The Best Restaurants in Harlem

Looking for great food in Harlem? Luckily, there are lots of excellent restaurants in Harlem, ranging from soul food to Ethiopian, Caribbean to French.

The number—and diversity—of restaurants in Harlem come from the community’s mixed heritage. Over the years, Harlem residents have included African Americans from the Deep South, Caribbean immigrants, African transplants, and more recently, new arrivals from Europe, Mexico, and throughout the U.S.

Here are just a few of the incredible restaurants, bars, and bakeries to be savored in Harlem!

The best soul food restaurants in Harlem

Soul food NYC
Black-eyed peas, turnip greens, and fried chicken: the perfect soul food platter

Miss Maude’s SpoonbreadEnjoy top-notch down-home southern cooking at this casual, inexpensive Harlem restaurant. Serving lunch and dinner. Location: 547 Lenox Ave. (at 137th St.); their sister restaurant is at 366 West 110th St. (between Columbus and Manhattan Aves.) Average entree: $15.

Amy Ruth's Harlem
Chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth’s, a great soul food spot in Harlem

Amy Ruth’sAcclaimed by critics and diners alike for its authentic southern cuisine. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Location: 113 W. 116th St. (between Lenox Ave. and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.). Average entree: $15.

Melba’sAn elegant, intimate restaurant serving “neo-soul food.” Open for dinner and weekend brunch. Location:  300 W. 114th St.  (at Frederick Douglass Blvd.). Average entree: $15 to $20.

Red Rooster: Not your grandma’s soul food. At celebrity chef Marcus Sameulsson’s new restaurant, one of the hottest spots in the city, enjoy upscale soul food and American fare for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Location: 310 Lenox Ave. (between 125th and 126th Sts.). Average entree: $25 to $30.

Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem
Red Rooster, the hot new Harlem restaurant. Photo by Jeff Dobbins

Downstairs, Ginny’s Supper Club is a stylish venue offering great food and live music (their Sunday Gospel Brunch is particularly popular).

Jacob Restaurant: Open all day, from 10am to 10pm, this is an informal, buffet-style spot serving some of the city’s best soul food. The food here is sold by weight ($4.99 to $6.49 per lb). Location: 373 Lenox Ave (at 129th St).

Manna’s: Manna’s offers simple soul food buffets and salad bars (sold by weight). Locations: There are three: 2331 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 125th St.), 70 W. 125th St (between 5th and Lenox Aves.), and 486 Lenox Ave. (between 134th and 135th Sts.). It’s open from 11a to 9pm, or 8pm on Sundays.

Corner Social: This new hotspot offers an organic, “neo soul American” menu, including lunch, brunch, dinner, and a late-night menu. Location: 321 Lenox Ave. Average entree: $20 to $25.  

The best African and Caribbean restaurants in Harlem

Caribbean restaurant in Harlem
Jerk chicken, a Caribbean food specialty

Zoma: An elegant eatery acclaimed for its Ethiopian cuisine. Location: 2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 113th St.). Average entree: $13 to $20.

African Kine: Enjoy classic Senegalese dishes in this warm dining room.  Location: 256 West 116th St. Average entree: $12.

Keur Sokhna Restaurant Plus: This casual Harlem restaurant is popular with both locals and dining critics for its Senegalese cooking. Location: 2249 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (at 133rd St). Average entree: $8. Cash only.

Elsie’s Caribbean Café: Elsie cooks up authentic Caribbean delicacies (including Jamaican jerk chicken, roti, curry goat, calalloo, and plantains) in a warm, relaxed environment. It’s inexpensive, too. Location: 2291 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (between 134th & 135th Sts.) .

The best European restaurants in Harlem

Chez LucienneA French restaurant serving delicious bistro staples. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Entrees: $16 to $25. The pre-theater prix-fixe Menu ($19.95) and Monday steak nights ($12.95) are great deals. Location: 308 Lenox Ave.

Bier International: A Euro-inspired beer hall/garden offering a large selection of brews (including Harlem’s own Sugar Hill Golden Ale) and quality pub grub, it’s also a popular choice for its musical brunch. Average entree: $15. Location: 2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd (at 113th St.).

LidoElegant dining room offering Italian specialties with a Mediterranean bent, as well as chic cocktails. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Average entree: $20 to $25. Location: 2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 117th St.).

Other great restaurants in Harlem

Harlem Tavern
Harlem Tavern, a Harlem restaurant with a great beer garden. Photo by Jeff Dobbins

Harlem Tavern: A lively bar and grill with an outdoor beer garden serving upscale American fare for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Average entree: $15 to $20. Location: 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd (at 116th St.).

The 5 & DiamondAn upscale, casual restaurant serving refined American fare made with local, organic ingredients. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner (with a great happy hour from 5 to 7pm). Average entree: $20 to $30. Location: 2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (between 112th & 113th Sts.).

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: Arguably the best barbecue spot in New York, grilling large portions of pork ribs, steaks, chicken, and brisket with all the traditional fixings. Average entree: $15 to $25. Location: 700 West 125th (at the Hudson River).

Elsie's Caribbean Cafe, Harlem
Oxtails at Elsie’s

The best bakeries and cafes in Harlem

Tonnie’s Minis: This tiny bakery and shop bakes fresh cupcakes throughout the day (customize your treat by selecting your favorite cupcake, icing, and filling). They also serve ice cream and hot and cold beverages. Backyard, outdoor seating is available in warm weather. Location: 264 Lenox Ave. (at 123rd St.).

Levain Bakery: Justifiably famous for their large, chewy cookies, this bakery also serves up fresh-baked pastries and breads. Location: 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at 117th St.).

Harlem bakeries
Rugelach, a Jewish pastry that’s particularly good at Lee Lee’s Baked Goods in Harlem

Lee Lee’s Baked Goods: Said to have the best rugelach in town, this homey place also offers fresh carrot cake, red velvet cake, and bread pudding. Location: 238 W. 118th St. (just east of Frederick Douglass Blvd.).

Patisserie Des Ambassades: This cafe serves up fresh-baked croissants, pastries, sandwiches, and coffee. The kitchen also offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, including African, Moroccan, French, and American dishes at reasonable prices (entrees are between $11.50 and $14). Location: 2200 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (between 118th and 119th Sts.).

Lenox Coffee: A cozy coffee house brewing excellent coffee drinks and serving pastries, cookies, and bagels. Location: 60 W. 129th St. (at Lenox Ave.).

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About the author

Harry is a Seattle native turned New Yorker with 8 years of NYC living under his belt. As a connoisseur of all things delicious, artsy, and adventurous, he loves to share his wisdom for the best foodie spots, coffee shops, bagel joints, art galleries, shopping havens, and scenic bike routes in the city.

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