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5 summery things to do in Harlem and beyond this week

As Ella Fitzgerald famously sang, "Summertime, and the livin' is easy." Which is why I'll be posting on an abbreviated schedule for the next two weeks. In the meantime, you can check out the ideas below or follow me on social media for more musings (links are at the bottom of the page). 1. Margaritas under the sky: Cantina Taqueria's year-old Lenox Avenue outpost debuts its sidewalk seating today, so be sure to get there early and enjoy the airy avenue views while nibbling on a taco and sipping on a margarita (or two). [Photo via @cantinanyc] 2. Uptown safari: Did you hear about the harbor seal that was spotted in Inwood last week? Or about the egret that lives in Morningside Park? Or what a

"Secret jazz queen" Marjorie Eliot takes her act outdoors this weekend

If you've ever dreamed of attending Marjorie Eliot's jazz parlor–the legendary free concert the jazz pianist has held in her Edgecombe Avenue apartment every Sunday afternoon since 1994–but have been too shy, you won't want to miss this weekend. The Morris-Jumel Mansion's free annual outdoor jazz festival is back this Saturday and Sunday, and with it the perfect opportunity to hear Eliot and her ensemble of talented jazz musicians play in a more open setting: the spacious garden of the historic house. "Harlem's secret jazz queen," Eliot is a true neighborhood institution who has been lovingly covered by The New York Times, NPR and countless other outlets. Witness a unique part of uptown hist

Uptown links: the "Queen of Swing" journeys from the Savoy Ballroom to Sweden, "Black

• Known as the "Queen of Swing," 98-year-old Norma Miller grew up in an apartment behind Harlem's legendary Savoy Ballroom and eventually performed on its stage. She now regularly teaches the Lindy Hop at a Swedish dance camp that draws some 5,000 attendees in the summer. It's a place, she says, where students “come to inherit the soul of black dancing." [NY Times] • For its September issue, Essence assembled "Black fashion royalty"–designer Dapper Dan, supermodel Naomi Campbell, photographer Jamel Shabazz, and former Vogue editor André Leon Talley–to shoot the cover story, which showcases the latest Gucci-Dapper Dan collection in Harlem. [Essence] • Two Harlem restaurants made it onto Food

Harlem's first Chipotle is finally open–and packed

The wait is finally over: Harlem's first Chipotle is now open. Hungry Harlemites are flocking to the new location at 72 West 125th Street, just a few doors down from the year-old Whole Foods–so much so that there have been some unexpected hiccups in the first week. "Glad to see new @ChipotleTweets on 125th St so packed, but never seen a line at Chipotle move so slowly before. This branch has a lot of work to do to figure out how to deal with that crazy line," wrote Happening Harlem, a local real estate-focused Twitter account, yesterday. (Chipotle responded quickly, saying it would address the issue.) A reviewer on Google seemed equally happy about the Mexican chain's opening, but also focus

This NYC food blogger loves taking a bite out of the Harlem food scene

Scroll through Instagram and it sometimes feels like there are a million food bloggers eating their way through the New York food scene. Rarely, however, do they seem to be spending much time in Harlem. Enter Dominek Tubbs, a 33-year-old restaurant obsessive who has devoted a fairly impressive chunk of her food-focused blog, “Dom n’ the City," to Harlem, the neighborhood she and her husband moved to from Chelsea four years ago (and Philadelphia before that). “For people who don’t live here, it’s always an afterthought,” says Tubbs, who has recently made it her mission to change the narrative. The daughter of a St. Louis caterer who went to culinary school–“that’s where my open palate came fr

Sundae Sermon–"Harlem's Woodstock"–returns to St. Nicholas Park this Sunday. Founder D

Celebrating its 10th anniversary–and coinciding with Harlem Week–one of uptown's most joyful music festivals is returning to its original location this weekend. On Sunday DJ Stormin' Norman will be bringing his Sundae Sermon dance party to St. Nicholas Park (St. Nicholas Avenue and 135th Street) from 1pm to 6pm, mixing disco, funk, soul, hip hop, reggae, and Afro house for the blissed-out crowd. All ages are welcome to the free dance-a-thon, which will feature live sets by Stormin' Norman as well as DJ Cosi. As part of its tribute to women, special guests will include DJ Sabine Blaizin, percussionist Courtnee Roze, and vocalist Janine "Sugah Lyrics" Lyons. A longtime resident of Harlem who's

Uptown links: Inwood's rezoning gets the green light, DJ Khaled tours Harlem, and more

• Despite protests, yesterday the City Council approved the rezoning of Inwood–centered mostly on an industrial area east of Tenth Avenue. Critics fear that a wave of market-rate apartments would quickly follow the planned affordable units, eventually displacing longtime residents. [NY Times] • DJ Khaled swung by Harlem last week and shopped for sneakers at Blue Jeans on Broadway, then ate steamed snapper at El Puerto Seafood on 125th Street. "Harlem love, baby!" he says in the clip he posted on Instagram, in which he also promotes his latest single, "No Brainer." "Every time I come to New York, Harlem, I come to El Puerto. They have the best fish." In a second clip he's swarmed by fans in

Learn how to make your very own terrarium at this pop-up workshop

Ever dreamed of creating a terrarium from scratch? Now you can make your indoor garden fantasies come true with the help of Backstage Botanicals, a Washington Heights-based business that has recently begun offering pop-up workshops in local coffee shops like the Chipped Cup. The company is the brainchild of a performer who first created terrariums as an alternative to quick-to-wilt flower arrangements typically sent to actors in their dressing rooms. In a few short years the mini gardens have become a hit in the New York theater community, surfacing in the dressing rooms of stars such as Josh Groban while performing in "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812" and the cast of "Mean Girls

Step inside Barepas, a chic new spot in Hamilton Heights for wine and Venezuelan bites

Barepas, the latest spot to arrive in booming Hamilton Heights, has opened its doors and already feels like a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Owned by Yency Perez (who owns a wine store further uptown) and his Venezuelan-born wife, Jen, the two-week-old spot at 1792 Amsterdam Avenue has been serving a limited menu while it waits for ConEd to turn on the gas. The modern bites, including ceviches and "surgical empanadas," are inspired by Jen's homeland. A selection of arepas will be coming as soon as the kitchen is fully up and running, which should be soon. ​In the meantime, there's plenty of room at Barepas' smooth stone bar and small wooden tables, where you can order from the wide se

Uptown links: a lost chapter from Malcolm X finds the right home, a guide to Harlem's "hit&

• An unpublished chapter of Malcolm X's autobiography resurfaced out of the blue at an auction last week. Luckily for scholars and the public at large, the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture scooped it up. [NY Times] • A whopping 21 restaurants made it onto this list of "Hit Harlem Restaurants to Try." While you might not agree with every choice, it sure is nice for the neighborhood's rich food scene to get some love. [Eater NY] • Watch these two dancers from the Dance Theatre of Harlem perform choreographer Robert Garland's beautiful pas de deux inspired in part by Arthur Mitchell, the company's co-founder. They'll be performing for free at this weekend

A new East Harlem cafe is serving up Van Leeuwen ice cream

​Mocha Cafe, a casual new spot in East Harlem, is in soft open mode this week, fine-tuning a menu that includes coffee, smoothies, pressed sandwiches and more. (The official address is 203 East 121st Street, but the entrance is on Third Avenue.) What's really notable, however, is the ice cream station in the back, where dessert fiends will find made-from-scratch scoops from yellow-truck phenom Van Leeuwen.​ Owner Hammad Ali purposefully sought out small-batch manufacturers like Van Leeuwen as well as Toby's Estate for its coffee, realizing the neighborhood lacked places that offer these popular Brooklyn brands. He also hopes to entice customers with a range of healthy offerings, from fruit s

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