Harlem, Courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation/Flickr
As vibrant and varied as the people who inhabit it, New York’s East Harlem neighborhood — or El Barrio, as it’s known by the locals — advocates an artistic approach to everyday living. From high-meets-low foodie spots to homestyle ethnic cooking, East Harlem caters to individuals — and all their wide-ranging appetites. Here are 10 neighborhood spots to crush any craving that comes your way.
Moustache Pitza, Courtesy of Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution/Flickr
Restaurant, Middle Eastern, $$$
Step aside, classic pies; Moustache Pitza’s Mediterranean take on New York’s signature dish gives your go-to pizza joint a run for its money. Ground lamb, scallops, and chickpea toppings elevate Moustache Pitza’s namesake dish above the standard sauce-and-cheese slice. With mezze menu options including baba ghanoush, muhammara, and labne, you’ll be glad to forego garlic knots.
Foodies from across the city flock to Earl’s Beer & Cheese for high-meets-low cuisine in a trendy environment. Pork belly-kimchi grilled cheese sandwiches, foie gras tacos, and gooey bread pudding round out the restaurant’s menu of unexpected dishes. Looking for beer, not bites? Earl’s carefully curated beer selection is sure to excite any beer enthusiast.
Expect more than the standard steak house fare at Ricardo Steak House, an upscale establishment offering gourmet fare at an affordable price. Serving up rosemary-balsamic lamb chops, filet mignon salad, and bacon-topped buttered clams, Ricardo provides an uptown dining experience with a distinctly downtown flavor.
Providing El Barrio residents with ‘homestyle Puerto Rican cooking’ for more than twenty-five years, La Fonda has become an East Harlem mainstay. Admire the restaurant’s collection of Puerto Rican artwork while dining on traditional dishes, including arroz con pollo, pernil, and shrimp mofongo.
Not your average junk food joint, Joy Burger Bar transforms classic American cuisine into something deliciously refreshing. Joy’s beef, turkey, and veggie burgers come topped with unexpected add-ons like olive tapenade, spicy mango chutney, and bacon aioli. Fast food basics such as fries and milkshakes get the gourmet treatment, as well, with Joy’s menu of maple syrup-sweet potato fries, crunchy zucchini sticks, and four berry shakes.
Harlem | Courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation/Flickr
An Indian restaurant in Spanish Harlem may not seem the most natural fit, but with cuisine that’s as flavorful as it is unexpected, Polash has won the hearts — and stomachs — of its neighbors. Boasting an unbeatable lunch buffet as well as an extensive all-day menu, Polash moves past pakora, serving modern Indian fare like fluffy coconut bread, creamy cardamom-lamb curry, and fruit-filled naan.
Established in 1933, the original East Harlem location of Patsy’s Pizzeria is part cultural landmark and part slice-slinging pie shop. Tourists and pizza-loving locals choose Patsy’s for their smoky coal-fired pies, solid Italian-American dishes, and a glimpse into the atmosphere that attracted New York City icons like Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, and Francis Ford Coppola.
Café Ollin’s steady stream of locals doesn’t lie – this is one hole in the wall you don’t want to miss. Ranging from classic to curious, Ollin’s menu options include spicy goat tacos, cheesy ham and pineapple enchiladas, and the cafe’s celebrated cemitas. Wash it all down with a super-sized pitcher of Ollin’s sangria or a selection from its Mexican beer and beverage list.
Delivering classic Thai dishes with a modern twist, Gong Modern Thai stands out in Manhattan’s El Barrio area. Ginger fried rice, crispy chive cakes, and coconut milk curry with vegetarian duck are just a sample of the restaurant’s exciting menu options.
Bringing downtown vibes to Harlem’s east side, wine bar-cum-restaurant ABV is a mainstay of Upper East Side nightlife. Inventive menu items such as pistachio-pork terrine, potato chips with caviar dip, and roasted corn and bacon pudding pair well with the bar’s impressive wine inventory.