We’re never going to make a list of the most charming restaurants in NYC, but if we did, Belle Harlem would be near the top. This place is one tiny room with 12 seats around a counter, and eating here feels almost exactly like attending a dinner party at a friend’s apartment. The menu is small and à la carte, and it consists of upscale, vaguely American things like duck with foie gras gravy and some very good mac and cheese spring rolls with bacon marmalade. It can get a little pricey here (most entreées are in the $40-$50 range), but if you’re looking to have a special night out at an intimate, friendly spot without having to throw a dinner party yourself, it’s worth it.
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Whether you want a small-group hang or a quiet dinner in a backyard, use this guide to plan your ideal outdoor birthday situation for 2020.
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Africa Kine Restaurant
Africa Kine is a small Senegalese spot in Harlem with some fantastic chicken yassa.
Cantina Taqueria & Tequila Bar
Cantina Taqueria is a casual Mexican restaurant right above Central Park and it’s great for Happy Hour or a fun group dinner.
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Westville East is a great utility spot, especially if you’re looking to eat something kind of healthy.
Eastfield’s is a sort-of-healthy restaurant on the UES where you can bring a date and pretend you’re downtown.
Suggested by our writers
Before you start eating at all the trendy new spots in Harlem, filling your belly with soul food at Sylvia’s needs to happen first.
Lido is a neighborhood Italian spot in Harlem that also does a serious bottomless brunch.
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