I am currently in my NINTH year in New York (the longest I’ve lived somewhere, aside from my parent’s house). I came here for college and pretty much stayed put, especially since I graduated five incredibly short years ago.
After living in the Bronx in college, I was pleasantly surprised to find how quiet and community-like my neighborhood in Harlem turned out to be. To be sure, it’s still the City, so it’s not silent, but compared to Arthur Ave, where I could hear entire drunk conversations and loud music through my window at all hours, its quaint.
One thing I especially love is how many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are nearby. I don’t even have to walk a block before I get to my favorite bar in the whole world. Part of me wants to keep these places secret and to myself, but the other part of me wants to show off my little community, and illustrate what an amazing neighborhood it is to live in.
Technically, I live in a neighborhood deemed “Hamilton Heights,” aka, the neighborhood where Alexander Hamilton’s house now lives, although, it’s pretty much Washington Heights. Most of my recommendations are in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood, but I stretched a little for a few, that are a bit north or south. Who cares, they’re amazing.
Also, contrary to popular belief, Hamilton Heights isn’t that far out of the way. My old friend, the D train is express from 125th street to 59th, and I get to my office near Rockefeller Center in about 30 minutes in the morning. It’s definitely worth exploring.
I couldn’t write about my neighborhood without mentioning our favorite bar. It’s no fuss, with all kinds of quirky decor (photo booth photos, a fat David, I think there’s a unicorn head somewhere), great music (this early 2000’s jams), grilled cheese and waffle fries, and great drinks.
A few of our favorite menu items include the Truffle Fries, or waffle fries with truffle oil and a fried egg on top. We also love the Grilly Cheesesteak, a grilled cheese with some kind of steak and cheese. It’s delicious. They also have Dino Nuggets with chipotle mayo, and some of the best wings I’ve had in New York.
For drinks, our favorite is a slushy made with coffee and whisky with crumbled Oreos on top. It’s called The Coffee One.
They do a handful of specialty events as well. In June they do a crawfish boil, in July, crabfest, and my personal favorite, in the fall they do apple fest. We’ve also gone there for New Year’s Eve the past three years, where they have all you can eat and drink for $75.
The Wallace is “our” bar, where we go to hang out, watch baseball or football games on TV, play games, or just hang out.
Right next door, and with the same owners is Harlem Public. This is like the Wallace’s older brother. It’s a sit down place with a higher end food and drink menu, including a ton of beers on tap. While their wings are just about the same at At the Wallace, Harlem Public’s are a little better.
They also have incredible spicy fried chicken thigh sandwich, which I dream about. And amazing burgers. I’m allergic, but Andrew loves the Peanut Butter Burger. Their brunch is also incredible: french toast, chicken and waffles, etc.
We regularly choose Harlem Public over any other restaurant in our area. It’s just the best.
The third of the trifecta of bars with the same owners (and on the same block) is the Honeywell. It’s 70’s themed, with wood paneling, carpet on the walls, lazy Susans on the tables. It’s a little pricier than the other two bars (drinks ~$13-15) but the drinks are definitely specialty cocktails. One of the first times we visited, the waitress asked Andrew if he wanted something “light and fun” and proceeded to bring him a drink in a lava lamp. Get it? Light and fun?
The food is also delicious, cooked in a kitchen straight out of your grandma’s house. Our favorites are the buffalo chicken meatballs, the spinach and artichoke dip in a pretzel bowl, and the pork belly sliders.
Added bonus is that you can make reservations.
On the same block as all of our other favorites is this little noodle bar (although, truth be told we usually order takeout from them and have it delivered). They specialize in North-western Chinese noodles. My favorite are the spicy cumin lamb and the scallion pancake. I could eat my weight in scallion pancake.
This coffee shop is tiny, but the owners are the sweetest, and they have amazing coffee and tea drinks. Andrew also loves their pastries. I also love the interior — there’s faux leaves on the ceiling, and it’s just so cute and cozy.
NYC pizza is delicious, but sometimes I crave the thicker, fluffier pizza that I grew up with. Uncle Tony’s is a little bit of a hike from our apartment, but well worth it. They have a grandma pizza that’s just incredible.
They also have more traditional New York slices, but I much prefer the grandma.
A Jamaican-British fusion restaurant. I’ve never had anything there that wasn’t incredible. Jerk chicken, codfish fritters, rum punch, and easily the best burger I’ve ever had. Good for brunch, lunch, or dinner. There’s sometimes a bit of a wait for brunch, but its well worth it.
Another spot good for both brunch and dinner. They have these amazing butternut squash and sage ravioli, one of my favorite dishes.
They also do a great brunch — not unlimited, but a pitcher of mimosas is like $16, so with a group it’s not bad at all.
My very own neighborhood museum! Just a short ride on the bus brings you right to it. And since it’s part of the Met, it’s free for New Yorkers. There’s wonderful views of the Hudson River and a cafe, so it’s a delightful way to spend an afternoon.
I also wrote about seeing the Met’s Heavenly Bodies exhibit last summer here.
A great place to hang out in the summer with a big, no-fuss beer and a big pretzel. While most of the biergartens in New York are downtown and packed, Bierstrasse is much less crowded. It’s a nice place to chill on a summer afternoon. It’s also open in the winter, with the garden covered, but I prefer it in the summer.
Technically not in Hamilton Heights, but it’s in Harlem and worth a quick ride on the 1 train.
Hands down the best bagels I’ve ever had. The shop itself is tiny, and there’s usually a line down the block, but it’s always worth it. The bagels are chewy and fresh, and they put on a huge schmear of cream cheese (or in my case, tofutti). They’re also cash only, so come prepared.
Due to the smallness of the shop, seating is limited, but we like to take our bagels to go and eat over in Riverside Park. Sometimes when we’re feeling ambitious we’ll walk the two miles home.
Finally, we have Peque, my local tapas bar. I went here when a friend visited, and we must have ordered half the menu. What sticks out in my memory are the patatas bravas, the lamb, and the warm bread pudding we had for dessert. Oh, and the wine. Lots of delicious wine.
I tried to bring my parents there for brunch, but it doesn’t open on Sundays until one. Just a heads up. So we went to Harlem Public, of course.
We love our neighborhood and all of the gems hidden around it. It’s not as bustling as Brooklyn or the East Village, but there’s still plenty to do so we don’t have to even leave.