Monday, April 09, 2007

HARLEM NIGHTS: Food, Music & Happenings Uptown!

New York’s Upper Manhattan plays host to a diverse and flourishing group of neighborhoods! Co-existing on this narrow stretch between the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, are five distinct and vibrant neighborhoods; East Harlem/El Barrio, Central Harlem, Manhattanville, Hamilton and Washington Heights. However, the bigger surprise nowbeing discovered by neighborhood residents and visitors alike are the exciting music and entertainment offerings flourishing within restaurant and cultural venues of the area.

To fully tap Uptown's offerings we recommend exploring Harlem One Stop:
This community based website provides a centralized information resource of neighborhood institutions, restaurants, and shops, highlighting the full spectrum of uptown activities!

East Harlem/El Barrio
Strolling East Harlem’s “El Barrio” remains a wonderful and exciting experience. Within its architecturally distinctive blocks of 19th Century tenements are many buildings adorned with colorful murals that pay tribute to Latin political and cultural heroes. The Museum of the City of New York and El Museo del Barrio, both of which are located at Fifth Avenue and 104th Street, continue to provide stimulating exhibitions, supported by unique cultural and musical programming. Many of the Latin artists who practice and jam at the neighborhood’s Harbor Conservancy for the Performing Arts showcase their talents
at area venues like La Fonda Boricua (Puerto Rican), 169 E.106th Street, with it’s great food, friendly atmosphere and Friday night Latin Jazz or at the more intimate Carlito’s Café y Galleria, with its array of Latin music, film and cultural offerings. Other rewarding dining experiences include Richardo’s Steakhouse (Spanish),
2145 Second Avenue,
El Paso Taqueria (Mexican), 1642 Lexington Avenue or
Orbit East Harlem (American), 2257 First Avenue.

Central Harlem/Mt Morris Park
Take time and check out the Apollo Theater’s restored façade and new marquee, or better yet, catch the theater’s wonderfully rejuvenated programming! Next, head east on 125th Street for a stop at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 W. 125th Street with its amazing exhibitions of contemporary art and evening events that often showcase dance and music. For an appetizing
combination of dinning and jazz check out the Lenox Lounge (Southern/Soul),
288 Lenox Avenue or
MoBay (Caribbean/Soul),
17 West 125th Street where music is offered on a varying schedule (best to call and confirm times). For those who prefer their music “neat,” just drinks and jazz, we recommend several charming haunts of Harlem’s old guard; the American Legion Post #398, 248 W. 132nd Street,
New Amsterdam Music Association at 107 W. 130th St. and Showman’s, 375 W. 125th Street. For classic Harlem soul food, try Amy Ruth’s, 113 W.116th Street, M&G Diner, 383 West 125th Street or Sylvia’s Restaurant, 328 Lenox Avenue which offers live gospel music at its weekend brunch.

From riverfront manufacturing in the valley, to matriculating scholars on the heights, this area offers a history and culture as varied as its topography. In Manhattanville, where time and Columbia’s expansion plans have reduced manufacturing to nil, two unique eateries remain, Floridita (Caribbean/Cuban), 3219 Broadway and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 646 W. 131st Street offering authentic smoked bar-b-que and live blues! A nearby surprise for its jazz offerings is the Manhattan School of Music, were six nights a semester young musicians provide free jazz music in the Jazz Café at the Mitzi Newhouse Pavilion, 610 West 122nd Street. For those looking to eat in the area offers an array of choices. If you're doing the cooking for friends before heading out for jazz, pick-up fresh and pre-prepared food items at Fairway Market, 2328 12th Avenue or Citerella’s, 461 W. 125th Street, two of NYC’s finest food emporiums! Equally as varied in menu and entertainment is the Hudson River Cafe (Seafood/Latin), 697 West 133rd Street. For reasonably priced dining in the area try Pisticci (Italian), 125 LaSalle Street, or Toast (American), 3157 Broadway. Check out Soundz Lounge, 3155 Broadway, for Dj’d music, dance and a diverse fun crowd. Along Broadway's in Morningside Heights,
eateries offer a certain Parisian charm as restaurants expand onto the sidewalk in Spring and Summer providing a left bank flavor to dining at Le Monde (French Bistro), 2885 Broadway, Havana Central (Cuban) 2911 Broadway or Seinfield’s legendary Tom’s Restaurant (Jerr'y's American) 2880 Broadway.

West Harlem/Hamilton Heights
This predominantly residential neighborhood represents Harlem’s largest historic district, encompassing Hamilton Heights and the legendary “Sugar Hill.” Harlem Stage, housed at the district’s southern end in a beautifully restored 19th Century gatehouse offers the area’s most avant guarde music, dance and perfor- mance! After the show try nearby Cafe Largo (Latin/American), 3387 Broadway or take in a commanding view of the Hudson
River and George Washington Bridge at Harlem’s River Room (Nuvo Cuisine), 145th Street/Riverbank State Park. Equally pleasurable for music and dining are Baton Rouge (Creole/Cajun),
458 West 145th Street, Copeland’s Restaurant (Southern/Soul),
547 W. 145th Street or Sugar Hill’s legendary jazz spot St Nick’s Pub,
773 St Nicholas Avenue.

Washington Heights/Inwood
To steal a line from Cole Porter, “it’s the top”…Manhattan’s northern most outpost, but a trip rich in rewards. At the neighborhood’s lower reaches are the revolutionary war era Morris-Jumel Mansion and the amazing art collection of the
Hispanic Society of America. Further north is the Cloisters nestled above the Hudson River in Fort Tryon Park. Adding to the area's rejuvenated nightlife has been the recent opening of
The United Palace, 4140 Broadway at 175th Street for music and theatrical performances. Artists have included a varied mix, from the Isley Brothers and Iggy Pop to Cedric the Entertainer and Bjork. The neighborhood offers several friendly local favorites, Coogan’s Restaurant (American/Irish/Spanish),
4015 Broadway, Bohio (Dominican Fusion), 4055 Broadway,
El Presidente (Dominican), 3938 Broadway or Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project's restaurant in Fort Tryon Park, the New Leaf Café (American), 1 Margaret Corbin Drive with all the above venues offering live music on a varying schedule of days and times.

Uptown’s Gay/Lesbian Scene
The bar No Parking, 4168 Broadway at 177th Street tops the list, with friendly bartenders, hunky dancers and a handsome clientele, also try Suite, 992 Amsterdam Avenue a Morningside favorite. For music and dance there’s the gay Escadalo Nights at Umbrella, 440 West 202nd Street, hosted every month and serving up a hot Latin mix! For the cruising eye and spirit there’s a casual friendliness and potential reward to be found at varied uptown haunts, ranging from the aisles of Fairway, to the crowds at Hudson River Cafe. Connoisseurs of the art can also be spotted strolling exhibitions at the Cloisters and Casa Frela Gallery or in exchanged glances over dinner at New Leaf Café. For over the top Saturday night entertainment, catch the mid-night drag performances of “Ana Paula” and “Lupita Jones” at Olmeca Restaurant (Mexican), 322 East 116th Street.

- The Harlem Eye /Harlem One Stop