To find soul food in New York you need look no further than Harlem, which claims more fried chicken and mac and cheese per capita than anywhere else in the city. We talked with locals around the neghborhood to see where they get their fix.
'Harlem' on Serious Eats
Classic smashed burgers are all about maximizing that deep, brown crust. But I found myself wondering, what if I were to take this to the extreme? Is there a way I could pack even more flavor into a burger? And so, the ultra-smashed burger was born. Same burger size, but twice the amount of crisp, browned crust.
It's surprising to find an ambitious Harlem restaurant that's not on either the strip of Frederick Douglass above Central Park or near the 125th street Lenox Avenue stop, but what it lacks in neighborhood appeal, it more than makes up for in its homeyness, great food, and extremely reasonable prices.
When pie is fresh from the oven at Lee Lee's, you can't help but go for it.
This is that increasing rarity in restaurants. It's the kind of value proposition that comes only when folks with experience and know-how combine it with a personal stake in the neighborhood to create a true gem. Did Fabrice Warin, who brings a front of the house pedigree that stems from Le Cercle Rouge to François Payard have to open a wine bar in central Harlem? No, but it helps that he lives a few doors down.
The menu at The Cecil, Richard Parson's newly revamped hotel in the heart of Central Harlem, is a little difficult to follow. But the real killer on Chefs Alexander Smalls and J.J. Johnson's menu here is the Fried Guinea Hen ($27), which for my money, is one of the best fried chicken variants in the city.
The Chouquettes from Patisserie De Ambassades in South Harlem are small, easy to share and very versatile—making them the perfect snack for a walk in Central Park. And at three for $1.75 they're a great value.
As the home of Columbia University, Morningside Heights has changed to accommodate more demanding eaters. Where can you get a good bagel and cup of coffee, fast slice, or sit-down meal? Here's our updated guide to answer those questions.
Don't miss these basic but perfectly executed bacon and pistachio doughnuts from Toast's new Chicken Bar location.
The Zeppoles are fried to order and served piping hot, four to a serving. My order arrived perfectly cooked with an inviting dark brown exterior. The exterior of each zeppole was crispy like that of a well cooked French fry
My best bite at the new Dinosaur Barbecue in Brooklyn wasn't the wings (awesome) or the ribs (awesomer). Don't get me wrong—the pits are running quite well here. But it was this fat slice of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie ($5) that impressed me most: chocolate wafer crust and an inch and a half of light, airy peanut butter mousse.
In addition to having the best bialys in New York, Hot Bread Kitchen also sells conchas (Mexican sweet bread) for $2 each.
Maison Harlem is one of my new favorite local hangouts, with great service and some solid lunch sandwiches.
Maison Harlem is fast becoming my favorite neighborhood hang. The food—mostly classic Paris-style bistro fare—is nothing innovative, but solid enough to earn my money. The space is warm, a friendly neighborhood bar with worn-in tables and bar seats—the kind of space you'd expect in, say, the West Village, minus the oppressive crowds and loud music. And they've got a killer burger to boot.
This photo is just half a slice of Lee Lee's excellent—if very sweet—pineapple coconut cake.
If you live in New York and you like sweets, you owe it to yourself to try Levain Bakery's famous chocolate chip cookie. But what about their other, less well known dessert products? Is Levain a one trick pony? To find out, I bought a slice of their Sour Cream Pound Cake ($3.50).
if you haven't tried the chocolate almond croissant from Patisserie des Ambassades, you are missing out on a lovely uptown dessert.
If you make a daytime visit to Harlem's burgeoning new restaurant row make sure to stop by Lee Lee'd Baked Goods to try some of their world class Rugelach, currently my favorite in Manhattan.
This West African market distributes Senegalese food and ingredients all around the country, but it's worth stopping in for a visit to learn more about a cuisine that doesn't get much love in New York.
The burger at Red Rooster in Harlem has been upgraded in a number of ways that have bumped it up to best-in-class status.