Great Things Happening in Harlem

I live in and love Harlem. (Yes, it's the front line of gentrification and affords a complicated vantage point on social and economic issues in New York and the U.S.) There are so many wonderful things to try and do north of 110th Street, but people who might not live in the neighborhood might not know where and when these wonderful things happen. (An excellent source for more information beyond just this post is Harlem Bespoke.)

Daytime Suggested Itinerary of Awesomeness:
1. Saturday brunch at any of the excellent restaurants mentioned below;
2. Followed by a stroll past the original Red Rooster location, for a sense of Harlem lore (138th and Adam Clayton Powell aka 7th Avenue, See here.);
3. Then, a stop at the north end of Marcus Garvey/Mount Morris Park for fresh fruit at the farmer's market (Saturdays until November, ends at 3:30pm). Fun Fact: the park's name was changed in the 70s to Marcus Garvey Park by a politician looking to curry favor in the district; it didn't take and the locals still insist upon calling it by its older name, Mount Morris Park;
4. And, finally, sitting at one of the benches in the park to listen to the drumming circle that gathers every Saturday and plays for hours.

Nighttime Suggested Itinerary of Awesomeness:
(aka A few of the many excellent restaurants in the neighborhood):

Chez Lucienne on Lenox Avenue (aka 6th Avenue), just north of 125th Street.
This French bistro is run by Burkinabés (people from Burkina Faso) and has interesting dinner or drink themes every night. Saturdays feature live African bands. Expect good French wines, mussels, French fries, steak au poivre, etc. They have sidewalk dining when the weather is nice (as it is these days), which is great people watching.

Mobay on 125th, a few steeps east of Lenox Avenue (aka 6th Avenue).
Caribbean fusion food and drink, festively decorated with hanging lanterns and lights both in and outside. Live music many nights. Jerk chicken, coconut encrusted shrimp, signature rum punch cocktails. The food is amazing.

Native on Lenox Avenue, just north of 118th.
Creative reinterpretations of "traditional" dishes from across the world with addictive sangría. Moroccan fried chicken served with collard greens, beef short ribs braised in red wine. They also have sidewalk seating during warm nights. And did I mention the sangría?

Red Rooster on Lenox Avenue (aka 6th Avenue) just north of 125th.
Marcus Samuelsson's Harlem spot is in the spotlight as New York's latest haute cuisine. Its fame is deserved. They have a happy hour before 7pm on Mondays through Thursdays, which is an excellent way to sample the signature cocktails (note the infused bourbons that line the back of the bar). My favorite is the Earl of Harlem. Reservations are hard to get, so why not just walk up, put your name down for the evening and be flexible about where they seat you? Communal tables at the bar, al fresco dining, and live music some nights.

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