The 10 Best Harlem Bars

Harlem Public is renowned for its chicken wings
Harlem Public is renowned for its chicken wings | © Filip Wolak
Dani Kowalczyk

New York City’s culturally rich Harlem neighborhood is home to musicians, actors, poets and scholars. Naturally, a strong drink in a cool space isn’t hard to find.

1. The Cecil

Restaurant, American

Any establishment that has an Afro-Asian-American influence is worth the trip. So, pay a visit to The Cecil for finely tuned fusion cocktails ranging from whiskeys to bubbles to vodkas and other unusual spirits, including The Yenga or Blood and Fire. Loyal customers rave about The Cecil, and are impressed by everything from its indulgent desserts to expertly crafted cocktails.

2. Red Rooster

Restaurant, Soul Food

Woman stands outside the Red Rooster restaurant, with several shaded seats in an al fresco dining space beside her
© incamerastock / Alamy Stock Photo
Headlined by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster celebrates the roots of American cuisine and the diversity of the neighborhood with its menu soul-food menu. The restaurant, which opened in 2010, is named after the now-shuttered legendary Harlem speakeasy. Red Rooster has its own speakeasy (Ginny’s Supper Club) tucked in the basement, where visitors can enjoy dishes like cornbread slick with apple butter and waffles crowned with fried chicken, all while listening to local musicians.

3. Harlem Public

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American

Harlem Public is a local favorite
© Filip Wolak
Whether it’s for the avocado fries, the peanut butter burger or one the many tailored cocktails, Harlem Public is a sure go-to for anybody in the neighborhood. Most customers head to the bar and trust the opinions of the cocktail connoisseurs behind it. If you’re not in a festive cocktail mood, try the wondrous world of craft beers offered at this neighborhood staple. Happy hour is a local favorite, great for post-work date nights or a gathering of friends. It’s truly one of the best bars in Harlem.

4. Orange Street

Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, American

With its killer food and cocktail combos, 67 Orange Street has established itself as a solid option for any Harlem resident or visitor. The space is both comfortable and sleek, while the staff are attentive and the cocktails well made. The diverse crowd and genuine space for free-flowing conversations make for an ideal evening out.

5. At the Wallace

Bar, American

A late-night local favorite, At the Wallace offers customers space to fully experience delicious food and drinks paired with fun. Partake in Jenga, enjoy that photo booth or play arcade games that beckon each passerby. Aside from the allure of non-traditional bar activities, the fare is inexpensive and highly recommended. With a casual ambience, there’s no need to dress up. It’s great for groups: the happy hour is stellar and the space is perfect for dancing.

6. 1020 Bar

Bar, American

An inexpensive spot that largely caters to Columbia University students, this Harlem-based watering hole offers great drinks and an enticing happy hour. Described as hosting “an incredibly weird crowd but in a good way,” this dive bar is sure to live up to your expectations. 1020 Bar is a place where the bartenders are likely to remember your name, and the drinks are cheap and stiff. Visit on weekend afternoons for smaller crowds.

7. Paris Blues

Bar, American

Walk into Paris Blues any night of the week and listen to live jazz for no cover charge. Grab a drink at this cozy, long-standing dive bar that’s been a Harlem institution since 1968. Patrons can expect a friendly smile from the tending owner and some incredible live music. Paris Blues is a Harlem jazz bar that’s like a club from another era, a true sample of what was and what still is within the original jazz community.

8. Smoke Jazz & Supper Club

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub

Smoke Jazz & Supper Club regularly hosts live music
© John Abbott
A rather small but vibrant space can’t keep good food, strong drinks and smooth jazz under wraps for long. Smoke Jazz & Supper Club entertains and is entertained by some of the most renowned contemporary acts in New York City. While prices are on the higher side, Smoke is worth it. Music sets begin at 7pm and go until 11.30pm. There are three acts in total, each one hour long. Get ready to be part of the action – this place is lively.
Some of the best jazz musicians in New York City perform at the club

9. Harlem Tavern

Bar, American

Harlem Tavern has a large beer garden
© Harlem Tavern
Do you like beer gardens, watching sport on projector TV screens, outdoor seating and good food? Then Harlem Tavern will tick all your boxes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by this newly renovated large beer garden. In fact, many locals have begun to call this a staple, saying that it’s exactly what the neighborhood needed. This bar and grill serves up some of the best chicken wings around, as well as a range of American dishes. There are also cold brews to wash it all down with. Heads up: game nights can get pretty loud.
Harlem Tavern often screens live sport

10. The Grange Bar & Eatery

Bar, Restaurant, American

This hybrid hotspot beckons anyone with an eye for great decor and a stomach for great taste. The Grange Bar & Eatery offers crafted cocktails and delicious food. The Grange sources its produce from regional suppliers, so the food and drinks are made with the freshest local ingredients. The beautiful oak floors and antique chandeliers appeal to a more discerning crowd. Rest assured, the prices aren’t as upscale as the ambience.

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