While most people don't travel northward of 125th unless they are heading to their own apartment, West Harlem—and specifically the Hamilton Heights area—have a few hidden gems that are worth the trek for any food-lover. If you want to have an adventure, take the 1 or ABCD trains and get off at the 145th station. Then, continue by eating at a few of my favorite places in the neighborhood!
If there was only one meal I could eat for the rest of my life, it would be noodles from the Hand Pulled Noodle. Chewy, perfectly seasoned, fresh, and steaming hot, the noodles here are made fresh to order and prepared with such care you can taste the love in each bite. Boasting as one of the few places in the Northeast to serve this style of Northwestern Chinese food, it is the only place of its kind in NYC. While the restaurant is small on space, the cozy atmosphere is inviting and modern. Other things on the menu include steamed bao, fried and steamed dumplings, and scallion pancakes.
What to order: Seriously everything! or Lagman noodles with chicken and veggie stir fry, pork and chives dumplings
Two doors down from The Handpulled noodle sits a dark pub with amazing bar food. Always packed with locals as well as visitors from other parts of the city, Harlem public has a wide range of beers on tap that change almost every week. They also serve incredible cocktails, including a Pop Rocks margarita and my personal favorite, the Adalyn, which is a Rosemary, lemon, cucumber and gin concoction of refreshing goodness. The appetizer list is diverse, including a creamy Mac and Steez with pulled pork, Mauricio's Guac, avocado fries, and fried pickles. For other food choices, the BLT is a solid choice as well as the Harlem Public burger with peanut butter.
What to order: Avocado fries, Mauricio’s Guac, any Harlem Public Burger
For authentic Italian food and pizza with the freshest ingredients, head over to Bono. Exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and a gigantic wood-fired oven set in the center of the restaurant offer a comfortable, upscale, and lively ambiance. The pizza is unbelievably fresh and made-to-order, with a crust that perfectly straddles the line between chewy and crispy. Other menu items include a variety of salads, authentic Italian pastas, appetizers, and a selection of wines and beers on tap. It is one of my favorite places to go for fresh Italian food and a drink after work.
What to Order: Bona pizza (sweet sausage, roasted peppers, tomato sauce and mozzarella), Roasted Beets salad, Strangozzi
With a dark and moody atmosphere, Geisha Sushi isn’t your typical Hamilton Heights restaurant. Easy to overlook, it offers a fresh sushi line-up with a variety of rolls, bento boxes, and other small plates. When I want something healthy and on the lighter side, this is my go-to. The careful presentation is thoughtful and plated beautifully, and the service is always attentive and engaging. Although they do not serve alcohol, it is BYOB, without a corkage fee. For dessert, try the fried oreos!
What to Order: Fire Island Roll, Manhattan Roll, Shrimp Tempura main dish
Rustic and unique, The Grange offers a welcome respite to city life with its farm-like décor and cozy interior. Browse the antiques on the walls near the bar, the vintage mirrors, and antique chandelier. Both a bar and restaurant, they serve a unique menu with a focus on comfort food and use seasonally fresh ingredients. The parmesan garlic fries are to die for, and the croquettes (when ingredients are in season) are perfectly crisp and satisfying. The salads are all equally fresh and filling, and the grass-fed beef burger on brioche roll is big and flavorful. I love coming here for the drinks, the atmosphere, and the comfort food!
What to Order: Fromage and Charcuterie plate, Croquettes, Garlic Fries