Tag Archives: Soul Food

Soul Food Restaurant Jezebel’s Owner Dies at 84


Alberta Wright, the owner of Jezebel, which brought soul food with panache to Manhattan’s theater district and helped make sophisticated variations of Southern dishes a culinary trend, died on Friday in the Bronx. She was 84.

Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Alberta opened Jezebel in 1983, and designed what became an airy, yet intimate fabulously romantic dining spot in the center of Hell’s Kitchen, adjacent to the bustling theater district. Complete with 15 glowing chandeliers and almost as many “courting swings” for which to sit on while dining, Jezebel is a true taste of the South right here in Manhattan.

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Brunch In Harlem[5]Melba’s Southern Fried Chicken & Eggnog Waffle



When you go to Melba’s  be sure to make a reservation and don’t be late!

I’m not exaggerating. You will wait at least 30 minutes for brunch and 2 hours for dinner at worst. It’s partly because the dining room of Melba’s is compact but also because this tiny Harlem joint has been getting lots of attentions since Melba Wilson beat Iron Chef Flay on Food Network’s very popular” Throuwdown with Bobby Flay.”

Try her signature “Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle” and ” Fish & Chips.”


300 W 114th St At Frederick Douglass Blvd  MAP
(212) 864-7777

Amy Ruth, Godmother of Soul Food


Amy Ruth’s Home Style Southern Cuisine
113 West 116th Street
Harlem, New York 10026 MAP
(212) 280-8779

Amy Ruth, Godmother of Soul Food

People say Amy Ruth’s is the East Coast version of Roscoe’s. Maybe…..

Barbecue Ribs with Mac&Cheese and Collard Green @ Amy Ruth’s

Sylvia’s is Harlem’s best known soul food restaurant, but I prefer Amy Ruth’s for the food and service. It is conveniently located on 116th Street between Lenox Avenue and Seventh Avenue near the 116th street subway station (2 or 3 express). It offers delicious and well prepared homemade comfort food, nice wait staff, and no rush to leave your table. It is not enough to just eat in Harlem, you have to embrace the whole experience which usually moves a couple paces slower than the downtown restaurants.
You receive free cornbread and the dishes are all named after famous African Americans such as The President Barack Obama (fried, smothered, baked, or bar-b-q chicken-$13.95), The Rev. Al Sharpton (fried or smothered chicken and waffles-$10.95), and The Ludacris (fried chicken wings-$13.95). A waffle covered with cinnamon, bananas and pecans is named after Guy Woods, a famous urban fashion designer whom I have known for almost 20 years!

Amy Ruth’s started out as a very small soul food joint in 1998 and has expanded with an extra room next door to accommodate the Sunday church crowd and ever growing number of tourists from all over the world.

If you want to avoid the velvet rope, then definitely avoid the crammed weekend brunch hour.

Warning: Large portions – be prepared to take some food home!


Queen of Soul Food, Sylvia Woods Dies at 86

Sylvia Woods and her grandchildren


Sylvia Woods, whose namesake Harlem soul-food restaurant was frequented by local and national politicians, international celebrities, tourists, epicures and ordinary neighborhood residents, died on Thursday at her home in Westchester County, N.Y. She was 86.

Her family announced the death, citing no cause. Its statement said Ms. Woods had been ill with Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years.

In the 1950s, Ms. Woods began work as a waitress at Johnson’s Luncheonette located at Lenox Avenue near 127th Street in Harlem; because she had grown up poor in the Jim Crow era, the day she first set foot in the place was the first time she had been inside a restaurant anywhere.

In 1962, with help from her mother, who mortgaged the family farm in South Carolina, Ms. Woods bought the luncheonette and renamed it Sylvia’s, offering soul-food staples like ribs, hot cakes, corn bread and fried chicken. The immense popularity of its dishes earned Ms. Woods the sobriquet the Queen of Soul Food.

Just around the corner of Apollo Theater, Sylvia’s has served the likes of James Brown, Sam Cooke, Roberta Flack; Quincy Jones; Diana Ross; Muhammad and many entertainers.

Over time, Sylvia’s expanded to seat more than 250; it is the cornerstone of a commercial empire that today includes a catering service and banquet hall and a nationally distributed line of prepared foods.

Ms. Woods, known for her effusive warmth in greeting customers, ran the business until her retirement at 80.

One of those politicians, Rep. Charles Rangel, said he celebrated his recent victory in the Democratic primary for Congress at the restaurant, which is in his district and which he described as “a magical place that brought the community together.”
“Ms. Sylvia created a special place on Lenox and 127th street. Sylvia’s may have been famous nationally and internationally, but its soul has always remained in Harlem,” he said. “Nothing can replace its founder, but her legacy will live on in the memories she helped make.”
Rev. Al Sharpton said Sylvia’s was “more than a restaurant, it has been a meeting place for Black America.” He said he had dined there with many famous faces including President Barack Obama and Caroline Kennedy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “We lost a legend today. For more than 50 years, New Yorkers have enjoyed Sylvia’s and visitors have flocked to Harlem to get a table. In her words, the food was made with ‘a whole lot of love’ and generations of family and friends have come together at what became a New York institution.”

Sylvia’s Soul Food cookbook

Woods had been scheduled to get an award in honor of her restaurant Thursday evening, presented by Bloomberg as part of the annual Harlem Week reception at Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence.

A public viewing will be held on Tuesday, July 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a wake at 4 p.m. at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.

The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, July 25 at 11 a.m. at Grace Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon. The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy