Dining With Miss Lil: At The Harlem Breakfast Club

August 5, 2023

By Lil Nickelson

The Harlem Breakfast Club (“HBC”) is located at 2167 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd between 128th and 129th Streets in the village of Central Harlem.

It’s a takeout-only restaurant that serves breakfast all day that has captivated its grab-and-go clients with its cheerful service and its delicious Southern-inspired, yet pork-free food offerings. You can view their menu on Instagram at @harlembreakfastclub or online at harlembreakfastclub.co and then call 646.930.2006 for pick up.

Construction and sanitation workers stop in to pick up the orders they called in while they worked. Their hours of operation are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 7 am to 3 pm, and Sundays from 7 am to 2 pm; they are closed on Mondays. Their motto is “Get up, get fly, come get breakfast,” and I do so every Sunday (or any other morning I don’t feel like fixing breakfast) when I am sure to quickly visit to get my take-out meal and head back to my church office or apartment.

I discovered Harlem Breakfast Club on its opening day of August 6th, 2022, while out for my Saturday morning walk along Seventh Avenue. I had just passed by a would-be competitor of theirs and realized they were no longer in business on 135th Street that had relied on their past reputation for too long; meanwhile, upstart Harlem Breakfast Club was charting a new course for breakfast eats in Harlem. With no formal culinary school training or prior restaurant experience, these three home chefs are living proof that God will equip you to do what he calls and guides you to do without asking for anybody’s permission; none of them had any prior experience in the restaurant industry. Life experiences, however, gave them confidence in cooking breakfast, customer service, and people skills. Days when I walked past the store and saw a crowd of folks outside waiting to pick up and five people inside waiting to place their orders, I smiled because the team is inside executing the orders like the high-performing crew they are.

The three-person team of chefs led by chef/owner Chris Williams, his older brother Chef Greg Williams and their close friend Chef Chevy Chaney greet every customer with a welcoming smile and the question, “How can I serve you today?” Most of the time you will find Chefs Chris and Greg fixing up the orders when placed, but Chef Chevy does her thing too. Besides taking orders over the phone and in person, this Louisiana-born, Harlem-raised woman does the food shopping for the restaurant, prepares the season blend for the wings and seafood, as well as makes up the batters for the waffles and pancakes. I’ve stopped in on some occasions where she is the only person visible in front and she hooks up your order with the same precision as the other two chefs. Chef/owner Chris is a humble man who will boast about his brother’s knife skills in dicing the medley of peppers and Chevy’s skills, but HBC is his creation and like most natural-born leaders he proudly boasts of his team members’ skills or getting an A rating from the NYC Department of Health. He avoids shining the light on himself, however, the less he tries to impress, the more impressive he is, and I eagerly wait to see his vision for HBC’s 2nd location unfold.

The menu is Southern-inspired; however, they’ve added 21st-century vegan food items to their menu too. My first love is the first thing I ordered from their menu the Harlem Scramble. The menu describes it as, “Savory cage-free eggs scrambled with chicken sausage, seasoned potatoes, peppers, onion, roasted tomatoes & smoked Gouda cheese.” What I love about this dish is I begin my day eating the rainbow of colors with the onions, a medley of colors for the peppers and the potatoes, chicken sausage, cage-free eggs, and smoked Gouda cheese. No other breakfast spot in Harlem serves smoke Gouda cheese that I’m aware of. When I tasted the scramble that first Sunday morning my body felt so nourished; the vegetables were seasoned to perfection. I never felt this type of connection with any other breakfast meal I have consumed in Harlem. The way they perfectly season the onions,  peppers, and roasted new potatoes, including the purple ones, and incorporate it into the dish gets my attention every time.

Their creamy Sothern-style grits are divine and out of this world with Southern flavors, and I love them with the salmon cakes, shrimp (fried or sauteed), and catfish. I have yet to try them with the beef sausage. I like their grits better than my grits, and my mother taught me how to cook grits and that is high praise from me; I seriously want their recipe. I also tried the Avocado toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and my pastor loves their Belgian waffles. I like to use too much butter and syrup on dishes like French toast, pancakes, and Belgian waffles, so as a type 2 diabetic I try to stay away from these dishes, but I know the days are numbered and I know I will try each of them because they visually look so appealing.

I’ve recommended the restaurant to my friends who have ordered the Vegan Delight, the omelets (with egg whites only and with eggs), the wings & waffles, the HBC specials for $8 and $10 as well as the breakfast sandwiches and sides & add-ons. This is the little Sampson that would have knocked the Goliath on their feet had they stayed open long enough to compete with HBC. They cater breakfast events, and they are developing new dishes for their 1st anniversary to unveil to us eager lovers of their food. My only complaint is I can’t sit down at a table, eat and chill with the chefs of HBC. They will have to put time limits on their tables and include countertop seating for people with their laptops when they open their 2nd location. The bottom line is this; try anything on their menu, and you will be ready to join the club of its loyal customers too; I’m a charter member. Happy 1st anniversary HBC with love from Lil.

Lil Nickelson

Experienced Senior Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the food & beverages industry. Skilled in Sales, Management, Business Development, Marketing Strategy, and Social Media. Strong consulting professional with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Finance and Financial Management Services from New York University – Leonard N. Stern School of Business. She has worked as a columnist in Harlem, Dining With Miss Lil with Harlem World Magazine for many years. Read more about Lil Nickelson.

Photo credits: 1-3) supplied by Harlem Breakfast Club (HBC).

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