Guides New York A Taste of Historic Harlem: Exploring Food, Music & Culture

A Taste of Historic Harlem: Exploring Food, Music & Culture

City Guide August 8, 2023


Welcome to Historic Harlem, where the rich tapestry of culture, art, and history weaves together to create an exceptional experience. Join us on a journey to discover the best food spots in Harlem, revel in live music Harlem that pulses through its streets, and immerse yourself in the captivating stories of this iconic neighborhood. Let's dive into the wonders of Harlem through Harlem guided tours and uncover the vibrant Harlem culture and art exhibitions that showcase its soul.

Before venturing into Harlem and learning about its history, ensure your luggage and large bags are stored in a safe place. Roaming around NYC is difficult as it is. We can’t imagine doing it with suitcases.

That’s why there’s Nannybag! Nannybag is here to provide budget-friendly luggage storage in NYC. For only $6 per bag per day, you can safely store your belongings at any of our locations around the city. Download the app today and see it for yourself.


Music & Culture

Live Music

Harlem's musical heritage runs deep, and you'll be swept away by the soul-stirring rhythms filling its streets. Be part of the excitement as you witness mesmerizing live music Harlem performances that continue to echo the sounds of the Harlem Renaissance. From jazz clubs to Harlem gospel tours, the melodic journey in Harlem is one for the books.

If you’re visiting Harlem, make sure to visit the Apollo Theatre. Located right in the heart of Harlem, it's been a hotspot for incredible talent since 1914. The Apollo has a legendary history. During the roaring Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, it became the go-to spot for African-American performers to show off their skills and get discovered.

Icons like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin graced this stage and started their journeys to stardom here. They have amazing shows, talent competitions, theater, dance performances, and comedy gigs. You name it. If you can catch a show, don’t pass it up!


Harlem is a haven for artists and visual creatives, with its historic district inspiring fine arts that reflect its African-American roots. Explore Harlem's street art, including works by the legendary Tats Cru graffiti crew, which has left an indelible mark on the neighborhood's artistic landscape. Visit exhibitions that pay homage to celebrated figures like Langston Hughes and the African American experience, as well as contemporary visual artists pushing boundaries and showcasing their talents.

The Studio Museum in Harlem is a museum that has a killer collection of contemporary art that'll blow your mind. Paintings, sculptures, photography, you name it—they've got it all. And they're not just about the art on the walls; they have many engaging exhibitions and programs that'll give you a fresh perspective on the world.

What sets the Studio Museum apart: it's not just a museum; it's a vibrant community hub. They're all about connecting with the neighborhood, so you'll feel the local energy and spirit as soon as you step inside.



Walking Tours

Embark on guided walking tours that lead you through the streets of Harlem, unearthing hidden gems and sharing tales of its illustrious past. Discover the intriguing history of Washington Heights and the impact of World War II on the neighborhood. Stroll down the famous St. Nicholas Avenue, where history and culture come alive at every corner.

Explore the legacy of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a prominent figure in Harlem's political and civil rights history. Visit the historic Hamilton Grange, the former home of Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States.

If history isn’t your thing, try one of the Harlem hip-hop walking tours. While still being “history,” it’s a cool, more tangible history. The tour takes you through hidden gems and iconic locations like the Apollo Theatre. During the tour, you'll also check out popular locations where hip-hop music videos were shot.

If you’re interested in learning more about this tour, click here.


Food in Harlem

Harlem has an array of restaurants that embody the essence of African-American, Caribbean, and Southern culinary traditions. Don't miss the chance to savor Caribbean delights such as jerk chicken, rice, and peas. And, of course, no visit to Harlem is complete without indulging in the neighborhood's delectable desserts at local bakeries. Here are some places to check out if you get hungry in Harlem:


Bill’s Place

A hidden gem speakeasy located in the heart of Harlem that is a must-visit for jazz enthusiasts and food lovers alike. Not only will you groove to some soulful tunes, but you'll also savor delicious bites with your taste buds singing joyfully!

148 W 133rd St, New York, NY 10030

Hours: Open Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm


Red Rooster

This hotspot, brought to you by chef Marcus Samuelsson, serves up fantastic dishes with a soulful twist, perfectly capturing the spirit of Harlem. You're in for a real treat, from their crispy fried chicken to their scrumptious cornbread. Oh, and pair that with the jazz soundtrack and cocktails, and you won’t want to leave.

310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

Hours: Mon-Thurs,12 pm-9 pm, Fri, 12 pm-10 pm Sat, 11 am-10 pm Sun, 11 am-9 pm


Amy Ruth

This cozy eatery whips comfort food to make you feel like you're dining at grandma's house. From the mouthwatering Rev Al Sharpton, featuring crispy fried chicken and delectable waffles, to the finger-licking President Barack Obama—a tempting barbecued chicken platter—every dish tells a story of history and flavor. And let's not forget the crowd-pleasing fan favorite, mac and cheese, which will leave you wanting seconds!

113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

Hours: Mon: 11:30 am-9:30 pm, Tue: 11:30 am-9:30 pm Wed: 11:30 am-9:30 pm Thu: 11:30 am-9:30 pm Fri: 11:00 am-10:30 pm Sat: 11:00 am-10:30 pm Sun: 11:00 am-9:30 pm



Founded in 1962 by Sylvia Woods, “The Queen of Soul Food,” this place is a must-visit. Along with the cuisine, the restaurant offers gospel brunch on Sundays, live music on Wednesdays, and daily specials that scream home-style cooking, within an at-home environment. The same family still runs the restaurant, so you’ll feel at home here.

328 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027

Hours: Sun–Tues, 11 am – 8 pm, Wed-Sat, 11 am–10 pm



We have everything for you if you want to combine food and culture. The Taste Harlem Food and Cultural Tours! Taste Harlem Food and Cultural Tours is all about giving you an epic experience in Harlem like no other. The tour shows NYC locals and visitors what Harlem's all about—its culture, food, art, and history.

While other tour companies stick to the guidebooks, they take you to secret spots and hidden gems that'll blow your mind. They’re also the only ones offering awesome art gallery tours and mouthwatering food tastings in Harlem.

It’s like a 2 in 1 shampoo that works! So if you want to consolidate your tours and get an overview of art culture and food, look into Taste Harlem Food and Cultural Tours. For more information, click here.

So, whether you're a history enthusiast, a lover of music, a food connoisseur, or an art lover, Harlem has something extraordinary to offer. Come and experience the historic charm of this iconic neighborhood, where the past and present converge to create a unique experience. Step into the rhythm, savor the flavors and embrace the spirit of Historic Harlem.

Say hello to exploring and goodbye to heavy bags!

What if you could enjoy every minute in the city without the burden of your bags?

  • Safe luggage storage for a flat daily price of $4.50/luggage item
  • Included luggage protection of up to €10000 in case of breakage, loss or theft
Download the app!

Keep Nannybag in your pocket!

Find luggage storage nearby immediately,
no matter where you’re going!
Nannybag Mobile Application