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Deviled Eggs at The Red Rooster
Photograph: Filip Wolak

The 18 best Harlem restaurants in NYC

Head uptown for old-school soul food and world-famous Italian fare at the best Harlem restaurants in NYC

By Christina Izzo and Time Out contributors
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Harlem is well known for its soul food restaurants and West African eateries (shout out to Little Senegal), but there’s more to the neighborhood than just stellar chicken and waffles. You can get some of the best BBQ in NYC, exceptional chocolate chip cookies and old-world New York pizza at the best Harlem restaurants in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Harlem, New York

Best Harlem restaurants

Lolo's Seafood Shack
Photograph: Courtesy Lolo's Seafood Shack

11. Lolo’s Seafood Shack

Restaurants Seafood Harlem

An ode to Saint Martin beach shacks, this uptown seafood joint serves Belizean conch fritters with lime-zest rémoulade and baked shark with salsa verde on its Caribbean-teal backyard patio.

Zoma
Photograph: Courtesy Zoma

12. Zoma

Restaurants Ethiopian Harlem

Elevated Ethiopian food matches the sleek environs at this uptown eatery, featuring a crisp white dining room, warmly lit by candles and an elegant chandelier. Sample lemony azifa, a lentil spread served in crunchy endive shells instead of traditional injera bread, and doro wett, a slow-cooked chicken stew, given a craveworthy kick from a blend of ginger and berbere spices. Considering all this decadence, settling your bill brings a welcome surprise: A meal at Zoma comes refreshingly cheap.

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Taco Mix
Photograph: Alex Strada

13. Taco Mix

Restaurants Mexican East Harlem

This East Harlem hole-in-the-wall may serve the city’s best al pastor tacos, sliced to order from a rotating spit crowned with a hunk of grilled pineapple. The tortilla-to-meat ratio is perfectly balanced.

Lido
Photograph: Courtesy Lido

14. Lido

Restaurants Italian Harlem

Named after a fabled Venetian beach, Lido sailed into town in 2011, landing in a mainly West African neighborhood in Harlem. The restaurant falls into the modern-Italian camp, which means the menu incorporates influences ranging from North African to French. The best approach to Lido is to treat it like a tapas bar, snacking your way through dinner. The salt-cod fritters are particularly good, fluffy and furnished with a garlicky French aioli, while a pea-shoot salad is sent spinning in a Roman direction with mint leaves and burrata.

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Chez Lucienne
Photograph: Chez Lucienne

15. Chez Lucienne

Restaurants French Harlem

The 60-seat space, with its globe lights and powder-blue banquettes, evokes a classic bistro, while dishes range from the traditional (beef bourguignon) to the bold (Senegalese fish balls).

16. ROKC

Bars Cocktail bars

Cocktails aren’t the only focus at ROKC (“ramen, oysters, kitchen and cocktails,” FYI). The kitchen doles out three varieties of ramen: a soy-and-fish-based Tokyo, a chicken-and-fish-based Kyoto, and best, a bowl of creamy Sapporo ramen featuring broth imbued with house miso, bobbing with chicken chashu, fresh corn and bean sprouts. It’s an unexpected combination—whimsical cocktails and warming ramen all the way up in Harlem—but ROKC makes 
it work.

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17. Maison Harlem

Restaurants French Harlem

French partners Samuel Thiam and Romain Bonnans (A.O.C. Bistro) are behind this Harlem spot, highlighting Gallic classics—steak au poivre, niçoise salad and tarte tatin. Match your mains with a selection from the mostly French wine list or an aperitif off the cocktail menu. The rustic digs include a ceiling covered in vintage wallpaper and an arch over the bar, sourced from an old upstate church.

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Michael W.

18. Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

Restaurants Ethiopian Harlem

Daniel Reta and his wife, Frehiwot, cook the food of their native Ethiopia at this 18-seat eatery, decorated with green-washed walls and photos of the old country. Herbivores can opt for the veggie combo (an assortment of stewed lentils, string beans, collard greens and cabbage), while meat lovers can chow down on chicken doro wat (a red-pepper paste curry) or kitfo (beef tartare kicked up with hot peppers).

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