slyvia harlem

Nothing can bring people together quite like food. And no one was better at combining food, family and friends than the late Sylvia Woods.

Founder of the historic Harlem soul food restaurant bearing her name, Sylvia was a matriarch in her kitchen and the entire community. She passed away in July after battling Alzheimer’s, but her legacy continues to live on as hundreds flock to Lexington and 127th Street for sweet, Southern cooking.

Since opening doors in 1962, the “Queen of Soul” satisfied palettes with cornbread, candied yams, fried chicken, ribs, collard greens, grits, gravy and buttery biscuits. But Sylvia’s is—and always has been—more than just a restaurant. As a gathering hole for more than fifty years, everyone from local residents and tourists to celebrities and dignitaries has sat at Sylvia’s table.

 Photo courtesy of Clayton Cotterell 

To mark the famed eatery’s 50th Anniversary and remember the woman who started it all, a breakfast block party and community breakfast was served up on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Longtime customers, friends and Sylvia’s family all joined in on the festivities. Target, a longtime fan of Sylvia’s, was honored to host the celebration, complete with parade, music, games and prizes.

As for the next 50 years? “We’re going to take things to the next level,” said one of Sylvia’s 18 grandchildren, Tren’ness Woods-Black.

Click through the gallery below and read on for a special Sylvia’s recipe

Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary
Sylvia's 50th anniversary

Sylvia’s World Famous Talked About Spareribs

What You’ll Need:
2 slabs pork spareribs (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 to 3 cups white wine vinegar
Sylvia’s Original Sauce

What You’ll Do:
1. Rub salt, black pepper, and red pepper into ribs. Place in deep baking dish, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour vinegar over the ribs and bake 1 1/2 hours. Rotate ribs 2 or 3 times during cooking.

3. Remove ribs from baking dish and place in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

4. Cut slabs between bones into individual ribs and place in a baking dish. Spoon sauce over them to coat lightly.

5. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake until heated through- about 20 minutes. Serve with original sauce on the side.

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