This past weekend, an op-ed piece in the New York Times posed the (perhaps somewhat provoking) question, "Is Harlem 'Good' Now?"
And while the answer will be different for everyone who has visited the uptown Manhattan neighborhood recently, we think it has plenty of appeal for a wide range of tastes. For one thing, Harlem offers some not-so-hidden gems for foodies. The Times noted some high-end new eateries that have opened within the last four years, including The Cecil in the ground floor of the old Cecil Hotel; The Grange on Amsterdam Avenue at 141st Street (with signature cocktails and seasonal local produce on its menu); Bier International, a beer garden with "a brilliantly curated range of brews;" and the speakeasy 67 Orange Street. There's also Cedric Bistro, Vinateria (pictured below) and Red Rooster, all of which have opened within the last four years and all of which offer decidedly high-end fare.
There's also the music scene, which goes far beyond the iconic Apollo Theater. City website Gothamist is reporting that the Lenox Lounge, which closed in 2012 on the eponymous Avenue, will reopen this summer in a new space at 333 Lenox Avenue. According to the article, the new jazz bar will include many elements from the original, and the Zebra Room will be recreated with an additional skylight. The original home of the Lenox Lounge will keep its music roots when it reopens as the Notar Jazz Club. Jazz fans will also want to explore the new music venue (and restaurant) Minton's, which recently opened nearby.
So while Harlem may not be the first New York City neighborhood of choice for visitors, that may soon change—and until then, it is certainly worth exploring. It is also worth noting that Starwood opened the Aloft Harlem in late 2010, indicating strong faith in the neighborhood's appeal and future. So is Harlem "good" now? Signs look positive.