Harlem sure has been getting a lot of attention from foodies these days, and with good reason: A number of high-profile openings have re-energized the nabe’s culinary scene.
Based on the sheer number of people crowding the bar at the brand-new Red Rooster on a recent night, New Yorkers seem to have gotten the memo: Harlem is where it’s at.
BBQ aficionados hold vehement their opinions about whose ‘cue is tops, and Dinosaur sits at the peak of many of their lists. Since opening in 2004 in the far-west reaches of Harlem, Dinosaur has been hailed as one of the city's best. The ribs, wings and classic sides remain as uptown-meets-down-home as ever.
700 W. 125th St., 212-694-1777
Talk about a happening restaurant. The limelight is on Marcus Samuelsson's newest venture, which has been jam-packed with patrons sneaking glances at the handsome chef as he works the room. The food offered is truly global (not unexpected from a chef whose own background encompasses several continents), from Swedish meatballs and Ethiopian injera bread to Southern-style fried chicken and oxtails.
310 Lenox Ave., 212-792-9001
Happy birthday to this French bistro, which just celebrated its first anniversary. A rustic, appealing eatery with whitewashed walls and West African décor, its funky-yet-traditional approach is best seen in dishes such as salade Nicoise, escargot and coq au vin. Since it’s owned by the same folks as world music venue the Shrine, the energy is high and the music good.
2269 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., 212-690-0699
"Loft-like" and "refreshing" are the best words to describe the cool scene at Bier International, a six-month-old beer garden of sorts on Frederick Douglas. The theme here appears to be sausages and beers of the world — a worthy goal — and the place does it right. Also on hand: a friendly staff, devoted locals and visitors from around the city.
2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd., 212-280-0944
The 5 & Diamond
Though very much a New American bistro, chef David Martinez has been exploring Spanish food and forward-thinking cuisine. Offerings range from a bargain "5 at $5” snack menu (think mango-chipotle wings and patatas bravas) to complex entrees such as salmon with coconut and lemongrass foam. The resto is lovely enough to be a special-occasion spot, but remains friendly and accessible for drop-in dinner (people go crazy over the mac and cheese).
2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd., 646-684-4662
Settepani’s Harlem storefront bakery recently expanded into a full-service restaurant. This modern bistro and its contemporary cooking adds to the neighborhood’s long history of Italian cuisine. Settepani has been baking in the New York area for 30 years, so the pastries are excellent. The pastas get creative, too, in preparations including spaghetti with bottarga (a cured fish roe) and lasagna with mushrooms and truffle oil.
196 Lenox Ave., 917-492-4806