Thursday, June 28, 2012

☞ EAT: Where's the Soul Food in Harlem?

Some of the great Harlem classic eateries that were open for decades have closed down recently because of various social and economic factors.  M&G Diner on 125th Street, Copeland's in West Harlem, Sherman's and Well's in Central Harlem along with Louise's in Mount Morris Park have all closed in the past 5 years.  Most of these establishment were set up in the 60s but Sherman's actually goes back to 40s with several branches located throughout uptown. All went away without so much as a blink from locals, so what happened?

As recently as the mid 90s, soul food was the only choice uptown and then the neighborhood started to become diverse in many ways. Demographics changed, cheaper national chains such as IHOP started to appear in the neighborhood, real estate prices went up (along with food prices), residents became more aware of healthy eating options, and the ubiquitous bodega ended up appearing at every commercial corner. Smaller soul food restaurants eventually started disappearing as the old Harlem commercial landscape started to fade.

With that said, some of the traditional businesses have survived today and newcomers have also added to the culinary offerings uptown. Sylvia's and Amy Ruth's have stuck out the storm by attracting national attention and the tourist crowd that comes with it.  Charle's Country Pan Fried Chicken is still around along with Londel's Well's up in Central Harlem but are lesser known.  Miss Mamie's and Manna's also seem to be doing okay in Central Harlem.  Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in West Harlem, Melba's in South Harlem and the Red Rooster in Central Harlem are some of the newer spots that bring in folks from all over the city to check out what good eating is about in Harlem nowadays.


  1. Miss Mamie's caters. I have a charming friend who works there.

  2. Don't forget Londel's, which has been around for years!

  3. I miss M&G Diner, they had a great jukebox.

  4. Interesting way you grouped places and what is considered soul food (Manna's?). By the way, Well's has been closed for a while.