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7 Black-Owned Restaurants In Harlem You Must Patronize
If you’re looking for Black-owned restaurants in Harlem, you may find it a bit more challenging than in the past. Like many other formerly minority-majority cities, Harlem has been hit hard by gentrification. And what was once a hub for Black and Latinx culture has now become row after row of “luxury lofts” and Lululemons. How exciting.
Fortunately, though, there are still some Black-owned businesses — including Black-owned restaurants — that are worthy of your patronage. Even though there aren’t as many as there used to be, these bastions of culture are a reminder of what once was — and what can be again.
Feast your eyes — and your stomachs! — on these seven wonders of Manhattan.
Ruby’s Vintage Harlem
Ruby’s is a sleek Harlem eatery featuring handcrafted cocktails, late-night dining, and the best bottomless brunch in Upper Manhattan. Named for and inspired by the legendary Ruby Dee, the basil-curry chicken and the whole-roasted branzino get super-high marks from the patrons. Though it’s one of the newest kids on the block, Ruby’s Vintage Harlem has easily become one of the best Black-owned restaurants in the area. 2340 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (at 137th Street).
Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine is quite in demand in New York, and there’s no better place to get authentic Ethiopian and Eritrean food than at Massawa. As one of the first Ethiopian restaurants in New York City, Massawa has been delighting customers since 1988. Its unparalleled selection of vegan, vegetarian, and meat-based foods make Massawa one of the best Black-owned restaurants in Harlem. 1239 Amsterdam Avenue (at 121st Street).
Looking for authentic Cajun seafood? Look no further than Cap’t Loui. Their seafood boil is served in Louisiana-style Cajun sauced bags, and it’s touted as the best seafood boil outside of the Bayou. With additional locations in Fort Lee, NJ, Braintree, MA, and Brooklyn, NY, Cap’t Loui isn’t just a seafood restaurant — it’s an authentic experience. 3147 Broadway (at 123rd Street).
Sylvia’s — unquestionably one of the best Black-owned restaurants in Harlem
Any best-of list that doesn’t include Sylvia’s, period, is not a list worth paying attention to. Sylvia’s is, unquestionably, one of the best Black-owned restaurants in Harlem — and a legendary spot onto itself. And even though the original owner — the beloved Ms. Sylvia Woods — passed away in 2012, the restaurant is still Black-owned and still has much of the same soul-food menu as the original 1962 lineup. 328 Malcolm X Blvd. (between 126th & 127th Streets)
Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson puts a modern twist on classic “comfort food” in his Harlem eatery that has frequently been cited as one of the best Black-owned restaurants in Harlem. While he puts a twist on guacamole (it has accra!), there are some things that remain in its classic form (chicken & waffles, of course). It also has the best grits in Harlem, so make a reservation ASAP! 310 Lenox Avenue (at 125th Street).
There aren’t that many counter-serve eateries left in New York, so FIELDTRIP is a standout just for that alone. But more than just the kitschy aspect, FIELDTRIP is a “rice restaurant” that honors its true heritage by pairing it with ancient grains, fresh ingredients, and unbelievable flavors. Vegetarian Jollof? Yes, please. 109 Malcolm X Blvd. (at 116th Street).
Only in New York can an eatery go from a “homey” place during the day and a nightclub at night. But Melba’s fits this bill perfectly. It’s the perfect place to get true Southern cooking in the heart of Manhattan. The owner, Melba Wilson, is a Throwdown with Bobby Flay winner, and the cocktails are strong, so make sure you bring your appetite (and call a cab home!). 300 West 114th Street (at Frederick Douglass Blvd.)