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Jamaican-style Veggie and Vegan Eats at Strictly Roots in Harlem

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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.

Strictly Roots
2058 Adam Clayton Boulevard at 123rd St.

Photo Credit: courtesy of Strictly Roots

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Tiara Francis - NY Know-it-all

Tiara Francis - NY Know-it-all

Tiara was born in NYC, raised in NJ, and after studying Comp Lit at Columbia, vowed to never go back to the suburbs. While she has expensive taste, she also has shallow pockets and is always looking for a budget way to be a weekend warrior. Her hobbies include laughing way too loudly, putting hot sauce on/in everything - including margaritas - speaking French at inappropriate moments, and dancing like there’s no one else in da club.

1 Comment

  1. November 3, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I just went for lunch, it was good though I’d say lacking in flavor. But I went to have a clean veggie meal, so that’s what I got. I let the nice man behind the counter know that you wrote about the place, he didn’t know and was happy to hear. It was interesting to see two old men sitting in the corner talking about sustainable solutions for the community. Definitely a chill spot.