The holiday season had me tied to the kitchen and my laptop. I had a wonderful time, experimenting with ingredients and reviving old recipes so that I could share them with you. Now I need to get out and see what New York City restaurants’ winter menus have to offer. Hopefully I’ll get some inspiration to develop a recipe or two.

I didn’t venture very far this week, I decided to check out what was new in Harlem – a taste of Harlem, so I visited three newly opened restaurants:

  1. Sexy Taco Dirty Cash, 161 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026
  2. Row House, 2128 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026
  3. Chaiwali, 274 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027

All three opened their doors for business recently in the last couple of months.

A Taste of Harlem by Diverse DinnersSexy Taco Dirty Cash offers San Francisco style street food; mainly tacos and an offering of appetizers. But what I enjoyed the most, aside from my Ginger Basil Lemonade, was the ambiance and decor. It’s a tight space, but still manages to provide a really interesting vibe.A Taste of Harlem by Diverse Dinners

I will put Sexy Taco Dirty Cash on my list of happy hour spots. Somewhere to go for a libation after a stressful day. I didn’t see the wine list, but they offer great cocktails, beers, and some really cool virgin cocktails. It’s an ideal hangout for afterwork drinks. There was four in our party and we all ordered a different drink and we were all very happy with what we received.  Although, my niece, Jasmine, did request an extra pour in her Mescal cocktail, (“Confessions of a Thug”, mescal, Dolin white vermouth, gaffed pamplemousse rose, smoked chili bitters). The bartender appeared shocked that someone would request a touch more liquor in their drink, and we in turn were shocked at his shocked response. After all, a girl’s gotta get her drink how she wants it – right?! Regardless of the shade that was delivered and then thrown back, we all thoroughly enjoyed our drinks at Sexy Taco Dirty Cash.

Row House is close to Jasmine’s home, so we have been anticipating its opening. Ironically, when the restaurant opened, I was way too busy to fit in a visit. Jasmine, on the other hand has made Row House her new neighborhood spot. It’s a decent-sized restaurant, with first and basement floor seating and serves seasonal American fare. I really love the bar – are you sensing a theme here?! The staff at Row House are exemplary, very friendly, accommodating and their bartenders really know their stuff. Whenever you’re in Harlem, you should make a stop here, it’s a great place.

A Taste of Harlem by Diverse Dinners

Sparkling Ginger Mint Lemonade

I’m observing Dry January; tough I tell you. So I asked our kind bartender whether he could make me something interesting without alcohol. He just smiled and started selecting from his extensive row of jars of fresh ingredients – ginger, cucumber, mint, herbs, strawberries, you name it. He made me a sparkling ginger mint lemonade which hit the spot, and didn’t leave me yearning for a glass of wine or a spicy margarita, it was so refreshing.

Jasmine and I found ourselves in Chaiwali accidentally on purpose one night. We intended to visit Chaiwali, but not on the night we arrived there. Our intention was to have drinks at another restaurant that night but when we arrived, the vibe was super quiet, and Jasmine and I are not known for our subtle conversation. So we spared the patrons our brash behavior and made our way to Chaiwali.

A Taste of Harlem by Diverse DinnersOf the three restaurants listed in this post, Chaiwali has its vibe down pat. It’s such a welcoming place, and I am so glad it’s in my neighborhood as I will be back very soon. I didn’t sample any of the Indian-inspired dishes, but I did sample a magnificent, yes I said magnificent, piece of cake, Alice’s Jamaican Rum & Biscuit Cake. I loved this cake, I mean LOVED – here it is:A Taste of Harlem by Diverse Dinners

While I write this post, I feel a hankering for Alice’s Jamaican Rum & Biscuit cake coming over me. It is very likely that I will take a walk to Chaiwali this weekend, what I am not sure of is whether it will be once or twice.

So here’s a taste of Harlem. Check these restaurants out when you get the chance.