As the year draws to a close, certain trends in uptown's dining, drinking and shopping scenes are coming into focus. Here's a brief rundown of the most notable:
High-end coffee shops continue to expand into every corner of upper Manhattan, including modern brew spot Shuteye Coffee at 137 W 116th St, the second location of The Monkey Cup at 1965 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, coffee-and-cocktails locale Bean & Barley at 2118 Frederick Douglass Blvd, cozy hangout Common Good Harlem at 2801 Frederick Douglass Blvd, and the super casual Forever Coffee Bar at 714 W 181st St in Washington Heights. A cart-only location of Dear Mama that opened earlier this year in Columbia's Jerome L. Greene Science Center at 3227 Broadway will be turning into something much bigger very soon.
Three separate niche bars made a splash this year, starting with Harlem's Paint 'N Pour at 2080 Frederick Douglass Blvd where you can sip on a cocktail while tapping into your creative side. Two other additions, both in Washington Heights, include gay bar Boxers at 3820 Broadway and dog cafe Cafe Bark at 833 W 181st St.
Craft beer bars
The number of places to find excellent craft beer in Harlem has expanded with the arrival of Harlem Hops at 2268 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, opened by three HBCU graduates, Harlem Ale House at 101 W 127th St, chock full of ephemera from Harlem's storied past, and Hilltop Park Alehouse at 3821 Broadway in Washington Heights, taking its name from the old Yankees' ballpark that stood nearby.
Tacos and more
While the artisanal pizza trend has slowed considerably–Bar 314 at 1260 Amsterdam Ave was the only notable new pie spot to open in 2018–tacos had a big year, with many new eateries joining last year's excellent newcomer La Chula. Fast-casual spot Harlem Taco & Bowl at 2288 Frederick Douglass Blvd came and went in less than a year, but three places with more staying power include the Unione-replacing Buddha Taco Bar at 3628 Broadway in Hamilton Heights, a sit-down offshoot of Taco Mix at 1621 Lexington Avenue, and Callie's Taqueria, which took over the space that most recently housed Morningside Coffee & Biscuits.
Chain, chain, chain
After a long wait, a handful of popular fast food chains finally arrived on Harlem's main commercial strip. While Shake Shack at 1 W 125th St made the biggest splash, two other noteworthy newcomers include fast-casual Mexican chain Chipotle at 72 W 125th St and the small-but-irresistible Philly Pretzel Company at 14 W 125th St (which looks to be temporarily closed).
A taste of the Caribbean
Jamaican joint Caribbean Starr nabbed a choice spot at 280 Lenox Ave at the beginning of the year, while Elma's in Harlem relocated to East Harlem and is now serving West-Indian-meets-soul-food from inside La Marqueta at 1580 Park Ave. Greedy Pot, another casual Caribbean newcomer, is serving jerk chicken and more out of a storefront at 1944 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd.
Thanks to the arrival of Sita Thai at 3609 Broadway in Hamilton Heights and Charm Thai at 1346 Amsterdam Ave in Manhattanville, pad thai and other favorite Thai dishes are now only a phone call away for residents of those neighborhoods.
Near Strivers' Row
Known for its stately late-19th-century townhouses, two of the most storied blocks in Harlem have been attracting their fair share of new businesses, including art gallery Faction Art Projects at 2602 Frederick Douglass Blvd, craft chocolate shop Harlem Chocolate Factory at 2363 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, month-old cocktail destination Ruby's Vintage at 2340 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd and just-opened drinks spot The Row Harlem at 2374 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. A few blocks to the north, Hexagon Lounge at 318 W 142nd St is offering community, cocktails, burgers and more.
City College and beyond
Capitalizing on the many hungry students that descend on City College during the week, a number of new casual eateries have arrived in the area, including Sushi Sushi, which relocated from Morningside Heights to 1504 Amsterdam Ave, Hawaiian barbecue chainlet Makana at 1502 Amsterdam Ave, juice joint Break Juicery at 132 Edgecombe Ave, and Greek street food destination Whaddapita at 1625 Amsterdam Ave.
In the northern reaches of Hamilton Heights, the new Barepas at 1792 Amsterdam Ave matches Venezuelan tapas with wine while the just-opened Good Stuff Juice Co. at 3671 Broadway offers smoothies and more.
Shopping and more
While shopping has taken a back seat to dining during Harlem's latest renaissance, a slew of notable retail destinations have opened this year. The biggest debut was the by-appointment-only studio Dapper Dan launched with Gucci at 241 Lenox Ave and 122nd Street. Singer/actress Teyana Taylor introduced her Harlem-in-the-'90s-themed nail bar Junie Bee Nails at 2332 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. Kangol's only hat shop in New York City is now located at 346 Malcolm X Blvd. And the newest chain stores to arrive on 125th Street include electronics destination P.C. Richards & Son on 309 W 125th St, Victoria's Secret at 112 W 125th St and Bath & Body Works right next door.