Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Jan 12, 2007 05:16 PM

New to Southwest Harlem

I just moved to South Western Harlem, and I am looking for some good eats. I know there is some good African, Southern and Caribbean food in the area. I am also interested in any place that sells good quality food, preferably healthy, and of course cheap.

I am on 120 and 8th Ave (Fred. Douglass Blvd)

Markets to buy produce/food,
good pizza places
every suggestion is welcomed...


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There's a ton more west from you, and your best bet is to try everything -- Fairway Harlem on 131 is the best supermarket in the city IMO, and there's also a Citarella on 125 closer to you for fancy food, but that is more spendy. Dinosour BBQ is nearby if you need a fix. La Floridita on Broadway and 125 has cheap good cuban sandwiches - not so healthy but damn good.

    Max SoHa for good italian on Amsterdam and 122, next to them is Kitchonette for great breakfast/brunch. Speaking of breakfast, M&G Diner is totally old school and known for their croquettes (it's also been in a lot of movies).

    Heading to 116 you will find a ton of good sengelese places, with a national dish of roast chicken with lemon and onions. Also Amy Ruth for traditional southern fare, but I am more of a Charles' Southern gal, but that's about 30 blocks North of you.

    Welcome to Harlem!

    1. Welcome, neighbor! weezie1818 has a good list. There's also a Charle's Southern location on 125th and Lennox now, so you don't need to go all the way uptown.

      My two cents on groceries:

      Fairway in Harlem has everything I could ever want, plus good prices, but i *HATE* the place. something about all of (affluent) new york congregated in one place all at one time, bearing shopping carts and moving slowly really brings out the misanthrope in me. produce is generally in great shape, reasonably priced organic milk/cheese, cheap plugra butter, great yogurt selection, good olive oil. ugh. i hate them.

      Citarella has nicer, fresher, and more expensive produce. Cheeses also $1-2 more per pound.

      In the immediate area, there's Karrot, an expensive little organic shop with milk, eggs, vitamin waters, granola, boxed foods, and the like. Very little produce, but some.

      The Associated market on Frederick Douglass around 123rd just had an everything must go sale. Dismal place with horrible junk food. Good riddance.

      CTown on 116th and Frederick Douglass has decent but not great produce, and will do in a pinch. There's also a Pioneer on 116 and Lennox that's better.

      The one place in Harlem where I've found extraordinary food is a scruffy little bakery called Lee Lee's. They specialize in rugelach, and make it perfectly. You can read more here: You're also close to Les Ambassades, which is a great local option, though it's not earth shattering. In my experience, their baked goods are better than their savory stuff.

      Florence's is very popular with 'hounds, but I'm not a huge fan. The kelewele, spiced fried plantains are out of this world though.

      And for another thread on local cafes and restaurants:

      Closest pizza is Pizza123 on Frederick Douglass in the 120s. Can't say I've ever ventured in. Do report back if/when you do!

      Oh, and "Make My Cake" just opened in the last week or two on St. Nicholas and 116th. Stopped in, and they have cupcakes and cake slices. Carrot, red velvet, sweet potato cheesecake. Haven't tried them yet though. But I'll admit that I'm totally a sucker for their graphics--a round woman wearing an apron bent over an oven and holding a cake. If that's how fat I'll get, and how exuberant I'll be about it, it can't be that bad.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rose water

        thanks for the responses so far.
        So yesterday I checked out Les Ambassades and I was dissapointed, big time. I ordered a croque-monsieur and a latte. The croque-monsieur was horribly prepared (under cooked), and the quality of the meat was mediocre at best. The fries were good, though. The latte was equally as bad. There was zero froth to the milk, and the espresso came from a manufactured packet as opposed to fresh coffee beans. I am def. going to stay away from there coffee, but may venture back for some entrees which looked pretty good.

        Yesterday I also went to Karrot, where I got a cup of coffee which was good, and the owner (carlos) was a really nice guy.

        Today I was craving some pizza and checked out pizza123. Not the worst pizza I ever had, but not close to the best. It is just OK, but did the trick and satisfied my craving. The employees in the restuarant looked more suited to making burritos than pizza, which would be alright with me.

        Speaking of which any good burrito places around here?

        1. re: Saul

          Taqueria y Fonda is across Morningside park, and serves gargantuan tasty burritos. They deliver to the neighborhood, but it takes a while, and last time I called they charged $3 (though it had been free before).

          I like to think of Patsy's in East Harlem as my local pizza place (though obviously it's not). It's pretty quick to get across town on the M116 bus.

          I apologize for your awful Les Ambassades experience. The only coffee I've found in the neighborhood with any flavor is at Tribal Spears (haven't tried coffee at Karrot, thanks for the tip). Coffee flavored water without body + foam= sad Les Ambassades cappuccino. Their best items are the beignets and the brioche (when fresh). Baguettes are not amazing, but are good enough and certainly convenient.

          I second Polecat's recommendation of La Marmite, and would go there for lamb over Les Ambassades (more gristly at the latter). Les Ambassades also serves cheb jeune, which is great, but only during Ramadan, when they have a special menu.

          Other quick dinner options are Manna's (Frederick Douglass and 125th)--steam table soul food. Generally fresh and tasty. Just north of there is a Carribean roti place.

          It's great to have you in the neighborhood. I look forward to hearing more about your discoveries.

      2. La Marmite is my favorite of the Senegalese restaurants in Harlem, and it's just a couple blocks north of you (8th and 122nd or thereabouts). Here's a recent thread:

        1. There are healthier food choices out there than the triple whiting sandwich at A Taste Of Seafood (125th and Madison), but, for my money, no better or cheaper fried fish sandwich in town. Devin's - up in the Striver's Row area - is worthy of its' praise, but I give the edge to Taste Of Seafood. There's little to no seating - it's mostly a take-out place - but Marcus Garvey park is a stone's throw away.

          1. For pizza you should give slice of harlem a try. 125 and Malcolm X. And not to be overly pedantic, but Devin's fish and chips (147th and St. Nicholas) is about 10 blocks north of striver's row (138th-139th) and it does have a yummy fried fish sandwich.

            4 Replies
              1. re: Polecat

                Great responses so far. I will def. be checkin all these places out (and reporting back). School starts again tuesday, so less time on my hands, but always time for grub, i guess. Any good Sushi places that deliver to my area (120 and Frederick Douglass)?

                1. re: Saul

                  Awesome to have you here!

                  The best thing about Les Ambassades are the baked goods, particularly the pain au raisin, the almond croissant, and the donut with cream. Worth an early morning walk for a special breakfast.

                  As for sushi, there's a place Saga that has japanese and vietnamese take out and delivery-- serviceable food. We've only had it delivered, so I can't attest to the restaurant. 212 666 2996

                  I totally agree about Tacqueria Y Fonda-- We gave up on delivery and just walk down there, the food is really really top notch, and all the various salsa are amazing.

                  We order in from Mezz Sedi 212 932 2901. Brick oven pizza and good salads. Not a steal, but fresh and very tasty.

                  Melba's on Frederick Douglas has okay soul food, but an excellent vibe. Haven't been to Zoma also on FDB yet, would be interested to hear what you all think. Harlem Vintage for wine, on FDB around 120 has a great selection, but the people range from very friendly to super cold.

                  Best find around is "Taco Mix" in Spanish Harlem, South side of 116th around 3rd Avenue. Incredible tacos, fantastic Sopes, super fresh salsas. Worth the expedition, although it's take out only. You'll know it by plexi entrance, with the shwarma-like chicken slab out front.

                  1. re: Jake B

                    i adore zoma. more info:

                    also great is lee lee's--fantastic, buttery rugelach

                    thanks for the taco mix recommendation. i look forward to checking it out.