HARLEM SOUL FOOD
Either Amy Ruth or Miss Maude's serve reasonably good soul food- I wouldn't rate one over the other.
BUT Sylvia's is to be avoided at all costs. Years go,, when Sylvia was younger and cooking or supervising the kitchen, their food was good. These days, it's a sad imitation of it's former self. If it wasn't for the tourists- particularly the tourists who come for the Sunday gospel brunch- I'm not sure they would still be around. The food is just bad, bad, bad.
Yes, Charles' Southern Kitchen is gione, but he's still making is fabulous fried chicken at Rack and Soul on 109th St. just east of Broadway.
If you don't have your heart set on going to Harlem, I really like the soul and cajun food at Shark Bar- on AMsterdam and 75th. They've been for years and make a mean gumbo, great fried chicken and collards.
I like Amy Ruth's better than Sylvia's.
During dinner at Sylvia's on a weeknight it seemed to be mostly out of towners. We ordered a number of dishes to share; the catfish fingers were my favorite. Fried chicken and ribs were good too.
The Saturday lunch crowd at Amy Ruth's seemed more local, which I took as a good sign. Fabulous cornbread to start. Then I had the honey-dipped fried chicken - way too sweet for me (which I should've expected); next time would try the chicken and waffles which is supposed to be good. Collards and cheesy grits wree pretty good, although I was freaked out by the "processed cheese product" that permeated the grits.
Some of the best Soul Food in Harlem has vanished, sadly. This won't help you with your question, but here are some restaurants I continue to mourn: Charles' Southern Kitchen up on 151st and Douglas (best fried chicken in the city, hands down, but then some fool drove a car right through the front window, and thus a culinary gem was lost forever); Charles' satellite branch at 125th and Lennox, which has also passed away, though without the violent theatrics; and Copeland's on 145th and Broadway, which finally gave way to the Hispanization of Sugar Hill.
Soul food, oh soul food, where have you gone?