Sugar Hill Stroll: New Restaurants in Harlem

Its emergence has been predicted for decades, the nouveau renaissance of Harlem. Slowly it has crept its way up from below 125th Street to the 130s and finally into historic Sugarhill.

Sunday morning finds me anxious to head to the brand new Sugarhill Java and Tea Room located on 145th Street right below St. Nicholas Avenue. The area above 125th Street has been in desperate need of a sit down cafe and I’m sure Sugarhill Java will be giving its closest competitor, Dunkin’ Donuts, a run for its money with its choices of premium coffees, teas and sweets from Make My Cake. They also have fresh made sandwiches and frozen hot chocolate served by a surprisingly friendly staff. There are tables lined along one wall and a chaise lounge situation in front of a fireplace in the back of in this charming cafe with exposed brick walls and a hardwood floor the color of roasted coffee beans.

Two doors down from Sugarhill Java is a new restaraunt called Raw Soul that serves organic vegan and vegetarian meals for take out or table service. It has piqued the interest of people in the neighborhood who have been trickling in since its doors opened earlier this month. Raw Soul offers a needed alternative to the fried fish take out places and Chinese restaurants that saturate the area with unhealthy food selections.

A couple of blocks down the hill I am patiently awaiting the grand opening of Maroons Uptown, the sister restaurant of the location in Chelsea. The arrival of this spacious sit down eatery will launch Sugarhill back into its rightful position of being one of the sweetest areas in the city. In the meantime Baton Rouge has opened a few blocks west on 145th Street in the brownstone that once housed the short lived Sugar Hill Bistro. Baton Rouge is the sister restaurant of Mo Bay on 125th Street featuring Louisiana southern cuisine and live entertainment in a charming restored brownstone.

Farther west along the bank of the Hudson River is Riverbank State Park and Earl Monroe’s Restaurant with its breathtaking views of the George Washington Bridge. Dubbed the “Crown Jewel of Harlem” by former Knicks basketball player and owner, Earl Monroe, the restaurant’s menu has a carefully selected variety of seafood and classic soul food favorites.

The area known as Harlem has blossomed into what James Weldon Johnson once described as “a city within a city.” I look forward to continuing to watch the businesses and restaurants in Harlem flourish thereby offering this historically rich neighborhood a second chance to shine brightly as the world renown cultural Mecca from its past.

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