It feels like it’s been a while but I’m back with a new neighborhood. This week I went uptown to Harlem (Central and West). Like a lot of Manhattan used to be, Harlem was farmland but during the American Revolution it was burned down. After the Civil War there was an influx of Jewish and Italian families. The connection of Harlem to the rest of the city via new train lines help to fuel economic and population growth. With the Great Migration of African-Americans to northern cities in the early 20th-century, Harlem became home for these new residents as well as an artistic boom for poetry, novels, theater, and other visual arts which was known as the Harlem Renaissance. Theaters, night clubs, speakeasies, and dance spots popped up throughout the neighborhood during the 1920’s. Harlem is currently seeing another boom to its restaurant and bar scene especially along Lenox Avenue. Harlem is easily accessible from the A, B, C, D, 1, 2, and 3 trains and bounded by the Hudson River and Fifth Avenue from west to east and 110th St. and 155th St. from south to north.
My first stop was to grab a bite to eat at Maison Harlem. This French bistro was surprising and pleasantly well light which really showed off the rustic interior. Maison is the child of Samuel and Romain (both from France) a dancer with a history in restaurants and a chef, respectively, that realized they had similar passions and a vision. If you’re one of those that isn’t satisfied with just one type of food per meal then you’re in luck because Maison serves brunch all the time. I was in the mood for something from the lunch fare and decided on the Wild Mushroom Risotto with baby vegetables, balsamic glaze, truffle oil, and parmesan cheese. Wow is the first word that comes to mind. The flavors worked so well with each other and the creamy texture with the cheese was fantastic. I also had a Left Hand Milk Stout to drink, one of my go-to stouts. If you like French style brunch then Masion is the place for you.
The recommended activity is to visit St. Nicholas Park. The name sure helps with my selection but it is finally spring in New York and what better time to enjoy one of the many awesome parks that the city has to offer. Moving to New York you learn to appreciate all the green space you can get. St. Nicholas Park offers just that and plenty of hills too along the exposed rock throughout parts of the park. The park is roughly 23-acres. This is one of those places that can be enjoyed in the winter as well especially if you like sledding. Harlem is surprisingly quite hilly.
What better way to end a day’s adventure than with a nice refreshing drink? I decided to check out La Bodega 47. This bar restaurant has a cozy yet modern interior with a Latin theme that spans to it’s food and drinks as well. A friendly staff and what seemed like a good mix of regulars and first timers made the environment very welcoming. I settled up to the bar table and landed on a Latin Old Fashioned which was made from El Dorado 12 Year, island spice molasses, and orange and grapefruit bitters. The drink was slightly sweeter than expected but had the familiar flavors of an old fashioned with the Latin twists evident. I didn’t get any food here but the steak that was served up next to me smelled delicious.
And of course, here are more pictures from around the neighborhood.
Barawine (French), Billie’s Black, Harlem BBQ, Jacob Soul Food and Salad Bar, El Porton (Mexican), Red Rooster, Harlem Shake (retro diner), The Cecil (Afro-Asian-American), Cuchifritos (Puerto Rican), Pasty’s Pizzeria, Lenox Saphire (French), Cheri (set 2-course rotating daily), BLVD (refined comfort food), Jin Ramen, ABV (wine bar), Abyssinia (Ehtiopian), Harlem Public (pub)
Minton’s (jazz supper club), Barawine, Vinateria (trattoria), Shrine (live music), L Bar and Lounge, 67 Orange Street, Harlem Lanes (bar and bowling), The Duck (honky tonk saloon), Harlem Tavern, Ginny’s Supper Club (speakeasy lounge), Judi’s (southern), Moca (funky house cocktails), Bier International (beer garden), Harlem Public (16 craft beers on tap), Corner Social (craft beer bistro)
Harlem Lanes (bowling alley), Paris Blues (jazz club), Apollo Theater, Rucker Park, Minton’s (jazz club), Museo del Barrio, Studio Museum of Harlem, Bill’s Palace (byob jazz club), 449 LA a.k.a. SCAT, Graffiti hall of fame
Aloft Harlem, The Harlem Flophouse, or of course AirBnB
Photos and editing: Nick Pierce