New Yorkers love a good line. If a dozen New Yorkers will queue up, slowing their frenetic pace long enough to wait for something, then it must be worth waiting for. And the more people in line, the better. Or so the popular wisdom goes.


We stand in line to enter grocery stores and clothing sales, to spend exorbitant amounts on music event tickets, and again to use those same tickets. Last weekend, I pre-bought a ticket online, which afforded me the privilege of waiting in line for a ferry to Governor’s Island, only to meet another line to enter my event (the Jazz Age Lawn Party).


Once inside, I stood in a line to turn my cash into tickets for event vendors, then waited in four separate lines to finally get two lunches, a drink and a popcorn. All that behind us, we left the enclosure and sat nearby. Line – and cost – free.


Think this constitutes ridiculous behavior? Take a number: complaints line is forming over there…


As the nearest line-waiting expert, I’d like to recommend one line in NYC for your avoidance. Sylvia’s Soul Food is a Harlem institution, short on pretense and long on stellar comfort food. The only time you’ll see a long line snaking from the door is for Sunday brunch. Brunch and Sylvia’s sounds like a quintessential New York experience. Maybe it once was. But the chartered buses and up-sold midday menu should clue you in: tourist trap.


Nothing will scatter a line of New Yorkers faster than those words. At best, we’ll be sheepishly glued to our smartphones, pretending to look for a cab, or apologizing: “yeah, I have friends in town. Their 1st time – doing all the ‘touristy’ things.”


Should you write the place off entirely? Tour bus destinations usually become instant, permanent anathema to the local crowd, but Sylvia’s manages to toe the line between site-to-be-seen and cultural transcendence. The food actually does warrant a wait. However, visit on a weekday morning, leave the lines behind, and enjoy the same brunch fare (at a lower cost) for your effort. Most brunch offerings do not continue beyond the weekend, but Sylvia’s serves up the same down home goodness, seven days a week.


As a pescetarian, I heartily recommend the fried catfish & eggs with cheese grits. Or you can get the more popular chicken. Technically, you can order these items grilled instead of fried, but we won’t hold that against Sylvia (rest her soul). Get a waffle too – it’s the second half of that killer Harlem soul food combo with the fried chicken. If Miles Davis ordered it, it’s good enough for you as well. You’re not here to diet, after all.


If you’re worried about packing on pounds, work it off shopping at Marshall’s afterwards or go see a show at the Apollo. Either way, you’ll get more than enough exertion. Standing in line, obviously.


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