Start your perfect Saturday or Sunday in leisurely fashion at one of Harlem’s best brunch places. Drop by popular neighborhood soul-food joint Amy Ruth’s for fried chicken and waffles, Toast, for classic egg dishes and sandwiches incorporating the namesake ingredient, or splurge on cocktails and global fare at Red Rooster Harlem. Afterward, hit the neighborhood’s shops or the Studio Museum in Harlem.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Harlem, New York
Portraits of jazz giants hang on the walls of this perpetually packed two-story Harlem fave. A bottle of Frank’s RedHot dresses every table—a sign of the soul food goodness to come. Indeed, the richly battered catfish or the fried chicken and waffles platters (many named for famous African Americans, including Rev. Al Sharpton, and Doug E. Fresh), served with your choice of white or dark meat, go down peppery-sweet with a splash of the hot stuff. Long spears of delicately fried okra are delivered without a hint of slime, and the mac ’n’ cheese is gooey inside and crispy-brown on top. Titanic helpings of cinnamon-crusted peach cobbler and thickly iced red velvet cake lend the menu a grandmotherly touch.
Harlem's dining resurgence—fueled by hot spots like Red Rooster and Levain Bakery—continues apace with the opening of this massive international craft-brew garden. Bringing theme-park magnitude to the historic 'hood, the 7,000-square-foot venue seats 350 and boasts 80 different beers (20 drafts and 60 bottles). Gather your crew for a guzzling session around the umbrella-shaded tables on the patio or at one of the communal wood tables inside. Both beer nerds and casual drinkers will find quaffs to their liking among the local suds (Harlem Brewing Company's Sugar Hill), everyday bottles (Budweiser) and international selections (oak-aged Scotch ale Innis & Gunn). You can soak up all the booze with hearty plates, like kielbasa, cedar-plank grilled salmon and a Moroccan spiced lamb burger. Weekend brunches with live jazz and a rotating selection of art from nearby galleries give the joint some local flavor.
Some of the city's most popular restaurants serve food that satisfies on a visceral level---consistent, accessible, easy to like. Places where the music, crowd, drinks and space explain, as much as the menu, why it's packed every night. Which sums up precisely the instant and overwhelming success of Marcus Samuelsson's new Harlem bistro, Red Rooster. The restaurant's global soul food, a "We Are the World" mix of Southern-fried, East African, Scandinavian and French, is a good honest value.
Raise a bruschetta to the wonder of Toast, where the pasta with chicken and pesto cream sauce is awesome. The mesquite-smoked barbecued-pork sandwich rules. The skirt-steak appetizer rocks. The raspberry swirl cheesecake kicks ass. In general, Toast is gratifyingly pleasant, and everything is cooked as if you were the only one dining. Rest assured you’re not: Toast has caught on with local students and other Upper West Siders. “Where all good things are toasted” is the restaurant’s cheerful motto, so let the browning and the brew-downing begin.
La Avenida's charming East Harlem neighborhood is precisely the area where you might expect to find great cuisines unhindered by the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan. Once inside, every employee from the bartender to the waiter in the back will politely drop what they’re doing and salute you in a way that makes you feel like you’re being welcomed into a friend’s home. Once you’re seated, you’ll find that this warm reception is an example of the restaurant's excellent customer service and not a false attempt at inclusiveness. The menu of traditional Latin American favorites dovetails nicely with the restaurant's homey, neighborhood feel. If you’re looking for authentic ceviche de camaron ($14), then you must try La Avenida's. Shrimp are combined with grilled pineapple, avocado, corn, red onion, cucumber, huitlacoche and poblano and chiltepin peppers, then served in a margarita glass. Though the ceviche has a strong seafood flavor, it's not overpowering. The pollo al horno ($15) is another standout. Warm and succulent, the oven-roasted chicken breast mingles beautifully with silky mashed potatoes. If you’re not impressed yet, you must finish your meal with the citrus flan ($9.) This pan-traditional Latin American desert or postre has the flavor and texture of typical flan, but with an unexpected kick of citrus fruit that leaves you craving more. You can round out the meal with an affordable glass of red Malbec ($9), a spicy michelada ($7) or one of the restaurant's many
"HAPPY HOUR ALL DAY, Sunday & Monday! HAPPY HOUR Tuesday - Saturday 4 - 7 pm. We are FINALLY Open for BRUNCH Saturday & Sunday 11 am--4 pm!!!"