Harlem and Spanish Harlem – Explore NYC




New York City


I recently visited Harlem for the first time. This area, since the 1920’s, has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. It was great to see the famed Apollo Theater on 125th St. and see some of the great old brownstones.

I tried Red Rooster at 310 Lenox Ave., just north of 125th, owned by award-winning chef, cookbook author and food activist, Marcus Samuelsson, which opened in December 2010. It serves comfort food celebrating the roots of American cuisine and the diverse culinary traditions of Harlem. I had a really wonderful lunch (gazpacho and shrimp with dirty rice) in the attractive, well designed dining room with great art by local artists. The service was really good also.

High on my list is his new restaurant Streetbird Rotisserie at 2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd. The menu features rotisserie chicken, chicken and waffles and more.

I just heard about chef JJ Johnson and his restaurants Minton’s known for it food and music. The Weekend Jazz Brunch sounds great. 206 W. 118th St.

While there you might check out the Studio Museum at 144 W. 125th Street, between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. The Studio Museum is the nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally and internationally and for work that has been inspired and influenced by black culture.

Spanish Harlem/East Harlem/El Barrio is in the northeastern part of Manhattan which has a large number or residents of Puerto Rican descent as well as large populations of other Latin Americans and African-Americans. I went to El Museo del Barrio at 1230 Fifth Ave., at 104th Street. It is a leading Latino cultural institution with a focus on the artistic and cultural landscape of the Caribbean and Latin America. Make sure to add this to your list of museums to see.

I walked over to the area around 104th and Lexington, just east of the Museo, to see some of the wall murals and graffiti walls that are found throughout the neighborhood.