Too many folks think of Harlem as a borough of New York City.In truth it is a neighborhood of Manhattan. A neighborhood that in many ways is an entire city within a city that includes some magical pearls of delicious eating — if you know where to look. Everyone has heard of the impossible-to-get-into Rao’s and the iconic Sylvia’s, but chef Marcus Samuelsson wants to show the world the breadth of this hood’s restaurants and highlight the recent culinary renaissance. The owner of two Harlem eateries, Red Rooster and Streetbird, Samuelsson is hosting the first-ever Harlem EatUp! May 14 to 17 to show Harlem newbies everything the neighborhood has to offer. In anticipation of the event, we asked Chef to take us on a scavenger hunt of good eating.
Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken: Charles Gabriel is better known as the Fried Chicken King of Harlem. This master pan fryer has been doing fried chicken the same way for 30 years, and after tasting it, you’ll never have that Kentucky fried stuff again.
Ginny’s Supper Club: Show up any night of the week at Ginny’s, and we promise you’ll have a good time. Great food, even better drinks, and music that will blow your mind.
Madiba Harlem: Live music and South African specialties like ostrich carpaccio will delight all of your senses here on 116th Street.
The Cecil: The recipient of Esquire‘s Best New Restaurant 2014 award, the city’s very first Afro-Asian-American brasserie truly offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience. To start out, try the oxtail dumplings with green apple curry sauce and taro root. For your main, you’ll want to order the citrus jerk swordfish with okra and English peas.
67 Orange Street: Walk in the door and ask for Karl, the longtime bartender, to mix you up one of his specialties. “It’s our little Milk & Honey” but uptown, Samuelsson told me.
Lolo’s Seafood Shack: Plop yourself down in the adorable outdoor garden at Lolo’s and order up some conch fritters or a snow crab steam pot doused in one of Lolo’s signature spicy sauces. You may have been to the Caribbean, but you’ve never had Caribbean street eats like Crispy Shark + Bake, Jerk Ribs, and Dutty Rice like this.
Bier International: We bet you didn’t expect to find German drafts and sausages from around the world in Harlem. Bier International, the first official beer garden in Harlem, has a killer international wurst and brew menu. Try the sausage tasting menu along with the Bier grand sampling, and you’ll be good to go for the evening.
Jin Ramen: Jin Ramen, the first ramen shop in Harlem, can hold its own against any downtown noodle bar. Don’t miss the spicy tonkatsu with curly noodles and the shoyu ramen.