The Best Bars in Harlem

By: Hannah Albertine Bryan Kim

Like most post offices and the last four chain bookstores in NYC, most bars in Harlem are located on the big avenues. So if you were feeling particularly reckless, you could just walk up and down Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X Boulevard and hope you find a good place to drink. But if you want to know about the best options for your specific situation, just read this guide. It has everything from cocktail bars with open mics to spots to brag about how much you know about IPAs, and plenty of places to gather both the first and second tiers of your friends. There are also a few jazz bars, including the one where bebop was first invented. So no matter what type of place you’re looking for, use this guide for 13 great options in the neighborhood.

The Spots – 

  • Harlem Hops – If you want to learn about micro breweries (or brag about how much you already know about them), this is the best place in Harlem to do it. Harlem Hops serves a lot of hard-to-find beer, specifically from small-batch breweries and businesses owned by people of color. And if you don’t really care about the different flavor notes in East and West Coast IPAs, you’ll appreciate the backyard – it has tables made out of barrels and a big mural wall.
  • 67 Orange Street – On any given evening, there will probably be dates happening at 67 Orange Street. This is a cocktail bar on Frederick Douglass Boulevard with two floors and wood everywhere. The upstairs is pretty spacious, but there’s a lower level that has perfect lighting for hiding from your responsibilities and/or sunlight.
  • Paris Blues – Paris Blue first opened in 1968, and they have hosted jazz shows there almost every night since. It’s fully a dive bar (if you order anything with liquor, it may come in a plastic cup), but unlike most dive bars, Paris Blues has amazing nightly performances without any covers, as well as tons of framed portraits of famous musicians who have performed there and may or may not haunt the bar to this day.

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