Must-See Harlem: 12 Great Things to See and Do
by David Kaufman
Leah Finnie performing at Shrine. Photo: Clayton Cotterell
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Shrine Bar & Restaurant
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., 212-690-7807
Old vinyl records line the ceilings while their original album covers and African art festoons the walls at Shrine Bar—a literal shrine to Harlem's tradition of soul, blues and funk. One part cocktail lounge, one part jam joint, Shrine lures in a multiculti mix of locals and downtowners who groove to nightly live shows and DJ sets inspired by Harlem, Africa and the Caribbean. But it's not all reggae and soul. Shrine also showcases the occasional '50s bebop jam, performance-art piece and small-scale theater production. Located inside a former community center, Shrine dubs itself the "Black United Fun Plaza," and its inventive bar menu certainly helps get the good times going. Drinks like the Afro Trip pack a fruit-flavored kick, while the bill of fare is heavy on salads, mezes and sandwiches. And sated by the booze and beats—not to mention rotating art shows—the crowd is as friendly as the vibe is funky.