New York City is famous for being a foodie mecca. Just walk down two streets–46th Street on Manhattan’s West Side and Frederick Douglass Blvd in Harlem– and you’ll treat your tastebuds to some great cuisine AND fascinating history.
Both are considered “Restaurant Rows.”
“There’s no place like NYC where you can walk through just a block or two and learn about history,” said Jennifer Li of TopView, the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus. “Do as the natives do–when you’re hungry, don’t go to a touristy chain restaurant, go somewhere for some authentic-style cuisine.”
Manhattan’s West Side Restaurant Row, West 46th St., between 8th -9th Avenues.
Located right near the famous Theater District, this street was designated an official “restaurant row” in 1973. Then-mayor John Lindsay famously questioned whether or not you could find a finer stretch of restaurants outside of Paris.
Maybe it’s the New York pride talking, but even Paris can’t compete with the mouth watering options available on this street. You’ll find everything, from the finest sushi at Sushi of Gari to a spread of international cuisine right on this street like Meson Sevilla.
“Some we go to Joe Allen for chili cheeseburgers?” Actress Marsha Mason asked that to Neil Simon in the movie version of Goodbye Girl. In 1965 Joe Allen opened this establishment.. FUN FACT: The play Kelly, which closed that same year, after only one performance. They gave him a poster of their show, because they wanted it to hang, well, somewhere. Since then it’s been this restaurant’s tradition to hang posters of Broadway flops.
One of the most notable restaurants on this street is Barbetta. It has been around for over a century and hosted such celebrity guests as Hillary and Bill Clinton. Even if you do not get the chance to rub elbows with politicians, you can still eat some of the best Italian food in the entire city. With opulent decor, a gorgeous garden, and a fabulous wine list- not to mention some of the best Italian food West of the boot, you will not be disappointed.
For incredible French food check out Le Rivage, a city staple that does not disappoint with its interpretation of classic French cuisine. Don’t Tell Mama is a piano bar that serves up excellent food alongside great music.
From craft food joints to the best pizza in the city, this little slice of heaven on the West Side is the place to be before you catch the latest Broadway musical. There are also plenty of options for every budget. You can just as easily find a five-star dining experience on this famous street, as you can a diner that is serving up some of the city’s best fare.
Harlem Restaurant Row, Frederick Douglass Blvd, between 110th St to 125th.
Right in the heart of Harlem on Frederick Douglass Boulevard (or Malcolm X Blvd or Lenox Ave–the streets kind of twist together) is one of the most exciting dining destinations in all of the city.
The undisputed jewel of this street is Red Rooster, named after the legendary speakasty that attracted neighborhood folk, jazz greats, authors, politicians and some of the most noteworthy figures of the 20th century such as Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Nat King Cole and James Baldwin.
Nothing tells the story of Harlem like the Red Rooster.
It is now one of the city’s best restaurants featuring innovative cuisine created by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. Samuelsson won Top Chef Masters Season 2, and is a world-wide acclaimed chef.
Visit the Red Rooster and you’ll be able to sample some of his excellent cuisine for yourself, and you might even run into a celebrity. Red Rooster is a great place for dining and star-gazing.
Other notable restaurants on this Harlem row include Amy Ruth’s, which features mouthwatering southern home cooking–the chicken and waffles is not to be missed. FUN FACT: Chicken and waffles was created especially for late-night appetites who couldn’t decide if they could handle dinner or have breakfast.breakfast. Bier International, a renowned beer hall, has drafts from all over the world. If you are a little hungry after sampling Bier International’s offerings, stop by Bad Horse Pizza for one of the best slices in the city.
Absolutely no trip to NYC is complete without visiting the renowned Sylvia’s, founded by Sylvia Wood, often referred to as the “queen of soul food.” You can enjoy down-home Southern food, like smothered chicken or cornmeal-crusted catfish or okra. If you like Gospel music, you’ve come to the right place because she has a special Gospel Brunch every Sunday.
Heading to either of the Restaurant Rows–it’s a true New York City experience!