Let’s be real. With the rising costs of living expenses in Harlem, which comes with any community that is being gentrified, experiencing all that the neighborhood has to offer is far from cheap. Expensive dinners at chic restaurants, weekend brunches, signing up for local yoga classes and shopping at boutiques in the community can have you living on an a peanut butter and jelly budget.
Harlem Park to Park, a local neighborhood development organization, launched Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week to highlight community businesses and allow locals to ball on a budget and experience the neighborhood’s social scene without breaking the bank. Similar to New York City’s Restaurant Week, the promotional two week-long event, which kicked off on Feb. 15, provides deals for local eateries and retail shops throughout the community. Although we encourage you to support all of the businesses that are featured on Harlem Park to Park’s list, we’ve rounded up a few of our fave spots that are participating in February 2016 Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week.
The beauty of Harlem’s culinary renaissance is that you can experience food from various cultures. If you’re a fan of fusion food, then you’ll fall in love Ponty Bistro in Harlem. Their menu marries French and African-inspired dishes that are infused with flavors from Europe and West Africa. The décor boasts a chic, sleek, and modern feel.
What to Order: Some of the go-to items on their prix-fixe Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week lunch menu includes the À la Française (roasted chicken, with haricot vert, and baby carrots) and the Penne Alla Vodka. For dinner go for the Steak au Poivre or the Seafood Salad. Top off your meal with a Tiramisu or delicious French Crêpe. Make sure your French pronunciation is up to par before heading to Ponty Bistro. Although cocktails aren’t included as part of their Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week menu, Ponty Bistro has a number of exotic drinks that include the “Gin & Jazz Martini” which consists of Hendricks, Saint Germain, ginger and orange juice, and the “Strawberry Sky Martini” which is a mix of VDKA 6100, St. Germain , Angostura Bitters, and lime juice.
LoLo’s Seafood Shack
Where are all of the seafood lovers? Do you live for shrimp, fish, and crab legs? Then make your way to LoLo’s Seafood Shack. The restaurant, which opened its doors back in 2014, brings together comfort food favorites and Caribbean-inspired seafood dishes on their menu. Nestled right along Harlem’s Restaurant Row, the décor in the small eatery is inspired by the Islands with vibrant colors, artwork, and tables that are made out of wood. LoLo’s Seafood Shack is the perfect spot for a chill afternoon.
What to Order: Items featured on their prix-fixe menu include 1lb of snow crab legs or a half a pound of peel and shrimp. There are also sharable baskets on the menu like the “Jerk Chicken + Dutty Rice + Johnny Cake Basket” and the “Smelt Fish + Garlic Fries Basket.”
Angel of Harlem
Angel of Harlem is another fusion spot that has gained popularity ever since it opened its doors. The restaurant/bar, which is located in the heart of Harlem, brings together Latin American & Caribbean cuisine with contemporary American classics. Angel of Harlem caters to all occasions, whether you’re looking to have a small intimate date night with bae or you want to turn up with friends on a Friday night. Outside of the delicious bites and cocktails, the chic and modern establishment is well-known for its dope social events. A few months back, Fashion Bomb Daily hosted their #NoBasicsBrunch there.
What to Order: Some of the go-to items on Angel of Harlem’s restaurant and retail week menu include the “Milanesa de Pollo” which is breaded chicken breast, baby arugula, and fresh mango and the “Seafood Mix” which consists of salmon, tilapia, shrimp, garlic spinach, white wine, and tomato herb sauce. If your sweet tooth is kicking in, try the “Brownie a la Mode” or cheesecake. As for their cocktails, try a “Morningside Mule” or the “What Happens in Harlem…,” which is a mojito made with Henny.
67 Orange Street
67 Orange Street is well-known for their exotic cocktails; however their food menu is pretty bangin’ too. The sexy bar/restaurant, which is located towards the beginning of Harlem’s Restaurant Row, gives off speakeasy vibes since there really isn’t any signage outside. But if you see that red velvet curtain in the window, then you’re at the right place. 67 Orange Street is chic and sexy with interior brick, fabulous décor, and art from community artists on their walls. This spot is pretty small so it’s better for more intimate occasions.
What to Order: 67 Orange Street has graciously placed their most popular items on their restaurant and retail week menu which are the “Lobster and Shrimp Mac and Cheese” and the “Chicken n’ Red Velvet Waffles.” They are also including any $14 or less cocktails on the prix-fixe menu. Bottoms up!
It’s undeniable that renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson is a power player in the culinary industry. After seeing the success that came from his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster, he decided to open up another eatery in the community called Streetbird Rotisserie. In comparison to Red Rooster, Streetbird gives off more of a chill and laidback vibe. The restaurant which has vintage décor is inspired by street culture and hip-hop; two things that are integral parts of Harlem’s history.
What to Order: On the lunch menu, try “Mr. J’s Chicken Wings,” which includes citrus-honey glaze, cucumbers, and green goddess dip or their “Crispy Bird Sandwich.” As for their dinner menu go for the Catfish and Grits or the “Half Bird ‘N’ Stuff,” which includes a half chicken and veggies. For those who are about that dessert life, Streetbird is offering their “Make it Messy” Waffle Sundae which consists of a red velvet waffle, ice cream, and coconut caramel.
Vivrant Beauty is setting the bar in the beauty industry when it comes to catering to both women and men of color. The business, which was launched by lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Desiree Verdejo, carries skincare, haircare, and cosmetic brands for people of all shades, backgrounds, and hair textures. Some of the products on their restaurant and retail week list are natural facial sprays, cleansing gels, and toners which are all priced at under $35. Learn more about the deals here and visit Vivrant Beauty’s website for other amazing products.
Bikram Yoga East Harlem
Are you about that Zen life? Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or someone who wants to see what all of the hype is about, Bikram Yoga East Harlem is the place to go. The yoga studio is featuring some amazing deals for Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week. They are offering vinyasa, open flow, and belly dancing classes for $10.16, as well as three and six class packages for under $35. Learn more about the deals here and visit Bikram Yoga East Harlem’s website for the scoop on other classes.
Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week runs through Feb. 29. Learn more about it here.