This Pianist Is a ‘Fake Vegan’ Who Knows Where to Get a Good Roast Chicken

Singer, songwriter, and producer Phylissia Ross on her favorite foods in New York and Florida

Phylissia Ross

Initially a classical pianist, Phylissia Ross was more than a dozen years into her musical craft before studying biology the University of Miami. But science hasn’t stuck yet. Now a performer in a variety of genres, her collaborators in recent years have included Jah Cure, Ne-Yo, the Game, Young Jeezy, and the musicians of Winston’s Crew Collective. Outside of the studio, she has become a regular at festivals through the U.S., Caribbean and Europe. All as an independent artist.

While attending this year’s St. Kitts Music Festival, I spoke with Ross for The Daily Meal. During the festival’s press conference at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, I caught up with Ross – a self-described foodie – about her favorite restaurants in New York and Florida.

The Daily Meal: You grew up in South Florida; what brought you to New York?
Phylissia Ross:
What brought me to New York is music. I’m a pianist. The best musicians in the world live there, so I knew that it would help me expand my musical horizons, and of course, eat the best food in the world. (laughs)

When did you first move to Washington Heights? That area has changed a lot over the past 10 years.
I moved there about a year and a half ago, but I’ve been touring for the past two years, so I’m barely there.

Do you have a favorite spot in Washington Heights?
Oh, I’m only giving you one recommendation because this is my favorite spot in the Heights. It’s a family-owned business called El Malecon. It’s on the corner of 175th and Broadway. Family-run business, Dominican food, great culture, great people, great roasted chicken, and I don’t even eat chicken. I’m a fake vegan. (laughs) They are a fantastic business. Plus, they have the best coffee.

Where in South Florida are you from?
Boca Raton.

The 561…
The 561! My cell phone number is still 561. I went to college at the University of Miami. I went to school in West Palm Beach. Florida is my stomping ground.


Do you have a favorite spot in the Boca area?
I can give you one off the top of my head. As soon as I get off the plane and visit my mom in South Florida, I go straight to Yakitori, a Japanese steakhouse. I get the Ninja Rice Krispie Tuna Biscuit. It’s warm tempura with rice and cold caviar on top of spicy jalapenos, and it’s awesome. It’s the freshest fish and delicious.