Time Out readers have spoken, and below are the venues they named their absolute favorite in Harlem. So the next time you’re in the area and in need of food, drink or retail therapy, make a beeline for these places and you won’t go far wrong.
For more great things to do in Harlem check out our full Harlem guide.
Stop rolling your eyes—there are no brain-melting viral videos to be found at this Harlem burger-and-shake shack. Instead, the teal-and-tin den takes its name from the real Harlem Shake, the '80s dance created by a local known as Al B. Such old-school nods don't stop at the name: From the soul classics coming through the speakers to the vintage Jet covers lining the bathroom walls, the joint evokes a mid-20th-century dinette. Slip into a vinyl booth under a neon "burger" sign for a griddle-pressed Hot Mess (double cheeseburger with pickled-cherry-pepper–bacon relish) or Jerk Fry (topped with jerk-seasoned fries and smoked jerk mayo). Condiments are made in house, like the cherry-pepper–bacon relish that coats the deep-fried Sonoran Dog. Also on offer: patty melts, fried-chicken sandwiches and sweet-potato fries crisped in beef tallow. From the retro Coke machine behind the counter come regional sodas like Carolina Cheerwine and Vernors Detroit ginger soda, while shakes are hand-spun with Blue Marble ice cream, in flavors such as red velvet, salted caramel and peanut butter. Draft beers including Kelso Recessionator Dark Amber and 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat are available, as well as bottles of Sugar Hill, Mother's Milk Stout and Red Stripe.
This small, subterranean café—adorned with antique teacups, coffee tins and mismatched picture frames—hums with a powder-blue La Marzocco espresso machine, which dispenses Counter Culture coffee into lattes, macchiatos and cortados. Tea drinkers can choose from more than dozen loose-leaf varieties including coconut oolong, tangerine ginger and iced blueberry. Though a cozy sofa and rows of wooden tables are prime spots for the free Wi-Fi, venture to the back patio, where a graffitied wall emblazoned with the nabe's name will greet you.
This men's clothing boutique features styles inspired by the Harlem Renaissance.
Harlem meets the farm at this locavore bistro and bar, outfitted with mason jars, weathered white-oak floors and antique chandeliers. Chef Alan Vargas (Thymari) oversees a comfort-food menu rooted in seasonal produce. Having scoured nearby farms like Old Chatham and Coach Farm, Vargas dispatches seared crab cakes with celery-parsnip slaw; watermelon with feta, arugula and mint; and a roasted-beet salad with lime yogurt, almonds and goat-cheese croutons. At the 40-foot-long butcher-block bar, find a beverage program designed by Dead Rabbit head bartender Jack McGarry—cocktails include the Grange Collins (Farmer's Gin, pomegranate liqueur, basil, lemon juice and soda) and the Convent Stroll (Heaven Hill whiskey, ginger, honey, lemon juice and soda).
RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions Visitors may think they know this venerable theater from TV’s Showtime at the Apollo. But as the saying goes, the small screen adds ten pounds: The city’s home of R&B and soul is actually quite cozy. Known for launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald and D’Angelo, among others, the Apollo continues to mix veteran talents like Dianne Reeves with younger artists such as the Roots and Duffy.