One of the city’s most diverse and egalitarian colleges around, the City College of New York —established as “rhe Free Academy” in 1847 — has an array of distinguished alums, with those who discovered the polio vaccine, helped build the Internet, and designed the Panama Canal among them. Situated in West Harlem, its neighborhood offers a ton of great places to snack, sit-down, or grab a few drinks. Read on for some favorites.Read More
Where to Eat Around City College
Soul food, oysters, bistro fare, and cocktails close to campus
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 requirements 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 customers.
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 sides.
The Edge Harlem
Owned and operated by sisters Juliet and Justine Masters, the Edge reflects 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.
With its selection of French food with an African flair, Ponty Bistro 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.
Critic Robert Sietsema reviewed the food options inside the Renzo Piano-designed Jerome L. Greene Science Center at Columbia University and found some gems. The usual coffee and salad options are available here, but it’s the tapas bar Oliva from chef Franklin Becker that was a surprise find with its menu of small plates, including standouts like the grilled shrimp served with salsa verde.
Slutty Vegan Harlem
Atlanta vegan burger sensation Slutty Vegan from Pinky Cole has opened its first Manhattan location following its New York debut in Ft. Greene, with a menu of plant-based sandwiches with on-theme names (for example, Fussy Hussy with pickle, vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, and tomato) and sides of fries.
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 diners an opportunity to try various stews and vegetable-laden sides, while appetizers and dishes like beef awaze tibs and doro wat are traditional staples.
Harlem Hops made a name in the neighborhood for its large selection of craft beer accompanied by spicy meat pies, but it’s also embraced by the neighborhood for its non-profit called Harlem Hopes, which raises money to give college scholarships to Harlem natives.
Inspired by Italy, Spain, and France, cocktail bar Sugar Monk features an array of cocktails and Monday night jazz. Drinks are a few bucks cheaper “Before Nightfall” with drinks from $8 to $16, which includes a selection of beer and wine; gin-based highballs, vermouth, and Italian apertivi.
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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.