A Great Day In Harlem
There’s no place better to conclude Black History Month than in the Black mecca – Harlem, N.Y. Yes, the once mostly African-American section of the city has gentrified (A Whole Foods is currently being constructed) but there are still historical and Black-owned spots to spend your time and money in. Here are the highlights.
113 W. 116th
The Harlem staple does a great chicken and waffles, among other waffle offerings, some named after famous Black celebrities and politicos. It’s a homey soul food restaurant in Central Harlem, so expect to wait on busy days although it is open 24 hours on Friday and Saturdays. Bring and appetite and loose clothing, though, as portions are generous.
The Studio Museum In Harlem
144 W. 125th
The Studio Museum in Harlem is a small museum that has a different set of exhibits depending on when you go, so check ahead for anything of particular interest. The bookstore is small, but has some hard-to-find books and other things of interest you may not find anywhere else. It’s a nice place to visit for an hour or two when you’re exploring all the varying things that Harlem has to offer. Call ahead or check the website for current exhibits and hours.
(Photo Beyond My Ken)
The Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
Although the arts and artifacts division is temporarily closed, there are a myriad of things that you can do there including taking advantage of free Wifi and researching Black culture that includes exhibitions, podcasts, books, and other materials. The Schomburg also offers a host of public programs. An upcoming one titled “Conversation in Black Freedom Studies: Women In The Black Panther Party” takes place on Thursday, March 3 at 6 p.m.
The Red RoosterHarlem
310 Malcolm X Bouvelard
The Red Rooster bar is one of the social centers of the newly upgraded Harlem. Chef Marcus Samuelsson, an Ethiopian who was raised in Sweden, has created a funky French bistro vibe in a community that embraced the idea. Come by for the drinks and ambience, stay for the friendly vibes and never knowing what local or international celebrity might be seated on the bar seat next to you.
The Cecil Harlem
210 W. 118th Street at St. Nicholas Avenue
The Cecil is an African hybrid restaurant, which means you won’t find basic chicken, wings and mac and cheese but you will find eclectic variations on both of those things, as well as food based in African-style recipes. Their bar includes South African wines and African beers and one of the prettiest dining rooms in the area.
Late Night Bite
100 W 124th
You may have heard of the Shake Shack, an upscale but casual burger joint, or the Harlem Shake dance, which ruled the Internets a few years back. Well, in Harlem there is the Harlem Shake, a casual neighborhood burger spot that stays open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. They offer a mini-burger, a veggie and a turkey burger as well as grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, and the requisite floats and milkshakes as well as a beer and wine menu.
206 W. 118th
What would Harlem be without jazz music?
Right next door to the Cecil, the revamped Minton’s plays on the tradition of the old jazz club that boasted some of the genre’s most elite performers. A gorgeously appointed spot, Mintons’s is on a winter break but is still doing special concerts and private events and should reopen for a full schedule soon. Although the historic club’s original location was closed after a fire, its legacy of great jazz performances lives on in the new spot.
Where To Stay:
2296 Frederick Douglass Blvd
After your fun day exploring all that Harlem has to offer, you can lay your head down in Harlem’s only hotel, the ALoft Harlem. It’s a modern hotel with rooms that are among the least expensive in the New York City area. Although it’s not a five-star, it’s a good option if you don’t want to have to head all the way downtown after a night out at one of the hotspots listed above. Rooms quality and options are in line with Alofts everywhere and it’s a great option for a New York stay.
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(Photos: The New York Public Library, Aloft Hotels, The Cecil, Marcussamuelsson.com, Minton’s, Harlem Shake and as credited)
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