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17 Soul-Warming Southern Restaurants in NYC

Hot fried chicken and gravy-smothered biscuits worthy of their origins

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Yankees aren’t supposed to know how to fry chicken, much less bake a proper buttermilk biscuit. But New York City restaurants have proven over time that they can master those and other Southern specialties. These Southern-centric restaurants (excluding barbecue joints, which deserve their own list) will hit the spot for anyone traveling from Tennessee or simply in the mood for country cooking.

Note: This list is arranged geographically, north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken

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Charles Gabriel oversees the revered fried chicken at this narrow, counter-service restaurant, which, true to its name, crisps its birds in cast iron skillets instead of deep fryers. The result is beautifully dark, flavorful chicken pieces. But don’t overlook oxtails, smothered steak, and meaty barbecue pork spare ribs, either.

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken Photo via Yelp

Sylvia's

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Harlem wouldn’t be Harlem without Sylvia’s, which has served soul food in the neighborhood since 1962. Though founder Sylvia Woods has passed and the multi-room restaurant now takes up a whole city block, little about the food has changed. Opt for the tangy ribs and chicken livers, coated in sautéed onions and gravy.

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

Red Rooster

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Marcus Samuelsson’s temple to down-home cooking became an instant hit when it opened its doors in 2005 and is still packing droves in its airy, comfortable dining room. Samuelsson deftly melds cultures and flavors, like with fried chicken paired with a red velvet waffle or jambalaya for two loaded with lobster, soft-shell crab, mussels, clams, and bits of that fried bird.

Melba's

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Harlem-born Melba Wilson, who previously worked at Sylvia’s, started this casually glamorous, white-hued soul food spot in 2005 and has beaten Bobby Flay on Throwdown with her famous fried chicken and eggnog waffles. The wide-ranging menu encompasses everything from spring rolls stuffed with black-eyed peas to the famous trés macaroni and cheese with pepper jack, mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses.

Shrimp and grits in a green bowl
Melba's
Melba’s

Amy Ruth's

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This no-frills joint, decked out in murals featuring the likes of Barack Obama and Michael Jackson, is known primarily for its fried chicken and waffles. The menu also expands to pork chops named after Gabrielle Union, chicken wings in honor of Ludacris, and unfamous but worthy fried okra.

Amy Ruth's
Amy Ruth's
Amy Ruth’s

SpaHa Soul

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Chef Artist Thornton’s colorful, tiny, four-table restaurant in Spanish Harlem has the feel of a home dining room. Thornton takes that further into the food, making dishes influenced by his Southern grandmother. Get the pork chop, buttermilk fried chicken, and vegan-friendly collard greens cooked with sesame oil. Cash only, and reservations are encouraged.

SpaHa Soul
SpaHa Soul
SpaHa Soul/Facebook

Porchlight

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Danny Meyer’s bar on a faraway stretch of 11th Avenue makes up for the remote location with its large, smartly designed space and intense flavors. The Southern-influenced cocktails pair well with the concise food menu, including smoked cheddar biscuits and Texas-style chili. Despite the level of sophistication, Porchlight doesn’t take itself seriously, providing board games for the party-appropriate tables.

A long bar with lots of golden lighting and stool seating Daniel Krieger

Harold's Meat + Three

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Harold’s, which takes up a bright space on the ground floor of the Arlo Hotel, turns out refined versions of simple Southern fare in twee dishware. In the traditional fashion, chef Harold Moore offers proteins alongside generously sized side dishes. The foie gras-stuffed beer can chicken and mashed potatoes are highlights.

Harold's Meat + Three
Harold's Meat + Three
Nick Solares

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter

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Blissfully lacking in trendiness, this Alphabet City mainstay is indeed little more than a counter. Diners at the bar can watch the kitchen make its crisp, moist fried chicken, available in platters and a sandwich. Bobwhite also fries up catfish and serves rib-sticking sides like the mac and cheese. The room isn’t much to look at, but takeout is a safe backup option. There’s an additional location in the Urbanspace food hall in Midtown East.

Chicken sandwich and fries at Bobwhite Robert Sietsema

Root & Bone

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Some of New York’s best fried chicken comes, improbably, from two chefs who previously worked at Miami’s popular Yardbird, now running this hip but approachable East Village restaurant. Top Chef alums Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth brine their poultry in sweet tea, dust it in lemon powder, and serve it with Tabasco-spiked honey for a sweet-meets-savory taste. Other elevated renditions of classics, like shrimp and grits and jus-drenched biscuits, are equally worthwhile. The American whiskey list is extensive and put to use in interesting house cocktails.

Root & Bone
Root & Bone
Daniel Krieger

BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe

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Biscuits loaded with meats and sauces are as commonplace as mosquitoes in the South, but their deep pleasure hasn’t quite caught on in the Northeast beyond brunch. Texas-raised chef Treva Chadwell’s brightly colored, laidback cafe allows customers to build their own biscuit sandwiches. To get started, opt for egg or chicken-fried steak and throw on pimento cheese or sausage gravy — or any combination therein.

BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe
BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe
BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe/Facebook

Pies 'n' Thighs

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Pies ‘n’ Thighs has survived many waves of gentrification and dining trends in South Williamsburg. The new, roomier location is still justly known for fried chicken with a batter that’s crunchy yet fluffy. The hot sauce-soaked chicken biscuit is another must, but no meal here is complete without at least a slice of cheddar-laced apple pie.

Pies 'n' Thighs
Pies 'n' Thighs
Pies 'n' Thighs/Facebook

Soco proves that Southern food need not come on checkered tablecloths accompanied by banjo. Clinton Hill’s Soco delivers unorthodox twists on standards, including fried catfish and chips with a kimchi aioli and a whole branzino with dirty rice. The slightly clubby yet cozy bar area hosts live DJs.

Peaches

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The homey, wood-floored Peaches is the flagship of a Bed-Stuy mini-chain that also includes Peaches HotHouse and Peaches Shrimp & Crab. The food runs the gamut of Southern cuisine, from grits dotted with short rib to a jumbo shrimp po’ boy.

Mitchell's Soul Food

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Mitchell’s Soul Food has persisted in Prospect Heights for 40 years even while the neighborhood has greatly changed. The brightly lit, diner-ish cafe executes much more than exemplary fried chicken, including extra-cheesy mac and cheese, piping-hot cornbread, and okra stewed with tomatoes. Cash only.

Cheryl's Global Soul

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Celebrity chef Cheryl Smith runs this wood-heavy, warmly lit Prospect Heights hideaway near the Brooklyn Museum. Though anchored in the tradition of soul food, her menu doesn’t observe regional or ethnic bounds, moving from mussels in a Thai coconut curry to Creole-style shrimp and bulgogi ribeye steak.

Cheryl’s Global Soul
Cheryl’s Global Soul
Photo via Yelp/Annabelle G.

Butterfunk Kitchen

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Top Chef alum Chris Scott helms this Windsor Terrace soul food destination with his wife, Eugenie Woo. The elegantly rustic restaurant takes delightful liberties. Whites in the deviled eggs are deep fried, then piped with dressed yolks and topped with torn kale for color. Other out-of-the-box options include chicken-fried tempeh and pickled watermelon and cured salmon salad with spicy peanuts and pimento cheese.

Butterfunk Kitchen
Butterfunk Kitchen
Butterfunk Kitchen/Facebook

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Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken Photo via Yelp

Charles Gabriel oversees the revered fried chicken at this narrow, counter-service restaurant, which, true to its name, crisps its birds in cast iron skillets instead of deep fryers. The result is beautifully dark, flavorful chicken pieces. But don’t overlook oxtails, smothered steak, and meaty barbecue pork spare ribs, either.

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken Photo via Yelp

Sylvia's

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

Harlem wouldn’t be Harlem without Sylvia’s, which has served soul food in the neighborhood since 1962. Though founder Sylvia Woods has passed and the multi-room restaurant now takes up a whole city block, little about the food has changed. Opt for the tangy ribs and chicken livers, coated in sautéed onions and gravy.

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

Red Rooster

Marcus Samuelsson’s temple to down-home cooking became an instant hit when it opened its doors in 2005 and is still packing droves in its airy, comfortable dining room. Samuelsson deftly melds cultures and flavors, like with fried chicken paired with a red velvet waffle or jambalaya for two loaded with lobster, soft-shell crab, mussels, clams, and bits of that fried bird.

Melba's

Shrimp and grits in a green bowl
Melba's
Melba’s

Harlem-born Melba Wilson, who previously worked at Sylvia’s, started this casually glamorous, white-hued soul food spot in 2005 and has beaten Bobby Flay on Throwdown with her famous fried chicken and eggnog waffles. The wide-ranging menu encompasses everything from spring rolls stuffed with black-eyed peas to the famous trés macaroni and cheese with pepper jack, mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses.

Shrimp and grits in a green bowl
Melba's
Melba’s

Amy Ruth's

Amy Ruth's
Amy Ruth's
Amy Ruth’s

This no-frills joint, decked out in murals featuring the likes of Barack Obama and Michael Jackson, is known primarily for its fried chicken and waffles. The menu also expands to pork chops named after Gabrielle Union, chicken wings in honor of Ludacris, and unfamous but worthy fried okra.

Amy Ruth's
Amy Ruth's
Amy Ruth’s

SpaHa Soul

SpaHa Soul
SpaHa Soul
SpaHa Soul/Facebook

Chef Artist Thornton’s colorful, tiny, four-table restaurant in Spanish Harlem has the feel of a home dining room. Thornton takes that further into the food, making dishes influenced by his Southern grandmother. Get the pork chop, buttermilk fried chicken, and vegan-friendly collard greens cooked with sesame oil. Cash only, and reservations are encouraged.

SpaHa Soul
SpaHa Soul
SpaHa Soul/Facebook

Porchlight

Read Review |
A long bar with lots of golden lighting and stool seating Daniel Krieger

Danny Meyer’s bar on a faraway stretch of 11th Avenue makes up for the remote location with its large, smartly designed space and intense flavors. The Southern-influenced cocktails pair well with the concise food menu, including smoked cheddar biscuits and Texas-style chili. Despite the level of sophistication, Porchlight doesn’t take itself seriously, providing board games for the party-appropriate tables.

A long bar with lots of golden lighting and stool seating Daniel Krieger

Harold's Meat + Three

Read Review |
Harold's Meat + Three
Harold's Meat + Three
Nick Solares

Harold’s, which takes up a bright space on the ground floor of the Arlo Hotel, turns out refined versions of simple Southern fare in twee dishware. In the traditional fashion, chef Harold Moore offers proteins alongside generously sized side dishes. The foie gras-stuffed beer can chicken and mashed potatoes are highlights.

Harold's Meat + Three
Harold's Meat + Three
Nick Solares

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter

Chicken sandwich and fries at Bobwhite Robert Sietsema

Blissfully lacking in trendiness, this Alphabet City mainstay is indeed little more than a counter. Diners at the bar can watch the kitchen make its crisp, moist fried chicken, available in platters and a sandwich. Bobwhite also fries up catfish and serves rib-sticking sides like the mac and cheese. The room isn’t much to look at, but takeout is a safe backup option. There’s an additional location in the Urbanspace food hall in Midtown East.

Chicken sandwich and fries at Bobwhite Robert Sietsema

Root & Bone

Read Review |
Root & Bone
Root & Bone
Daniel Krieger

Some of New York’s best fried chicken comes, improbably, from two chefs who previously worked at Miami’s popular Yardbird, now running this hip but approachable East Village restaurant. Top Chef alums Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth brine their poultry in sweet tea, dust it in lemon powder, and serve it with Tabasco-spiked honey for a sweet-meets-savory taste. Other elevated renditions of classics, like shrimp and grits and jus-drenched biscuits, are equally worthwhile. The American whiskey list is extensive and put to use in interesting house cocktails.

Root & Bone
Root & Bone
Daniel Krieger

BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe

BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe
BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe
BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe/Facebook

Biscuits loaded with meats and sauces are as commonplace as mosquitoes in the South, but their deep pleasure hasn’t quite caught on in the Northeast beyond brunch. Texas-raised chef Treva Chadwell’s brightly colored, laidback cafe allows customers to build their own biscuit sandwiches. To get started, opt for egg or chicken-fried steak and throw on pimento cheese or sausage gravy — or any combination therein.

BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe
BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe
BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe/Facebook

Pies 'n' Thighs

Pies 'n' Thighs
Pies 'n' Thighs
Pies 'n' Thighs/Facebook

Pies ‘n’ Thighs has survived many waves of gentrification and dining trends in South Williamsburg. The new, roomier location is still justly known for fried chicken with a batter that’s crunchy yet fluffy. The hot sauce-soaked chicken biscuit is another must, but no meal here is complete without at least a slice of cheddar-laced apple pie.

Pies 'n' Thighs
Pies 'n' Thighs
Pies 'n' Thighs/Facebook

Soco

Soco proves that Southern food need not come on checkered tablecloths accompanied by banjo. Clinton Hill’s Soco delivers unorthodox twists on standards, including fried catfish and chips with a kimchi aioli and a whole branzino with dirty rice. The slightly clubby yet cozy bar area hosts live DJs.