Like so many of the areas we write about, Harlem is no stranger to gentrification. Each time I visit it seems a new organic juicery or wood fire pizzeria has opened up. Still, the neighborhood manages to uphold the sort of soulfulness that defined it during the 1960s and 70s. A focal point for the civil rights movement, epicenter for jazz, hip-hop, and rap music and – perhaps most importantly – home to A$AP Mob, Harlem's history is rich in culture and boasts a robust roster of hometown heroes. Old-school bodegas with windows layered in cigarette ads alongside sneaker shops and home-style restaurants define its quintessentially New York vibe.
I'm more of a savory than sweet sort of chick. You'll catch me going for seconds rather than caring about what's for dessert. However, I'd make an exception for a Levain cookie any day. They are seriously the bomb.com and if you're in Harlem you should start your day here with either a scone or some brioche and take a bag of cookies for the road while you're at it.
Hit up these other spots to get some deep fried satisfaction:
- Amy Ruth's: a legendary southern cooking joint loved by many. Be prepared to pop that top button of your jeans.
- Manna's Soul Food: pay-by-the-pound soul food for some money well spent.
- Billie's Black: for some southern comfort with a side of live music.
Swinging by the iconic The Apollo Theater is a no brainer; the venue is an important stop for understanding the African American and Latin American music that permeates through the area.
Grab a beer at The Harlem Tavern which is a kick-ass hangout, especially during the warmer months. And while your'e there check out these other chill spots:
- Columbia U Consignment: thrift your heart out digging through their piles of vintage goods.
- Studio Museum: for some sweet exhibits that reflect the cultural diversity of Harlem.
- New York Conservatory Garden: A gorgeous, more manicured part of Central Park that is worth a visit while you're uptown.
Have a reliable recommendation or sweet spot to share? Go crazy in the comments section.