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© 2020 by The Curious Uptowner

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The Harlem taco guide

If your idea of celebrating Cinco de Mayo–it's coming up this Sunday–involves a plate of soft, tasty tacos and a margarita or two to wash them down, you're in luck: Harlem's taco game is strong. But there have been some changes to report since last May. Two spots–the fast-casual Harlem Taco & Bowl at 2288 Frederick Douglass Boulevard and a sit-down version of Taco Mix at 1621 Lexingon Avenue in East Harlem–came and went quickly. And earlier this year Sexy Taco Dirty Cash at 161 Lenox Avenue abruptly shuttered. Amid the closures, one new spot surfaced and another is on the horizon. Callie's Taqueria and Tequila Bar arrived at 547 Lenox Avenue between 137th and 138th Streets last summer. East

A cool new indie bookstore opens in the Bronx, and more fun things to see and do this weekend

Stroll down nine blissfully car-free blocks in Washington Heights, check out Mott Haven's cool new indie bookstore, and explore founding father Alexander Hamilton's garden–all this weekend. Car Free Earth Day–Washington Heights St. Nicholas Ave between 181st and 190th Sts Sat, April 27 10am-4pm Enjoy nine full blocks without traffic during this year's Car Free Earth Day on St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights. The streets will be lined with performances, dance classes, and puppet shows, as well as booths from earth-friendly organizations. Citi Bike will be there, too, giving out free one-day passes. The Lit. Bar Grand Opening 131 Alexander Ave between East 134th St and Bruckner Blvd, Mo

Uptown links: bike lanes are coming to Amsterdam Avenue in Harlem, and more

• The city approved a plan to add bike lanes and other safety improvements to a dangerous stretch of Amsterdam Avenue between 110th and 155th Streets. It is working around local Community Board 9, which has opposed the changes. One collision per day on this section of the avenue has been the norm. [Patch] • The Tribeca Film Festival kicked off at the Apollo Theater last night with the premiere of a documentary honoring the 85-year-old institution. Directed by Roger Ross Williams, "The Apollo" focuses on the iconic theater's history as a mecca of African-American culture. It will air on HBO in the fall. [NY Times] • Ozwald Boateng, the first black designer to open a business on London's Savil

Two new spots for sips and bites are coming to Hamilton Heights: Harlem Wine Room and Hamilton Hall

Two new spots–one focusing on wine, the other on craft beer–will be debuting on Broadway in Hamilton Heights. Harlem Wine Room at 3454 Broadway between 140th and 141st Streets will offer wine from around the world as well as "the best carpaccio in Harlem," according to the bar's Yelp page. The owner, Felix Paredes, also runs Harlem Cigar Room right next door. The below-street-level space is in the middle of a gut renovation (see above), but photos on Instagram already show an interior with plenty of wood details. Two blocks north, Hamilton Hall at 3489 Broadway between 142nd and 143rd Streets will be a bar and restaurant serving "craft beer, signature cocktails and tasty bites," according to

Hip-hop takes the spotlight at this year's E-Moves dance series at Harlem Stage

It's the 20th anniversary of E-Moves, the dance series at Harlem Stage celebrating choreographers of color, and this year it's shining the spotlight on hip-hop and its ability to inspire. The series' two programs–each running on separate weeks–will feature new pieces by specially commissioned artists. The first, from May 2 to May 4, will include fresh work by the choreographer FLUXX as well as performances by tap dancer Joseph Webb and flutist Barédu Ahmed who collaborate under the name Long Arms. The second, from May 9 to May 11, will feature new work by Omari Mizrahi/Les Ballet Afrik as well as performances by It's Showtime NYC, a group providing opportunities to street and subway dancers–

Farewell to the former Hotel Olga–most likely the future site of Al Sharpton's civil rights museum

Last week scaffolding appeared around 695 Lenox Avenue, the boarded-up building that once housed the Hotel Olga, the premiere hotel for African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. It was the first real sign that the historic three-story building on the corner of West 145th Street will likely will be torn down. A worker behind the desk at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, which has its headquarters around the corner at 106 West 145th Street, revealed the activist's planned civil rights museum would be going up on the site of NAN's current offices as well as 695 Lenox Avenue. The employee said to expect an official announcement on the organization's website soon. The museum

Easter egg hunts, CBD shakes, and more to check out this weekend and beyond

Uptown Easter Egg Hunts Jackie Robinson Recreation Center (Central Harlem) and Pleasant Village Community Garden (East Harlem), Saturday, April 20 Morningside Park (South Harlem) and Dorothy K. McGowan Memorial Garden (Washington Heights), Sunday, April 21 Parks both large and small across Upper Manhattan are holding Easter egg hunts this holiday weekend. Expect a variety of activities at each, from meeting the Easter Bunny at the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center to hunting for real hard-boiled eggs– as opposed to the plastic kind–at the Dorothy K. McGowan Memorial Garden. (A reader writes in that there's also an Easter egg hunt at the Church of the Intercession on Saturday at noon.) CBD-in

Uptown links: two "big, international-name" retailers are looking at 125th Street, and more

• Harlem's historic main street continues to boom. The commercial real estate company Colliers says it is “actively working with two big, international-name retailers looking at 125th Street." [NY Post] • It turns out Hudson Yards raised $1.2 billion via a program intended to alleviate urban poverty. How? By using a map of Manhattan that magically linked the West Side with parts of Harlem with large public housing projects. [CityLab] • Lin-Manuel Miranda just announced that the "In the Heights" movie will be shot in Washington Heights this summer. [Patch] • Foot Locker is opening a huge new experiential "Power Store" on West 181st Street in Washington Heights, complete with barbershop, gamin

Kick off the 420 celebrations early at Come Back Daily, Harlem's new one-stop CBD shop

New York City may be cracking down on spots that serve CBD in their food and drinks, but selling packaged versions of the hemp product (aka acting as a third-party distributor) will remain legal. Which is why the arrival of Come Back Daily, Harlem's first shop devoted to this increasingly popular cannabis compound, couldn't come at a better time. Run by partners Malik Azez and Jacob Plowden, the store sells a huge range of wellness items featuring CBD, which many say helps with issues like pain, anxiety and sleep. Included are tinctures, salves, topicals, vapes, and edibles (for humans and dogs). The location at 1469 Fifth Avenue, just steps away from Marcus Garvey Park, is actually the seco

Health-minded Lyn-Genet's Kitchen to replace recently shuttered The Draft House in Hamilton Heights

Hamilton Heights beer-and-burger spot The Draft House, which opened four years ago at 3473 Broadway between 141st and 142nd Streets, has shuttered without notice. The space won't remain empty for long, however. Leaflets in front of the store announce the arrival of a new restaurant called Lyn-Genet's Kitchen, offering "comfort food for every body." Owner Lyn-Genet Recitas is a nutritionist and author of such diet books as "The Metabolism Plan." The food will cater to everyone from omnivores to vegans, as well as those who fall somewhere in between (there will be gluten-free and vegetarian options). Menu items will include vegan fries with dipping sauce, lentil pate with truffle oil, Vietname

Harlem jazz directory, old-school edition

April is Jazz Appreciation Month–an excellent excuse to explore Harlem's best old-school jazz joints. Many of these intimate spots exist in brownstone basements or private apartments and are open just one day a week, so read the schedule carefully, then plan your visit. From south to north, they are: Paris Blues 2021 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd and W 121st St Open every day. Opened and continuously managed by Samuel Hargress, Jr since 1968, this corner bar offers seven nights of live jazz with no cover (but do expect to pay a little bit more for your drinks). Showman’s Jazz 375 West 125th St between Morningside and St. Nicholas Aves Monday-Saturday 1pm-4am Originally located right next to t

3 fun things to do in Harlem this weekend (think shopping, a Record Store Day celebration, and more)

Take a selfie with a giant afro pick, celebrate Record Store Day with free live DJ sets, and browse one of Harlem's best shopping events–all this weekend! Harlem Makers Collective Gallery 8, 2602 Frederick Douglass Blvd and 139th St Fri, April 12 2pm-9pm; Sat, April 13 11am-9pm; Sun, April 14 10am-6pm This stylish pop-up market on Strivers' Row is back with fashion, jewelry, accessories, ceramics, chocolates–even flavored vodkas and whiskeys. Don't miss John Reddick's unique collection of African-American posters and memorabilia. All Power Block Party The Africa Center plaza, 110th St and Fifth Ave Sat, April 13 11am-4pm Stop by the Africa Center's plaza this Saturday for an afternoon of art

Uptown links: Harlem School of the Arts set to undergo major renovations this summer, and more

• Bye-bye, Brutalism! The Harlem School of the Arts is about to undergo a major renovation–think updated glass exterior, new main gallery and other improvements–thanks to a $9.5 million gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation. Renovations are set to begin in August. [NY Times] • Here's more on the Second Avenue subway's potentially huge impact on East Harlem (if the MTA ever gets its funding). According to this report in The City, preliminary plans "require taking over dozens of properties and displacing hundreds of people along the Q train’s future path." [The City] • Rose Morgan, a pioneer who owned a five-floor beauty parlor in Harlem that employed more than 30 people, just got her "Overlook

El Museo del Barrio celebrates its 50th anniversary with work from its permanent collection

El Museo del Barrio is turning 50 this year, and it's kicking off the celebrations with an exhibit that takes a deep dive into its permanent collection. "Culture and the People: El Museo del Barrio, 1969-2019," from April 11 to September 29, features more than 120 artworks by nearly 80 artists reflecting the museum's core mission to promote Latinx and Latin American art and culture. The show is divided into three themes: Roots, Resistance and Resilience. Although work from the last 50 years dominates the galleries, visitors will encounter everything from ancient Taino treasures (carved bone vomiting stick, anyone?) to a contemporary vibrating robot by Arnaldo Morales. And while the political

NYC photographer–and Instagram pro–Silvie Bonne gives picture-taking tips on a walk through Harlem

Leaf through photographer Silvie Bonne's new book, "NYC Guide for Instagrammers" –or scroll through her popular Instagram feed–and it's easy to admire her natural eye for capturing New York City at its prettiest. But it turns out Bonne, a native of Belgium who moved to New York with her husband and son in 2017, also has some serious experience. The daughter of an amateur lensman who kept a darkroom in the house, the 41-year-old has worked as a professional photographer for the last eight years while continuing to take courses from institutions such as the International Center of Photography. (Find out more about her services here.) Taking a deep dive into Instagram has only added to her know

Ask TCU: What are some good coffee shops between 125th and 160th Streets on the West Side?

You asked,* The Curious Uptowner answered! Question (from a follower on Instagram): What are some good coffee shops between 125th and 160th Streets on the West Side? Answer: The number of independently-owned coffee shops west of Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem has ballooned in recent years. And they don't all just have distinct vibes, but singular coffee as well. From south to north, here are the most notable: 1. Plowshares Coffee, 1351 Amsterdam Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets This new, 3,500-square-foot location roasts its own beans on premises, so you know the coffee's fresh. 2. Dear Mama, 611 West 129th Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue Offering Devocion coffee, sunshine and ligh

Lucille's is now fully open, offering coffee during the day, and cocktails and dinner in the evening

You can finally spend all morning, afternoon and evening at Lucille's, the stylish new destination from the team behind Oso in Hamilton Heights. The month-old spot on the corner of Macombs Place and 150th Street debuted as a coffee bar run by Manhattanville Coffee. The space is now expanding its hours to 11:30pm, allowing it to morph into a cocktail bar with a small dinner menu. The location's modern veranda vibe–think cane chairs and hanging ferns–now extends to the menu. Drinks featuring hibiscus, pineapple and mango can be paired with plates of jerk chicken tacos or shrimp and grits. And for those who prefer to keep it casual, the owners also have a new slice joint a few doors down, Pizza

Uptown links: Second Avenue subway creating issues for development along East 125th Street, and more

• Don't expect to see new buildings rising anytime soon on the south side of East 125th Street between Madison and Third Avenues. Any type of development by the Durst Organization and Extell, which between them own three vacant sites on that part of the strip, may be complicated and thus delayed by the MTA's plans for the Second Avenue subway extension. [NY Post] • The New York Times journalist chosen to travel to 52 places this year recently stopped in New York City and attempted to walk the length of Manhattan–but only made it to Harlem. Conveniently, it's where the author lives: "Strolling through Hamilton Heights, where dusk looks like light streaming through a million coffee filters, I

East Harlem gem Mountain Bird is moving–and tapas spot Gaudir is taking its old space

An East Harlem boutique restaurant famous for its focus on poultry is moving around the corner from its current location, and a Spanish tapas spot is taking over its old space. Mountain Bird, the cozy French gem run by husband-and-wife team Keiko and Kenichi Tajima, is relocating to a sunny corner space at 2162 Second Avenue and East 111th Street. The move is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 9, according to an announcement on Instagram. The new storefront was most recently the East Harlem outpost of burger joint Harlem Shake. Gaudir, a tapas restaurant helmed by chef Cedric Durand, is settling into the old Mountain Bird space at 251 East 110th Street between Second and Third Avenues. The ye

The Faith Ringgold exhibit at the Sugar Hill Children's Museum has been extended for two extra weeks

It's not too late to catch the small-but-mighty Faith Ringgold exhibit at the Sugar Hill Children's Museum. The show was recently extended through Sunday, April 14. "Sugar Hill Songbook: Select Work by Faith Ringgold" features work inspired by the Harlem neighborhood where the 88-year-old artist was born and raised. One wall highlights Ringgold's paintings of jazz musicians who lived all around her during her childhood. There's also plenty of art from the pages of Ringgold's magnificent children's books, including "Harlem Renaissance Party," "We Came to America" and the award-winning "Tar Beach," set in Harlem during the Depression. All three books can be perused as part of the exhibit. Befo

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