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A plate of salmon and barley salad with a glass of wine
Salmon with barley salad at Contento.
Mikhail Lipyanskiy / Contento [Official]

23 Hit Harlem Restaurants to Try

From the soul food the neighborhood has become known for to a groundbreaking wine bar

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Salmon with barley salad at Contento.
| Mikhail Lipyanskiy / Contento [Official]

Harlem may have a reputation for its 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 stand-out 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.

Note: This is an updated version of a map originally published in 2018.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Honey Well

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3604 Broadway
New York, NY 10031

The Honey Well has established itself as one of the premiere date spots in West Harlem with its craft cocktails and kitschy, neon-lit, ’70s-inspired decor. The bar’s backyard garden is currently daily and is accepting reservations via its website. Along with its cocktails, expect items like Beyond Meat tacos, mini shrimp rolls, and Maryland crabcakes.

2. ROKC

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3452 Broadway
New York, NY 10031

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. The restaurant offers limited outdoor seating, but there’s delivery and takeout to choose from as well. ROKC is open Sunday to Thursday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. and Friday to Saturday 5 to 11 p.m.

3. Ponty Bistro

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2375 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10030
(212) 234-6474
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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 grey exterior of Ponty Bistro Ponty [Official Photo]

4. Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

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268 W 135th St
New York, NY 10030
(212) 281-2673
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This Harlem staple from chef Frehiwot Reta opened in 2011 with big portions and spicy Ethiopian fare. The sambusas (pastries filled with beef or lentils and jalapeño) and honey wine are particular standouts. Try one of the platters of meats and vegetables served over spongey injera bread to get a varied taste. The restaurant has outdoor seating and is open daily from noon to 10 p.m.

Doro wat on a red-rimmed plate Abyssinia [Official Photo]

5. Harlem Hops

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2268 7th Ave
New York, NY 10030
(646) 998-3444
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Harlem Hops made an instant name in the neighborhood for its large selection of craft beer accompanied by spicy meat pies in an industrial space. The Black-owned business is deeply rooted in the neighborhood — it also runs a non-profit called Harlem Hopes, which raises money to give college scholarships to Harlem natives.

6. Manna's

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486 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10037
(212) 234-4488
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Two locations strong, Manna’s serves up a plentiful buffet of soul food such as crispy fried chicken, baked ziti, collard greens, smothered pork chops, and oxtails, just for starters. It’s pay by the pound, so scoop accordingly.

7. Tropical Grill

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2143 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(212) 531-0233

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.

8. Clay

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553 Manhattan Ave
New York, NY 10027
(212) 729-1850
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What was once a jazz club is now a small, stylish bistro with dishes such as grass-fed steak tartare and short rib ragu. It’s an ambitious neighborhood restaurant, one that takes extra care in sourcing, from its meats to its mainly natural wines.

Gnocchi in a clay bowl Clay [Official Photo]

9. Babbalucci

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331 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027
(646) 918-6572
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A wood-burning brick oven is the calling card at this Italian restaurant with Neapolitan-style pizza, whole roasted fish, and pasta. Brick walls, dark wood furniture, warm service, and a full bar make it an ideal date spot in the neighborhood.

Trenette with shrimp, Italian hot peppers,cognac cream, touch of tomato

Posted by Babbalucci on Monday, September 5, 2016

10. Sylvia's

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328 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(212) 996-0660
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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. Sunday brings gospel brunch, a rowdy experience that’s the ideal time to try chicken and waffles alongside unlimited mimosas.

The packed dining room of Sylvia’s with red walls Robert Sietsema/Eater

11. Red Rooster

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310 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027
(212) 792-9001
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Much lauded in the neighborhood and beyond, chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster has become an attraction in and of itself to Harlem. The lively comfort food restaurant has been packing people in since 2010 for dishes such as shrimp and grits, a loaded seafood jambalaya, and fried chicken with red velvet waffles. After a 2011 visit by President Barack Obama, his meal is forever known as the menu as “Obama short ribs,” which come braised with lobster & biscuits, bok choy, and amolasses glaze.

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 Daniel Krieger/Eater

12. Lee Lee's Baked Goods

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283 W 118th St
New York, NY 10026
(917) 493-6633
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With over 1,000 pieces of rugelach sold per weekend, Lee Lee’s has been lauded as 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.

13. Lolo's Seafood Shack

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303 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026
(646) 649-3356
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Lolo’s brings the full experience of Caribbean seasonings: Choose a fish — snow crab, shrimp, crawfish — and flavorful sauce — garlic butter, Old Bay, coconut curry, etc. — to go on seafood boils and in steam pots. Eater critic Ryan Sutton especially recommends the snow crab legs in spicy sauce, best eaten in the backyard. Don’t miss the jerk chicken, either.

Crab boil at LoLo’s Ryan Sutton/Eater

14. Archer & Goat

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187 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10026
(917) 261-6602
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The 40-seat Archer and Goat has equal ambitions as a restaurant and a bar, serving up cuisine inspired by Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian, and Bengali traditions alongside a broad beer selection and cocktails like a tamarind whiskey sour. Food runs to a burger slathered in queso blanco and sofrito ketchup, chicken vindaloo arepas, and carne asada with tostones.

15. Safari

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219 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026
(646) 964-4252
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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, sambuza, or pastries filled with ground beef or chicken, and mango curry chicken. Times critic Ligaya Mishan calls that last one “heady.”

16. Melba's

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300 W 114th St
New York, NY 10026
(212) 864-7777
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Chef Melba Wilson practically comes from Harlem royalty; her aunt, Sylvia Woods, is the namesake of the neighborhood’s most iconic soul food restaurant. Melba’s serves American comfort food, and no trip is complete with an order of the chicken and eggnog waffles served with strawberry butter and maple syrup, which Wilson used to defeat Bobby Flay on his TV show Throwdown! in 2008.

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

17. Fieldtrip

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109 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10026
(917) 639-3919
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JJ Johnson gave rice a stage in Harlem when he opened FieldTrip, whose menu is centered on bowls made with different strains of the grain. It’s a fast-casual spot that has paired ingredients such as braised beef with Texas brown rice and spicy black beans; salmon with Chinese black rice, pineapple, and piri piri sauce; and crispy barbecue chicken with Carolina gold rice. All the rice is non-enriched, non-bleached, and sourced directly from farmers who mill the grain themselves.

White bowls filled with rice, vegetables, and meats FieldTrip [Official Photo]

18. Seasoned Vegan

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55 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10026
(212) 222-0092
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Just a short walk along Saint Nicholas Avenue by Central Park is the small restaurant that offers some soul food staples, sans meat. Chef Brenda Beener started the restaurant with her son to create purportedly healthier alternatives to the foods she grew up on, like a soy “chicken” parmesan sandwich topped with dairy-free mozzarella and marina sauce, barbecue “riblets” made of lotus root and soy, and even a vegan-friendly version of a Harlem chopped cheese burger.

19. Super Nice Coffee and Bakery by Danny Macaroons

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156 E 117th St
New York, NY 10035
(917) 261-5069
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The coffee here is stellar, particularly drinks specials like the caramelized brown sugar and dulce de leche lattes, but do yourself a favor and get one of many baked goods and desserts here. 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.

20. Maxwell's Central Park

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1325 5th Ave
New York, NY 10029
(646) 657-0993
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Expanded from Tribeca, Maxwell’s brings some of the downtown aesthetic — Edison bulbs, subway tiling, and dark wood — to 111th Street. The tavern offers standard saloon fare, from burgers and fish and chips to spinach and artichoke dip and caesar salad. Don’t miss the cocktails, especially the spicy jalapeño margaritas that are $7 during happy hour.

The moody bar at Maxwell’s with subway tiling Maxwell’s [Official Photo]

21. Taco Mix

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234 E 116th St #1
New York, NY 10029
(212) 289-2963
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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, opened another location on the Lower East Side.

A man saws away at the al pastor meat cylinder Robert Sietsema/Eater

22. Teranga

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1280 5th Ave
New York, NY 10029

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. Alex Staniloff/Eater

23. Contento Restaurant

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88 E 111th St
New York, NY 10029
(646) 410-0111
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This wine lover’s destination has opened to rave reviews early on. Wine industry veteran Yannick Benjamin partnered with George Gallego, Oscar Lorenzzi, Mara Rudzinski, and Lorenz Skeeter to open a welcoming wine bar with a Peruvian-rooted food menu and an eye toward inclusive hospitality and space accessibility. Contento boasts an ambitious range of wines — at varying price points — paired with a menu led by Lorenzzi that includes dishes like octopus with black chimichurri and chilled cauliflower gazpacho.

A dining room in East Harlem
Contento was designed with accessibility in mind.
Lily Brown / Contento [Official]

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1. The Honey Well

3604 Broadway, New York, NY 10031

The Honey Well has established itself as one of the premiere date spots in West Harlem with its craft cocktails and kitschy, neon-lit, ’70s-inspired decor. The bar’s backyard garden is currently daily and is accepting reservations via its website. Along with its cocktails, expect items like Beyond Meat tacos, mini shrimp rolls, and Maryland crabcakes.

3604 Broadway
New York, NY 10031

2. ROKC

3452 Broadway, New York, NY 10031

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. The restaurant offers limited outdoor seating, but there’s delivery and takeout to choose from as well. ROKC is open Sunday to Thursday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. and Friday to Saturday 5 to 11 p.m.

3452 Broadway
New York, NY 10031

3. Ponty Bistro

2375 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10030
The grey exterior of Ponty Bistro Ponty [Official Photo]

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.

2375 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10030

4. Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

268 W 135th St, New York, NY 10030
Doro wat on a red-rimmed plate Abyssinia [Official Photo]

This Harlem staple from chef Frehiwot Reta opened in 2011 with big portions and spicy Ethiopian fare. The sambusas (pastries filled with beef or lentils and jalapeño) and honey wine are particular standouts. Try one of the platters of meats and vegetables served over spongey injera bread to get a varied taste. The restaurant has outdoor seating and is open daily from noon to 10 p.m.

268 W 135th St
New York, NY 10030

5. Harlem Hops

2268 7th Ave, New York, NY 10030

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

2268 7th Ave
New York, NY 10030

6. Manna's

486 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10037

Two locations strong, Manna’s serves up a plentiful buffet of soul food such as crispy fried chicken, baked ziti, collard greens, smothered pork chops, and oxtails, just for starters. It’s pay by the pound, so scoop accordingly.

486 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10037

7. Tropical Grill

2143 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10027

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.

2143 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10027

8. Clay

553 Manhattan Ave, New York, NY 10027
Gnocchi in a clay bowl Clay [Official Photo]

What was once a jazz club is now a small, stylish bistro with dishes such as grass-fed steak tartare and short rib ragu. It’s an ambitious neighborhood restaurant, one that takes extra care in sourcing, from its meats to its mainly natural wines.

553 Manhattan Ave
New York, NY 10027

9. Babbalucci

331 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

A wood-burning brick oven is the calling card at this Italian restaurant with Neapolitan-style pizza, whole roasted fish, and pasta. Brick walls, dark wood furniture, warm service, and a full bar make it an ideal date spot in the neighborhood.

331 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027

10. Sylvia's

328 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027
The packed dining room of Sylvia’s with red walls Robert Sietsema/Eater

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. Sunday brings gospel brunch, a rowdy experience that’s the ideal time to try chicken and waffles alongside unlimited mimosas.

328 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027

11. Red Rooster

310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027
Red Rooster’s big bar with wooden slatting Daniel Krieger/Eater

Much lauded in the neighborhood and beyond, chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster has become an attraction in and of itself to Harlem. The lively comfort food restaurant has been packing people in since 2010 for dishes such as shrimp and grits, a loaded seafood jambalaya, and fried chicken with red velvet waffles. After a 2011 visit by President Barack Obama, his meal is forever known as the menu as “Obama short ribs,” which come braised with lobster & biscuits, bok choy, and amolasses glaze.

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

310 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027

12. Lee Lee's Baked Goods

283 W 118th St, New York, NY 10026

With over 1,000 pieces of rugelach sold per weekend, Lee Lee’s has been lauded as 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.

283 W 118th St
New York, NY 10026

13. Lolo's Seafood Shack

303 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026
Crab boil at LoLo’s Ryan Sutton/Eater

Lolo’s brings the full experience of Caribbean seasonings: Choose a fish — snow crab, shrimp, crawfish — and flavorful sauce — garlic butter, Old Bay, coconut curry, etc. — to go on seafood boils and in steam pots. Eater critic Ryan Sutton especially recommends the snow crab legs in spicy sauce, best eaten in the backyard. Don’t miss the jerk chicken, either.

303 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026

14. Archer & Goat

187 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026

The 40-seat Archer and Goat has equal ambitions as a restaurant and a bar, serving up cuisine inspired by Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian, and Bengali traditions alongside a broad beer selection and cocktails like a tamarind whiskey sour. Food runs to a burger slathered in queso blanco and sofrito ketchup, chicken vindaloo arepas, and carne asada with tostones.

187 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10026

15. Safari

219 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

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, sambuza, or pastries filled with ground beef or chicken, and mango curry chicken. Times critic Ligaya Mishan calls that last one “heady.”

219 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026

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16. Melba's

300 W 114th St, New York, NY 10026
Shrimp and grits in a green bowl Melba’s [Official Photo]

Chef Melba Wilson practically comes from Harlem royalty; her aunt, Sylvia Woods, is the namesake of the neighborhood’s most iconic soul food restaurant. Melba’s serves American comfort food, and no trip is complete with an order of the chicken and eggnog waffles served with strawberry butter and maple syrup, which Wilson used to defeat Bobby Flay on his TV show Throwdown! in 2008.

300 W 114th St
New York, NY 10026

17. Fieldtrip

109 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026
White bowls filled with rice, vegetables, and meats FieldTrip [Official Photo]

JJ Johnson gave rice a stage in Harlem when he opened FieldTrip, whose menu is centered on bowls made with different strains of the grain. It’s a fast-casual spot that has paired ingredients such as braised beef with Texas brown rice and spicy black beans; salmon with Chinese black rice, pineapple, and piri piri sauce; and crispy barbecue chicken with Carolina gold rice. All the rice is non-enriched, non-bleached, and sourced directly from farmers who mill the grain themselves.

109 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10026

18. Seasoned Vegan

55 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10026

Just a short walk along Saint Nicholas Avenue by Central Park is the small restaurant that offers some soul food staples, sans meat. Chef Brenda Beener started the restaurant with her son to create purportedly healthier alternatives to the foods she grew up on, like a soy “chicken” parmesan sandwich topped with dairy-free mozzarella and marina sauce, barbecue “riblets” made of lotus root and soy, and even a vegan-friendly version of a Harlem chopped cheese burger.

55 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10026

19. Super Nice Coffee and Bakery by Danny Macaroons

156 E 117th St, New York, NY 10035

The coffee here is stellar, particularly drinks specials like the caramelized brown sugar and dulce de leche lattes, but do yourself a favor and get one of many baked goods and desserts here. 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.

156 E 117th St
New York, NY 10035

20. Maxwell's Central Park

1325 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029
The moody bar at Maxwell’s with subway tiling Maxwell’s [Official Photo]

Expanded from Tribeca, Maxwell’s brings some of the downtown aesthetic — Edison bulbs, subway tiling, and dark wood — to 111th Street. The tavern offers standard saloon fare, from burgers and fish and chips to spinach and artichoke dip and caesar salad. Don’t miss the cocktails, especially the spicy jalapeño margaritas that are $7 during happy hour.

1325 5th Ave
New York, NY 10029

21. Taco Mix

234 E 116th St #1, New York, NY 10029
A man saws away at the al pastor meat cylinder Robert Sietsema/Eater

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, opened another location on the Lower East Side.

234 E 116th St #1
New York, NY 10029

22. Teranga

1280 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029
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. Alex Staniloff/Eater

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.

1280 5th Ave
New York, NY 10029

23. Contento Restaurant

88 E 111th St, New York, NY 10029
A dining room in East Harlem
Contento was designed with accessibility in mind.
Lily Brown / Contento [Official]

This wine lover’s destination has opened to rave reviews early on. Wine industry veteran Yannick Benjamin partnered with George Gallego, Oscar Lorenzzi, Mara Rudzinski, and Lorenz Skeeter to open a welcoming wine bar with a Peruvian-rooted food menu and an eye toward inclusive hospitality and space accessibility. Contento boasts an ambitious range of wines — at varying price points — paired with a menu led by Lorenzzi that includes dishes like octopus with black chimichurri and chilled cauliflower gazpacho.

88 E 111th St
New York, NY 10029

Related Maps