Like the cracked concrete stairs leading to the front entrance of my childhood home, Harlem has always been familiar to me. It has always given me that same feeling I used to get as I drove down Lake Shore Drive. Chicago raised me and Harlem accepted me. The familiarity that I felt here before I even signed my lease on my very first big girl apartment is something that I will always cherish. And as much as it has changed since I first moved in; with new people and businesses, that feeling has never left me.
Here are some of my favorite local businesses (well restaurants) in Harlem (keep in mind that I’m a foodie and I’m sensitive about my meals):
As a graduate student at Columbia University I grew weary fighting for a seat in Starbeezy’s on any given day. Luckily Manhattanville came to save my life. A family friendly atmosphere with posh leather couches, delectable treats it has truly become the neighborhood coffee shop. Though I have long since finished my thesis you can still find me in line at Manhattanville eagerly awaiting my almond chai latte and chocolate scone.
The Edge Café
Brunch is one of my favorite things. No seriously! I don’t play games about Brunch. I was used to venturing down to Fredrick Douglass Boulevard where you nearly trip over brunch options until a couple of months ago, when The Edge opened up steps away from my apartment. Entrees with a Caribbean twist, The Edge has everything from waffles, to jerk chicken, plantains and festival.
67 Orange Street
Pour Up! DRANK! I’m actually not a big drinker. If you can’t tell yet, I much prefer to eat my calories. However, 67 Orange has me questioning all of that. With drinks with names like “Emancipation” and “Mo’ Better” this bar/lounge reminds me of what a 21st century Harlem Renaissance may have looked like. It doesn’t hurt that the staff looks like they’ve all just stepped off some fashion runway.
|67 Orange Street
Bad Horse Pizza
I’m from Chicago so I’m extremely particular about my pizza. Normally NYC pizza just doesn’t do it for me. Bad Horse is one of the only places that stand out amongst what native New Yorkers try to pass off as pizza. Luckily, they only deliver to my area Mon- Wed, so when I want the pizza during the end of the week I have to work for it.
There are several places to grab Soul Food uptown and many of them are the bee’s knees. And yet only Melba’s is serving up eggnog waffles and chicken. This tiny restaurant is ALWAYS packed. So whether you are arriving for brunch or dinner I suggest you get there before the rush. Melba’s doesn’t take reservations but trust me it’s worth the wait.
Levain Bakery (Harlem)
If you give a girl a cookie, you’ll probably have to buy her another one because the first one was just too damn good. I have a serious sweet tooth and I take my desserts seriously. Let me tell you about the cookies at Levain Bakery. Listen Linda, THEY ARE EVEYTHING! Omg. Sometimes on my more greedy days I purchase a chocolate walnut cookie after brunch and eat it hours later in my underpants while watching Netflix. Sigh…life’s small pleasures.
I know you are sick and tired of hearing about Brunch so this is the last one I promise. Cedric’s is a true gem. A bit off of Harlem’s “restaurant row”, Cedric’s boasts a wall of floor to ceiling windows and delicious cuisine. As someone who is constantly torn between savory and sweet selections at brunch, Cedric’s allows me my pancakes and my eggs too. If you are a late riser on the weekends, I definitely recommend making a reservation. Once you are seated, get cozy and stay for a while.
Hungry? Want a drink? Want to watch the game or listen to some jazz? Harlem Tavern has got you covered. I’ve probably been to the Tavern about 100 times since moving uptown. It’s my fall back place, my “first date” spot and everything in between. The Tavern is always packed but there is never a long wait which immediately sets it apart from its competitors. In the summer you can sit outside and people watch or cozy up at the bar during the winter. Either way Harlem Tavern has never let me down.
There are a ton of other incredible businesses in Harlem (not just restaurants). There are even businesses like Good Monster who pride themselves on helping business owners by providing digital marketing services that engage consumers. Harlem is a fantastic neighborhood so if you’ve never stopped by come visit! We’re all friendly and whatnot.
xoxox Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxo