Harlem, one of Manhattan’s most storied neighborhoods, has a long, proud history, and many of its landmarks still stand, from the Apollo Theater to soul food restaurants like Sylvia’s. Building upon the neighborhood’s strengths, (and buoyed by the success of Marcus Samuelsson‘s Red Rooster), the Harlem food scene has really been heating up of late, with a number of new openings bringing something different to the neighborhood. Here are five to know.
Businessman Richard Parsons and chef Alexander Smalls have taken on the task of reviving Minton’s Playhouse, a long-shuttered jazz club dating back to the 1930s. Expect Southern revival cooking — sherry she-crab soup, Berkshire pork chop with a yam-hominy grit cake — and, of course, live music. In true supper club style, the meals are prix-fixe and the band plays at every seating. 206 W. 118th St., 212-243-2222, mintonsharlem.com
From the same group behind Minton’s, The Cecil (which opened in September) calls itself an Afro-Asian-American brasserie, which means that you’ll find influences from the Caribbean, all over Asia, and the American South. Try the oxtail dumplings with green apple curry sauce and taro root or the cinnamon fried guinea hen with fried okra. 210 W. 118th St., 212-866-1262, thececilharlem.com
Opened in May, this ’50s-styled joint takes its menu high-end, using Pat LaFrieda sirloin blend for the burgers and Blue Marble ice cream for the shakes. We recommend the red velvet “Harlem Shake” and a classic double cheeseburger — although, since this isn’t actually a decades-old diner, there’s a kale and chickpea Caesar salad as well.100 W. 124th St., 212-222-8300, harlemshakenyc.com
This friendly wine bar opened in August at 120th and Lenox streets, bringing with it outdoor dining and a serious wine program. But don’t expect a stuffy sipping experience; Barawine has a generous happy hour and a live DJ four nights a week. 200 Lenox Ave., 646-756-4154, barawine.com
The Grange Bar & Eatery
Way up on 141st Street, The Grange has a cocktail program designed by one of New York’s most talked-about bartenders of late, Jack McGarry of the Dead Rabbit in the Financial District. Along with the ambitious drinks, there’s a farm-to-table food menu (a good fit for the charmingly rustic space) and a popular brunch. 1635 Amsterdam Ave., 212-491-1635, thegrangebarnyc.com