Last Sunday, I took my boyfriend to Yatenga for some small plates and drinks. we had a great time walking around Harlem, and admiring all of the beautiful, tree-lined streets and brownstones.
Yatenga is owned and operated by Adbel (from Burkina Faso) and Sivan (from Israel) of Shrine World Music Venue, located on Adam Douglas Powell at 134th Street. It offers delectable French Cuisine to Harlemites at very fair prices. It’s one of my favorite eateries in Harlem for a number of reasons, but the first one is that it is affiliated with Shrine (coolest place ever!). Although I live closer to Central Park North, in the middle of Harlem “Restaurant Row”, I still hike up 22 blocks just to hang out there. I just convince myself it’s a little “exercise snack!”
I love the atmosphere both day and night. During the day, the space looks very fresh with sunlight highlighting all of the small details, starting with the light fixtures, the wooden tables and the colorful metal chairs, moving to the effect of cracked paint all along the ceiling and the bar area. The small dolls are also very captivating to look at.
I love the unpretentious vibe around Yatenga, starting with the decor, the way the silverware is placed in small buckets on the tables, and the clientele. It doesn’t try to be upscale, but it still stands out in its own interesting way. This is the type of place I think should continue to open all around Harlem. It’s low-key, fun, affordable, and the food is absolutely delicious. It doesn’t blend it with all of the other places opening a week from another while they serve expensive drinks, sub par food and mediocre service (ahem Harlem Tavern).
Must get: Zaatar Shrimp: Grilled shrimp brochettes with cabbage salad ($12); Grilled Skirt Steak (Wednesday special). The steak comes with salad, fries, one glass of draft beer or house wine for just $16! It’s also absolutely delicious.
Must skip: Tartine ($8): The bread is so hard, you could lose a tooth.
Some remarks: The regulars get noticed right away with smiles and warm words by servers and bartenders, while the newbies wait. It always looks like a big family having fun whenever I go there.
I will continue to frequent Yatenga, and will update should anything changes. Stay tuned for more Harlem Restaurant posts!
Top: H&M ($5); Skirt: Thrifted ($7) Head Scarf: Christmas gift from Ethiopia (Priceless)