NYC is the city of a thousand and one restaurants – if you’re in the mood for a certain dish, there’s probably someplace that’ll make it for you. Yet, sometimes, you need something so specific that you’re left scratching your head and wondering, “Where the hell can I get that?!” Once I was entertaining a vegetarian friend for the weekend, and we wanted to find a new place in Harlem to eat. Harlem’s been my stomping grounds for years, but I had never found a vegetarian place in my neighborhood that I really loved; that is, until I finally went to Strictly Roots on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard.
Strictly Roots specializes in vegetarian food and Jamaican ital cuisine, and gives a laid back atmosphere – you can occasionally enjoy your curry “shrimp” or “beef” soyloin while people play chess beside you. The menu also throws in some African flavor – African seitan and tofu – and American choices like veggie burgers and spaghetti, but my favorite dish is the vegetarian spin on Jamaica’s national dish, ackee and saltfish. The vegetarian version, tofu and ackee, still gives you the creamy goodness that makes ackee so special. Sidenote: Ackee is a yellow fruit that can be poisonous if not cleaned correctly; it’s all the fun of eating blowfish without the fish! If you’re just looking for a tiny bite, you’ll find dumplings, and tofu tempura, plus there’s an assortment of fresh-squeezed juices – definitely try the sorrel. Most dishes will run you $3 – $4, accept for the ackee which rings in at $7.50, but is oh-so-worth-it.
2058 Adam Clayton Boulevard at 123rd St.
Photo Credit: nycgo.com courtesy of Strictly Roots