Scroll through Instagram and it sometimes feels like there are a million food bloggers eating their way through the New York food scene.
Rarely, however, do they seem to be spending much time in Harlem.
Enter Dominek Tubbs, a 33-year-old restaurant obsessive who has devoted a fairly impressive chunk of her food-focused blog, “Dom n’ the City," to Harlem, the neighborhood she and her husband moved to from Chelsea four years ago (and Philadelphia before that).
“For people who don’t live here, it’s always an afterthought,” says Tubbs, who has recently made it her mission to change the narrative.
The daughter of a St. Louis caterer who went to culinary school–“that’s where my open palate came from”–Tubbs first started sharing her love of good food and service on Yelp while on extended business trips (at the time she was working in marketing). It wasn't long before she reached Yelp Elite status.
These days, when she’s not working full-time for an insurance startup, Tubbs spends much of her time blogging about her favorite drinks and dishes and posting slice-of-life stories on Instagram–many of them, naturally, in her beloved neighborhood.
“I’m so driven to make sure I highlight everything that’s in Harlem," she says. "If it’s new, I’m going to give it a try at least once.”
As she continues to make her way through Harlem's menus and grow her side business–Tubbs eventually hopes to segue into event planning to help local business owners–it seems fitting to ask her about some current favorite spots in the neighborhood and what she orders while there. Read on and get ready to drool–then follow her on social media for even more top tips:
Date spot: 67 Orange Street
Tubbs loves the dim lighting at this small, speakeasy-style lounge. “It’s not a turn-up spot,” she says, adding that she and her husband “always get the lobster mac & cheese—it’s so good. Even the cheese tastes like the lobster has been floating in it.”
Beer: Harlem Hops
“It’s so close to our house,” says Tubbs of this three-month-old bar that has 15-plus rotating beers on tap. “My go-to for the summer is the Schofferhofer Grapefruit wheat beer. It’s just so smooth.” And if you're hungry, Tubbs recommends the Bavarian pretzel–“it’s the size of human head.”
Pizza: The Uptown Garrison
During the day it’s a coffee shop; in the evening this newish Washington Heights spot turns into a brick-oven pizzeria, which Tubbs says serves a must-try artichoke pie. Toppings include artichoke puree, garlic, oregano, fried artichokes, mozzarella, lemon, parmesan and parsley.
Brunch: BLVD Bistro
If Tubbs could pick only one brunch spot in Harlem, it would be BLVD Bistro. “It’s that good,” she says. A typical order includes the French toast, the house-made buttermilk biscuit sandwiches with scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon. Oh, and the potatoes, which even her famously picky mother loved during a visit to Harlem.
New spot in the Bronx: Beatstro
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” says Tubbs of this new hip hop-inspired spot in Mott Haven, whose front area looks like a record store. The bar serves cocktails with names like "Anotherone" while the menu is a mix of soul food and Afro-Latino dishes, like shrimp and grits and mojo chicken.
Dessert: The Crepe Master
“I always get the strawberry, banana, whipped yogurt and almonds,” says Tubbs of this Japanese spot serving crepes folded with various ingredients into a hand roll. “It’s my after-work thing.”
Coffee: The Chipped Cup
Tubbs is a particular fan of this basement coffee shop's chalkboard menu, which features pictures of everything from lattes to americanos:“They show you how much milk goes into each one, so you know what to get." But she also loves the friendly atmosphere–on a recent visit she experienced a spontaneous Michael Jackson sing-along–as well as the beautiful back garden.
All photos courtesy of Dominek Tubbs.