Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas East Harlemites!

The Last Minute East Harlem Gift Guide

Stumped on what to buy your favorite neighbor? Want to show your downtown friends how cool your hood is this holiday? Or, maybe you just don't want to venture too far away in this frigid weather. Try one of these East Harlem gifts.

The Coolest Case:
Vinyl Wine offers a 15% discount on any case of wine, even mixed cases and sparklers. Pick up 12 bottles and you'll be good until New Year's at least.
Pick it up at Vinyl Wine, 1555 Lexington Ave

Old-School Shoes: Goliath RF has urban gear and cool kicks for anyone on your list. Last time I was in I saw Reebok Pumps for $30. What a deal!
Pick them up at Goliath RF, 175 E 105th Street

Harlem in Images:
The Studio Museum along with SkiraRizzoli has published a new photography book celebrating Harlem's diverse and distinct landscape in images. Harlem: A Century in Images is the perfect coffee table book for any uptowner.
Pick it up at The Studio Museum, 144 West 125th Street.

A Pass to the Neighborhood:
Give the gift of art in a pass to El Museo Del Barrio, and they'll visit you up in East Harlem all year long. $50 for a single year pass.
Pick it up at El Museo Del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue

And don't forget we have the city's only Costco and Manhattan's only Target here in East Harlem –– both shops are perfect for last minute gifts.

Happy Holidays, Harlemites!

Update: Either Yo In, Or Yo Out

As of late December 2010, Yo in, Yo Out now has a liquor license. French food and there anything better?

Your Neighborhood French Bistro

Speaking of French bistros. Oh, we weren't? Sorry, I'm always thinking of French Bistros. I am a lover of all things French, and now we have another piece of France in East Harlem (have you been to any of the French bakeries around?). An adorable bistro/coffee shop has opened on Lexington. It's been open for only a week or so, but I can see it growing into a great spot for coffee, brunch or a small meal. The decor is whimsical: old-fashioned chandeliers, oversized coffee cups with fun designs and a ceiling painted blue with puffy clouds. I know that East Harlem is called Spanish Harlem, but the area is full of ex-pats from France as well as Puerto Rico and Mexico. We were surrounded by French speakers at this bistro – definitely adding to an authentic French vibe.

Location: 1569 Lexington Ave, between 100th and 101st Sts

Phone: (212) 987-5350

Recommended Dishes/Drinks: Chevre Roti au Miel (Goat Cheese Salad), Truffle Croque Monsieur and Chocolate Chaud (Hot Chocolate)

Average Dish Price: $9


Monday, December 6, 2010

East Harlem, The Basics 2

Levi Fishman, writer, four-year East Harlem resident and this blog's first fan, has agreed to give us his East Harlem basics. You might remember Levi from his AM New York piece on East Harlem –– definitely worth a read if you haven't already.

Coffee: The Love Cafe. The owner (Pat) grew up in the neighborhood, so along with your coffee you can get some great stories of what the neighborhood was like back in the day.
283 Pleasant Avenue
(between 115th St & 116th St)

Haircut: Claudio's Barber Shop. Hang out there long enough and you'll get some stories of what the neighborhood was like when it was run by the Italian Mafia.

Mexican Food: Cafe Ollin has probably the best Cemita in the city.
339 E 108th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)

Brunch: Itzocan Bistro for a full meal, Pleasant Pastries if you're looking for a muffin to go.

Take-out/Delivery: I agree with Polash. It's just as good as any of the Indian places down on Curry Row. For Chinese delivery, Chinatown East. They're down on 92nd and 3rd, but they deliver all the way up to 120th.

Laundry: The place at 118th and 1st has $1 machines in the back. And it's half a block from Patsy's.

Groceries: Costco. Or Fine Fare. Over the summer, there is a nice fruit stand on 120th and 1st.

Nice View of Uptown Manhattan:
Top of the East Harlem Plaza parking garage.

If you're an East Harlemite and would like to tell us your "Basics" shoot me an email.

Quesadillas, Even in the Cold

NYC food blog Eating in Transition has a great write-up on a quesadilla stand on 116th St that's open all season. Seems like it's definitely worth checking out. Read the review at Eating in Transition.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

East Harlem, The Basics 1

When you first move to any neighborhood in Manhattan there's always a few things you'd like to ask the local, like, "Where do you get a great slice of pizza?" and "Where can I get a great cup o' joe?" So, here is the first in a new feature, I'm asking East Harlemites where they find their NYC basics. Think of it as East Harlem 101. I'm starting with five year East Harlem resident Craig Nelson. He's a bit of an expert when it comes to suggesting places to eat and things to do, he's the managing editor of Not For Tourists. It's the online version of those awesome little black books.

Craig Nelson's East Harlem Basics:

Pizza: Slice at Patsy's take out window ($1.75 and best in NYC)

Coffee: East Harlem Cafe (but sometimes bodega coffee oddly hits the spot)

Brunch Spot:
Not a big brunch person, but getting pastries at La Tropezienne is a weekend morning tradition

Groceries: When in season, local farmers markets and out of season Fine Fare or Met Foods (or Whole Foods on the west side)

Place on 105th b/w Lex and 3rd

La Fonda Boricua, Sandy Restaurant, or Polash Indian

Thanks for the tips, Craig!

If you're an East Harlemite and would like to tell us your "Basics" shoot me an email.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An East Harlem Hero...Whatever His Reasons

Carlos Flores just wanted to go to work and get his overtime pay. So, on Sunday when Flores was waiting at the 103rd Street subway station and noticed a man had fallen on the tracks and needed needed help, he jumped in and saved him. According to the New York Daily News, "I was thinking, if he gets hit I can't go to work. It's Sunday. I can't miss out. It's a time-and-a-half day," said Flores.
By the way, he made the train and got to work. Phew!

An honest hero...I can't decide if that's refreshing or not. But I wouldn't have turned him away if I was the one in trouble.

What do you think of the Honest East Harlem Hero?

Hat tip: Rachel

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cafe Saint Germain, Your New Brunch Spot

You could easily miss Cafe Saint Germain's store front as you walk down Lexington Avenue. It's quite tiny and the scaffolding currently covering the shop doesn't help with their visibility issues. But, this cafe is worth finding. The look inside is Harlem Renaissance with dark wood and prints from the 30s, like the one of Josephine Baker. The food is modern, healthy and super fresh. Try one of the salads -- I love the La Chevre. The sandwiches and breakfast options are also great and change often.

This restaurant seems to still be getting it's footing; when I visited the credit card machine was down and although 'Wi-Fi' was boldly printed on the front window, it will not be working until later in the week, I was told.

Other than the food, the eclectic tunes and truly fascinating owner, Mario Douge, are worth taking in as well. I can definitely see myself coming here often for brunch, and maybe once the Wi-Fi is up, spending the day sipping a cappuccino, surfing the web and chatting with Douge.

Cafe Saint Germain
1695 Lexington Ave. (bet 106 and 107th Sts)
(212) 286-2466
Mon - Fri:
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat - Sun:
11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Cafe Saint Germain Facebook Page

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Marathon Uptown

Musical duo cheering on the runners in East Harlem during the New York City Marathon.

Video: A Fresher Harlem

A Fresher Harlem from The Uptowner on Vimeo.

A great new video about the food desert we call home. Read the full piece on the Uptowner, a Columbia University Journalism School website.

Will Wallmart Join the Big Box Stores in East Harlem?

Crains New York Business reports that Wallmart is looking at store locations accross New York City. “They're looking all over,” says Faith Hope Consolo, chairwoman of Prudential Douglas Elliman's retail group to Crains New York. “This is aggressive now. This is not just thinking about it and dabbling. They're dancing around the city.” It appears that real estate in East Harlem and East New York, Brooklyn, are in the running...Which of the Easts will get a Wallmart?

What do you think of all the big box chain store development in East Harlem?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Swimming Up Stream

A quick sketch by James De La Vega.

The Two Sides of Harlem Cuisine: Culinary Destinations and Food Deserts

The first issue of Gourmet Live, Gourmet Magazine's new life as an online app, has a great profile on Marcus Samuelsson. The restaurateur and "Top Chef Masters" winner's much anticipated Harlem restaurant Red Rooster seems even closer to opening.

Samuelsson and the author discuss some of Harlem's blossoming culinary destinations: Chex Lucienne, Cafe Latte and Settepani, but Samuelsson is is aware that Harlem residents suffer from high levels of obesity and diabetes. He's hoping his restaurant can be an agent of social change.

Also, this week in food news of Harlem the Harlem Harvest Festival and Fresh Foods Summit took place on Saturday. The program was set up, because as their website states, "Our community, Harlem, suffers from the highest rates of heart disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in New York City. Our lack of adequate choices for fresh food and vegetables and an over-saturation of fast food options is shocking and characterizes Harlem as what is often called a 'food desert.'"

Hat Tip: Jonah

Here's What Harlem Thinks of Their Food Justice Situation:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More About that East Harlem Starbucks

Curbed writes that the East Harlem Starbucks will be Leed-Certitfied (that means it's green building), but that "the appearance of the ubiquitous mermaid logo has served as the official stamp on a neighborhood's gentrification for years..."

Has anyone been getting their (tall, grande or venti) cup of joe there?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An Italian Harlem Time Capsule

In today's New York Times the Real Estate section has a great piece on a couple who has lived in their East Harlem apartment for 35 years. Their home is a time capsule, full of memories from the time when Italian immigrants were coming to the United States and and living in East Harlem. The couple's relatives were some of those immigrants. East Harlem was known as Italian Harlem back in the early 1900s, some of the last remnants of that time are Patsy's, Rao's and this couple's brownstone. The article is a great history lesson and also a wonderful profile on an interesting couple.

Hat tip: Dad

A Starbucks Coming to the Edge of East Harlem

As I got off the bus at 96th St and Lexington, I gasped, said "Oh, No!" and covered my mouth. A Starbucks would be opening right there on the cusp of East Harlem. Is this bad news? My initial reaction was obviously, "Yes." But this could just be another sign of the neighborhood changing. Change is not necessary a bad thing, if it comes with the amenities we need in the area. On the subject of amenities, I'm hoping for larger supermarkets that stay open late and offer more fresh produce. Regarding Starbucks specifically, it would be nice to have a coffee shop with later hours as well (the East Harlem Cafe has fairly limited hours). I'm torn about how I feel about this Starbucks. What do you think? Will you be grabbing a cup o' joe there once it opens in September, or do you prefer supporting a local establishment?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

East Harlem Pride Cemented

Videos: The East Harlem Target Opening

The official East Harlem Target opening took place on Sunday July 25 in the early morning. A long line of shoppers eagerly lined up on the second floor of the East River Plaza, and the first 5,000 lucky customers received reusable wheeled Target bags. Marshalls, Old Navy, Best Buy and Kidstown also opened at the East River Plaza on Sunday. Did you show up for the grand opening? What do you think of the new stores?

Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum at the Target East Harlem Opening

Matthew Washington, Chair of Community Board 11 of Manhattan at the Target East Harlem Opening

The Ribbon Cutting

Dresser Dreams

James De La Vega
's furniture design.

Joy Burger Heads Downtown

Joy Burger, the home of the burger sauce, is opening up a new location. So, when you venture downtown, specifically to the West Village, you'll get to enJOY :) your favorite East Harlem burgers.

Joy Burger Bar West Village
361 Sixth Avenue
Opening Soon

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mouth of the Border Finds East Harlem's Best Tacos

A few weeks ago I met the fantastic food blogger Emily Cavalier of Mouth of the Boarder. She (and a few fellow foodie bloggers) had recent discovered some great tacos up in East Harlem.

Here's their taco tour:
El Aguila
136 East 116th Street
New York, NY 10029

El Paso Taqueria
237 E 116th St
New York, NY 10029

Cascabel Taqueria
1542 2nd Avenue (at 80th)
New York, NY 10075

Get all the details at Mouth of the Border.

Did they miss any great taco joints?

A Target Just for East Harlem

The East River Plaza Target will officially be opening on July 25, and the store will be adding touches that make East Harlemers feel right at home. The East Harlem Target will offer lots of Spanish language items, apartment-sized merchandise and 400 jobs for the locals. The store will also be the first to hold the Harlem Designer Collections with items by Isabel and Ruben Toledo, renowned designer Stephen Burrows, and chef Marcus Samuelsson. Here's some information about the collections from the Target press release:

The IsabelandRubenToledo for Target(R) collection marks the first time Isabel and Ruben have partnered on a retail collection. The collection includes a beautifully psychedelic swim assortment with suits and towels in cerulean blues; cutouts and asymmetry make bold statements on one-piece suits ($17.99--$34.99). The Stephen Burrows for Target(R) collection provides an unexpected assortment of knits that embody an urban-street aesthetic, shown in the zip-front pocketed hoodie dress ($19.99--$34.99). The Marcus Samuelsson for Target(R) collection offers a range of aprons, placemats, kitchen towels, potholders and napkins, and features a pleasantly surprising assortment of men's, women's and kids' tees which will only be available at the East Harlem Target store ($3.99--$19.99).

Each collection will honor Harlem while giving to the local Harlem community. Target will donate 5 percent of each product's purchase price to a non-profit of the designer's choice. The non-profit selected by the Toledos is El Museo del Barrio []; The Fund for Public Schools in support of the library at The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem [] by Stephen Burrows; and The Fund for Public Schools in support of the library at Harlem PS 180: Hugo Newman [] by Marcus Samuelsson.

Hat Tip: Levi

amNew York Features East Harlem

This post is a little late, but in case you missed it: East Harlem was featured in the City Living section of amNew York early last month. The section was written by one of this blog's first readers, Levi Gibian Fishman. Levi interviewed me for the story and included a quote from me, "The area feels real. It's the sort of area that I always imagined living in when I thought about living in New York City." The section covers some of the haunts you've read about in this blog and a few new places you should check out. Take a look at the full article in amNew York (PDF).

Great article, Levi!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Secret to Museum Mile

This lovely city has plenty of free events, especially in the summer months. Free, of course, is awesome, but crowds (especially on a hot June day) are not. But, don't let the fear of long lines deter you from Museum Mile, that summer evening when nine museums along Fifth Ave open their doors free of charge. Here's the secret to a slightly less crowded experience: check out the museums uptown. The Museum of the City of New York and El Museo Del Barrio are often the less visited museums during the event.

There's lots going on this Tuesday, June 8th from 6-9pm for Museum Mile. At the Museum of the City of New York all of the current exhibits will be open for you to view including their collection of New York City photos and the New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams' illustration exhibit.

At El Museo Del Barrio most exhibits will be open, including a permanent collection show. The Museo and street artist James De La Vega (who makes regular appearances on this blog) will host chalk coloring activities along Fifth Ave. Finish your Museum Mile experience with a trip to the the Museo's cafe. I was invited to dine at the cafe this Saturday, and I was impressed with their fare. Try the ceviche or the Chile Relleno con Vegetales ($7 and $5). Relax with a glass of tamarind juice, a beer or soda -- the museum has beverages from all over Latin America -- while listening to one of the performances scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Museum Mile
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
5th Avenue between 82nd & 105th

The Smurfs Are Coming to East Harlem

Spotted on 104th between 5th and Madison

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spring Awakening

James De La Vega seemed to hibernate for some of the winter, but he seems to be back in full force now that spring has arrived.

Spotted this morning....

A Toast(er) to You and Your Dreams

Things May Be Upside-Down But at Least You Have Your Dreams

Friday, May 28, 2010

Join the East Harlem Facebook Page

It's got a small following so far, but hopefully soon the East Harlem Facebook page will let East Harlemers connect and share info.

Friday, May 21, 2010

18th Annual Ethnic Festival of El Barrio

Celebrated the diversity of East Harlem this Saturday at the Annual Ethnic Festival of El Barrio at 104th St. between 2nd and 3rd Ave. Come out between 11am and 6pm and you'll enjoy music, art and food from a wide vary of cultures including Mexican, Puerto Rican, South American, West African, Caribbean, Arabic and African-American.

Find out more information at the Union Settlement Association Website.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More on the East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center

According to a press release from the New York Economic Development Fund the development will include:

* 30,000 square feet of cultural space celebrating East Harlem’s unique and diverse cultural heritage;
* More than 800 total housing units, 600 of which will be affordable to individuals or families with moderate or middle incomes;
* A mid-block public plaza;
* A minimum of 24,000 square feet of landscaped open space;
* 50,000 square feet of retail space reserved for locally-owned businesses at below market rents;
* 250,000 square feet of class A office space;
* A 98,000-square-foot hotel; and,
* A $10 million local investment fund to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs that locate in the new development.

What do you think? Would you want to live in this complex?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center

A massive $700 million project has broken ground on 125th St and 3rd Ave in East Harlem. GlobeSt and Curbed report that the East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center has started construction. The multi-use building will have 800 housing units, a cultural center, office space, retail space for local business and more. The building is expected to be LEED certified.

At the start of construction, GlobeSt quoted Mayor Bloomberg saying, Today's groundbreaking, along with the other projects taking shape along 125th Street, are helping sustain the momentum of Harlem's ongoing renaissance. This major multi-use development –– a major investment and show of confidence in Harlem's future –– will serve the community in a variety of important ways: by creating needed affordable housing, valuable community and cultural space, and new office and retail space. Most importantly in today's economy, it will create thousands of permanent and construction jobs.”

Who Even Knew There Was a Catholic Museum in East Harlem?

Yesterday's New York Times has an article on the rise and fall of the National Museum of Catholic Art and History, which believe it or not was in East Harlem. You didn't know their was a Catholic Museum in East Harlem? Well, that could have lent to the museum's struggles. In case you weren't one of the museum's few visitors, when it was open from 2003 to 2007, the museum was located on 115th St and the building is now for sale. The museum was plagued by money issues as well as other problems, but the museum's director had friends in high places who helped keep it afloat.

Photo: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Welcome the New Neighbors…the Artists

Architect’s Newspaper reported that East Harlem's Public School 109 -- on the far east side of 99th St -- will be the future home of 72 artist’s residences. Artspace, a non-profit that creates affordable housing for artists, is working with financial backing from the Ford Foundation on the the project, which is expected to break ground later this year.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Urban Legends in East Harlem

Have you heard the one about the alligator found in the sewer? Well, that really happened -- and in East Harlem!
Get the full scoop in the most recent episode of This American Life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Friday 4 the Foodies: East Harlem Eats

There's a great post on the music blog Roll With It on places to eat in East Harlem.

"This week I thought I’d take everyone on a visual tour of what I feel is a neglected foodie area of New York City for some people – Lexington Avenue from 96th Street to 104th street in East Harlem."

They've covered some great spots...definitely worth a look.

East Harlem Rated 54th

East Harlem was ranked 54th out of 60 neighborhoods in New York Magazine's Best Places to Live listing. I've always thought of East Harlem as an "up-and-coming" place to live, so I was surprised it was so low. To me the neighborhood gets points for diversity, Mexican food, Central Park and the museums. Why do you love East Harlem? What makes it the area for you?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Virtual Tour: Demolition Depot

Last week when I posted the New York Times Local Stop article about places to check out in East Harlem, Levi made some suggestions of his own. One of those was Demolition Depot because "they have three floors of porcelain bathroom fixtures" he commented.

Even if your not in the market for some home fixin', it's a fun place to visit.

Demolition Depot
216 East 125th Street
New York, NY 10035-1738
(212) 860-1138

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Charles Addams's New York

Smart, Very New York Humor

New Yorker magazine articles tend to be long. Sometimes, perhaps, your mind needs a break. You take your relief in the form of a glance at the cartoons. Refreshed you're ready to tackle that article again. Now imagine rooms filled with these moments of relief, those smart quick laughs, the very New York humor that is a New Yorker cartoon. You want to go to there, don't you? Well, you should.

An exhibit of Charles Addams's cartoons is up at the Museum of the City of New York until May 16th. He is the most well-know New Yorker cartoonists -- starting his work for the magazine in the 1930s. He is also famous for creating the Addams Family, and it is very interesting to see the Addams Family become the iconic ghouls they are today throughout his drawings.

The exhibit is curated with thoughtfulness and humor. When the stories that Addams told in his cartoons are placed side by side on the museum walls they lead to even more laughs and smiles. The cutouts of Addams's characters frolicking on the walls add to the whimsy and fun.

Seeing so many of the illustrations together you realize what a great commentary these cartoons were, and in many cases still are, on society, specifically New York City's society. My favorite is the one with the barricades around a banana peel on a city street. Smart, fun humor. Go see for yourself.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St.
New York, NY 10029
Remember East Harlem residents get in for free.

All images © Charles Addams
Permission of Tee and Charles Addams Foundatio

Local Stop: East Harlem

Earlier this week the New York Times covered East Harlem in their Local Stop section. They visited El Paso Restaurant, the Graffiti Hall of Fame, Metropolis Studios and the RaĆ­ces Latin Music Museum, among other stops. I think I would have chosen the Museum of the City of New York and a more off-the-beaten-path restaurant, but nonetheless it's great to see the hood getting some coverage.

What East Harlem stops would you have covered?

Take a look at their slide show of East Harlem haunts.

Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Hat Tip: Levi

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Super Weather: Spring is Almost Here

This weekend gave us the most amazing weather. Walking around Saturday at dusk it almost felt like spring. Lots of people were out and about, music playing from open windows mixed with the sounds of a basketball game. It almost made me want to plan a barbecue or slip on my flip-flops. Almost, almost, spring is certainly close.