Harlem. There are few neighborhoods in the world whose name alone conjures up as many cultural and historical references. Six scant letters spell out the fruits of the creative labors of the Harlem Renaissance. Poetry, novels, theater, music. Harlem was the home base for some of the most pivotal moments in the American cultural canon. Today, the uptown nabe remains a hotbed of activity, from food to museums and much more. Even better? It’s just a short train ride north from our own 6 Columbus, a SIXTY Hotel.
The Apollo is practically synonymous with Harlem. The marquis of this famed venue has advertised the names of everyone from Duke Ellington to Aretha Franklin over the years, though it’s perhaps most widely known for its Amateur Night. (“Be good or be gone” is the ethos that rules the evening.) Come mid-week to sit back and get ready to cheer in appreciation, or–if deserving–boo with wild abandon.
253 W 125th St, New York, NY 10027
The space that currently houses Minton’s in Harlem, opened in 2013, has long played host to the city’s best jazz. (It used to be call Minton’s Playhouse back when it opened in the 1940s.) Today, it sweetens the pot, known not just for its music, but for its food. After the award-winning Harlem restaurant The Cecil shuttered in 2016, Minton’s adopted its head chef, J.J. Johnson. Together, the two make for an undeniably appealing pair.
206 W 118th St, New York, NY 10026
Southern comfort, through and through. Sylvia’s Restaurant was opened by Sylvia Woods, aka “The Queen of Soul Food,” in 1962. It’s still family-owned and operated to this day. It’s become less a local spot and frequented more by tourists, but that doesn’t stop the hot rib meat from falling straight off the bone.
328 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027
Red Rooster Harlem
This Lenox Ave. restaurant has been a critic’s pick since opening in 2010. Ethiopian-born chef Marcus Samuelsson cut his chops early at the Scandinavian outfit Aquavit before moving onto some other less successful ventures. But at Red Rooster, Samuelsson shines. The menu reflects the flavors of the neighborhood with the occasional international twist. Think dishes like Shrimp & Jerk Pork Hot rice with caramelized pineapple, and kimchi, or Helga’s Meatballs with romesco, toasted hazelnuts, and pickled onion. More traditional fare here is not to be missed. Don’t forget to order the Fried Yardbird with sweet potato, collard greens, and pickles.
310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027
El Museo del Barrio
El Museo del Barrio should be up there on your to-see list alongside trips to the Met and the Whitney. The museum focuses its attention on the artists of Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American background. It’s just south of East Harlem, flanking Central Park.
1230 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Also of artistic import: The Studio Museum in Harlem. This space was founded in 1968 as something more than simply a gallery. In addition to showcasing the works of artists of African descent, it endeavors to support artists and arts education.
144 W 125th St, New York, NY 10027
Can’t get tickets to the Hamilton musical? Check out the man’s original New York City home–for free. The butter-yellow building has moved from its original location on two different occasions. Though not in its first spot, the Hamilton Grange, as it’s called, can be found today on a hillside of St. Nicholas Park, which is technically still part of some property Hamilton owned in the early 1800s.
414 W 141st St, New York, NY 10031
A sweet of more recent history–still, the walnut chocolate chip cookies at Levain Bakery are practically world famous. Since opening their Upper West Side outpost in 1994, owners Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes have created an institution that draws travelers with a sweet tooth from all over. The aforementioned cookies are less the thin and crispy style of, say, Tate’s Bake Shop, and more so an irresistible fist-sized heap of chocolatey goo.
2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026