Harlem's 2nd Renaissance: Restaurants that Match its Jazz Legend

Once described as the community that gave “cool” an address, Harlem is home to cultural and now culinary legends. Passions run high in Harlem as do stylish surroundings, warm welcomes, earthy and innovative menus – attributes that could apply to all the members of this list. Its locals have deep roots and pride in this once-edgy neighborhood that is now one of the most attractive places to live and dine.

Recently the dessert at The Cecil was described as “somewhere between Harlem and Heaven.” And, Frederick Douglass Blvd. – Eighth Ave. north of 110th St. – is now known as Harlem’s Restaurant Row. But there is plenty to sample off that particular street.

And that pride gets passed from one generation to the next: Harlemite Melba Wilson, who owns Melba's just happens to be the niece of Sylvia Woods' of the iconic Sylvia's that opened its doors in 1962. Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson opened Red Rooster, named after the legendary Harlem speakeasy that was located at 138th Street and 7th Avenue and more recently, Streetbird.

Come on uptown for a journey around the world reflecting the African diaspora. Check out the rich gastronomic heritages of Spain and Italy at Vinateria, the Afro-Asian-American fusion at Chef "JJ" Johnson's The Cecil and yes, down-home comfort food.

Entertainment at Supper Clubs will vie for your attention. You cannot go wrong trying out the early arrivals either – Zoma and Chocolat helped anchor the welcoming you'll feel on Harlem's Restaurant Row, part of an old neighborhood whose time has come. Naturally, arrive hungry!



Sylvia's "World Famous Sunday Gospel Brunch" is a classic experience whether you're a local or a visitor. Don't miss it. Down-home cooking done right and inexpensively, too. Sylvia's has been around since 1962 and has been pleasing the crowds...  Read More



Besides celebrity spotting – Serena Williams and big Bill Clinton – you'll dine with uptown church ladies in their Sunday best and savvy New Yorkers feeling at home in this soul food restaurant. Owner, caterer and former Wilhelmina model...  Read More



Fun, festive, stylish and welcoming is what you will feel at Chocolat. Leon Ellis is a practical man, nevertheless he was among the first to open doors to his second restaurant on Frederick Douglas Blvd. when others watched and waited. Today,...  Read More



Streetbird Rotisserie opened in April 2015 by restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson. Its roots are in street food from around the world, and serves a variety of rotisserie chicken dishes. The decor includes a pair of Converse sneakers, hanging from the...  Read More



Ethiopian cuisine is rarely talked about outside of foodie circles, but one trip to Zoma and we're willing to bet you'll be raving to your friends about this African fare. Packed to the rafters with vegan and vegetarian options in addition to...  Read More



Born, bred and buttered in Harlem, Melba Wilson knew she wanted to stay close to home so she could nurture and provide an exquisite yet comfortable dining experience to the community that raised her. Melba's Restaurant opened its doors in 2005...  Read More



With cocktail whiz Karl Franz Williams and a selection of 100 rums, some thought Solomon & Kuff (Rum Hall) was a modern-day speakeasy when it debuted in Dec. 2015. Now that Chef Christopher Faulkner is working his magic, the menu includes...  Read More



Red Rooster Harlem celebrates the richness of Harlem's history, culture and ethnic influences, offering American cuisine that is inspired by chef/owner Marcus Samuelsson's culinary journey and influenced by the vibrant neighborhoods of Harlem...  Read More



At this beloved, female owned-and-operated Harlem neighborhood restaurant, market-driven and vibrant – yet comforting – dishes celebrate the rich culinary traditions of Italy and Spain. Executive chef Carmen Gonzalez makes cult favorites for...  Read More



Afro-Asian-American fusion is what you'll find at The Cecil. In 2013, Chef Joseph "JJ" Johnson helped open The Cecil with Richard Parsons and Alexander Smalls. This Culinary Institute grad worked in New York's most esteemed kitchens including...  Read More


Meet Maria Lisella

No matter how many countries Maria Lisella has visited (62), this native New Yorker finds the world at her doorstep in amazing Queens where its residents speak 138 languages.

Maria writes...  More About Maria