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Brunch in South Harlem

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Looking for brunch recommendations in South Harlem.

Just moved to Frederick Douglass Blvd and loving the stretch from Central Park up to 125. Have eaten at Bier International twice (great prices, lively atmosphere, nice beer selection, wonderful fish tacos and solid brats and kraut), Zoma (our first Ethiopian experience, which was a good one), Lido (delicious Italian - tried both pasta and lamb - better than we expected) and we've grabbed takeout from Melba's twice (tasty, no frills comfort food but nothing life-altering).

But we've only done dinners so far and looking for brunch spot to take some visitors. Any positive experiences from places in the area?

Possibilities include:
- 5 and Diamond (but other posts have warned of a decline since a change in management/chef)
- Melba's again
- Patisserie des Ambadasses
- Chocolat
- Moca
- or a walk to Lenox to Chez Lucienne

Any advice much appreciated!

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Zoma
2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

Chez Lucienne
308 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027

Bier International
2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

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  1. People in the neighborhood really seem to like Chez Lucienne, but on my one visit I was underwhelmed. I think they'll end up stepping up their game, as they get walk in traffic from those who choose not to wait at Red Rooster next door. Though I totally discount the NY Times review marveling at the diversity of the crowd there (been to Harlem much?), Red Rooster has been getting good press on chowhound too. I've not been impressed by brunch at Billie's Black or 5 & Diamond. Amy Ruth's is solid. The unassuming place across the street (taste of life supreme?) got a recommendation on a neighborhood listserv, but I take those recommendations with a grain of salt. The pastries at Les Ambassades swing between okay and really great on any given day--your best bet is to look at the display from outside to see what looks most crisp; I've not had their brunchier fare. On Lenox, there's Native (dunno about their brunch), Cafe Latte (great sweet potato fries, everything else I've tried only so so), and the now spiffier Settepani, which when it had fewer aspirations to fanciness was only so so, haven't been post renovations.

    For take out breakfast fare, in addition to les ambassades, there's also lee lee's, on 118th by FBD--lovely people making straightforward and really tasty baked goods. and levain, delicious, in a stick of butter in a baked good the size of your head/ not eat another thing for a week sort of way.

    Glad you liked Zoma and Bier International (me too). And glad to hear Lido's good. We need to check them out. The other new Italian player in the neighborhood (if you'd call them Italian) is Bad Horse Pizza--uninspired salad, and tasty but very expensive pizza. Oh, and there's Piatto D'Oro II at 118th/5th Ave; unassuming little family place with surprisingly good food.

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    Zoma
    2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

    Lee Lee's Baked Goods
    283 W 118th St, New York, NY 10026

    Patisserie des Ambassades
    2200 8th Ave, New York, NY 10026

    Amy Ruth's
    113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

    Piatto D'Oro II
    1 E 118th St, New York, NY 10035

    Native
    101 W 118th St, New York, NY 10026

    Billie's Black
    271 W 119th St, New York, NY 10026

    Settepani
    196 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10026

    Chez Lucienne
    308 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027

    Il Caffe Latte
    189 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10026

    5 & Diamond
    2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

    Bier International
    2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

    Red Rooster
    310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

    Lido
    2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

    Bad Horse Pizza
    2224 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

    1 Reply
    1. re: rose water

      Thanks for the input, rose water. I'd also heard good things about Bad Horse. I'll let you know where we end up...

    2. We've tried the new Settepani for brunch and were very underwhelmed - the service was pretty terrible too. Of those on your list, we've only done Melba's for brunch - we took my mom once, and she LOVED it. Of course, it was her first time ever hearing of chicken and waffles and was blown away by the possibility of such a combo :) So it might be a good place for visitors who want a fun Harlem experience - when I've been with locals my impression has been the same as yours.

      Welcome to the neighborhood - it's pretty great, isn't it?

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      Melba's
      300 W 114th St, New York, NY 10026

      Settepani
      196 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10026