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Known for its soul food, in addition to being a hub of Black culture that regularly draws politicians, celebrities, and plenty of locals, Sylvia’s is arguably one of the best-known eateries both in Harlem and NYC. Opened in 1962, the restaurant’s unwavering popularity is in thanks to the excellent dishes first served by founder Sylvia Woods, aka “The Queen of Soul Food,” and the four generations of her descendants who continue the legacy of this family-owned business today. Popular items include fried chicken, barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, sweet potato pie, and more.
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The experience: Soul food
American soul food was born out of the cuisine cooked by Black migrants who left the South from the early 1900s to the 1970s for other regions of the country. And when it comes to enjoying this fare in NYC, Sylvia’s is the place to go. Founded in 1962 by Sylvia Woods, a North Carolina native who moved to NYC as a teenger, her eponymous restaurant has remained an uptown epicenter for soul food and Black culture and social life—cementing her status as the legendary “Queen of Soul Food.” The marquee at Sylvia’s has remained lit for 58, remaining a beacon for Harlem and the community, and the restaurant is one of the city’s most iconic food destinations. Fried chicken, barbecue ribs, mac and cheese, cornbread, chicken and waffles (hungry yet?), are just some of the signature items to choose from. The eatery is currently operated by four generations of Woods’ descendants.