New York City

Where to Eat and Drink in Washington Heights

by Michele DeBella  |  Published January 9, 2024

Washington Heights does it right when it comes to Latin American cuisine, but there’sno lack of culinary diversity in this uptown neighborhood. When visiting, come hungry. Then, follow the locals to find the best places to eat and drink in the Heights.

Customers sitting around a bar at Le Chéile restaurant in New York City.

Le Chéile (Photo: Michele DeBella)

Brightly painted murals and graffiti art color low-rise buildings in Washington Heights. Dominican culture is proudly evident, and the neighborhood comes alive with street vendors selling everything from fresh produce to frio frio, sugary treats made of shaved ice and flavored with sweet, fruit-based syrups. Starting at 155th Street and stretching to Dyckman Street, sandwiched between the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, the Heights is very much a residential neighborhood, and local restaurants reflect the diversity of the people who live there. They serve as gathering spots for families and friends and regular haunts to savor a solidly good meal and, often, a lot of friendly conversation. While this list is not comprehensive, here’s a selection of spots to eat and drink in Washington Heights.


Beef and vegetables, rice, and plantains.

Dinner at Malecon (Photo: Michele DeBella)

Generously portioned plates are the norm at this Dominican food hotspot in the heart of the Heights, where the aroma of grilled meats and fragrant spices mingle with the hum of happy customers. The house specialty is rotisserie chicken, but you can’t go wrong with grilled skirt steak, seafood grill, or whole red snapper. Malecon also prepares an excellent selection of mofongos, a dish made with mashed green plantains and a choice of pork, beef, chicken, or seafood. While there’s no shortage of outstanding Caribbean restaurants in the neighborhood, Malecon is the perfect place for newcomers to start their culinary journey in the Heights.

4141 Broadway


This mobile eatery arrived in the summer of 2020, beginning as a small cart before transitioning to a successful food truck with a team of employees led by owner Edgar Nivar. The burgers are freshly ground and grilled to perfection, so a simple patty, bare of fixings, is enough to satisfy. However, if you want the full flavor experience at Aroma, go for the Chimi burger. A single or double patty comes topped with cheese, peppers, onions, a repollo (sauteed cabbage slaw) mix, and their signature Aroma sauce that will forever ruin other condiments. Though customers rave about the juicy burgers, the flat top dogs and chicken sandwiches are popular, too. Aroma is open every day of the week except Tuesday.

559 W. 185th St.

Native Noodles

Fried dumplings and two noodle dishes at Native Noodles in New York City.

Native Noodles (Photo: Michele DeBella)

What began as a food stall at the Queens Night Market has evolved into a fast-casual restaurant that offers a modern twist on traditional Singaporean dishes. When owner Amy Pryke conceived the idea, her goal was to bring cuisine inspired by her native country of Singapore to New York, where it is largely underrepresented. In true New York fashion, the city responded with enthusiasm. To get a taste of what it’s all about, try the signature spicy noodle dish called laksa or the fragrant chili crab pasta, loaded with chunks of real crab meat and just enough heat to keep a glass of water on hand. The shrimp fritters, pork and shrimp wontons, and popcorn chicken are perfect for starters. Native Noodles is a counter-service restaurant, but there’s seating for up to 12 people inside and a couple of tables on the patio.

2129 Amsterdam Ave.

La Barca Restaurant

Specializing in homestyle Dominican dishes, this neighborhood staple has served the community for over 30 years. The restaurant’s proximity to uptown hospitals and its 24/7 schedule make it a magnet for medical workers, but anyone craving perfectly seasoned arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), sopa de camarones (soup with shrimp in a fragrant broth), or simple and succulent roasted chicken, are also lured into this friendly, no-frills eatery. La Barca does a thriving take-out business, but seating is also available for dine-in. Hungry customers can pull up to a luncheonette-style counter overlooking the grills or grab a seat in the small dining area for table service.

3892 Broadway

Hilltop Park Alehouse

Draft beer

Hilltop Park Alehouse (Photo: Michele DeBella)

In 1903, a baseball team called the Highlanders played their first game at Hilltop Park. That park is long gone, and the Highlanders soon adopted a more famous moniker—the New York Yankees. Located near the park’s former site, Hilltop Park Alehouse was named in its honor and in recognition of the Yankees’ first playing field. The pub strives for that New York hometown feel, evident in the warm décor and amiable bartenders always ready to strike up a conversation. A dozen beers are on tap, as are cocktails like Dream Team, Bench Warmer, and others whimsically named in baseball lingo. Come on a Tuesday for trivia night, Sunday for afternoon brunch or evening jazz, or any weekday for happy hour, including $1 wings.

3821 Broadway


Specializing in handmade pasta, this Southern Italian-inspired eatery in the heart of Hudson Heights––a slice of the neighborhood west of Broadway––is warm and welcoming, whether you’re on a date or dining solo. Saggio plates hearty dishes like slow-cooked pappardelle lamb ragu and well-executed classics like spaghetti and meatballs and shrimp scampi. Any well-rounded Italian meal must conclude with dessert, so save room for panna cotta or the eatery’s version of tiramisu: ladyfingers soaked in espresso and Kahlua and layered with rich mascarpone cheese. Weekday happy hour at the bar features $8 Negronis and glasses of Prosecco. Pair your cocktails with crostini or other small delicious plates for $10 or less.

827 W. 181st St.

Salento Colombian Coffee & Kitchen

Cakes and pastries in a glass display case.

Salento Colombian Coffee & Kitchen (Photo: Michele DeBella)

Pandebono (Colombian cheese bread), flaky guava-filled pastries, and a breakfast platter that comes with chicharron (fried pork belly) and arepas (warm corn cakes) on the side are only a handful of reasons why Salento has been called one of the best breakfast spots in Manhattan. But no worries if you can’t make it for a morning meal. They’re open daily until 8 p.m. and serve entrees such as Colombian beef and vegetable soup and grilled river trout for lunch and dinner. Salento has a small sunlit seating area in the front and a cozy back room with photos on the wall evoking its namesake coffee-growing region in Colombia.

2112 Amsterdam Ave.

Penny Jo’s

A live band tucked into a corner plays soft jazz while customers relax into the music and sip on specialty seasonal cocktails like the Totoro punch, made with Suntory Toki whiskey, pineapple juice, and lime. That’s what you’ll find at Penny Jo’s, an intimate bar brought to the Heights by the founders of Uptown Bourbon, another neighborhood haunt located just two subway stops to the south. Stand-up comedy, occasional burlesque shows, and other entertainment punctuate the complete line-up of jazz performances, and there’s no cover charge. Keep up with Penny Jo’s on Instagram or Facebook for food and drink specials and their live entertainment schedule.

3898 Broadway

Le Chéile

Reuben sandwich at La Chéile restaurant in New York City.

Reuben sandwich at Le Chéile (Photo: Michele DeBella)

Traditional Irish fare lines the menu alongside sandwiches, salads, and comfort food favorites like meatloaf with velvety mashed potatoes at this Hudson Heights establishment. Care to pair your shepherd’s pie or bangers and mash with a traditional beverage? Guinness Stout and Smithwick’s Ale are among the dozen beers on tap at this friendly pub. Vegan dishes––think grilled portobello mushrooms topped with roasted vegetables and pesto sauce on multigrain bread––and weekend brunch are also available. The traditional Irish breakfast with baked beans, sausage, and crisp bacon, and the fluffy pancakes are house specialties. Le Chéile is a neighborhood gathering spot with a full line-up of events, including comedy shows, live music, and tarot readings. An upstairs room with a striking view of the George Washington Bridge is available for private parties.

839 West 181st St.

Flor De Mayo

A New York City institution that opened its doors in 1977, Flor De Mayo brought tried-and-true Chino-Latino cuisine to Washington Heights. Dishes are a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese fare, a combination translating into ceviche, lomo saltado (sliced steak, fries, onion, and tomato over rice), shrimp in garlic sauce, and many more appetizing menu items. For guests looking to imbibe, Flor De Mayo whips up memorable cocktails. They are the original makers of the Nutcracker, a potent elixir with a past so storied it inspired its own documentary. The spacious uptown setting makes this mainstay a hit with families and groups.

2651 Broadway