Whether you want to line your stomach before hitting the bars (or soak up the damage afterwards) or grab an inexpensive bite while shopping, you don’t have to resort to fast food. Cheap eats in Harlem include one of the city’s best fried chicken joints.
RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in NYC
Fried chicken has made quite the comeback, and now the guru of moist flesh and crackly skin, Charles Gabriel, is making his triumphant return to Harlem with this all-you-can-eat restaurant. In addition to the poultry, there will be barbecued ribs, mac and cheese, yams and other Southern favorites.
Beloved cookbook author, blogger and baking maven Dorie Greenspan and son Josh are behind a pair of cookiecentric bakeshops. Snag Greenspan’s elegant treats: classic French vanilla sablés (shortbread), blueberry jammers topped with streusel, and her signature World Peace Cookies (Valrhona cocoa and extra-bitter chocolate with Guérande fleur de sel).
Columbia students can sate their dumpling cravings at this tiny eatery, whose cherrywood floors and brick walls dress up its cheap-eats mission. The purses come with mostly classic fillings like pork-and-chive, though a few original versions—such as “ugly” dumplings, buns stuffed with veggies and vermicelli—are also available.
This 22-seat outpost of a New Jersey tortilleria dishes out hearty tortas, burritos and quesadillas. Fillings include chicken, steak and marinated pork, but the real draw is the Barbacoa taco special, served up on Saturdays and Sundays. For the dish, goat is slow-cooked in huge copper pots, then heaped generously onto supremely fresh tortillas. The gratis-condiment station offers vats of lively salsas and other toppings. Wash down the spicy grub with the house-made agua frescas in flavors like watermelon, pineapple and cantaloupe.
Former symphony orchestra musicians Aaron Baird and Jeffrey Green—who met at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston—are behind this café, serving java made with Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee Roasters beans. The spot is outfitted with exposed brick, wood floors and tufted leather couches.
The wildly popular Levain Bakery has been drawing the pastry-loving masses since 1995. Its third location—a 3,000-square-foot facility in Harlem—does double duty as a retail shop and the center of its mail-order production. You'll find their massive, chunky cookies in homespun flavors like chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal raisin and dark-chocolate peanut butter chip.