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© 2020 by The Curious Uptowner

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The most notable openings in Harlem and beyond in 2019

Noteworthy new restaurants, bars and coffee shops kept opening this year in Harlem and beyond–almost too many to count. Here's a shortlist, divided into a few handy categories: [Updated 1/7/2020] Restaurants with star chefs Big-name chefs were behind a trio of the most notable eateries to arrive uptown this year. First came Senegalese-born chef Pierre Thiam's West African comfort food spot Teranga at the Africa Center at 1280 Fifth Ave. In July, chef JJ Johnson—the former executive chef at The Cecil—returned to Harlem with his fast-casual rice restaurant Fieldtrip at 109 Lenox Ave. And on Strivers' Row, underground dining pioneer and Bravo TV alum Russell Jackson opened Harlem's latest fine

The top posts of 2019

A massive thank you for supporting The Curious Uptowner on its various platforms–here on the blog as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter–and being such great followers, tipsters and commenters. As the year draws to a close, here's a look back at some of your favorite posts, with a few fun comments sprinkled in: Your personal takes on the most Instagrammable spots in Upper Manhattan are what really bring this always-changing roundup to life. Here's @msbobb on the "Crack Is Wack" mural, a recent addition: "As a woman from the Bronx, I've driven [past] this sign at least 1x a week for my whole life. It's a beautiful constant [in] the constantly changing city." Instagrammer @newyorkblackarts

The Last-Minute Gift Guide (for desperados only)

For presents with uptown flair, look no further than The Curious Uptowner's holiday gift guides rolling out once a week this holiday season. Last week's featured colorful coffee table books about–or with roots in–Harlem. So easy for you to buy and others to enjoy and display. The final in the series? Uptown and Bronx-made gifts you can pick up at the very last minute from–yes, this is for desperados only–your supermarket. Stop by the Super Foodtown on 145th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard for the following goodies: The Bronx Hot Sauce Crafted from Serrano peppers grown in more than 70 community gardens across the Bronx. Sylvia's Restaurant Yams and Collard Greens ​For those who don't

Chilean pastry shop Dulceria debuts in Harlem

If you're a fan of all things dulce de leche, you're in luck: Chilean pastry shop Dulceria–the kind of place where the chef might spend seven hours making ten pounds of the caramel spread from scratch–just opened at 2220 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (between 119th and 120th Sts). The week-old pastry destination is the brainchild of Marco and Daniel Minzer, a South American couple living in Harlem who had dreams of opening that rarity in New York: a pastry shop that exclusively makes Chilean confections (no, you won't find any croissants here). As the idea quickly turned into reality, Marco coaxed his childhood friend from Chile, pastry chef Daniela Canete, to bring her talents to New York; s

City Island hibachi spot Ohana opening in Harlem next month

​City Island hibachi restaurant Ohana is getting ready to open at 101 W 132nd Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. A worker at the corner space said the restaurant would debut next month.​ A peek inside the eatery revealed a series of large hibachi tables where food like steak, seafood and chicken will be prepared–yes, with lots of flipping and tossing–in front of customers. The original Ohana opened in the Bronx more than 14 years ago. For daily updates, follow The Curious Uptowner on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter #eat #Harlem #CentralHarlem

Explore Harlem on a budget at these 5 free cultural destinations

On a budget and looking for some local spots that you–and maybe those guests crashing on your sofa over the holidays–can explore? You're in luck: some of the best places to visit in Harlem also happen to be free. Here are five neighborhood destinations serving up terrific art, music and history that won't charge you an entrance fee of any kind (okay, one has a $5 suggested donation). From south to north, they are:​ 1. The Langston Hughes House 20 E 127th St between Madison and Fifth Aves Tue, Thu, Sat noon-5pm After three years, the I, Too, Arts Collective has lost its lease at The Langston Hughes House, the 1869 brownstone where the poet spent the last 20 years of his life. The non-profit a

The Harlem Art Book Gift Guide

For presents with uptown flair, look no further than The Curious Uptowner's holiday gift guides rolling out once a week this holiday season. Last week's featured gifts for those on your list obsessed with bodegas–a familiar-but-disappearing sight across Upper Manhattan.​ Up next? You can't go wrong with a colorful coffee table book about–or with roots in–Harlem. So easy for you to buy and others to enjoy and display. Here are some tomes both new and classic: Showtime at the Apollo: The epic Tale of Harlem's Legendary TheateR ​This graphic novel illustrated by James Otis Smith brings to life the history of the iconic Apollo Theater written by Ted Fox. BLACK REFRACTIONS: Highlights from the st

L'Artista, serving Northern Italian food, replaces L'Argot in Hamilton Heights

Open less than a year, Hamilton Heights restaurant L'Argot closed abruptly right before Thanksgiving, but just debuted with a new name, executive chef and menu. The new spot, L'Artista, serves up a Northern Italian menu designed by chef German Rizzo, who is originally from Turin, Italy, and owns Plado Tasting Bar in the East Village. Dishes include pastas such as wild mushroom lasagna and braised short ribs with sautéed spinach and potato chips. L'Argot co-owner Daniel Schnyder is also behind this eatery but has a new partner: Federico Torres, a wine connoisseur who helped develop the restaurant's full page of craft cocktails and wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. The exterior has been r

'In the Heights' trailer previews the Washington Heights locations fans will be flocking to

The trailer for "In the Heights"–Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical about a young Dominican immigrant who runs a bodega in Washington Heights–is finally here, The almost two-and-half-minute teaser includes a cameo of Miranda working as a klutzy piragua (shaved ice) vendor, Jimmy Smits singing in a bodega, and the whole cast dancing in the streets, mixed in with sweeping shots of the George Washington Bridge. Much of "In the Heights" was actually filmed uptown, so the locations–including lead character Usnavi's fictional bodega, City Mart Tropical Products Deli–will be relatively easy to find once the movie hits theaters on June 26, 2020. In the meantime, a few iconic spots are easily identifiable

The best things to do this weekend in Harlem and beyond

A song-and-dance-filled "A Christmas Carol in Harlem," the neighborhood's first night market, the annual reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and visit to Clement Clark Moore's grave–and more fun you can only find uptown: "A Christmas Carol in Harlem" Through December 21, Wednesday-Sunday; $10-$35 Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York, Convent Ave and 135th St Based on the Charles Dickens novel, this song-and-dance-filled retelling of the holiday classic by the Classical Theatre of Harlem is set in present-day Harlem. Here, Scrooge is a real estate mogul who has gotten rich at the expense of others, but on Christmas Eve three visitors show him the value of family and community.

Bagels, black and white cookies, and more goodies are the draw at the new Zaro's in Harlem

Zaro's, the fourth-generation bakery known for its quintessentially New York goodies–everything from bagels to black and white cookies to cheesecake–just opened its first shop in Harlem. Like most of its other locations, this newest one on East 125th Street (1825 Park Avenue to be exact) is mere steps from a big commuter hub: the Harlem-125th Street Station on the Metro-North train line. The twelve varieties of made-fresh-in-the-Bronx bagels (in standard flavors like sesame, poppy, salt and pumpernickel, plus a few special ones like everything honey honey whole wheat) can be toasted and paired with cream cheese, butter, vegan spread, plus smoked salmon from Samaki Smoked Fish in Port Jervis,

When will Trader Joe's open in Harlem and Washington Heights?

It's getting to be an increasingly common sight: folks coming out of the subway in Harlem, Washington Heights and beyond, carrying bulging Trader Joe's bags in each hand. It seems that like the rest of New York, people who live uptown can't get enough of the California-based grocery chain and its Mandarin Orange Chicken. Still, thirteen years after Trader Joe's first opened in New York–and with as many stores now dotting the city–there is no concrete sign the grocer has any plans to open in Upper Manhattan. (The Curious Uptowner reached out to the company asking about a possible uptown store but never received an answer.) The interest is certainly there, and not just anecdotally. After recen

The I-Love-Bodegas Gift Guide

For presents with uptown flair, look no further than The Curious Uptowner's holiday gift guides rolling out every Monday this holiday season. Last week's featured objects with a touch of "Harlem"–yes, literally.​​​​​​ Up next? Back by popular demand, gifts for those on your list obsessed with bodegas–a familiar-but-disappearing sight across Upper Manhattan and other fast-gentrifying parts of the city.​ harlem chocolate factory Bodega Dreams Bonbons, $18 for six-count box These handcrafted, high-low bonbons from Harlem Chocolate Factory deliver three classic bodega snacks–potato chips, candy (in this case, caramel) and Coke–in an elevated package. (To order a box with just one flavor, make su

Columbia replacing shuttered McDonald's on 125th Street with 34-story residential tower

In a surprise announcement this September, Columbia signaled it would be demolishing the old McDonald's on West 125th Street. The university had quietly purchased the fast food restaurant six years ago at the same time it was expanding its Manhattanville campus across the street. Now comes word that the school will be building in its place a 34-story tower at 600 West 125th Street that will house students and faculty. According to the filed plans, McDonald's will return as the ground-floor tenant. The rest of the building will be residential, including 142 apartments plus a lounge, gym, library, and play room. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020 and finish up by September 2022. For da

The Harlem Night Market–and more fun things to do this weekend in Harlem and Washington Heights

Reimagined classical theater, soul-stirring photography, Harlem's first night market–and more fun you can only find uptown: A Christmas Carol in Harlem Through December 21, Wednesday-Sunday Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York, Convent Ave and 135th St Based on the Charles Dickens novel, this witty retelling of the Christmas classic by the Classical Theatre of Harlem is set in present-day Harlem. Here, Ebenezer Scrooge is a real estate mogul who has gotten rich at the expense of others, but on Christmas Eve three visitors show him the value of family and community. Expect original and classic holiday music infused with the sounds of gospel, hip-hop, pop and R&B. Harlem Night Market at

7 fun holiday tree lightings in Harlem and beyond

Can't make it to the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting tonight? Not to worry–there are plenty of terrific tree lighting events taking place uptown over the next 10 days. Here are some of the biggest and best, listed in chronological order: Fourth Annual Harlem Holiday Jazz Tree Lighting Wednesday, December 4 at 6pm-9pm Minton's Playhouse/Cecil Steakhouse, 210 W 118th St and St. Nicholas Ave Harlem's own Dapper Dan will join actress Kim Fields and others at this annual tree lighting outside of iconic jazz club Minton's Playhouse. The jazz performances are what really set this tree lighting apart. 23rd Annual Central Park Holiday Lighting Thursday, December 5 5:30pm-6:30pm Charles A. Dana Disco

Salt & Sugar (formerly Whaddapita) is now open in Harlem, serving Greek food and more

Greek street food spot Whaddapita opened near City College at the end of last year, then abruptly shuttered over the summer, announcing it would undergo renovations. Now, after a black paint job and a revamped menu, the restaurant at 1625 Amsterdam Avenue has reopened as Salt & Sugar. The food is still heavily Greek–think spanakopita, chicken souvlaki and moussaka–but there are a lot more choices. A temporary menu features an almost dinerlike list of options, including an entire page dedicated to sandwiches (lamb gyro, falafel and Angus burger, to name a few) and another to entrees. Salads and appetizers are also plentiful. Sugar may be in the restaurant's name, but desserts make up the smal

A Touch of 'Harlem' Gift Guide

For presents with uptown flair, look no further than The Curious Uptowner's holiday gift guides rolling out every Monday this holiday season. Today it's all about gifts with a touch of "Harlem"–yes, literally: Harlem City Map Notebook, $15 Live out your Harlem dreams, then document them in this charming 72-page blank notebook from Blackbird Letterpress. Harlem Motel Key Tag, $8 Proclaim your Harlem pride with this vintage-style motel key tag from Greenwich Letterpress. #Harlem'SFinest TOTE BAG, $24.95 Run errands–and do a little cheeky self promotion while you're at it–wearing this cotton tote from uptown brand Hashbags. HARLEM BURNOUT JERSEY, $50 ​An easy way to channel '70s cool: this retr

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