The 2017 New York Food Scene

Oso Harlem

Address: 1618 Amsterdam Ave
at 140th St. New York, NY 10031
Phone Number: (646) 858-3139
Hours Of Operation: Varies
Type Of Cuisine: Mexican

Oso Harlem

All Photos by Oso Harlem

Patrons who walk into Oso Harlem will feel like they are instantly transported to a Mexico City taco shack. The space is cozy, with a bar, open kitchen, and seating for 44 people. Its raw aesthetic includes street art on the walls, concrete floors, and seating that resembles park benches. The menu offers half a dozen classic tacos, along with small plates, salads, and a few entrées.

Oso Harlem Interior“Growing up in Los Angeles has a lot to do with my being close to good Mexican food,” says Matt Trebek, co-owner with Nodar Mosiashvili of Oso Harlem and the son of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. “We opened Oso Harlem a few years ago, because there was not a lot of Mexican food on the west side of Harlem. It’s a great cuisine that can be casual or dressed up.”

The restaurant’s use of fresh produce evokes classic Mexican street food. “One of our most popular dishes, especially in the summer, is our salad made with watermelon, jicama, lime, and chili salt,” says Trebek. “We serve an avocado-tomatillo pico de gallo that also has jicama. Recently we added grilled nopales with grilled pineapple to the menu, and they are delicious.” Although the restaurant menu features traditional meat and poultry dishes such as tacos al pastor, tacos barbacoa, and chicken enchiladas, vegetarians and vegans can find meatless options. Drinks are made with fresh- squeezed juices and garnished with fresh herbs.

Oso Harlem sources primarily from Baldor and a second distributor, with its produce coming primarily from upstate New York, California, Mexico, and Chile. Local farmers markets are an occasional source of produce items.