Harlem has long been one of the most diverse and culturally rich neighborhoods in New York City (and, in fact, the entire country)—and while other Manhattan restaurants have historically gotten more attention from the food-obsessed crowd, a crop of great new restaurants in the area is beginning to change that. Here, some of our favorite new Harlem dining spots to try.
Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster has been a Harlem food destination since it opened in 2010, and now the acclaimed chef has a new spot in the neighborhood to get excited about. Streetbird Rotisserie is more casual than Red Rooster, and it keeps up with the trend of serving chef-driven food at a lower price point. The menu focuses on updated versions of Southern and Caribbean comfort food like a rotisserie jerk pork shoulder, fried chicken and red velvet waffles and mac and cheese with crispy shallots. 2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd., streetbirdnyc.com.
Open for less than two years, this upscale African fusion restaurant has already garnered plenty of positive reviews: It received a notable write-up in The New York Times and was named Esquire’s Best Restaurant of 2014. Long-Island born chef JJ Johnson, who learned to cook from his Puerto Rican grandmother and spent time in Ghana before coming back to NYC, has created a menu featuring ingenious combinations like a giant prawns with piri piri sauce and a yam flapjack (pictured), and udon noodles with braised goat, West African peanut sauce and edamame. 210 W. 118th St., thececilharlem.com.
Sister to The Cecil (they share a kitchen, as well as JJ Johnson as the chef de cuisine), Minton’s bore witness to the birth of Bebop. The original Minton’s Playhouse opened in 1938 and hosted performances by pretty much every jazz musician you’ve ever heard of—including Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and many, many others. The club was abandoned in 1974 after a fire in the building, opened for a stint from 2006 to 2010, and then reopened as its current iteration in late 2013. The restaurant holds on to its rich music history with a jazz brunch on weekends and Friday night shows (don’t miss out on the late-night hot dog menu). The dinner menu focuses on reworked Southern classics like sherry crab soup and fried green tomatoes with smoked arctic char, Creole dressing
and dandelion greens. 206 W. 118th St., mintonsharlem.com.
Housed in a former dollar store (though you would never know it from the beautiful renovation), this craft beer bar is the first one of its kind in Hamilton Heights. With a constantly updated beer list, beer flights and special brewery nights every month, the Hogshead is already becoming a great place to grab a drink—and a bite from their pork-focused menu—after work. 126 Hamilton Pl., hogsheadharlem.com
LoLo’s Seafood Shack
Named after the open-air barbecue restaurants that dot the beaches and roadsides of St. Martin, Lolo’s brings an air of the West Indies to New York City. The menu is simple, focusing on seafood: steampots of tiny shrimp, snow crab legs or crawfish, and Caribbean snacks and sandwiches like Belizean conch fritters. If you’re looking for unpretentious but delicious seafood, this is the place to try. 303 W. 116th St., lolosseafoodshack.com.