HARLEM — Lenox Avenue may be the second "restaurant row" to develop in Harlem over the last several years — but don't call it the second best.
Organizers of the Harlem restaurant event "Summer Sizzles on Lenox," are looking to tout their range of eateries, offering deals to a dozen featured restaurants including everything from soul food, Italian and French cuisine to exotic rum cocktails and tasty burgers.
"What I love about Lenox Avenue is that you can travel the world in just 10 blocks," said Angie Hancock, president of Experience Harlem, which is organizing the second annual sidewalk cafe crawl on July 22 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The event, put on with the help of with business development group Harlem Park To Park, will offer specially priced drinks and food, and tickets are 2 for $10 if purchased in advance and $10 at the door.
Among the deals are Barawine, which has $5 tomato mozzarella bruschetta and mini tuna tartar wakame. Cove Lounge is offering $5 fried truffle mac and cheese balls, island wings and Carver Punch and Hendricks Gin cocktail, named after the event's two sponsors, Carver Federal Savings Bank and Hendricks Gin.
Over 900 people showed up to the inaugural restaurant crawl last year and over 1,000 are expected at this year's event which was originally scheduled for this week but was postponed due to inclement weather.
"It's a totally different dining experience on Lenox Avenue than Frederick Douglass Boulevard," said Evans-Hendricks. "The culinary experience on Lenox Avenue is becoming unique and people are taking risks."
Frederick Douglass Boulevard from 110th to 124th streets has developed a substantial number of new restaurants over the last few years. For a long-time, the legendary Sylvia's was the most notable restaurant along Lenox Avenue. Settepani and the former Native joined Sylvia's, and were followed by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster.
After that, the floodgates opened with local favorites such as Corner Social and Harlem Shake. The newest entrants include Lenox Saphire and Barawine.
"The concepts and design and experience at every Lenox Avenue restaurant is unique. You don't find any duplication," said Nikoa Evans-Hendricks, executive director of Harlem Park to Park. "I like to use the word curated."
Organizers said Lenox Avenue is actually a more difficult avenue to open a restaurant because it's hard to get full liquor licenses among the abundance of schools and churches, which are protected from being too close to a venue that serves alcohol.
In addition, unlike Frederick Douglass Boulevard, where many of the buildings are new, Lenox Avenue is filled with historic structures that were not designed with space for a restaurant to operate on the ground floor.
There are also rumors that the former Halstead Realty space on 119th Street and Lenox could become an Asian fusion restaurant associated with a well known barbecue chain with multiple locations around the city.
"People came to Harlem for the cheaper rent so services are just now starting to catch up with real estate development," said Hancock. "It took people time to shift their perspective to see that there are quality establishments uptown and that you don't have to go downtown to eat."
Visit summersizzles.eventbrite.com for more information.