimp rolls, and Maryland crabcakes.

The Handpulled Noodle

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Through dishes like tingly lamb soup and Beijing bolo, the Handpulled Noodle demonstrates the incredibly heterogeneous world of Chinese noodles. The restaurant is guided by cooking traditions in northwestern China, as their noodle offerings demonstrate. Choose from among four types of noodles as well as scallion pancakes, dumplings, and vegetable sides.

Tsion Cafe

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Owners Beejhy Barhany and Padmore John have long sought opportunities to express their Ethiopian-Jewish identity. Inspired by influences from Ethiopia and Israel, at Tsion, Ethiopian Jews dietary needs are prioritized, and the couple regularly hosts events that highlight the diaspora’s culinary expressions through Judaism. Of course, everyone is welcome at the cafe, where dishes like chicken sambusa, lentil and shiro injera rolls, and painstakingly spiced doro tibs with jollof rice satiate new and returning guests.

Lucille's Coffee and Cocktails

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It can be difficult to find a coffee shop that offers great coffee, regularly has seats available, and plays music at a volume appropriate for working conditions. Lucille’s Coffee and Cocktails does all three, and transforms into a great bar during the nighttime hours. At happy hour, watch this creatives’ haven transform into a social hub. On weekends, catch live jazz and local bands, the listings of which are displayed on the shop’s Instagram.

Each quadrant of the ROKC name — ramen, oysters, kitchen, and cocktails — is worth exploring. The West Harlem restaurant carries an extensive cocktail menu of over 40 drinks, many of which come in novel containers like tea saucers, light bulbs, and Día de los Muertos skulls.

Charles Pan-Fried Chicken

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Charles Gabriel first started selling his crispy, golden fried chicken on the sidewalks of Amsterdam Avenue before running a food truck and then a small storefront. An Upper West Side location debuted earlier this year, but Gabriel returned to his neighborhood, where he’s still firing up cast-iron skillets for his terrific namesake dish and an expanded menu that includes pulled pork and more sides.

A man is making fried chicken in a cast-iron pan.
In the kitchen at Charles Pan-Fried Chicken.
Melanie Landman/Eater NY

The Edge Harlem

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Owned and operated by sisters Juliet and Justine Masters, the restaurant reflects their British, Jamaican, and New York influences. Inside, you’ll hear lots of jazz, followed by a range of music from across the Black diaspora. Food includes coconut fish burger and codfish fritters served with jerk lime dip are a few of many dishes emblematic of the restaurant’s Caribbean influence, and the vegetarian-friendly black bean veggie burger continues to be a local favorite. Stay tuned for live events, too.

Ponty Bistro

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With its selection of French food with an African flair, Ponty’s is a tribute to Harlem’s West African influence. Open for breakfast through dinner, dishes vary from luncheonette fare (omelets and burgers) to those with more global influence (Sengalese fish or chicken yassa and lamb merguez couscous). The bright interior — with sun streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows onto marble-top tables — is especially inviting.

The outside of Ponty Bistro restaurant, with a grey exterior and two tables and chairs.
The exterior of Ponty Bistro.
Ponty Bistro

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

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What once was an apartment catering business is now one of the most respected Ethiopian restaurants in Harlem. The veggie combo and meat sampler give guests a great opportunity to try various stews and vegetable-laden sides, and appetizers and dishes like beef awaze tibs and doro wat are traditional staples.

Harlem Hops

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Harlem Hops made a name in the neighborhood for its large selection of craft beer accompanied by spicy meat pies in an industrial space. Th business is deeply rooted in the neighborhood as it also runs a non-profit called Harlem Hopes, which raises money to give college scholarships to Harlem natives.

Tropical Grill

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Known for its long lines snaking out the door, this Puerto Rican staple specializes in rotisserie chicken served alongside rice, beans, tostones, or sweet plantains. Don’t miss the mofongo, or fried plantains mashed with salt, garlic, oil, and pork, and expect generous portions at an affordable price in a spare room.

Sylvia's

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Sylvia’s, open since 1962, is a Harlem tradition. Celebrities, politicians, and even monarchs have visited the establishment to sample the iconic Southern soul food. Fried catfish, barbecue baby back ribs, and corn bread are standouts. The 60-year-old restaurant recently announced it’s now open seven days a week, including a Sunday gospel brunch.

The packed, red-walled dining room of Sylvia’s with chairs and tables covered in white tablecloths.
The dining room at Sylvia’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Red Rooster

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Chef and restaurateur Marcus Samulesson found his way to Harlem after studying and working in kitchens in Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria and carries his global, diverse background into Red Rooster, where he interprets Black American staples like chicken and waffles and pan-fried catfish for a bustling crowd. The speakeasy is known to play host to some of the best live music in the neighborhood.

Disclosure: Marcus Samuelsson is the host of No Passport Required, a series produced by Eater and PBS. This does not impact coverage on Eater.

Red Rooster’s big bar with wooden slatting
The bar at Red Rooster.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Harlem Shake

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Harlem Shake has become known for its kitschy decor and nostalgic menu. Think classic, American-style burgers, curly fries, and chili cheese dogs, and of course, milkshakes. Though they now have a location in Brooklyn and recently announced plans to franchise in other parts of the country, the Harlem location remains the heart and soul of the business. Make sure to take a peek at their celeb-heavy photo wall, all featuring signatures of famous Black celebrities who’ve dined at the restaurant.

A darkened burger on a puffy bun with cheese underneath posed in a window looking out of the restaurant.
A smash burger from Harlem Shake.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Vinatería

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This Black-owned watering hole is a hub for dates and solo nights out. Amid a bevy of diners reading at the bar, flirtatious couples nibbling on appetizers, and friends laughing over drinks, the Spanish and Italian influences are evident on the menu —- and through the art and music that creates such an intimate atmosphere. The restaurant’s beet root campanelle is a favorite of vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Don’t miss the mafalde short rib ragu, which comes topped with a generous dollop of gorgonzola, nor the olive oil cake, a light, airy slice of sweetness complemented with berry compote and fresh whipped cream.

Enoteca Harlem

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With Spanish and Brazilian influences, Enoteca is a standout restaurant along the busy boulevard. that’s set to expand this spring. Wine options run the gamut, and there’s plenty of sangria to enjoy with anchovy and tuna tapas, grilled octopus and mashed potatoes, and pintxos.

Lee Lee's Baked Goods

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With over 1,000 pieces of rugelach sold per weekend, Lee Lee’s is lauded for making the city’s best of the form. The Jewish baked good — buttery, flaky pastry filled with ingredients like chocolate or apricot jam and walnuts — is not a part of owner Alvin “Lee Lee” Smalls’ heritage, but after falling in love with the baked good, he settled on his own recipe that uses sour cream in place of the traditional cream cheese and has people flocking.

Lido Harlem Restaurant

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Few places revel in the beauty of brunch like Harlem, and at Lido, brunch is king. The Italian-influenced restaurant is a prime spot for good, old-fashioned, Champagne-infused debauchery. Brunch staples like blueberry pancakes, polenta served with poached eggs, mushroom ragu, and a braised short rib and potato hash are favorites here, but the $20 bottomless brunch is what has kept many regulars coming back for years. For dinner, choose from a robust selection of pastas, such as the gnocchi with guanciale and sage, and squid ink linguine with seafood.

Lolo's Seafood Shack

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Raymond Mohan and Leticia Skai Young demonstrate their love for island flavors at Lolo’s Seafood Shack. Mohan’s Guyanese heritage and the couple’s experiences living in the British West Indies inform their Caribbean-influenced menu. Visit the backyard for an island-inspired patio. Tropical treats include Caribbean street-style johnny cakes, crispy pom pom shrimp doused in a creamy ghost-pepper glazed served with chips, achiote glazed wings, jerk chicken and dirty rice.

Crab sits in a puffed up plastic bag next to a ginger beer.
A big of seafood at Lolo’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

BLVD Bistro NY

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After moving from a Lenox brownstone to a new building on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, BLVD Bistro is keeping the festivities going. The family-owned restaurant serves lunch and dinner, but brunches are especially fun. Jumbo shrimp laced with jalapeno and bits of applewood-smoked bacon top cheesy grits; brioche French toast is blanketed in caramelized banana syrup; and baskets filled with fluffy, buttery biscuits fuel hungry visitors. On weekends, the restaurant hosts a DJs and streetside dance parties, creating the block-party atmosphere that New Yorkers love.

Archer & Goat

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The 40-seat Archer and Goat serves cuisine inspired by Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian, and Bengali traditions alongside a broad beer selection and cocktails like an ancho chile-spiked mezcal sipper. Its food includes a burger slathered in queso blanco and sofrito ketchup, chicken vindaloo arepas, and carne asada with tostones.

This East African restaurant is one-of-a-kind in NYC, offering rare insight into Somali culture and food. Dishes include hilib ari, or with roasted goat meat and basmati rice, fried sambuza patties, and mango curry chicken.

Melba's

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A visit to Melba’s may lead to a run-in with Meagan Good, Jesse Jackson, or even Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Celebrities and politicians alike head to Frederick Douglass Boulevard to meet with the visionary behind Harlem’s center of soul food: Melba Wilson. Wilson’s love of soul food and Black culture is evident throughout the building, which feels less like a standard restaurant and more like a flavorful family gathering. The Harlem native transforms southern-originated soul food for a Northern audience, doling out comforting, soulful favorites like collard greens, candied yams, and southern fried chicken. Chicken and eggnog waffles may sound like a holiday special, but this sweet and gently spiced house special is available year-round.

Shrimp and grits in a green bowl Melba’s [Official Photo]

Harlem Biscuit Company

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This biscuit company arrived on the scene as a pop-up during the pandemic. First finding a home at 67 Orange, the pop-up has since moved to an outpost just a few minutes away at Cantina Taqueria & Tequila Bar, where they dole out chicken, sausage, and vegan biscuit sandwiches named for stalwarts of Black culture and social justice movements. Choose from biscuit options such as sweet buttermilk and chive, all housemade by chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson, and a wide range of biscuit sandwich options, like the bacon, egg, and cheese Bodega biscuit, or the “Langston,” which features a magnificently large piece of chicken smothered in chili garlic honey, layered with crunchy, slightly sweet pickles and onions. 

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

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Lalibela joined the Harlem community during the pandemic, and quickly became a local favorite. The doro wat combo is exceptional, and the family-owned leadership style creates a warm and comforting atmosphere. 

Fieldtrip

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Though JJ Johnson’s Fieldtrip now has new locations, yet the original, like the chef himself, calls Harlem home. True to Johnson’s reverence for global flavors, his restaurant takes diners on a field trip through cultures by way of rice. Indulge in bowls inspired by cultures across the world, like Carolina Gold fried rice paired with hand-battered chicken breakfast, wok-cooked veggies, and a devilishly sticky BBQ sauce, or the chef crispy fish bowl, which features cornmeal crusted fish engulfed in a medley aromatic tartar sauce, wok veggies, and red onions, served over a bed of fluffy cilantro lime rice. His dragon fruit rice crispy treat — a bright pink block of childlike sugary goodness — serves as a pleasant reminder that rice isn’t just for dinner, and indeed is central to all of our foodways.

White bowls filled with rice, vegetables, and meats
A variety of rice bowls from FieldTrip.
FieldTrip

Located between Harlem and the Upper West Side, Bánh offers bowls of fragrant, piping hot pho and banh mi sandwiches stuffed with fillings like char fired BBQ pork, spicy turmeric fried chicken, and charred mushrooms, fried tofu, and vegan pesto. The restaurant is expansive in their interpretation of vegan cuisine. Don’t miss the banh tieu a salty, deeply indulgent donut sandwich stuffed with sticky rice, sausage, and quail egg fit for the weekend, or the earthy, soothing bún chả.

Bun cha, a barbecue platter featuring pork prepared three ways served with vegetables and rice noodles in a bamboo plate.
Bun cha, a barbecue platter featuring pork prepared three ways served with vegetables and rice noodles.
Rachel Vanni/Eater NY

Seasoned Vegan

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An early pioneer of vegan dining, Brenda “Chef B” Beener became a local icon thanks to plant-based soul food dishes like BBQ “crawfish,” macaroni and cheese, and a Harlem chopped “cheeseburger,” a meatless riff of a neighborhood staple. Expanding the definition of soul food beyond dishes typically associated with the American South, Beener and her son Aaron incorporate flavors from the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East to maintain a meatless and dairy-free menu enticing to both vegans and non-vegans.

Super Nice Coffee and Bakery by Danny Macaroons

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The coffee here is stellar, particularly drinks specials like the caramelized brown sugar and dulce de leche lattes, but don’t forget one of many baked goods and desserts. Menu items are constantly changing, but regular top-notch options include the cinnamon rolls, almond croissant, guava-cheese danish, and sandwiches. For an impromptu picnic, Marcus Garvey Park is nearby.

Taco Mix

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A massive pork al pastor beckons from the window of Taco Mix, and it’s a mistake to miss it. The al pastor tacos are among the best in town, Eater critic Robert Sietsema says. They’re so good that the restaurant, which started as a food cart, now has locations on the Lower East Side and in Industry City in Brooklyn.

A man saws away at the al pastor meat cylinder.
Al pastor at Taco Mix.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Teranga

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Terenga serves fast-casual West African cuisine out of Harlem’s Africa Center, with huge windows overlooking the northeast corner of Central Park. Chef Pierre Thiam weaves culinary traditions from Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, and several other West African nations and anchors the menu with fonio, a healthy, gluten-free millet native to the region.

A bright interior of a restaurant with a beige table in the center surrounded by orange chairs. A food service counter can be seen in the back.
Teranga is located inside Harlem’s Africa Center.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Contento Restaurant

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In East Harlem, Contento finds a balance few restaurants have been able to locate: smart, elegant food, paired with an environment truly accessible to diners with different abilities. Contento —named for the Spanish cognate for “content,” in the context of happiness — is known for its excellent fare and robust wine selection, curated by sommelier and co-founder Yannick Benjamin. It’s also one the few restaurants in the country that’s fully wheelchair accessible. The restaurant features thoughtful forms of inclusion, such as a bar section designed to be comfortable for wheelchair users, and boasts a vibrant and alluring menu of Peruvian fare, such as octopus a la plancha and arroz con pato, ensuring the message of “contento” permeates through the room.

A backlit dining room with spaced out tables in East Harlem.
Contento was designed with accessibility in mind.
Lily Brown/Contento

The Honey Well

A sibling to Harlem Public and At the Wallace, the Honey Well is a downstairs lair that’s become a premiere date spot in West Harlem with its craft cocktails and kitschy, neon-lit, ’70s-inspired decor. The backyard garden is currently open daily and is accepting reservations via its website. Expect small plates like Beyond Meat tacos, mini shrimp rolls, and Maryland crabcakes.

The Handpulled Noodle

Through dishes like tingly lamb soup and Beijing bolo, the Handpulled Noodle demonstrates the incredibly heterogeneous world of Chinese noodles. The restaurant is guided by cooking traditions in northwestern China, as their noodle offerings demonstrate. Choose from among four types of noodles as well as scallion pancakes, dumplings, and vegetable sides.

Tsion Cafe

Owners Beejhy Barhany and Padmore John have long sought opportunities to express their Ethiopian-Jewish identity. Inspired by influences from Ethiopia and Israel, at Tsion, Ethiopian Jews dietary needs are prioritized, and the couple regularly hosts events that highlight the diaspora’s culinary expressions through Judaism. Of course, everyone is welcome at the cafe, where dishes like chicken sambusa, lentil and shiro injera rolls, and painstakingly spiced doro tibs with jollof rice satiate new and returning guests.

Lucille's Coffee and Cocktails

It can be difficult to find a coffee shop that offers great coffee, regularly has seats available, and plays music at a volume appropriate for working conditions. Lucille’s Coffee and Cocktails does all three, and transforms into a great bar during the nighttime hours. At happy hour, watch this creatives’ haven transform into a social hub. On weekends, catch live jazz and local bands, the listings of which are displayed on the shop’s Instagram.

ROKC

Each quadrant of the ROKC name — ramen, oysters, kitchen, and cocktails — is worth exploring. The West Harlem restaurant carries an extensive cocktail menu of over 40 drinks, many of which come in novel containers like tea saucers, light bulbs, and Día de los Muertos skulls.

Charles Pan-Fried Chicken

Charles Gabriel first started selling his crispy, golden fried chicken on the sidewalks of Amsterdam Avenue before running a food truck and then a small storefront. An Upper West Side location debuted earlier this year, but Gabriel returned to his neighborhood, where he’s still firing up cast-iron skillets for his terrific namesake dish and an expanded menu that includes pulled pork and more sides.

A man is making fried chicken in a cast-iron pan.
In the kitchen at Charles Pan-Fried Chicken.
Melanie Landman/Eater NY

The Edge Harlem

Owned and operated by sisters Juliet and Justine Masters, the restaurant reflects their British, Jamaican, and New York influences. Inside, you’ll hear lots of jazz, followed by a range of music from across the Black diaspora. Food includes coconut fish burger and codfish fritters served with jerk lime dip are a few of many dishes emblematic of the restaurant’s Caribbean influence, and the vegetarian-friendly black bean veggie burger continues to be a local favorite. Stay tuned for live events, too.

Ponty Bistro

With its selection of French food with an African flair, Ponty’s is a tribute to Harlem’s West African influence. Open for breakfast through dinner, dishes vary from luncheonette fare (omelets and burgers) to those with more global influence (Sengalese fish or chicken yassa and lamb merguez couscous). The bright interior — with sun streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows onto marble-top tables — is especially inviting.

The outside of Ponty Bistro restaurant, with a grey exterior and two tables and chairs.
The exterior of Ponty Bistro.
Ponty Bistro

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

What once was an apartment catering business is now one of the most respected Ethiopian restaurants in Harlem. The veggie combo and meat sampler give guests a great opportunity to try various stews and vegetable-laden sides, and appetizers and dishes like beef awaze tibs and doro wat are traditional staples.

Harlem Hops

Harlem Hops made a name in the neighborhood for its large selection of craft beer accompanied by spicy meat pies in an industrial space. Th business is deeply rooted in the neighborhood as it also runs a non-profit called Harlem Hopes, which raises money to give college scholarships to Harlem natives.

Tropical Grill

Known for its long lines snaking out the door, this Puerto Rican staple specializes in rotisserie chicken served alongside rice, beans, tostones, or sweet plantains. Don’t miss the mofongo, or fried plantains mashed with salt, garlic, oil, and pork, and expect generous portions at an affordable price in a spare room.

Sylvia's

Sylvia’s, open since 1962, is a Harlem tradition. Celebrities, politicians, and even monarchs have visited the establishment to sample the iconic Southern soul food. Fried catfish, barbecue baby back ribs, and corn bread are standouts. The 60-year-old restaurant recently announced it’s now open seven days a week, including a Sunday gospel brunch.

The packed, red-walled dining room of Sylvia’s with chairs and tables covered in white tablecloths.
The dining room at Sylvia’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Red Rooster

Chef and restaurateur Marcus Samulesson found his way to Harlem after studying and working in kitchens in Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria and carries his global, diverse background into Red Rooster, where he interprets Black American staples like chicken and waffles and pan-fried catfish for a bustling crowd. The speakeasy is known to play host to some of the best live music in the neighborhood.

Disclosure: Marcus Samuelsson is the host of No Passport Required, a series produced by Eater and PBS. This does not impact coverage on Eater.

Red Rooster’s big bar with wooden slatting
The bar at Red Rooster.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Harlem Shake

Harlem Shake has become known for its kitschy decor and nostalgic menu. Think classic, American-style burgers, curly fries, and chili cheese dogs, and of course, milkshakes. Though they now have a location in Brooklyn and recently announced plans to franchise in other parts of the country, the Harlem location remains the heart and soul of the business. Make sure to take a peek at their celeb-heavy photo wall, all featuring signatures of famous Black celebrities who’ve dined at the restaurant.

A darkened burger on a puffy bun with cheese underneath posed in a window looking out of the restaurant.
A smash burger from Harlem Shake.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Vinatería

This Black-owned watering hole is a hub for dates and solo nights out. Amid a bevy of diners reading at the bar, flirtatious couples nibbling on appetizers, and friends laughing over drinks, the Spanish and Italian influences are evident on the menu —- and through the art and music that creates such an intimate atmosphere. The restaurant’s beet root campanelle is a favorite of vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Don’t miss the mafalde short rib ragu, which comes topped with a generous dollop of gorgonzola, nor the olive oil cake, a light, airy slice of sweetness complemented with berry compote and fresh whipped cream.

Related Maps

Enoteca Harlem

With Spanish and Brazilian influences, Enoteca is a standout restaurant along the busy boulevard. that’s set to expand this spring. Wine options run the gamut, and there’s plenty of sangria to enjoy with anchovy and tuna tapas, grilled octopus and mashed potatoes, and pintxos.

Lee Lee's Baked Goods

With over 1,000 pieces of rugelach sold per weekend, Lee Lee’s is lauded for making the city’s best of the form. The Jewish baked good — buttery, flaky pastry filled with ingredients like chocolate or apricot jam and walnuts — is not a part of owner Alvin “Lee Lee” Smalls’ heritage, but after falling in love with the baked good, he settled on his own recipe that uses sour cream in place of the traditional cream cheese and has people flocking.

Lido Harlem Restaurant

Few places revel in the beauty of brunch like Harlem, and at Lido, brunch is king. The Italian-influenced restaurant is a prime spot for good, old-fashioned, Champagne-infused debauchery. Brunch staples like blueberry pancakes, polenta served with poached eggs, mushroom ragu, and a braised short rib and potato hash are favorites here, but the $20 bottomless brunch is what has kept many regulars coming back for years. For dinner, choose from a robust selection of pastas, such as the gnocchi with guanciale and sage, and squid ink linguine with seafood.

Lolo's Seafood Shack

Raymond Mohan and Leticia Skai Young demonstrate their love for island flavors at Lolo’s Seafood Shack. Mohan’s Guyanese heritage and the couple’s experiences living in the British West Indies inform their Caribbean-influenced menu. Visit the backyard for an island-inspired patio. Tropical treats include Caribbean street-style johnny cakes, crispy pom pom shrimp doused in a creamy ghost-pepper glazed served with chips, achiote glazed wings, jerk chicken and dirty rice.

Crab sits in a puffed up plastic bag next to a ginger beer.
A big of seafood at Lolo’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

BLVD Bistro NY

After moving from a Lenox brownstone to a new building on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, BLVD Bistro is keeping the festivities going. The family-owned restaurant serves lunch and dinner, but brunches are especially fun. Jumbo shrimp laced with jalapeno and bits of applewood-smoked bacon top cheesy grits; brioche French toast is blanketed in caramelized banana syrup; and baskets filled with fluffy, buttery biscuits fuel hungry visitors. On weekends, the restaurant hosts a DJs and streetside dance parties, creating the block-party atmosphere that New Yorkers love.

Archer & Goat

The 40-seat Archer and Goat serves cuisine inspired by Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian, and Bengali traditions alongside a broad beer selection and cocktails like an ancho chile-spiked mezcal sipper. Its food includes a burger slathered in queso blanco and sofrito ketchup, chicken vindaloo arepas, and carne asada with tostones.

Safari

This East African restaurant is one-of-a-kind in NYC, offering rare insight into Somali culture and food. Dishes include hilib ari, or with roasted goat meat and basmati rice, fried sambuza patties, and mango curry chicken.

Melba's

A visit to Melba’s may lead to a run-in with Meagan Good, Jesse Jackson, or even Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Celebrities and politicians alike head to Frederick Douglass Boulevard to meet with the visionary behind Harlem’s center of soul food: Melba Wilson. Wilson’s love of soul food and Black culture is evident throughout the building, which feels less like a standard restaurant and more like a flavorful family gathering. The Harlem native transforms southern-originated soul food for a Northern audience, doling out comforting, soulful favorites like collard greens, candied yams, and southern fried chicken. Chicken and eggnog waffles may sound like a holiday special, but this sweet and gently spiced house special is available year-round.

Shrimp and grits in a green bowl Melba’s [Official Photo]

Harlem Biscuit Company

This biscuit company arrived on the scene as a pop-up during the pandemic. First finding a home at 67 Orange, the pop-up has since moved to an outpost just a few minutes away at Cantina Taqueria & Tequila Bar, where they dole out chicken, sausage, and vegan biscuit sandwiches named for stalwarts of Black culture and social justice movements. Choose from biscuit options such as sweet buttermilk and chive, all housemade by chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson, and a wide range of biscuit sandwich options, like the bacon, egg, and cheese Bodega biscuit, or the “Langston,” which features a magnificently large piece of chicken smothered in chili garlic honey, layered with crunchy, slightly sweet pickles and onions. 

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

Lalibela joined the Harlem community during the pandemic, and quickly became a local favorite. The doro wat combo is exceptional, and the family-owned leadership style creates a warm and comforting atmosphere. 

Fieldtrip

Though JJ Johnson’s Fieldtrip now has new locations, yet the original, like the chef himself, calls Harlem home. True to Johnson’s reverence for global flavors, his restaurant takes diners on a field trip through cultures by way of rice. Indulge in bowls inspired by cultures across the world, like Carolina Gold fried rice paired with hand-battered chicken breakfast, wok-cooked veggies, and a devilishly sticky BBQ sauce, or the chef crispy fish bowl, which features cornmeal crusted fish engulfed in a medley aromatic tartar sauce, wok veggies, and red onions, served over a bed of fluffy cilantro lime rice. His dragon fruit rice crispy treat — a bright pink block of childlike sugary goodness — serves as a pleasant reminder that rice isn’t just for dinner, and indeed is central to all of our foodways.

White bowls filled with rice, vegetables, and meats
A variety of rice bowls from FieldTrip.
FieldTrip

Bánh

Located between Harlem and the Upper West Side, Bánh offers bowls of fragrant, piping hot pho and banh mi sandwiches stuffed with fillings like char fired BBQ pork, spicy turmeric fried chicken, and charred mushrooms, fried tofu, and vegan pesto. The restaurant is expansive in their interpretation of vegan cuisine. Don’t miss the banh tieu a salty, deeply indulgent donut sandwich stuffed with sticky rice, sausage, and quail egg fit for the weekend, or the earthy, soothing bún chả.

Bun cha, a barbecue platter featuring pork prepared three ways served with vegetables and rice noodles in a bamboo plate.
Bun cha, a barbecue platter featuring pork prepared three ways served with vegetables and rice noodles.
Rachel Vanni/Eater NY

Seasoned Vegan

An early pioneer of vegan dining, Brenda “Chef B” Beener became a local icon thanks to plant-based soul food dishes like BBQ “crawfish,” macaroni and cheese, and a Harlem chopped “cheeseburger,” a meatless riff of a neighborhood staple. Expanding the definition of soul food beyond dishes typically associated with the American South, Beener and her son Aaron incorporate flavors from the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East to maintain a meatless and dairy-free menu enticing to both vegans and non-vegans.

Super Nice Coffee and Bakery by Danny Macaroons

The coffee here is stellar, particularly drinks specials like the caramelized brown sugar and dulce de leche lattes, but don’t forget one of many baked goods and desserts. Menu items are constantly changing, but regular top-notch options include the cinnamon rolls, almond croissant, guava-cheese danish, and sandwiches. For an impromptu picnic, Marcus Garvey Park is nearby.

Taco Mix

A massive pork al pastor beckons from the window of Taco Mix, and it’s a mistake to miss it. The al pastor tacos are among the best in town, Eater critic Robert Sietsema says. They’re so good that the restaurant, which started as a food cart, now has locations on the Lower East Side and in Industry City in Brooklyn.

A man saws away at the al pastor meat cylinder.
Al pastor at Taco Mix.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Teranga

Terenga serves fast-casual West African cuisine out of Harlem’s Africa Center, with huge windows overlooking the northeast corner of Central Park. Chef Pierre Thiam weaves culinary traditions from Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, and several other West African nations and anchors the menu with fonio, a healthy, gluten-free millet native to the region.

A bright interior of a restaurant with a beige table in the center surrounded by orange chairs. A food service counter can be seen in the back.
Teranga is located inside Harlem’s Africa Center.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Contento Restaurant

In East Harlem, Contento finds a balance few restaurants have been able to locate: smart, elegant food, paired with an environment truly accessible to diners with different abilities. Contento —named for the Spanish cognate for “content,” in the context of happiness — is known for its excellent fare and robust wine selection, curated by sommelier and co-founder Yannick Benjamin. It’s also one the few restaurants in the country that’s fully wheelchair accessible. The restaurant features thoughtful forms of inclusion, such as a bar section designed to be comfortable for wheelchair users, and boasts a vibrant and alluring menu of Peruvian fare, such as octopus a la plancha and arroz con pato, ensuring the message of “contento” permeates through the room.

A backlit dining room with spaced out tables in East Harlem.
Contento was designed with accessibility in mind.
Lily Brown/Contento

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