13 Incredible Harlem Food Vendors You Can Try at Thrillist Block Party
From restaurants to food trucks—get a taste of the neighborhood.
If you’ve ever wanted to go on an epic food crawl throughout Harlem without maxing out your step count, you’re in luck. Thrillist is bringing all of the best eats in the neighborhood to our first-ever Harlem Block Party on Sunday, September 12 at 126th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building Plaza from 11 am to 5 pm.
In partnership with DoorDash, Harlem Park to Park, and Harlem’s Queen of Hospitality, Tren’ness Woods-Black (granddaughter of Sylvia Woods, founder of soul food institution, Sylvia’s), the event is a one-of-a-kind celebration of the neighborhood that gives back to the community that makes Harlem so special. Throughout the daylong celebration, you can visit a shoppable marketplace featuring 13 of our favorite local restaurants and other businesses that help define this vibrant neighborhood, so RSVP now and check out all the incredible spots you can sample at the event below.
Known for soul food that draws politicians, celebrities, and plenty of locals to the neighborhood, Sylvia’s is nothing short of a Harlem institution. For nearly 60 years, the restaurant has achieved unwavering popularity thanks to founder Sylvia Woods, aka “The Queen of Soul Food,” the four generations who continue the legacy of this family-owned business, and popular items like fried chicken, barbecue ribs, mac ‘n cheese, and more.
Block party menu: Fried chicken or ribs served with collard greens slaw, and cornbread muffins
This eco-friendly food truck offers some of the neighborhood’s best seafood every time it roams around the streets of Harlem. Popular dishes include shrimp and grits, mac ‘n cheese bites made with five different cheeses, and the Uptown Combo that includes crispy fried fish, jumbo shrimp, and cajun fries.
Block party menu: "Uptown" Po Boy Sandwiches with shrimp or fish, signature shrimp & grits, fried mac ‘n cheese bites, and vegan tacos
NYC has no shortage of hot dog carts, but none are quite like The Little Hot Dog Wagon. This Harlem-based food truck offers hot dogs, vegan sausages, and burgers all topped with a signature, homemade kraut that will soon be available by the bottle in stores across the country.
Block party menu: Hot dogs, sausages, fresh wild caught salmon burgers, jars of specialty kraut
Get a taste of Caribbean-style barbecue and other comfort foods at LoLo’s Seafood Shack. The restaurant is inspired by the locally owned and operated seaside eateries known as lolos in the British West Indies. Popular dishes include jerk chicken with dirty rice and johnny cakes, but no trip to LoLo’s is complete without opting for a full seafood boil complete with crawfish, shrimp, and crab legs.
Block party menu: Shrimp queso nachos, crab cake and bun, shrimp ceviche with plantain chips, and plantain chips with chutney salsa
After setting out to create one sauce that tastes great on any food, Mama’s One Sauce has done just that. The company now offers mild, spicy, and fire varieties of its signature sauce that can be used on seafood, pasta, salad, and everything in between. Mama’s One Sauce is also a non-profit organization so a portion of all proceeds goes to the Mama Foundation for the Arts, a Harlem-based organization that aims to heal and inspire through collective music making and uplift gospel, jazz, and R&B culture.
Block party menu: Mild, spicy, and fire sauces with meatballs, salmon, crackers, and chips
For Maryam Boddie, the owner of catering company and brunch food truck, Maryam’s Yum Yum, cooking is rooted in lessons passed down by her grandparents. They showed her the importance of using seasonal ingredients and passed down timeless Southern recipes, and today, Boddie uses that knowledge to make her own comforting Mediterranean soul food for catering clients and Harlem visitors who come to her brunch food truck.
Block party menu: Belgian, sweet potato, and red velvet waffles; waffles with shrimp, lobster, chicken, or grits; seafood mac ‘n cheese with shrimp, crab, or lobster
Named after the address of Almack’s Dance Hall, one of the first Black-owned and -operated bars in NYC, 67 Orange Street also carries its own historical significance. The spot became the first craft cocktail bar in Harlem when it opened in 2008, and it remains a destination for top-notch cocktails with names like Emancipation and The Color Purple and bar bites like wings, sliders, and lobster mac ‘n cheese.
Block party menu: Chicken sliders, wings, and lobster mac ‘n cheese
On the block commonly known as Le Petit Senegal, Safari Restaurant is bringing Somali cuisine to Harlem. The restaurant offers East African dishes like hilib ari, a popular dish of roasted goat served over basmati rice with bisbaas sauce, and appetizers like sambusas, which are deep-fried pockets of beef, chicken, or vegetables with herbs served with a spicy sauce.
Block party menu: Traditional Somali-style deep fried patties, mixed veggies with a side of rice, mango curry chicken with a side of vegan biryani
California-style burritos, tacos, nachos, and more are on the menu at Sexy Taco. This Harlem favorite recently relocated to a new location decked out in lush plants, bright colors, and pink flamingo decor, and now offers “sexy cocktails” along with the slate of customizable lunch and dinner options.
Block party menu: Cuban chicken tacos, vegan chorizo, chile pork
For a culinary tour of the Caribbean without leaving Manhattan, look no further than Sisters Caribbean Cuisine. The restaurant opened in 1995 by Marlyn Rogers, a Guyanese immigrant, and is now run by her son RanDe, who offers oxtail stew, various rotis, and a popular jerk chicken platter that is marinated in Guyanese wiri wiri peppers and fresh herbs and cooked over a slow flame.
Block party menu: Cod fritters, Sisters house pepper sauce, spinach roti rolls
This small-batch ice cream maker is dedicated to local collaborations and supporting the community through scoops. Flavors range from vanilla made with local dairy and beans from Réunion Island off the coast of Africa, to Harlem Sweeties, a salted caramel flavor inspired by the Langston Hughes poem of the same name. In addition to ice cream flavors that pay homage to the neighborhood, the shop also offers coffee from nearby Gotham Coffee Roasters, sundaes, milkshakes, and specialty ice cream cakes.
Block party menu: Ice cream by the scoop in various flavors
Uptown Veg and Juice Bar has been serving 100% vegan fare in Harlem for the past 26 years. The menu includes salads, wraps, veggie burgers, and more healthy options, and visitors can also order soy proteins, vegetables, and starches by the pound for large groups or to stock your kitchen so you’re never too far from Uptown Veg and Juice Bar’s popular menu items.
Block party menu: Vegan curry chicken, vegan stir fry, collard greens, vegan mac ‘n cheese, pea and rice
Make My Cake started more than 22 years ago as a home business known for rich cakes in flavors like red velvet and German chocolate. Now the bakery has two locations in Harlem; an expanded menu including sweet potato cheesecake, cupcakes, and cookies; and a brand new coffee shop called I Like It Black that offers coffee from Black and Latino roasters, breakfast sandwiches, and more.