By Christine Chun
When thinking of Harlem, rich African-American culture and some of the city’s best soul food may first come to mind. But if you haven't visited in a while, the ever-evolving neighborhood is home to an array of options beyond the musts, like the famous Apollo Theater.
Just in the past few years, Harlem has seen particular growth in terms of options for day-trippers, notably for foodies. While maintaining its historic charm — in addition to the Apollo, housed in a building dating to 1914, there are the idyllic townhouses of Strivers' Row, along West 138th and 139th streets, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture — the area also has a modernized side, with options for higher-end dining, including its first-ever Michelin Star restaurant Sushi Inoue, swanky bars and lounges, and new galleries.
Nestled between Marcus Garvey, St. Nicholas and Morningside parks are also the many shops, museums and mom-and-pop restaurants that give Harlem its unique culture and charms. Whether hopping off the 2, 3, A, B, C, or D trains, you’ll find something worth checking out in virtually any part of the neighborhood.
Though there's much to explore, here are some picks for spending a perfect day in Harlem, sunrise to sunset.
A big space offering traditional American fare, Harlem Tavern (2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) is the place to go if you’re looking for music with your brunch. On Saturdays, the restaurant has live jazz from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., sometimes in its massive outdoor space. Harlem Tavern’s brunch includes seafood gumbo, an egg white omelet with lobster and shrimp, and corn flake-crusted French toast, and they're served with a beverage — soda, juice, Bloody Mary, mimosa or beer — for $17.95.
Shop along 125th Street
This bustling strip is filled with shops, street performers and vendors. The lively street always has something to look out for — there's even a Whole Foods now — and you'll definitely want to hit the stands between Lenox Avenue and FDB. There, fill your tote with African shea butter, handmade soaps, jewelry, sunglasses and traditional African hats and scarves, and much more.