Harlem is home to world-famous culture, music, and food. From classic American soul food to wood-fired Italian dishes and much more, the tapestry of flavors found in Harlem’s restaurants is rich indeed.
Plus, no matter where you dine, you’re sure to be near one of Harlem’s many famous historical landmarks, such as Marcus Garvey Park and Frederick Douglass Circle.
Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a visitor looking to try it all, you’re in the right place.
I’ve rounded up a range of awesome options including some spots packed with local history and newer spots making an impression.
Check out my list of the top places to eat in Harlem!
LoLo’s Seafood Shack
303 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026
Inspired by the locally owned, locally operated seaside eateries found throughout the Caribbean, LoLo’s offers sensational seafood dishes such as pom pom shrimp baskets, General Che’s shrimp with curry noodles, and crab cakes.
You won’t find food quite like this anywhere else, because you won’t find chefs quite like LoLo’s Raymond Mohan and Leticia Skai Young.
Chef Mohan is from Guyana, and brings a lifetime of expertise in Guyanese and Indian foods, while Harlem native Chef Young is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute.
LoLo’s location runs along West 116th Street between Manhattan Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.
It’s just a few blocks east of Morningstar Park.
Red Rooster Harlem
310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027
Red Rooster Harlem runs by Marcus Samuelsson, a celebrity chef and frequent presence on the Food Network.
His considerable skill and deep love of the community combine to create a truly must-visit destination for Harlem cuisine and culture.
The comfort food offerings include a mixture of burgers, seafood, and downhome cooking.
If you’re with a group, try the Chicken Tower, which includes 20 pieces of Hot Honey Yardbird and your choice of three sides.
The Harlem location’s at 125th and Lenox Avenue (there are two Red Rooster’s in NYC).
When you visit, be sure to spend some extra time checking out the neighborhood, which is full of Harlem hustle and bustle.
328 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027
Sylvia’s is THE spot for sould food here in Harlem. There’s just no denying it.
I’ve never had such amazing fried chicken in my whole life. Plus, there’s just so much history behind the restaurant as well that makes it all the more an incredible experience.
Always be sure to ask about their daily specials.
You never know what incredible dish they’ve got cooking here at Sylvia’s.
2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026
In the mood for a great night out? Head over to Vinateria, a casual and contemporary eatery with seasonal fare inspired by culinary classics from Italy and Spain.
Some of my top choices include the Spicy Veal Meatballs, Grilled Octopus, and Linguini di Mare.
Vinateria is also one of my favorite wine bars in all of Harlem. You’ll feel like you’re taking a tour of the Mediterranean coast.
The wine list is constantly changing but always includes favorites from Italy, Spain, France, and more.
You’ll find Vinateria at the intersection of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 119th Street.
They’re open for brunch and dinner – and every night of the week, they stay hopping until 11 pm.
553 Manhattan Ave, New York, NY 10027
While pretty much every restaurant in Harlem takes pride in locally sourcing their food, Clay NYC arguably takes it to a whole new level, providing one of the truest tastes of hometown flavors.
Their meats, veggies, and more arrive fresh from Saturn Farm in Long Island, The Piggery in Ithaca, and other locations within a day’s drive or less.
The entrees are contemporary and a bit on the fancy side. Some of my faves include the Mushroom Chickpea Burger, Grass Fed Steak Tartare, and Roasted Half Chicken.
Your meal isn’t complete without one of their signature cocktails.
My recommendation is the Everyday People – every order includes a $5 donation to the ACLU.
Formerly the home of one of Harlem’s most famous jazz nightclubs, Clay NYC is located at Manhattan Avenue and West 123 Street.
It’s just one block southeast of Morningside Park.
196 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026
Settepani got its start back in 1992 as a bakery in Brooklyn, before opening this second location in 2000.
The Harlem spot is a bit bigger than the original, featuring not only a bakery but also a breakfast/lunch café and a more traditional dining area.
It’s one of the popular restaurants in Harlem for grabbing a light lunch.
They have a robust selection of tasty panini and pizza offerings. Of course, you can’t overlook their famous bread.
Some of my top picks include their traditional Italian loaves and their chocolate truffles.
Settepani is along Lenox Avenue between West 120th Street and West 119th Street.
It’s one block west of Marcus Garvey Park.
Lido Harlem Restaurant
2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026
Are you looking for Italian food in Harlem? Because Lido’s is where to eat in Harlem when you’ve got a hankering for spaghetti, linguine, and four-cheese sacchetti.
They also have an excellent selection of seafood, including pan-seared red snapper piccata, grilled Atlantic salmon, and steamed mussels.
While the food is elegant, the atmosphere remains welcoming and casual.
It’s a great place for catching up with friends over a long lunch or having some cocktails after work. Lido’s also accommodates groups up to 70 (reservations required).
Lido’s is next to Apartmento Harlem, at the intersection of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 117th Street.
They’re open for dinner every night from four until 10 pm and for lunch from Monday through Friday from noon until four.
300 W 114th St, New York, NY 10026
When you walk through the door, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by Melba herself!
Owner Melba Wilson opened her namesake restaurant back in 2005, and it quickly became a fixture for both locals and visitors alike.
The menu is pure Harlem comfort food, including Southern Fried Chicken and Eggnog Waffles, Tres Macaroni and Cheese, and the Deluxe Hamburger.
They have plenty of healthy options, too, such as their Grilled Vegetables Napoleon and their plant-based DGB Burger.
Melba’s is just up the block from the Paws Country Club, at the intersection of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 114th Street.
The original Sottocasa in Brooklyn is home to one of the borough’s most famous Neapolitan pizzas, a tradition that continues on in their newer Harlem spot, which a husband-and-wife duo from Italy runs.
Wood-fired pizza is what’s on the menu here, with a bevy of sauces, toppings (both meat and veggie), and cheeses.
Almost all of their cheeses come from the local area, and you can definitely taste the freshness!
Their Harlem location is one block west of Marcus Garvey Park and two blocks north of the West 119th B&B, along Lenox Avenue at West 121st Street.
331 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027
Babbalucci is an Italian restaurant with flavors that make you feel like you stepped back in time.
They combine Old World, traditional recipes with fresh, local ingredients to deliver timeless tastes.
Wood-fired pizza is the major draw here, served in 12″ and 16″ pies as well as by the individual slice. You’ll also find the full gamut of Italian sandwiches, pasta, and other classic dishes.
No matter what you order, you can wash it down with any of their house-crafted cocktails, such as the El Cocinero or the Harlem Chill.
Babbalucci’s location runs along Lenox Avenue at the corner of East 12th Street. It’s about eight blocks north of the Sottocasa Pizzeria.
Ponty Bistro Harlem
2375 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10030
Head chefs, and first cousins, Ejhadji Cisse and Cheikh Cisserun run The Ponty Bistro.
In 1995, they moved to Harlem from Dakar, Senegal.
After spending years working for many high-profile chefs, they eventually set out on their own, launching the first Ponty Bistro in 2008 and the Harlem location in 2010.
You’ve likely never had dishes quite like what you’ll find here.
They offer up unique French and African cuisine in a comfortable setting adorned with traditional African décor.
The Harlem location is at the intersection of West 139th Avenue and Adam Clayton-Powell Jr Boulevard.
It’s just up the street from the Harlem Chocolate Factory.
Archer & Goat
187 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026
If you like eating brunch and drinking adult beverages, head over to Archer & Goat.
They offer an all-day weekend brunch with bottomless mimosas and draft beer.
Without question, it’s one of the best drink specials in town.
Of course, their regular dinner menu is pretty great, too. All dishes are family-style, so bring the whole gang and prepare to share.
Some of my top recommendations include the Carne Asada and the Roasted Duck.
They’re along Malcolm X Boulevard between West 119th Street and West 120th Street, right next to the College of New Rochelle and the Harlem Animal Hospital.
2363 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10030
Belle Harlem differs quite a bit from the traditional dining experience.
They’re only open on Friday and Saturday nights, and you don’t have any choice over the menu.
Instead, the husband-and-wife chefs Darryl and Melissa Burnette prepare a tasting menu of five to seven courses.
More than a meal, dinner at Belle Harlem is an experience.
They only accept parties of four or fewer, making it the perfect occasion for close friends or romantic partners.
But pay attention to the time of your reservations. If you’re more than 15 minutes late, they won’t seat you (or give you a refund).
You’ll find this dining adventure in Central Harlem, on Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard by West 138th Street.
It’s just down the street from the Alibi Lounge.
Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant
268 W 135th St, New York, NY 10030
Abyssinia is the best place for Ethiopian food in all of Harlem. They offer a huge variety of traditional beef, chicken, lamb, and vegetable dishes.
If you’re new to Ethiopian food, I suggest the Kitfo, which consists of extra-lean beef seasoned with chili powder and butter. You can choose between raw, medium, or well-done.
Plus, talk about a local business! Abyssina started out of a Harlem apartment before moving into their current location on West 135th Street.
They’re only a few blocks northwest from the Harlem YMCA. You’ll likely smell the delicious injera, a type of sourdough flatbread, wafting from the front doors.
It’s one of the best places to eat in Harlem if you’re looking to try new, fresh foods in a quiet and comfortable environment. They’re open for both lunch and dinner.
109 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026
FIELDTRIP is one of Harlem’s newest restaurants. Launched in 2019, Chef JJ Johnson focuses on a simple philosophy, “rice is culture.”
Practically every dish includes freshly milled, unbleached rice.
You’ll find a bevy of rice bowls, including BBQ Brisket, Small Seafood Gumbo, and Fried Chicken.
They also feature a kid’s menu and soft-serve ice cream, making FIELDTRIP well-suited for families.
They have three locations throughout New York. You’ll find their Harlem spot on Malcolm X Boulevard between the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market and the Mt Neboh Baptist Church.
They’re open from 11 am until 9 pm on Monday through Saturday and from 12 pm to 7 am on Sundays.
113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026
A visit to Harlem just isn’t complete without grabbing a bite at Amy Ruth’s Harlem Famous Soul Food & Chicken & Waffles.
For over two decades, it’s been a Harlem mainstay, popular among locals and visitors alike.
Amy Ruth Moore Bass was an Alabama cook and grandmother who taught her children and grandchildren how to prepare traditional Southern meals.
After she passed away, her grandson Carl launched Amy Ruth’s in her honor, opening the doors for the first time in 1999 on Mother’s Day.
As befitting the late Amy Ruth, you’ll find her restaurant in the middle of Harlem, along 116th Street near Public School 149 and the Wells Fargo Bank.
The Edge Harlem
101 Edgecombe Ave, New York, NY 10030
The first thing you’ll notice about The Edge Harlem is its soft and cozy décor, featuring exposed pipes, rustic chairs, and sunshine streaming through the many windows.
Owners Juliet and Justine Masters have crafted a menu based on their British and Jamaican heritage.
You’ll find Jerk Chicken Caesar Wrap, The Edge Burger, Open-Faced Fried Egg Sandwich, and more. Check out their Savory Pie of the Day, a vegetarian pie served with a salad.
They offer indoor and outdoor seating, making them a good choice regardless of the weather.
You’ll find The Edge just east of St Nicholas Park, along Edgecombe Avenue between West 139th Street and West 140th Street.
341 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10027
Maison Harlem brings contemporary French cooking to Harlem.
Their location runs along the south end of St. Nicholas Park near West 127th and St. Nicholas Avenue, just one block west from the Harlem Bar-B-Q.
They serve meat, pasta, and salad. The dishes offer sophisticated flavors sure to appeal to foodies and fans of French cuisine.
Some of the dishes I love here include the Black Angus Hanger Steak, the Demi Poulet, and the Truffle Mac & Cheese.
They’re open until 11 pm every night of the week.
On occasion, I’ll stop in later in the evening to enjoy a glass of wine. They offer a full selection of reds, whites, rose, and sparkling wines available by both the glass and bottle.
BLVD Bistro NY
2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026
If you’re familiar with Harlem dining, you’ve likely heard of BLVD Bistro.
The restaurant is a local legend that closed down for a while but reopened on July 10, 2019.
Carlos and Markisha Swepson, a husband-and-wife team with a love for classic soul food and Southern cooking, run the BLVD Bistro.
When you feel like going to a party, head over on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
The restaurant offers open street dining and a DJ. You also have multiple seating options inside: traditional, wrap-around bar, or a chef’s table.
The restaurant is located east of St Nicholas Park along Frederick Douglass Boulevard at the corner of 116th Street.
When you’re there, try the Fried Catfish Dinner, Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich, or the Turkey Meatloaf.
3452 Broadway, New York, NY 10031
The style and menu at ROKC harken back to traditional Japanese port towns, when the country first opened to the rest of the world.
ROKC takes these classic tastes and adds a contemporary twist.
The food focuses on ramen noodles, offering different styles and toppings from throughout different regions of Japan.
They also offer oysters and a raw bar with other types of seafood.
Plus, they’re cocktail experts, with a huge list of signature drinks, including a Smokey Pineapple, Match, and Earl Grey.
ROKC is found in the heart of Harlem along Broadway between 141st Street and 140th Street.
They’re near Trufa, the Chick Inn, and L’Artista Italian Kitchen & Bar.
Yatenga French Bistro & Bar
3023, 2269 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd #1, New York, NY 10030
The Yatenga French Bistro & Bar is a hidden gem along Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard, near the corner of West 134 Street, across from Democracy Prep Charter High School.
Some of my favorite dishes are the Steak Sandwich, Mussels Provencal, and the Harlem Combo, which includes chicken wings, hand-cut fries, onion rings, and honey mustard sauce.
They also have an impressive breakfast menu with French toast, eggs benedict, and more.
Plus, eating here helps make a difference in the community.
Meals for Good, a program fighting food insecurity in Harlem, receives a portion of the sales.
While they don’t serve a Flintstones-sized rack of brontosaurus ribs big enough to tip over your car, the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que offers up pretty much everything else you can barbecue.
Create your own combo with Pulled Pork, St. Louis Ribs, and more.
They also offer family specials that feed between four and six.
It’s a fun place for family and friends, even your four-legged ones. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que allows dogs into the outdoor seating areas – and they even provide complimentary water bowls.
You’ll find Dinosaur Bar-B-Que locations throughout the Big Apple, including Syracuse, Buffalo, and Brooklyn.
They’re open from noon until 9 pm most days.
2695 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10030
Rachid Niang, a Senegalese chef, runs Jacob Restaurant. He opened the first one in 2009 before opening the second location in Harlem a year later.
The two restaurants receive their name after Rachid’s father.
The restaurant serves over 42 selections of soul food, southern, Caribbean, and continental dishes.
Popular options include Collard Greens Seasoned with Turkey, Honey Barbecued Chicken Wings, and Spaghetti with Meat.
Everything isn’t just delicious, but it’s also affordable, priced between $6.49 and $7.49 per pound.
The Harlem location is along Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 143rd Street, just a few blocks north of PS 123 Mahalia Jackson School.
100 W 124th St, New York, NY 10027
The Harlem Shake is a local institution.
As you enter, you marvel at the walls adorned with autographed headshots of celebrities who have eaten there, including P. Diddy, Remy Ma, and even Maya Angelou.
Of course, you don’t have to be a celebrity to enjoy yourself here. Each year, patrons vote on a Mr. and Miss Harlem Shake.
Try the Harlem Classic, a beef or turkey burger with cheese, pickles, and Harlem Shake’s own special sauce.
Other favorites include the Classic Hot Dog, the Snoop Dog (with chili and cheese), and the Hot Honey Chick.
You can check out Harlem Shake yourself at Lenox and 124th Street. They’re just a block northwest from Marcus Garvey Park.
Harlem offers great food for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Experience the vibrant culture and close sense of community found in every restaurant in the neighborhood.
While I’ve made sure to mention my favorite dining spots in Harlem, if you’re looking for a bigger list of NYC, check out more options right here.
Harlem’s packed with excellent eats, so if I forgot any of your favorites, leave a comment and let me know.
I’ll check it out for an updated version of the best restaurants in Harlem!