The just recently opened Harlem Food Bar, owned by Scott Siler and Ernesto Gonzalez is already making a mark for itself on Frederick Douglass Boulevard’s “Restaurant Row” in Harlem. Not surprising after the two different experiences I have had there so far.
Harlem Food Bar’s welcoming atmosphere and fun, hip, unpretentious vibe is attracting a wide variety of Harlemites. On a warm summer night it almost feels like a cool Miami or LA spot with the doors wide open expanding outside to the sidewalk seating. The music is just the right level, not too loud but enough to hear it in the background while talking with friends. The decor I think is perfect for this space. A beautiful mural expands across the entire back wall. Tastefully done but casual at the same time. Both times I was there the crowd’s appearance felt similar dress code wise. You feel comfortable here either wearing casual gear or dressed up for fun.
The General Manager Jesse is a really nice guy who was making sure everyone was happy and getting what they needed throughout the restaurant. I was impressed by Jesse and all of the staff who seemed genuinely interested in the opinion of those dinning and drinking there and asking if they liked the food and cocktails. Very important for a new place here in Harlem or anywhere to get feedback so that they can improve or work out any of the kinks.
The outdoor seating really adds to the charm. The day I took this photo it was 98 degrees in NYC so understandably not as crowded as an average temperature day. It is nice to have another option on Frederick Douglass Boulevard with outdoor seating. My only objection is that it feels as though it needs a few more plants or dividers to separate the seating area from the sidewalk. That being said they just opened and could still be in the finishing process.
The cocktails and shared plates get a big plus. Shown here are the Pineapple Mojito and the Mangopolitan. Very nice. The combination of pineapple, rum, mint and lime are delicious and refreshing especially on a hot night. A great selection here of house drinks with some creative titles such as the last drink on the menu “The Wicked Bitch.”
The shared plates are great for sitting around the bar if you are just there for the drinks and atmosphere. The chicken wings were tasty with a homemade buffalo sauce. The hummus is made fresh daily and comes with pita chips. It was not my personal favorite but my friend loved the hummus. The mac & cheese squares are a popular starter and quite a few people were ordering them. Great coupled with a cocktail of choice. The bartender Jeremy pictured above will help you decide on a cocktail or the shared plates and is a pleasant and friendly addition to the place.
For dinner my friend had the steak and really enjoyed it. It was perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection. I had the bacon and cheddar cheeseburger with fries. It was pretty much perfect and I would order it again. Actually I look forward to having it again soon. I noticed as I looked around there were two different tables with solo diners, both were having the burger and fries. A good sign for die-hard burger lovers. I was also pleased to learn they use grass-fed beef, organic chicken and homemade sauces.
Melbas, Bier International, The 5 and Diamond, 67 Orange and now Harlem Food Bar all seem to share a similar recipe for success. They all offer a great atmosphere and are smaller in scale. Intimate yet inviting.
Welcome to the neighborhood Harlem Food Bar. I look forward to coming back again soon.
Harlem Food Bar
2100 Eighth Avenue (Frederick Douglass Blvd.)
Between 113th and 114th Streets
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