A list of places that will make you go Brooklyn who? Downtown… why? Welcome to my favorite neighborhood spots.
You could go downtown to get the classic brunch you always dream of, or do it uptown at Trufa and only pay $8. Said brunch includes 2 eggs, homemade home fries, salad, and non-wonder bread toast. And after brunch, you could stay for lunch and dinner as well. Other perks include impeccable customer service, not having to fight anyone for a table or wait four thousand years to sit down, and a ton of other eating options in the event that eggs aren’t your thing. Those options include one of my favorite dinners, the portobello mushroom burger, which comes with hand cut fries (or a salad if you ask nicely) and again only totals $8. On that note, there are plenty of veggie-friendly options, which are a rarity in Harlem. The last thing I want to mention might seem small, but for me sealed the deal on Trufa. The first time I went there to get take out, it was one of those impossibly hot NYC nights where the humidity was tangible and 90 degrees would be a reprieve. Directly after placing my order, they offered me a glass of ice water while I waited. Like I said, small thing, but by taking care like that, they are sure to keep their customers coming back. Especially this one.
Coffee and sweets. That’s what you go to Chipped Cup for. Oh, and tea… and bagels… and a quiet place to work… and a place where you can sit on antique couches… and open mic nights… and to post up with a friend on a cold winter’s day… Okay, I guess there’s more than just the coffee and sweets. This is one of those coffee shops you can disappear in for hours and enjoy every second of your time. You’d never know you were above 14th street (or 114th street for that matter) by the decor and vibe, other than the fact that you have enough room to spin in a circle with your arms out and not hit anybody. Something I wouldn’t recommend doing with coffee in your hand. The prices are good as well, and when you order to stay, they use real china and mugs, which is always light years more pleasing than the standard paper cup. It’s also right next to Harlem Public, which means it’s a great first date stop in the event you decide to keep things going. And if you end up testing this theory out, obvi let me know how it goes.
TONALLI CAFE & BAR
I literally just got back from eating at this pretty new spot from the same people that run the pretty old spot Picante. Tonalli has a full bar and a fully intriguing Italian-slanted menu that still has vestiges of it’s owner’s Latin food. For instance crabmeat avocado dumplings. So good! My hearts of palm/avocado/cucumber salad… overdressed but amazing! This place has some service kinks to work out, but the menu is A-okay! And the tables full of Harlem hipsters seemed to agree. Also, Little Mermaid was playing when I walked in, so consider me sold.
*Featuring the great Anikka
Authentic, delicious, ramen made with the stuff ramen’s supposed to be made from. For my longer love note to this noodle heaven click here. Also, after you get your slurp on, keep the party going next door at Chokolat for incredible espresso and coffee creations. Their cupcakes are pretty darn good too.
Full disclosure, I haven’t had the chance to enjoy Harlem Public yet, but I did step foot in it once, and that along with countless good reviews from friends secured it’s spot on this list. Word to the wise: meeting for a quick drink on a Saturday night of one of the biggest football games ever doesn’t usually work out. That’s what happened to me. But in the three minutes I stood debating whether my friend and I should stay, I saw an amazing selection of beers and cocktails, a comfortable/cozy decor, and an S ton of people that beat me to the Harlem Public punch. I gotta go back there. Mostly because they have brunch now. Also, we all know my bias towards bars with the word “public” in their name. I rest my case.
Eep! This is another place I haven’t been, but as soon as I heard about it I emailed all my Harlem friends and have gotten some pretty great feedback. That said, gourmet+pizza+Harlem leaves little margin for error. Trying this place out ASAP.
Tanto Dulce was the first place I discovered in my old hood that had amazing, non-bodega coffee. They had something that can be pretty hard to find in Harlem, espresso. And while it was the coffee that brought me in, it was the food that kept me coming back. Their teeny-tiny six seat setup might skimp on eating space, but makes up for it in flavor and portions. Any pastry, especially the tres leche cake and chocolate croissants, will hit that special part of your belly, and the sandwiches don’t disappoint either. The bread they use is out of this world, and in true bakery/cafe fashion, you can buy loaves of it to bring home. Another fun detail is the good college indie rock music that plays from an old boom box hidden under one of the booths. Just beware when getting a coffee to go because walking and enjoying a latte at the same time can get tricky for some people… Or maybe just me.
Honorable mentions go out to: Picante, La Condesa, and the best bodega ever, Nadal