Valentine's Day is fast approaching! Head to Harlem for these gift and day-of ideas you won't find anywhere else:
1. Chocolates inspired by the neighborhood
Resembling an elegant Strivers' Row parlor, Harlem Chocolate Factory is a year-old chocolate shop specializing in color-splashed truffles with evocative names like First Nite on Lenox (a mix of smoked peach jam, hazelnut praline and caramel). Stop by this weekend to see what's in store for Valentine's Day, including heart-shaped boxes of brandied cherry truffles.
2. Flowers as art
Want to impress your sweetheart for a good long time? Send them an arrangement from Franz James, a boutique in the heart of Harlem that turns flowers into art. You don't have to break the bank, either: this mix of orchids, lilies and roses goes for about $75.
3. Jazz at the source
Harlem's jazz traditions are legendary, and luckily some of the older joints are still around. Now in its 51st year, local bar Paris Blues offers no-cover jazz seven nights a week; Valentine's Day starts with the Les Goodson Jazz Band. And if you're looking for the full package–a fancy dinner and an excellent side of music–try Minton's Playhouse or Ginny's Supper Club, the basement lounge below Red Rooster.
4. Cocktails with heart
Harlem now has a spate of bars serving craft cocktails, and one of the dimmest and coziest (read: most romantic) is the '70s-themed The Honey Well. On Valentine's Day you'll obviously want to go for the Love Potion No. 9–a concoction of rye, blackberries, citrus, agave, bitters and rose water.
5. Live neo-burlesque
Held on V-Day in one of the neighborhood's most intimate and unique venues—the castle-like Harlem Stage Gatehouse—Mo Beasley's Urban Erotika is a neo-burlesque variety show celebrating erotic love via poetry, spoken word, music, dance and more.