Native, Central Harlem’s Foodie Find on 118th Street


My first few years living in NYC, I was an uptown girl…and by uptown I don’t mean “Upper East Side close to the MET”, more like “Inwood: the last neighborhood in Manhattan before reaching the Bronx.”  Needless to say, I was always on the lookout for up-and-coming restaurants ABOVE 96th Street…cause honestly, I didn’t feel like making a night of it every time I wanted a decent meal.  And when commuting to and from the tippy top of the island, you would be making a night of anything below that Manhattan Mason Dixon Line.

That being prefaced, I was recently in Central Harlem meeting some girlfriends for lunch and was so pleased with the restaurant find, I just had to share.  Located on 118th Street and Lenox Avenue, Native is truly notable.  Our waiter was polite, attentive, and enthusiastic about sharing his menu faves.  I went with the Red Rice and Beans with sweet plantains and garlic spinach, and although it was a healthy portion, cleaned my plate to the last spoonful.  Lots of fun flavors happening in that dish.



The girls went with burgers, which they loved.  After all, the restaurant’s red neon sign in the window does boast that it has “the best burger in Harlem.

We played it safe with lemon water and cherry coke, since it was, after all, before noon.  But the bar is adorable, and they have 2 for 1 Happy Hour every Monday through Friday from 3-8.  Take note, stressed out teachers and inspiration seeking freelancers!  (Since I’m not quite sure who else would be able to take advantage of a 3pm happy hour!)  I’d suggest trying the “Hot Ghetto Mess”, a combo of Hennesy, Citron Vodka, Sugar and Lemon.  Flavors aside, I’m just kind of in love with the name.


The exposed brick decor, edgy paintings, upbeat tunes, and, oh yeah–spectacular food–definitely put Native on my list for best places to eat above 96th Street.

What are your go-to Uptown spots?  Share below!

WHERE: Native 
161 Lenox Avenue
New York, New York 



Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
Read More Share

Recent Author Posts

Join Our Community

Connect On Social Media

Most Popular Posts

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!