I’ll raise my hand and say it.
For all the times I’ve been to NYC and then worked in NYC, I’ve only been to Harlem once! And that was for some good eats in Spanish Harlem at the recommendation of some random person on that D spoke to on the subway. I’ve always wanted to spend sometime in Harlem, but I think I had more resistance to the idea than going to see the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Our goal today was food, Anthony Hamilton @ the Apollo Theatre and then maybe some late night jazz at the Lenox Lounge.
First thing was the accomodations … we ended up using a Cash and Points night courtesy of aLoft Harlem (full review coming later this weekend).
Then it was on to grab some food over at the Red Rooster. This was yet another Foursquare recommendation. Foursquare is really becoming my personal go to list for starting off exploring any American city … it hasn’t achieved critical mass where all the hipsters and poseurs have infected it … as yet.
As a tourist, one wouldn’t think about good food in Harlem, which is completely dumb. The restaurant is rather new but because of some good publicity and a famous chef, it is popular. The menu isn’t really affordable, however the food is very, very good and doesn’t skimp on taste in the slightest—which explains the crowds that you might run into.
As for the food … We had the market greens with cornbread and honey butter as a start, and it definitely was a winner.
Main courses of the Rooster burger and the Grilled Catfish with black eyed peas and collard greens were definite hits. If you’re in Harlem, Red Rooster should be on your list of places to eat at! Just don’t try going for dinner unless you’re prepared to wait around in hope of a missed reservation.
There is the dining table, for which you can put down your name, and then a parallel wait for bar and communal table, which can get confusing with the crowds, so make sure the hostess doesn’t neglect you.
After dinner, it was back to the hotel and then over to the Apollo Theatre. The theater is located at 253 W. 125th Street in Harlem in what is now one of the best-known black neighborhoods in New York City and probably the US.
The Apollo grew to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance before the second World war years. In 1934, it introduced its regular Amateur Night shows and it continues to this day. Billing itself as a place “where stars are born and legends are made,” – and once you’re in the theatre .. the gravelly voiced intro lets you know this too.
As for going to a concert … this should be on any bucket list for a music lover. The venue is intimate and even with the sub par acoustics, you cannot help but feel the history in this place. Just an amazing music venue.
Anthony Hamilton himself was super gracious and put on a fantastic show! So coupled with front row seats and meeting him earlier in the day … he even “posed” on stage for a pic with D.
So after a phenomenal concert, then it was off for some midnight jazz at the Lenox Lounge! Yep … that’s how you run a full night in Harlem.
Then back past the Spirit of Harlem to the hotel … and you’ve run a full night of soul, food and jazz in Harlem!!!