Sylvia’s is one of the greatest restaurants in Harlem for authentic Southern soul food… With a whole lot of soul. The entire atmosphere of the restaurant makes you feel like you’ve joined a family, and the menu is full of classic soul southern food. Most notably on the menu, of course, is the chicken and waffles.
I had Sylvia’s chicken and waffles soon after breaking my vegetarianism that I upheld for nearly a year, and so I was still new to chicken in general at the time. And I have to say, as much as I loved being a vegetarian for as long as it lasted, there is a moment of appreciation necessary after your first bite of Sylvia’s fried chicken. The waffle was good too, but I don’t think it was anything extraordinary. I have high expectations for waffles after having the waffles served at Community Restaurant (Upper West Side). Nevertheless, in between bites of the fried chicken, the waffle serves as a sweet to the savory. The fried chicken is tender, well-seasoned, and simply perfect. Serious comfort food at its finest.
There are two ways of taking the fried chicken: Harlem style or Carolina style. Carolina style is “smothered,” AKA drenched in gravy. It makes the experience all the more magical, but I felt like I needed to run around the block fifteen times afterwards. Harlem style is straight fried chicken, which is crispier and in my opinion, the better option.
The Mac N Cheese is fantastic, but the collard greens did not impress. All in all, the chicken is prime, and everything else is secondary.
Along with the food, the atmosphere is almost as warm and tender as their fried chicken. It’s a loving, family feel, with sophistication and passion. A great experience, and fantastic, memorable food.