Amy Ruth’s: Soul Food You Can Count On
While looking for an appropriate lunch place for a meet-and-greet between the newly-formed licensed literacy non-profit City Readers and the Alain L. Locke PS 208, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Amy Ruth’s, a soul food must-visit on 116th Street and Malcolm X. Perfect for a chatty group of 7, this spacious and tidy neighborhood favorite attracts not only locals but also Harlem first-timers, tourists, and soul food aficionados.
A discreet beige storefront on 116th belies the expansive space allotted for feasting. The small front-room features a diner-style kitchen window, flat-screen TVs, and a few small tables; through a corridor and up the stairs waits a banquet-type room with plenty of room for groups of 5-20. Forget about the decor here; there is none, aside from basic wooden tables and chairs and a few speakers tossed around (all of which are blasting Top 40 Hip Hop and R&B).
The food is Southern soul-food and good enough to (almost) justify the surely impending heart-attacks; the menu features every permutation of fried food and waffles you can think of. We’re talking about The Rev. Al Sharpton (fried or smothered chicken and waffles), The Lloyd Williams (waffles with rib-eye steak), The Honorable Keith Wright (fried pork chops), The President Barack Obama (good ole fried, smothered, baked or BBQ chicken), and The Reggie Harris (Southern honey-dipped fried chicken). While the famous African-American themed dishes might seem a bit much, they are damn good, especially when paired with any of the ten or so sides (mac & cheese, fries, mashed potatoes, collard greens, okra, cauliflower, string beans, and so on and so forth).
With the burgers big and juicy, the fried chicken tender and crispy, the waffles fluffy and sweet, how can you possibly go wrong? If you’ve got a serious yen for something fried, skip the East Village’s often anemic varieties and head uptown to Harlem; Amy Ruth’s delivers on its promise to provide delicious food, comfort, and a great experience. Our server was so friendly that she put up with the constant waffling (snickers, please) and demands of our large party with nothing but a wide toothy smile and some charming sass. Keep it simple and comfy with some soul food, and keep it at Amy Ruth’s.
Perfect for: satisfying fried food cravings, a hearty lunch uptown, rowdy group events, testing the soul food waters of Harlem.