Category Archives: Harlem

Mel’s Burger Bar

This upper west side/Harlem joint serves up some really great fucking burgers.

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I was browsing Groupon last week because they hit me with a whopping $10 off coupon. I picked up this deal that normally would have cost $25: two burgers and a 64oz growler of beer. I applied my Groupon and nabbed it for a mere $15. That’s amazing. Essentially that’s four pints of beer and two burgers for the price of one burger. Here’s how it shakes out.

The growler was nice. We ordered an Ithaca Flower Power, which packed a whopping 8% ABV on us without being disgustingly hoppy.

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Ignoring my buddy’s tasty looking California burger, I ordered a Cadillac burger, which had American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and bacon on a potato bun. That’s pretty much the perfect burger. Take a look at this piece of art:

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Gorgeous, and it tasted as good as it looked, cooked to a perfect medium,  juicy, crispy patty, crunchy toppings…

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I’ll definitely be back here again. I really enjoyed this place, and I think it’s probably in my top 10 burgers.

The fries were $4, separate and apart from the burger, but they were really nicely cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper. One order was enough to share between two people, in my opinion, especially with two beers each.

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MEL’S BURGER BAR
2850 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

Minton’s Jazz Club

The story behind Minton’s jazz club is pretty great. The way it worked, back in the day, was this: Musicians would be given a free meal of soul food if they played. They were allowed to solo, as long as they could keep up with the house band. At the time, that house band was run by the great Thelonious Monk. His style was tough to keep up with for most musicians, but guys like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker were able to hang with him when they came in to play and eat.

The joint closed in 1974, reopened in 2006, then closed again in 2010, and reopened again in late 2013. The neighborhood has undergone some dramatic changes in real estate values, demographic, businesses that operate there, etc. If I had to guess, I’d say that tho splice is not going to close again anytime soon. The music and food are just too good.

First, let’s get your appetites brewing with a little bit of battle jazz:

Now, I’ll tell you about the delicious food we ate. My wife picked up a Living Social deal for the amazing price of about $90, which included two apps, two entrees, a shared dessert, two cocktails and a jazz album to take home, on top of the great music that you get to watch and listen to while you’re there.

The first thing to come out where a pair of balls: hush puppies for an amuse. These were tasty: crunchy on the outside, pillowy on the inside.

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I started with the fried green tomatoes. Two thick, tangy slices of tomato were fried to a golden crisp and topped with hot smoked arctic char and dandelion greens, which were deftly dressed with a creole dressing. I’ve only had fried green tomatoes a few times in my life, but he addition of smoked fish on top was really incredible. It added substance, flash and style to an otherwise ordinary dish. I loved it.

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My wife had the deviled crab cake, which tasted exactly how it sounds. It was meaty and spiced, and came with some black eyed peas and celery leaves for texture and herbiness. A really nice southern take on a northeast classic.

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The music roared as we mowed through our apps…

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We sipped on a pair of delicious cocktails while enjoying the band. I had something called a prima, which consisted of sage infused rye, sorrel syrup, lemon juice, aromatic butters and agave honey. My wife had the satchmo, which was made with smoky is lay scotch, bourbon, bale syrup and bitters.

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…And soon enough the entrees were served.

I ordered the venison burger, which was topped with farm cheese, blackberry onion jam and country ham, with a side of yucca fries (I think that’s what they were).

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The burger was smoky from the country ham, and the melty cheese was thick and sharp, Everything was cut nicely by the sweet blackberry onion jam, which I think they can bottle and sell as a gourmet BBQ sauce. Really tasty. The venison wasn’t gamey or funky: It was tender and packed with robust flavor, and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare:

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Those fries though… WOW. Nice and crispy with a crunchier texture than potato. They had a good snap to them, and they were perfectly fried and seasoned.

My wife had the buttermilk fried guinea hen. This was served with a bourbon peach tea glaze, black eyed peas and pickled collared stems for a bit more crunch and punch. The meat itself was perfectly cooked. It was nice and juicy, with tons of flavor coming at you from every angle. There was even a hint of maple syrup for that chicken and waffles type of flavor.

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For dessert we had the lemon tart with blueberry sorbet and shaved fruit leather. This was nice and tangy, and the shell around the lemon curd was super light and airy. A light and refreshing way to end a great meal:

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MINTON’S JAZZ CLUB
206 W. 118th St.
New York, NY 10026

Harlem Shake

Harlem Shake is a cool little diner/burger spot up on 125th & Lenox.

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Also… It’s this:

Anyway, my wife and I grabbed a sweet deal for this place through Amazon Local. I think we paid about $8 or $10 for $20 worth of food. Taking the new subway fare hike into account, though, we nearly broke even with 4 x $2.75 to get there and back for two people. So we made it worth our trip by buying a fuckload of food. Here’s an aerial view of what we ordered:

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That’s $39 worth of delicious.

First was the classic burger:

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This was constructed with two thin patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and special sauce. It was perfect on the soft potato bun. Really good job. A much better tasting burger than their two thin patty competitor Steak & Shake, though I’m not sure I’d venture all the way up to Harlem for this when Steak & Shake is literally a stone’s throw down Broadway from us.

Next up, the classic fried chicken sandwich:

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This had crunchy slaw on it, and pickles, but I think it was in desperate need of mayo. They have some next to the registers, so make sure you grab a packet or two if you order this. I liked it, but was sort of expecting a more juicy, thicker piece of chicken.

Let’s keep it rolling here with this amazing “jerk dog:”

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This snappy, tasty dog was topped with pickled slaw, diced jalapeños, pork rinds and jerk sauce (not to be confused with semen, jizz, boy batter, man mayo, or cum). The pork rinds added a really interesting crunch element, and the hot dog bun was of the perfect pillowy potato variety.

Our last entrée item was the cherry pepper and bacon relish grilled cheese, sandwiched between two buttery and toasty slices of good old-fashioned white bread.

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This was sweet, spicy, tangy crunchy and gooey all at once. Such a nice concoction. I’ll definitely be trying to make these at home soon.

The fries were nice. A natural cut style, nicely seasoned without going overboard, and with a decent crispy crunch to them. They could have been better, but I wasn’t complaining.

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For our first drink we had a watermelon cooler, which was delicious. I was half expecting some sugary, diabetic coma-inducing watermelon “drank,” but this was a delicious, natural tasting watermelon juice. Not too sweet, not too pulpy, and extremely refreshing. Big fan of this:

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Next, of course, was a vanilla shake. At nearly $6 I was expecting a let down, but this was a good size and it had great flavor. It was light and easily suckable – like a guy with a 2-inch pecker, and unlike some joints where they basically give you soft serve ice cream in a cup and expect you to blow an aneurism trying to suck the shit through a 3mm diameter straw. Fuck that. This was ready to go; no melt-wait time needed. Nicely executed:

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So that’s that. Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this place. If you live nearby, it is definitely worth a visit. If, however, like me, you will need to get on public transit to make it here, then make sure you try to score a coupon first… and go with the intention of delving into a ton of grub to make it worth your trip. Go for and gorge thyself!

HARLEM SHAKE
100 W 124th St
New York, NY 10027

Dinosaur BBQ

Dinosaur BBQ is a cool meat lover’s spot up in Harlem near the Hudson River. It’s been killing it up there for years now, but I finally got the chance to try it out.

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Inside the warehouse/parking garage-esque space there’s a huge bar with a nice selection of brews.

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Me and two buddies went with the bucket of cheap shit: six hipster beers for $16.

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Then we split the “Family Stylin’ Meal,” which comes with chicken (far left), brisket (top right), pulled pork (bottom right), and ribs (center) with corn bread (bottom) and three sides.

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As you can see they even sprinkled some pickles and jalapeños on the sauced items (brisket and pork):

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We went with fries, baked beans and mac & cheese for the sides:

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The dark meat chicken was excellent, but I felt the breast meat was a little dry. Both the brisket and pulled pork were great. Smoky, sweet, spicy and delicious, especially with the jalapeños and pickles in each bite. The big star(s) for me though were the ribs. They were perfect. As for the sides: the fries needed seasoning, the beans were good – not too soupy and with a good kick, and the mac and cheese was both creamy and crunchy with perfectly cooked pasta. It’s just too bad I didn’t have my good camera with me, because these photos all suck.

Photos from another trip:

Appetizer sampler – boiled shrimp (spicy and tasty), fried green tomatoes (crunchy and tangy), wings (awesome BBQ wings), deviled eggs (creamy and delicious):

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Choose Three with BBQ chicken, St Louis ribs, and sausage, with mac & cheese and salt potatoes:

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Full rack of ribs with BBQ fried rice and fries:

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DINOSAUR BAR-B-QUE
700 W 125th St
New York, NY 10027

Jin

I had heard good things about Jin, a ramen joint way up on Broadway near 125th Street. My wife and I were on our way home from a trip to the botanical garden, so we stopped off for a bowl.

It was pretty good. I had the tonkotsu broth with the spicy shit on the side. Noodles were a little over cooked, but the components and broth were all pretty good. Even with just a little bit of the spicy blob, this thing packed some kick. The spicy paste is also rich with a fermented garlic flavor as well. I’ve had better, softer meat in other places, and some of the mushrooms were a bit chewy, but otherwise I did enjoy it.

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My wife had the green curry coconut chicken ramen, which was really nice. Different, spicy, and lots of flavor:

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On another trip I’d like to try the kim chi ramen.

JIN
462 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

Yasha Ramen

My wife and I grabbed a sweet group on deal for this place: $15 gets you $25 worth of food.

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Since it was up on 106th/107th, a good hike for us, we made a little trip out of it. There were a few spots around that corner of Central Park that I always wanted to see, as well as the home of Harry Houdini.

Anyway – back to the point… we were able to try three different bowls of ramen. I had the tonkotsu, pork broth with half a seasoned egg and some cha-shu pork. Very tasty:

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My wife had the signature ramen, but the spicy version. This is a chicken broth. I liked the kick of the spice, but the chicken based broth over at Totto edges this out a little.

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Last was the curry ramen. This bowl came with wavy noodles (the other two were al dente straight noodles, likely alkaline as opposed to egg noodles), as well as a stew-like broth that even had potato and carrot mixed in. Very flavorful and different.

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The establishment was spacious, which I liked. Lots of times at these ramen shops I feel like I am bumping elbows with nearby diners. Annoying. And it also gets way too hot in those cramped little shit boxes. This place had high ceilings, a nice big clean bathroom, and enough eating space to feel comfortable, even when fully packed out for lunch crowds, which it was…

Here’s a look at the dude slinging the goods:

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YASHA
940 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10025