This year Valentine's Day falls on a Friday, a notoriously difficult day to find reservations at a sought-after spot. And if the restaurant is small, the odds of getting a table are even harder.
So with less than three weeks before the romantic holiday, here's a reminder that if you want to score a reservation at these intimate, chef-driven Harlem spots, you need to act now.
East Harlem 251 E 110th St between Second and Third Aves
Occupying the ground floor of a charming East Harlem townhouse, this modern tapas restaurant is helmed by Cedric Durand, a chef who earned his chops in Michelin-starred kitchens. Sit at one of the Spanish-tiled tables–the one in the back is next to a fireplace–and enjoy the multi-course Valentine's Day menu that includes dishes like lemon-roasted lobster and braised beef cheeks. The meal comes with a bottle of Spanish sparkling wine.
Central Harlem 2592 Frederick Douglass Blvd at W 138th St
After a long career on the West Coast, chef Russell Jackson opened the doors to his first fine dining spot in Harlem last summer. No surprise, then, that this modern 20-seater features California-influenced farm-to-table cuisine. Diners cozy up to a U-shaped bar that wraps around the open kitchen, which on Valentine's Day is serving a five-course tasting menu paired with sake.
Central Harlem 2363 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd between W 138th and W 139th Sts
Designed to feel like you're hanging out in someone's kitchen, this ambitious 12-seater with a focus on local ingredients is run by two locals, chef Darryl Burnette and his wife, Melissa, who are cooking and serving directly behind the polished wood counter. The Valentine's Day tasting menu features seven courses, from crab-and-caviar dip to strawberry cheese cake ice cream, and includes a glass of champagne.