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Where Chefs Eat Cheap

Four cooks’ picks from their own neighborhoods.


Map by Jason Lee. Chef illustration by Luke Wilson.  

Marcus Samuelsson
Co-owner of Aquavit and chef-owner of Red Rooster, opening in October.

1.Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken
2841 Frederick Douglass Blvd., nr. 151st St. 212-281-1800
For really good fried chicken, I go here. I like the dark meat best ($12 buffet).

2. Sisters Caribbean Cuisine
47 E. 124th St., at Madison Ave. 212-410-3000
In Harlem there’s a lot of steam-table food; this hidden spot has some of the best. Their goat curry ($10.99) is fantastic.

3. El Aguila
137 E. 116th St., nr. Lexington Ave. 212-410-2450
This is a great taquería right by the 6 train. I love their pork tacos ($2.72), and they’re open 24 hours.

4. Settepani
196 Lenox Ave., nr. 120th St. 917-492-4806
A real Italian place with great teas, coffee, and housemade biscotti ($4/plate). It’s nice for socializing.

5. Les Ambassades
2200 Frederick Douglass Blvd., nr. 118th St.; 212-666-0078
This Senegalese place has fantastic croissants ($1.75), the way they are in Paris, nice and buttery. They also make ginger juice ($3), great when you’re getting a cold.

6. Zoma
2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd., at 113th St. 212-662-0620
I go to this Ethiopian restaurant for kitfo ($17)a kind of beef tartare served on sourdough pancake bread.

7. Nectar Wine Bar
2235 Frederick Douglass Blvd., nr. 121st St. 212-961-9622
I trust whatever wine and bar snacks ($4 and up) they have at this little bar.

8. Kitchenette Uptown
1272 Amsterdam Ave., at 123rd St. 212-531-7600
They do wonderful brunch; I go for any of the pancakes ($10.50 for mixed berry).

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