NYC has plenty of food festivals to divulge in – but Harlem EatUp! consistently kills the game, every single year. Here’s why.
Harlem EatUp! is a two-day festival, highlighting and celebrating the people, food and music of Harlem. Although it celebrates local talent and entrepreneurship, it’s attended by community folks and personalities alike – we spotted Tamron Hall, Sidra Smith and Bevy Smith among the crowd during the weekend’s festivities. It’s not all celebrity sightings at Harlem EatUp though; all of Harlem’s in the building and it’s an event not to be missed (unless you want a serious case of FOMO). Here are the five reasons why we make it a point to go, year after year:
- Harlem EatUp! is hands down THE most fun food festival in New York City. Yes, we realize that may be a blanket statement, but as someone who’s attended almost every food festival in the city, we look forward to this one every year. There’s no pretentiousness, no snobbery, no I-have-to-pretend-to-“know”-food BS. It’s like having a big block party, only the food is not coming from Uncle RayRay’s grill (that he forgot to clean from last year) and the water for the Cool-aid didn’t come from a garden hose. Just sayin’.
- It’s local! Harlem is a slept-on culinary destination, and doesn’t get as much attention as some of the more tonier neighborhoods downtown. We could write a whole dissertation on why that is, but that’s a topic for another post. I’m always in awe of how many restaurants – both new and established legends – continue to add to Harlem’s culinary history. We leave the festival with at least a handful of new restaurants to visit every year.
- Unlimited food & drink samples. If you come
greedyhungry like I do, rest assured that you’ll get your money’s worth at Harlem EatUp!. The restaurants bring their A-game, so there’s lots of quality dishes to indulge in. You also get to interact with the chefs/owners of the participating restaurants, which always adds to the experience.
- No man/woman left behind. Harlem EatUp! does a great job of attracting diversity in all forms – race, age, socioeconomic status, sexuality – the list goes on. The festival’s team are sensitive to the fact that Harlem is gentrifying at an alarming rate, and take the pains to include not only newcomers, but those that know a Harlem that fewer and fewer of us will get to experience. It’s a beautiful thing that you have to see to feel.
- Harlem EatUp! is more than just a food festival; it’s a celebration of the restaurants, people and entrepreneurs who love Harlem and call it home. It’s an even bigger celebration of the community, resilience and beauty of Harlem.