Harlem Hotspots


This New York neighborhood is famous for its artistic traditions and rich history. Here are a few of the buzziest destinations between 113th and 125th streets that are worth a look.

Between bites of delectable red velvet waffles and sips of French-press coffee, it's easy to strike up a conversation with a book-toting local at Society Coffee & Juice. Exposed-brick walls serve as a backdrop for the café's nine tables, including a couple of oversize oak ones—where customers often mingle. 2104 Frederick Douglass Blvd., societycoffee.com, sandwiches from $7.

Effervescent jazz standards often echo throughout the Lenox Lounge. This compact venue showcases local and national jazz performers. Since its opening in 1939, the lounge has hosted legends such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis. The dinner menu sticks to comfort food like barbecue or Cajun chicken fillet, with two sides. 288 Lenox Ave., lenoxlounge.com, cover charge and drink minimum vary, entrées from $17.

To call the Dwyer Cultural Center a museum would be a bit of an overstatement. Better to call it a combination gallery, exhibition hall, and performance space. "The Dwyer," as it's known locally, offers a quick and insightful peek into Harlem's cultural history, such as the current exhibition of Afro-inspired artworks by 17 members of the Weusi Collective, founded during the 1960s Harlem Black Arts Movement. 258 St. Nicholas Ave., dwyercc.org, open Wed.Fri. noon5 p.m., Sat. 1 p.m.5 p.m., free admission.

It's OK to play with your food at Zoma, an Ethiopian restaurant where injera, a spongy flatbread, replaces forks and knives. The complex, spicy dishes feature chickpeas, lentils, onions, and assorted meats—meant to be washed down with tej, a traditional honey wine. 2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd., zomanyc.com, Mon.Fri. 5 p.m.11 p.m., Sat.Sun. noon11 p.m., entrées from $11.

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