124 Best Things to Do in Harlem, New York City: A Guide

Harlem (Flicker picture: Jörg Schubert)

Harlem is among the most enjoyable neighborhoods in New York City. It’s the middle of black America and has been for nicely over a century. It’s stunning and endlessly fascinating and the music appears to spring out of in every single place. And no go to to New York is full till you get a style of Harlem.

Lots of individuals need to go to Harlem — however they don’t know what to do as soon as they get there. They need to expertise the neighborhood, and possibly stroll round and get some soul meals, however they’re undecided what to do particularly. And that’s the place I come in.

I’m a Harlem resident and have lived right here for 3 years. I really like this neighborhood fiercely. That’s the distinction between this information and each different “things to do in Harlem” information that dominates the search outcomes. Those ones are written by overworked and underpaid writers who depend on Google. I stay right here. I truly go to these locations.

Harlem is a big and numerous neighborhood — way more than most individuals anticipate. It’s means too massive to totally cowl on foot. And whereas Harlem is the epicenter of city African-American life, it’s additionally dwelling to communities from the Dominican Republic (Hamilton Heights), Puerto Rico (East Harlem) and West Africa (116th St.).

Come to Harlem for jazz, gospel, and blues. Come to Harlem for braised oxtails and rooster and waffles. Come for the historical past. Come for the artwork. Come to help as many black-owned companies as doable. And don’t simply reserve one afternoon for Harlem — when you get right here, you’ll want you had a couple of days to see all of it.

Harlem-125th (through Pixabay)

How to Get to Harlem

Harlem is a part of Manhattan. While it’s not its personal borough, like some vacationers assume, Harlem is big and damaged into a number of totally different neighborhoods.

In the only phrases, Harlem runs roughly from 110th St. to 155th St. It begins a bit decrease on the east aspect (96th St.) and a bit larger on the west aspect (about 125th St.), however general these are the approximate borders.

Many of the streets have totally different names in Harlem than additional downtown. For instance, eighth Ave. is Frederick Douglas Blvd. in Harlem. seventh Ave. is Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in Harlem. sixth Ave. known as Lenox Ave. or Malcolm X Blvd. in Harlem (both title works).

Central Harlem is the core of Harlem and customarily runs north from 110th St. to 155th St., between Amsterdam Ave. and Fifth Ave.

South Harlem, which is inside Central Harlem, usually refers to the realm north of Central Park to 125th St. (Do not name it SoHa. Real property builders have been making an attempt to rebrand this standard space as SoHa and locals have been combating in opposition to it.)

Manhattanville runs from 125th St. to 135th St. on the west aspect, west of Amsterdam.

Hamilton Heights runs from 135th St. to 155th St. on the west aspect, from Riverside to Edgecombe.

Sugar Hill is an official historic district. It runs from 145th St. to 155th St. and from Amsterdam to Edgecombe, all of which is a part of Hamilton Heights.

East Harlem, also called Spanish Harlem, runs north from 96th Street and east from Fifth Ave. As a Latinx neighborhood fairly than a black neighborhood, East Harlem has a unique really feel from the remainder of Harlem.

And then there are the Harlem-adjacent related neighborhoods that some name uptown or Upper Manhattan. Morningside Heights, from 110th St. to 125th St. on the west aspect, is dominated by Columbia University; Washington Heights, a largely Dominican enclave, runs north of Harlem from 155th St. to 181st St.

Harlem (through Pixabay)

Is Harlem protected?

Yes, Harlem could be very protected. All of Manhattan is protected to go to. You merely want to take the precautions you’d take in another neighborhood: Don’t stroll round with an open purse behind your again. Don’t get blackout drunk. Don’t purchase medication.

Additionally, it’s necessary to be respectful — extra so than in different neighborhoods. Harlem has traditionally been an oppressed and economically deprived neighborhood of colour. People who stay in SoHo count on that you just’re going to every thing in sight, however many Harlemites will not be completely satisfied that their neighborhood has develop into a vacationer vacation spot. Remember that this can be a place the place individuals stay and work; Harlem doesn’t exist for the leisure of vacationers.

If you need to somebody in Harlem, ask her or him for permission. Do not youngsters in any respect.

Do not name it “the hood” or “the ghetto.” These are racist insults.

If you’re not avenue good or used to spending time in cities, there are components of Harlem the place I might train extra warning. I might particularly be cautious round 125th St. round Park and Lexington Aves, which is on the east aspect, and across the public housing developments in the decrease 100s on the east aspect. These areas have a tendency to have crowds of homeless individuals and addicts, and when you’ve got to commute by there repeatedly, it may be tough to witness their ache first-hand.

If you’re already used to metropolis life, you’ll be advantageous in any a part of Harlem at any time of day.

How to Be a Good Visitor to Harlem

The greatest means to give again to Harlem is to peruse its small companies — notably black-owned and POC-owned companies. This is particularly necessary as Harlem continues its speedy gentrification.

Why? Because for many years, town divested in Harlem and it was almost inconceivable for black individuals to get enterprise loans. Combine this with the financial hardships of generational poverty and Harlem’s enterprise progress was stagnant.

In the previous decade, Harlem has gentrified quickly — some neighborhoods a lot quicker than others. As a end result, rents have risen sharply, longtime companies can’t afford to keep, and high-end coffeeshops and bars are transferring in to goal an more and more white and rich clientele.

While these companies have shuttered, longtime Harlem residents who can’t afford their hire have been pressured to transfer additional out — to cheaper neighborhoods which can be much less protected and the place public transportation is much less prevalent, making their lives tougher. Others have discovered themselves homeless or unable to get psychological healthcare, making them vulnerable to substance abuse and habit.

So what are you able to do about this? You could be conscious in regards to the companies you go to in Harlem. This information incorporates 50 black-owned companies and seven POC-owned companies, every labeled clearly. Please make an effort to go to them and companies that don’t solely goal the rich.

So sure, be at liberty to go to dinner at a flowery restaurant like Red Rooster or Clay — but in addition make time to seize a guide at Sisters Bookstore, strive a ginger turmeric tea at Serengeti Tea, write poems at Langston Hughes’s brownstone with the I, Too Arts Collective, and purchase a shirt or cap at Harlem Underground.

Now that you’ve an understanding of the neighborhood, it’s time to work out what to do in Harlem!

Harlem (Flickr picture: Genlab Frank)

The Best Things to Do in Harlem

  • Top Ten Things to Do in Harlem
  • History and Culture in Harlem
  • Arts, Entertainment, and Performances in Harlem
  • The Best Food in Harlem
  • The Best Tea and Coffee Shops in Harlem
  • The Best Nightlife in Harlem
  • Shopping in Harlem
  • Fitness, Outdoors, and Parks in Harlem
  • Books to Read in Harlem
  • Where to Stay in Harlem

Top Ten Things to Do in Harlem

If your time in Harlem is proscribed, I like to recommend you focus on the highest ten issues on this record. Beyond that, the neighborhood is your oyster!

Apollo Theater (Flickr Image: Steven Pisano)

1. See a Show on the Apollo Theater

There is nothing extra iconic in Harlem than catching a present on the Apollo. This theater on 125th St. has been the middle of African-American musical tradition since its opening in 1914. If you’re a well-known black musician, you could have performed right here.

If there’s anyone present it’s best to see, it’s Amateur Night. People from all around the US compete to be the following massive star — and are cheered or booed by the viewers. James Brown, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, and D’Angelo launched their careers at Amateur Night. Who is aware of who you’ll see? (Don’t low cost the losers — Lauryn Hill acquired booed at Amateur Night when she was simply 13!)

Check out the Apollo Theater right here and see the most recent schedule. Amateur night time takes place on Wednesdays at 7:30 PM.

2. Go on a Food and Culture Tour of Harlem

If you’re new to Harlem, this meals and tradition tour is the very first thing it’s best to do. When my household comes to New York, my sister and I take them on this tour to introduce them to the historical past and tradition of Harlem whereas having fun with yummy bites alongside the way in which!

This tour takes you to a number of of the perfect eating places and historic websites alongside the way in which. Try African teas, Senegalese meals, and see some murals no different information will level out to you. If you’re fortunate, you would possibly get to pattern the candy and spicy rooster and waffles at Red Rooster, that are so scrumptious it needs to be felony.

Check out the meals and tradition tour right here (black-owned).

three. Try the Best Local Soul Food

If you’re coming to Harlem, you completely should strive some soul meals. Soul meals is the African-American delicacies that originated in the South and unfold throughout the nation when blacks migrated to cities throughout the Great Migration. It’s greater than fried rooster and collard greens — strive braised oxtails, brief ribs, grilled catfish, barbecue ribs, and extra.

Sylvia’s Restaurant (black-owned) is maybe probably the most iconic soul meals restaurant in New York City, if not the world, working since 1962. That stated, it’s positively probably the most touristy restaurant in Harlem, so be ready for crowds. They do a gospel brunch on Sundays.

Amy Ruth’s (black-owned) is one other standard soul meals restaurant in Harlem. They’re well-known for his or her rooster and waffles in specific, and their dishes are named after celebrities, from President Obama to Ruby Dee to Ludacris.

Melba’s (black-owned) is my private favourite soul meals restaurant in Harlem — in half as a result of it’s acquired the entire high quality with out the vacationer crowds. Melba was raised in the soul meals eating places of Harlem and threw every thing she realized into this restaurant. I just like the salmon right here.

Manna’s (POC-owned) is an effective spot for soul meals on a budget. Opened by a Korean immigrant who promptly and deeply built-in herself deeply in the Harlem neighborhood, Manna’s now has three Harlem areas the place you serve your self from the buffet and pay by the pound.

Seasoned Vegan (black-owned) fulfills an necessary position — it supplies soul meals dishes that vegetarians and vegans can truly eat! It’s not a soul meals restaurant, however they’ve veganized variations of soul meals dishes like smothered “chicken”, barbecue “riblets,” and mac and “cheese.”

A put up shared by 🙋🏼 Élodie (@elo.journey) on May 28, 2018 at 6:04am PDT

four. Attend a Service at Abyssinian Baptist Church

Have you at all times wished to go to church in Harlem? This is the place you need to do it. Abyssinian has its roots in rebelling in opposition to racial inequality and striving for social justice. Worship companies are a celebration of God’s creation, full with passionate sermons and a gospel choir.

Abyssinian has a really strict coverage for vacationers. This is just not a gospel efficiency; it’s a non secular service that occurs to embody gospel music. Abyssinian welcomes guests, however asks that you just solely attend the 11:30 AM service on Sundays, main holidays and August excluded. Tourists should keep for the complete 2.5-hour service. Dress modestly: each men and women ought to cowl shoulders, and flip-flops, tank tops, shorts, and leggings will not be allowed. No backpacks are permitted. All vacationers should enter on the Tourist Entry Point.

If you possibly can’t commit to Abyssinian’s parameters, contemplate going to a gospel brunch at Ginny’s Supper Club (black-owned) or happening a gospel tour as an alternative.

See extra on visiting Abyssinian Baptist Church right here. It is free to attend as a worshiper.

Harlem Meer (Flickr picture: edskoch)

5. Have a Picnic in the Northern Part of Central Park

Here’s a secret: the northern fringe of Central Park will get nearly no vacationers. Most of the vacationers are concentrated in the southern a part of the park. The northern half is blissfully open and stuffed with locals.

One of the nicest components is the Harlem Meer — meer is a Dutch phrase for “small sea.” This little lake is surrounded by willow timber and benches. The North Woods is one other good a part of this a part of Central Park, and the vegetation is so dense that you just’ll really feel such as you’re out in the countryside!

But what makes Central Park even higher? A picnic — Harlem-style. Go to Best Market, a neighborhood grocery store on Frederick Douglas Blvd. at 118th St., and order some barbecue brisket and mac and cheese on the counter. Grab a drink and head eight blocks down to Central Park, having fun with your magnificent meal outdoors in the sunshine.

A put up shared by Red Rooster (@roosterharlem) on Oct 13, 2018 at 10:57am PDT

6. Hit Up Red Rooster and Feel the Celebration

Chef Marcus Samuelsson already had Food Network fame because the chef who was born in Ethiopia, adopted and raised in Sweden, and moved on to the United States, melding his three dwelling cuisines collectively. But he actually made his mark with Red Rooster (black-owned), a restaurant that concurrently elevated him to new heights and introduced him deeper into the neighborhood in Harlem.

Red Rooster’s objective was to be an integral a part of the Harlem neighborhood. In the evenings you’ll hear native musicians performing as locals fill and employees the restaurant. On the menu you’ll discover a mixture of soul meals classics, Ethiopian-influenced flavors, and even some Swedish fare (Marcus makes nice meatballs). And they provide again to the neighborhood as nicely. Come on a Saturday night time and also you’ll be swept up in music, cocktails, and feeling such as you’re in the center of a throwback — however one thing very fashionable, too.

Fact: I made a decision to transfer to Harlem after eating at Red Rooster (the candy potato donuts put me over the sting). I used to be so impressed by its pleasure and variety and thought to myself, “I want to be part of this neighborhood.”

Harlem Jazz (Flickr picture: Darla Hueske)

7. Go Out and Listen to Some Jazz

Most individuals who need to go to Harlem dream of going to a smoky jazz membership and listening to the following massive singer. Well, the smoke is a factor of the previous, however jazz in Harlem is simply as vibrant as ever.

Here are a number of the standout golf equipment:

Minton’s (black-owned) is a Harlem jazz icon — it’s additionally the place bebop was invented! Today Minton’s has reinvented itself as an upscale supper membership. They do night performances in addition to a jazz brunch on Sundays. Dress up right here — jackets are required for males.

Bill’s Place (black-owned) is the place you go for a throwback — it seems like a kind of quasi-legal locations in somebody’s brownstone! Saxophone participant Bill Saxton, often called Harlem’s Jazz King, leads the Harlem All-Stars on Friday and Saturday nights. Note that no alcohol is served right here.

Ginny’s Supper Club (black-owned) is in the basement of Red Rooster (with its glorious meals!) and options jazz performances on the evenings, Tuesday Bluesday blues performances, and a gospel brunch on Sundays.

Paris Blues (black-owned) is the place you go for nice music at a cheaper price level — you possibly can pay attention to jazz with no cowl cost and the meals and drinks are fairly priced. A neighborhood dive in one of the best ways doable.

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival takes place each August, cut up between Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem and Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. All the reveals are free! Check the hyperlink for extra info nearer to August.

Shrine World Music Venue (black-owned) options jazz performers from around the globe, with a variety of nice acts from Africa in specific. See under for way more on Shrine.

Plenty of different bars and eating places in Harlem characteristic stay jazz on some evenings. Check out Londel’s (black-owned)Harlem Nights, Tsion Cafe (black-owned), Home Sweet Harlem (black-owned), and BLVD Bistro (black-owned).

Sylvan Terrace (Flickr picture: susanjanegolding)

eight. Check Out the Best Architecture in Harlem

Not solely is Harlem dwelling to gorgeous church buildings and brownstones — it’s additionally dwelling to what I contemplate probably the most stunning avenue in New York City. The Hamilton Heights Historic District is dwelling to uncommon, inventive, one-of-a-kind brownstones. The most spectacular stretch is on Convent Ave. between 143nd St. and 145th St., in addition to the encircling aspect streets.

The home from The Royal Tenenbaums is a part of this space — it’s on the southeast nook of Convent Ave. and 144th St. Nearby is the City College campus, with its entrance on Amsterdam Ave. at 140th St., is dwelling to large gothic buildings springing out of the center of nowhere.

Another notable space is Astor Row, on 130th St. between fifth Ave. and Lenox Ave. These distinctive homes are set again from the road with each entrance and aspect yards and so they have inexperienced painted porches. There’s nothing else like them in Manhattan.

And whereas it’s simply north of Harlem in Washington Heights, try the distinctive yellow-brown-and-green properties of Sylvan Terrace, which appear like they’re straight out of the 19th Century. At the top of the road is the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest home in Manhattan.

Hamilton Grange (Flickr Image: PatersonGreatFalls)

9. Visit the Hamilton Grange, the Home of Alexander Hamilton

“We’ll get a little place in Harlem and we’ll figure it out.” That line from Hamilton wasn’t a lie — Alexander Hamilton and his spouse Eliza constructed a home in what’s now Harlem again when the entire area was countryside. It was quiet uptown.

The home was moved twice inside Harlem earlier than getting to its everlasting location in St. Nicholas Park. Hamilton, although famed, wasn’t the cultural determine that he’s in the present day post-musical, and lots of the rooms had been adorned as greatest historians may guess. The floor ground is a historic heart telling the story of Hamilton’s life. A film about his life and legacy performs as nicely.

The Hamilton Grange is positioned at 141st St. between Convent Ave. and St. Nicholas Ave. It’s free to go to the Hamilton Grange. Guided excursions, the one means to go upstairs, are at 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, and a couple of:00 PM.

Shrine World Music Venue (Flickr picture through Band Droidz)

10. Have an Unforgettable Night Out at Shrine World Music Venue

There is not any different place like Shrine (black-owned) in New York City. Shrine options stay music seven nights every week with a variety of performers from Africa. Their bands play jazz, funk, R&B and hip-hop from all around the world. There are reggae Sundays. There’s even a Japanese DJ on some nights. It looks like each performer attracts affect from all around the world, a combination of African and Latin and Caribbean beats, main to a sophisticated night time of music like no different.

At 10:00 PM, the music switches over to a DJ and the group will get pumping. But as an alternative of dancing to prime 40, you possibly can be dancing to West African music from Ivorian, Nigerian, or Senegalese DJs. Trust me — it’s an EXPERIENCE.

Check out Shrine right here and see who’s on the schedule.

History and Culture in Harlem

In addition to my beforehand listed suggestions of attending a service at Abyssinian Baptist Church, testing the perfect structure in Harlem, and visiting the house of Alexander Hamilton, listed here are a number of the greatest historical past and tradition actions in Harlem.

Go on a Harlem Renaissance strolling tour. The Harlem Renaissance, which lasted from roughly 1918 to the early 1930s, was a peak interval of creative creativity in the neighborhood and included artists like James Baldwin, Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and extra. Book the tour right here.

Go to a lecture or discover the choices on the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture. This establishment is a division of the New York Public Library, and so they placed on fascinating occasions about black historical past and tradition. Check the schedule right here — it may very well be something from lectures on transgender equality in the black neighborhood to never-before-seen letters and pictures from Malcolm X or poetry readings by modern black poets.

Dive into all issues New York on the Museum of the City of New York. Located in East Harlem proper off Central Park, that is one in all my favourite museums in New York City. The exhibitions may very well be something from the historical past of activism in New York to a set of Yiddish Theatre costumes to a images gallery of teenagers in the Bronx in the late 1970s. It’s at all times altering and at all times fascinating.

Learn about Harlem’s position in the Civil Rights Movement. When you concentrate on the Civil Rights Movement, you concentrate on the South — however Harlemites like Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell had been instrumental in organizing for change. The Harlem Civil Rights Movement Tour takes you on a historic strolling tour in their footsteps.

Explore the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum. Not the Trinity Church in decrease Manhattan the place Hamilton is buried — this one is in the northwest nook of Harlem. This is the one lively mausoleum in Manhattan! Conservationist James Audubon is buried right here and has the most important grave web site of all. Take your self on a self-guided strolling tour.

Explore the Mount Morris Park Historic District. This neighborhood was dwelling to Doctor’s Row, dwelling to probably the most privileged residents in Harlem. Their beautiful brownstones stand to this present day — and the park is Harlem’s favourite spot for watching the New York Marathon! There is a strolling tour that reveals you the historical past of this Harlem neighborhood.

See who’s buried in Grant’s tomb. I imply, clearly it’s Ulysses S. Grant! The General Grant National Memorial is the most important mausoleum in North America and you may study Grant’s management throughout the Civil War. The memorial is shut to Columbia in Morningside Heights. Keep in thoughts the mausoleum’s hours are on-and-off; see a schedule right here.

Get immersed in the historical past of Puerto Ricans in America at El Museo del Barrio. This museum in East Harlem is a celebration of Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latin American tradition in the United States. Come for the excellent artwork; keep for the historical past.

Tour the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Harlem has its share of epic church buildings, however St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights is among the most architecturally spectacular homes of worship in New York City. Several excursions can be found and the behind-the-scenes Vertical Tour provides you entry to the roof, supplying you with sweeping views of Harlem and all of Manhattan. Learn about touring the church right here.

Enjoy a brief historic strolling tour of Harlem. If you don’t have a ton of time and desire a straight historical past tour, this can be a good one.

Check out the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum. If you’re visiting Harlem with youngsters, make sure to make a cease right here! They’ve acquired artwork reveals, a studying nook, storytelling, and every kind of enjoyable occasions.

Arts, Entertainment, and Performances in Harlem

In addition to my beforehand listed suggestions of seeing a present on the Apollo Theater, listening to stay jazz, and having an evening out at Shrine, listed here are extra choices:

Check out the Audubon Mural Project. Bird conservationist John James Audubon lived in what’s now Hamilton Heights throughout the 19th century. To honor his reminiscence and draw consideration to the urgency of now, the Audubon Society and Harlem gallery Gitler & ____ are commissioning murals of 300 chicken species threatened by local weather change. More than 100 have been painted to this point in Hamilton Heights. Join a tour right here or get a map for a self-guided tour right here.

See artworks on the Studio Museum of Harlem. This museum options artworks by African-Americans and other people of the African diaspora. The museum is at the moment closed for renovations by 2021, however a brief programming area is open Thursday by Sunday.

See a poetry efficiency at I, Too Arts Collective (black-owned). Located in the brownstone that was dwelling to Langston Hughes, I, Too Arts Collective is devoted to nurturing rising writers from underrepresented communities. Check out the schedule of occasions right here. You also can be part of a poetry writing class.

Learn how to swing dance and Lindy Hop! Lindy Hop was invented in Harlem and it turned one of many hottest dance crazes in America! Learn in regards to the historical past of dance in Harlem, then take a one-hour swing and Lindy Hop lesson.

See a efficiency by the Dance Theatre of Harlem. This dance firm pioneered inclusive dance at a time when the massive firms wouldn’t take black performers — and to this present day they’re creating beautiful performances. While they spend a lot of the yr touring, you possibly can try their New York efficiency schedule right here.

Check out the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. If you’re a fan of jazz, make sure to try this glorious museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian. They placed on a variety of musical occasions as nicely.

See a present on the United Palace. While technically additional north in Washington Heights, this theater attracts a giant Harlem crowd. It’s acquired an insane inside, lined in extra gold than you thought doable! I noticed The Hip-Hop Nutcracker right here as soon as.

The Best Food in Harlem

Harlem is among the greatest meals neighborhoods in New York. Soul meals is simply the start — Harlem is dwelling to glorious African delicacies, in addition to Latin American meals, American consolation meals, and a stunning quantity of French-influenced eateries. In addition to my beforehand listed suggestions of happening a meals and tradition tour of Harlem, making an attempt the perfect soul meals in Harlem, and experiencing a meal at Red Rooster, listed here are my suggestions:

Try the perfect high-end eating places in Harlem. New spots are constantly opening up. Here are a number of the greatest special day eating places:

Red Rooster (black-owned) — A mixture of Harlem, Sweden, and Ethiopia, in addition to creative world delicacies and scrumptious cocktails. Probably the one restaurant that’s an expertise from begin to end.

BLVD Bistro (black-owned) — BLVD is a family-owned eatery with fashionable, refined Southern meals and the most effective decadent brunches in city (don’t miss the biscuits).

Clay — One of the perfect farm-to-table eating places in Harlem, Clay sources its continually altering menu from small, native producers.

Ponty Bistro (black-owned) — Leading the Afro-French fusion motion in Harlem, Ponty Bistro has a mixture of adventurous and fewer outlandish dishes, from roast rooster to Senegalese marinated steak, all stylish and refined.

Corner Social — Here on one of many trendier blocks in Harlem you’ll advantageous a collection of fashionable American dishes, together with shrimp mac and cheese and lamb chops with mango salsa.

BSquared (black-owned) — This high-end seafood restaurant options creative dishes like lobster tagliatelle with squid ink, octopus cooked in purple wine, and New Zealand child lamb chops.

Explore Harlem’s many African cuisines. Le Petit Sénégal, round 116th St., is the epicenter of New York’s African neighborhood. Many of the eating places cater to Harlem’s Africa-born taxi drivers, others are extra high-end.

Ethiopian is the best-known of African cuisines in America, and a few of Harlem’s greatest Ethiopian eating places are Tsion Cafe (black-owned), with an Ethiopian-Mediterranean hybrid menu and outside patio; Zoma (black-owned), with a big collection of meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes; and Benyam (black-owned), which earns rave critiques throughout the board.

As good as Ethiopian meals is, if you’d like to push your self, strive a unique African delicacies.

For Somali meals, head to Safari (black-owned). It’s the one Somali restaurant in New York City and one in all few East African spots. Try the meat or rooster suqaar (a standard stew) and make sure to strive some sambuzas (beef patties).

For Ivorian meals, head to New Ivoire (black-owned). This informal restaurant has a bunch of Ivorian dishes and is open 24 hours a day. They’re identified for his or her grilled fish.

For Ghanaian meals, head to Accra (black-owned). This cafeteria-style restaurant appears easy at first look however the meals is famend by Ghanaians and West Africans in search of stews and jollof rice.

For Senegalese meals, you’ve acquired a number of choices. Pikine (black-owned) often ranks as the most effective, however others my mates suggest are Keur Sokhna (black-owned) and La Savane (black-owned).

Alternatively, be taught all about African delicacies (black-owned) with a meal ready by Congolese-American chef residing in Harlem.

Have some glorious mid-range meals. All of those eating places will serve you a wonderful meal with out breaking the financial institution:

The Edge (black-owned) has a good looking, art-filled inside and splits their menu into three sections: Jamaica, New York, and England. I really like their jerk rooster kale salad.

Tsion Cafe (black-owned) options a mixture of Ethiopian and Mediterranean dishes — you’ll be stunned once you see how their tiny-looking entrance opens into an expansive inside! The patio is sweet in summer season.

Lolo’s Seafood Shack (black-owned) serves Caribbean seafood in a enjoyable, colourful ambiance. Their sandwiches are served on johnny muffins and their pom pom shrimp is addictive.

Bono serves implausible Italian meals. They’ve acquired an enormous oven in the room and each dish on the menu is excellent, particularly their pizzas, pastas, and foccacias.

Yatenga (black-owned) has an upscale French-meets-American menu. Don’t miss their roasted rooster in Roquefort sauce.

Lenox Saphire (black-owned) serves a mixture of Senegalese and American dishes, together with a number of curries that may mild you on hearth.

Malecon (POC-owned) is a legendary restaurant in the Dominican neighborhood. Their two areas are technically simply north and south of Harlem, however touring is price it for his or her rotisserie rooster and mofongo.

Enjoy some low-cost eats from around the globe. If you’re on the lookout for a fantastic menu on a budget, listed here are some spots:

Wat’s On Your Plate (black-owned) does scrumptious, large and low-cost Jamaican meals with super-cheap lunch specials.

Taqueria San Pedro (POC-owned) has implausible tacos past another place in the neighborhood.

The Handpulled Noodle (POC-owned) does genuine northwest Chinese noodle dishes which you can customise.

The greatest tamales in the neighborhood are bought by Yolanda on the northeast nook of 145th St. and Broadway.

Cuchifritos (POC-owned) serves Puerto Rican meals cafeteria-style in East Harlem.

Enjoy the vegan aspect of Harlem. Seasoned Vegan (black-owned) serves a mixture of veganized soul meals classics (Smothered rooster! Riblets! Mac and cheese!) and dishes from around the globe. Also, in case you’re vegan, contemplate making an attempt one in all Harlem’s Ethiopian eating places listed above, as vegetarian Ethiopian meals additionally occurs to be vegan.

Get an unique slice at Patsy’s in East Harlem. One of the unique pizza establishments in New York City, relationship again to 1933, this is among the slices you completely should strive whereas visiting New York. Take-out solely throughout lunch; restaurant open at dinner.

Try the “rugelach by a brother” at Lee Lee’s Baked Goods (black-owned). In a metropolis with a lot Jewish meals, probably the most well-known rugelach comes from Alvin Smalls in Harlem. He’s perfected his dish and has had tons of options written about him — verify him out in the New York Times!

Enjoy the perfect cupcakes ever at Make My Cake (black-owned). These cupcakes are monumental, moist, and SO sinfully scrumptious. Fun truth: Liz Lemon selected Make My Cake cupcakes for the workforce’s closing lunch on 30 Rock.

Get a cookie the dimensions of your cranium at Levain Bakery. Levain’s cookies are notorious all through town — they’re monumental, extra akin to muffins than cookies. An expertise.

Take a candy southern-style pie from Sweet Chef (black-owned). Sweet Chef makes a wide range of Southern-style pies, together with tiny pies which can be good single servings. Their tagline is actually “Google ‘best sweet potato pie in New York.’” My favourite is the coconut cream.

Enjoy a bottomless brunch in Harlem. Bottomless brunches embody limitless booze — often mimosas or Bloody Marys, both for a timed interval or your total meal. Restaurants with bottomless brunches embody The Grange, with its New American fare; Yatenga (black-owned), with a French aptitude; Lido, for Italian and American meals; Hamilton’s Eatery, for an off-the-cuff and comfy meal; Solomon and Kuff (black-owned), a Jamaican-American restaurant.

The Best Tea and Coffee Shops in Harlem

Serengeti Tea and Spices (black-owned) is among the most particular cafes in Harlem and one which I extremely suggest. They characteristic a collection of African teas, coffees, cocoa, and a number of other ready-brewed libations. If you’re feeling beneath the climate, strive their scorching ginger tumeric tea with honey and lemon — it is going to filter your congestion!

The Monkey Cup is my choose for the best-tasting espresso in Harlem. Their pint-sized outlets, lined with leaves and monkey motifs, are in two areas: one in Hamilton Heights, one in South Harlem.

Lenox Coffee (POC-owned) incorporates a assortment of single-origin coffees. Located in Central Harlem, the store is a well-liked gathering place for Harlem artists and creatives.

Da Capo is the closest factor to an actual Italian bar that I’ve discovered in Manhattan. Located in East Harlem, simply north of 96th St., they characteristic espresso drinks and pastries in addition to cocktails and wine.

Manhattanville Coffee provides scrumptious espresso in a spacious, light-filled ambiance. On the sting of Hamilton Heights and Central Harlem, it’s a fantastic working atmosphere, however know that it fills up early.

Double Dutch Espresso does glorious espresso in a hip atmosphere. One is in South Harlem and one is by City College in Hamilton Heights.

The Chipped Cup is an lovely, Instagram-ready coffeeshop in Hamilton Heights. Their espresso is a number of the greatest in Harlem. If it’s heat out, head out to the courtyard in the again.

Caféine is a European-style espresso bar in the guts of South Harlem. They characteristic a collection of French pastries in addition to their espresso-based drinks.

Espresso Matto is an off-the-cuff cafe with a fantastic idea: every thing prices $2. Cappuccino? $2. Chocolate chip cookie? $2. Gluten-free donut? $2. This chain is throughout New York and the Harlem location is on Broadway at 143rd St.

The Best Nightlife in Harlem

My absolute factor to do for Harlem nightlife is an evening out at Shrine, which I discussed above. In addition to that, listed here are my favorites:

Grab some disco cocktails at The Honeywell. This cocktail bar takes the 1970s theme severely, down to the sunken bar, saloon doorways, and mosaic of Tom Selleck. The cocktail record is intensive, together with a good mocktails record, and in case you sit on the bar, they’ll mild them on hearth. Reserve in advance.

Get some low-cost drinks and play some video games at At the Wallace. This quirky bar has a number of the least expensive beers in the neighborhood; a menu of scorching canine, dinosaur rooster nuggets, and waffle fries; and large Jenga and arcades in the again. Never a boring night time out.

Drink scrumptious cocktails at Cove Lounge (black-owned). This Caribbean lounge in Central Harlem is nice for dinner or simply drinks, that includes high-end cocktails and small plates. Try the rooster and purple velvet waffles! Dress up right here in the evenings.

Check out an occasion at MIST Harlem (black-owned). This occasion area is at all times placing on fascinating reveals — from uptown comedy Thursdays and late night time jazz Fridays to R&B day events and 90s brunches on the weekend!

Enjoy craft beers and burgers at Harlem Public. This Hamilton Heights bar incorporates a rotating collection of fascinating craft beers from all around the US. The burgers are nice and the peanut butter burger is infamous.

Catch the sport at Harlem Tavern. If you’re on the lookout for a great place to watch a giant sport, Harlem Tavern needs to be your prime choose — it’s large, there are tons of TVs, and the group is enthusiastic. Some different good sports activities bars are Solace and Grill on the Hill.

Sip wine at Harlem’s greatest wine bars. Three that stand out are Anchor Wine Bar in Hamilton Heights, Barawine Harlem in Central Harlem, and D’Amore Wine Bar in East Harlem.

Explore Harlem’s queer nightlife. Hamilton Heights is rapidly turning into the epicenter of queer Harlem, however there are welcoming bars all around the neighborhood. The greatest RuPaul’s Drag Race watch events are at At the Wallace; Hogshead Tavern attracts a enjoyable queer crowd; The Honeywell has drag brunches as soon as a month. Alibi Lounge (black-owned) is additional east in Central Harlem, shut to Striver’s Row. While it’s technically a bit additional uptown in Washington Heights, Boxer’s is a well-liked homosexual sports activities bar.

Harlem (Flicker picture: Jörg Schubert)

Shopping in Harlem

Check out the road distributors on 125th St. 125th St. has been synonymous with Harlem because the very starting, although in the present day chain shops are largely taking on. But the road sellers are the place it’s at. Check out the distributors promoting oils, music, equipment and extra.

Go on a Harlem fashion tour with a trend anthropologist. Seriously! Harlem has at all times been the epicenter of black fashion in America. An Ivy-league educated anthropologist will take you on a tour of the perfect boutiques and train you in regards to the historical past of Harlem trend. See the tour right here (black-owned).

Check out Sisters Uptown Bookstore (black-owned). This impartial bookstore, run by two sisters, options the work of African-American authors and places on a number of fascinating readings and occasions.

Browse fashionable African wares at Calabar Imports (black-owned). This store, with outposts in Brooklyn as nicely, options beautiful African clothes and accessories, together with gorgeous head wraps, in addition to some Asian and South American equipment.

Shop for high-end clothes at Harlem Haberdashery (black-owned). One of the perfect outlets in the neighborhood, Harlem Haberdashery options the 5001 Flavors clothes line. They make customized outfits for celebrities and promote a wide range of clothes and accessories.

Find the right present for the children in your life at Grandma’s Place (black-owned). This family-owned youngsters’s toy retailer is stuffed with passionate workers who will make it easier to discover the right present. Even higher? The retailer is chock stuffed with black and brown dolls and toys and books that characteristic individuals of colour.

Browse West African skincare merchandise at Sade Skincare (black-owned). At this store, discover every kind of do-it-yourself skincare merchandise made with natural components and cosmetics tailor-made to black girls’s pores and skin tones. They do facials and skincare remedies too.

Check out native designs at Harlem Underground (black-owned). This retailer, with areas on Frederick Douglas Blvd. and 125th St., options its personal designs on a wide range of attire. If you’re on the lookout for a top quality Harlem t-shirt, that is the place to go.

Explore Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market. This market, at 116th St. and Malcolm X Blvd., is in the guts of Le Petit Sénégal and Harlem’s West African neighborhood. Here you’ll discover every kind of African textiles, clothes, jewellery, equipment, and extra.

Shop for hats at Harlem’s greatest hat outlets. If you need the final word Harlem memento, head to Flamekeepers Hat Club (black-owned) for a flowery, high-end hat the likes of which you couldn’t discover at dwelling. They have an entire part of their merchandise referred to as “conversation pieces.” Want extra? Check out Hats by Bunn (black-owned) with signature kinds for each event.

Support native small companies on the Sugar Hill Market. While the Sugar Hill Market appears to be on hiatus in the intervening time, solely updating often on social media, this rotating market is a pleasant spot to discover handcrafted clothes, jewellery, artwork, and housewares by Harlem residents.

Fitness, Outdoors, and Parks in Harlem

In addition to my beforehand listed suggestion of visiting the northern a part of Central Park, listed here are some outdoor and health actions to do in Harlem:

Go on a bike tour with I Bike Harlem (black-owned). Harlem is such a giant neighborhood which you can’t cowl it in a day by foot — however you possibly can see a ton of it in case you bike! Go on a 10-mile tour alongside 125th St., alongside the Hudson River, Sugar Hill, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, and so lots of the prettiest streets in Harlem alongside the way in which.

Take a stroll or bike trip alongside Riverside Park. Riverside Park runs all the way in which alongside the west aspect of Manhattan. It’s nice for working and preferrred in case you’re not snug biking in a metropolis. One of the good spots simply north of the Harlem portion is the Little Red Lighthouse perched beneath the George Washington Bridge.

Take a soulful spin class at Harlem Cycle (black-owned). Harlem has a boutique spin studio of its personal — and a few signature courses. I really like the Soulful Sunday gospel trip; additionally they have reggae and hip-hop rides throughout the week.

Check out Riverbank State Park. Yes, there’s a 28-acre state park in the center of Manhattan! Here you possibly can get pleasure from swimming, a skating rink and ice skating rink, a fitness center, and every kind of athletic services. It’s low-cost, too — the grownup charge for swimming is simply $2. Fabulous views over the Hudson.

Drop right into a Harlem yoga class. Both Harlem Yoga in Central Harlem and Brahman Yoga Harlem in Hamilton Heights supply drop-in courses, together with some donation-based courses.

Books to Read in Harlem

I’m an enormous advocate of studying literature set in the place you’re visiting. It provides a lot worth once you’re feeling the vacation spot round you as you’re studying it.

Most of the studying lists for Harlem literature focus solely on the Harlem Renaissance, from roughly 1918 to the 1930s, however these lists overlook a lot good literature about Harlem from totally different instances. Here are a few of my suggestions that fall outdoors the Harlem Renaissance:

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as informed to Alex Haley — One of the perfect memoirs I’ve ever learn, and a searing account of Harlem throughout one in all its most enjoyable time intervals by one in all its most well-known residents.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi — This novel tells the story of era upon era of the descendants of two sisters: one in Ghana and one in America. The American aspect of the household strikes to Harlem for a couple of of these generations, and it so fantastically and sadly illustrates generational trauma and poverty relationship again to slavery.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo — this current award-winning novel in verse tells the story of a teenage Dominican-American poet residing in Harlem and her struggles to inform her story.

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson — Marcus’s candy memoir about rising up in Sweden, returning to his birthplace of Ethiopia, and discovering a objective in Harlem. He has a cookbook based mostly on the restaurant, too.

Islandborn by Junot Díaz — While the neighborhood in this youngsters’s guide isn’t specified, it appears a lot like my Dominican nook of Harlem. Young Lola is assigned to write in regards to the place the place she was born — however she left the Dominican Republic when she was a child and might’t keep in mind. But her neighbors inform her such great tales, she creates a narrative of her island and her individuals. I really like this guide and present it to all my mates with youngsters.

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem by Daniel R. Day — Dapper Dan is a trend legend — the Harlemite who invented high-end avenue trend and ended up creating Harlem fashion, dressing celebrities, and extra. This memoir is popping out in July 2019 — the time to preorder it’s now!

Where to Stay in Harlem: The Best Hotels

Harlem is a superb neighborhood to keep in. Prices are less expensive than downtown, there are many glorious lodges, and relying on the placement, you possibly can have easy accessibility to categorical trains or Central Park.

Not to point out, as you now know, easy accessibility to Senegalese meals, hat outlets, and a number of the most beautiful structure in New York!

Top Recommended Harlem Hotels

Best All-Around: Aloft Harlem

Highly Rated on TripAdvisor: 255west Guesthouse

Great Value Option: The Central Park North Hotel

Hostel: HI NYC Hostel (not technically Harlem however shut)

Check out extra Harlem lodges right here.

What about Airbnbs in Harlem?

Only guide an Airbnb in Harlem if 1) you might be solely reserving a room in an house the place the host is current or 2) you might be reserving a keep for 30+ days. Otherwise, it’s an unlawful rental.

Booking a complete house to your self for lower than 30 days is in opposition to the legislation in New York City. However, Airbnb doesn’t implement this legislation, so unlawful listings seem all through the positioning. Booking an unlawful rental may end result in it being shut down earlier than or throughout your stick with no probability for a refund.

Why are these listings unlawful? Because they damage the housing marketplace for locals. Landlords could make much more cash in short-term leases than long-term leases, so lots of them select to hire out their place on Airbnb to allow them to earn more money. But when extra landlords do that, housing turns into extra scarce and costs are pushed up, making issues worse in a metropolis that’s already costly. That’s why New York City made it unlawful.

Airbnb chooses not to comply with the legislation. I hope you select to comply with the legislation for the sake of Harlemites and New Yorkers.

However, it’s completely authorized to hire a room whereas the host is current, fairly than the entire place. If you’re set on staying in an Airbnb in Harlem, I encourage you to contemplate this selection. Before I moved to New York, I used Airbnb to hire out rooms in a number of neighborhoods right here, and my hosts at all times gave me area and privateness.

Harlem is ready for you!

I hope this put up has satisfied you to spend a protracted, prolonged time in Harlem. This neighborhood has a lot to supply, it doesn’t matter what you’re into, and I hope your time in Harlem is the spotlight of your go to to New York City.


READ NEXT: Solo Female Travel in New York City


Have you been to Harlem? What was your favourite factor to do? Share away!

The put up 124 Best Things to Do in Harlem, New York City: A Guide appeared first on Adventurous Kate.




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