When I first moved to New York, the only neighborhoods I knew somewhat well were Chelsea and the Upper West Side. So when I landed in an apartment steps away from central Harlem, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, or that I would love it here.
To the detriment of New Yorkers’s who don’t ever venture north of Central Park, they are missing out on the emergence of some new generation restaurants and watering holes in Harlem. In my effort to turn my friends into Harlem visitors one brunch at a time, I wanted to share some of my go-to spots in the neighborhood.
Harlem has no shortage of third-wave coffeeshops that’s all the rage these days, serving single drip coffees, flat-whites, and whatever else the kids are drinking these days.
Lenox Coffee: Lenox tops the list and Alex swears that this place makes the best flat white in the area. I love it for its cozy and rustic atmosphere. The space is tight but it's great for people watching and catching up over a cup of Joe.
Kuro Kuma: Possibly my favorite coffee place in town. These guys have a tiny storefront but they make up for the lack of space with a perfect espresso.
Amaretto Espresso: I recently discovered these guys and they won me over with their brightly lit space. It's never too crowded and a great place to catch up with friends. It does get very loud since something about the structure of the space make voices really carry.
Cafe Frederick Harlem Parlor: A staple of mine for days when I need to get some work done. On a typical weekend, you'll probably find me in various spots at the parlor, whether using their bar as my standup desk, lounging on the benches, or cozying up with a book in the reading chair.
Known for their Gospel brunch, comfort food, and fusion of Caribbean/French/Asian flavors, I’m pretty sure Harlem is where brunch was made.
Melba's: My introduction to Harlem brunch was at Melba's and their fried chicken was a brand new brunch experience for me at the time. Now, I don't know why you would order anything else at brunch.
Sylvia’s: This is the one place that many New Yorkers who've never been up to Harlem know about. It is the go-to spot for some authentic feel-good Gospel brunch.
BLVD Bistro: Mac & Cheese. Because you're never too old to have Mac & Cheese for breakfast.
Amy Ruth’s: The definition of comfort food. That is all.
Harlem Tavern: Visit Harlem Tavern on the weekends and enjoy brunch with a live band. I try not to sit too close to the musicians though as it does get quite loud stage center. Come here in the summer when they open up their outdoor patio and bask in the sun. Side note: it's also a great sports bar for catching the game.
Let your palette guide you for dinner. Harlem’s finest restaurants will leave you full and satisfied. And the best part? Whether it’s a cocktail or a well-aged bottle, you will find your drink of choice waiting for you.
Red Rooster: The gem of Harlem. I'm used to seeing tourists get off by the bus load just to have a meal at Red Rooster. Make reservations ahead of time, and try just about everything on the menu. You won't be disappointed.
The Cecil: The latest craze in town is this African/America/Asian fusion. What does that even mean? You'll have to find out for yourself. And if you're heading there for dinner, don't forget to check out their bar for some amazing cocktails.
Vinateria: With a name like that, it's no surprise that Vinateria has a notable wine selection. Come for their wine selection but stay for their seasonal menu of tapas.
Barawine: Speaking of wine, Barawine has an extensive wine selection and a delightful menu. The decor is clean and modern, and the restaurant is a great setting for intimate conversations.
Lido: Don't think Harlem is all American, Lido offers Italian cuisine with a Mediterranean twist. Go all out on the pasta but make sure you save room for dessert.