Inspired by Harlem’s rich culture and energy, owner Jelena Pasic and partners developed the concept for Harlem Shake as an area go-to for familiar eats like griddled burgers, New York hot dogs and hand-spun shakes in an inviting, comfortable setting. The restaurant takes its name from the iconic Harlem Shake dance, the original iteration of the Internet’s latest viral sensation.
Harlem Shake offers a love note meant to embrace and pay homage to the area’s past with a space designed by 13-year Harlem resident Dennis Decker to feel as if it has been a beloved local institution for generations. Careful thought and consideration went into restoring the building at the corner of Lenox Avenue. & West 124th Street, with details meant to recall a dry goods store that was built in the 1800s then converted to a diner in the 1940s and run through the latter half of the 20th century.
Anchoring the space and continuing the tribute to old New York is Harlem Shake’s “Wall of Fame” celebrating famous and notable patrons and friends with photos personally signed to the restaurant. From actors and musicians to politicians and athletes, each notable has a special connection to Harlem. Another defining feature, “Miss Harlem Shake,” greets diners from the back wall of the restaurant. The life-sized lenticular photo depicts Harlem resident and fashion model Shannon Thornton showing off the real Harlem Shake as guests walk by. Other unique design features include walls covered in nearly 300 vintage covers of JET magazine, a tobacco and water leak-stained tin ceiling and a two-story tall corner vertical 1970s-era neon sign that reads BURGERS.
Harlem Shake’s menu also offers diners a taste of what it would have been like to set up shop in the restaurant 50+ years ago by taking a playful approach to classic burgers and fries. Set amid the clean yet well-worn ambiance, guests tuck into the signature Harlem Classics – two 2-ounce custom blend Pat la Frieda beef patties ground fresh daily and griddled smashed-style for crisp browning and served on a toasted Martin’s Potato Roll with house-made condiments. Specialties include the Pigskin Classic topped with crisp fried pork rinds and the Jerk Fry Burger topped with jerk-seasoned, triple-cooked fries and smoked jerk mayo, as well as juicy turkey burgers and house-made vegan burgers.
Old-school, handcrafted milkshakes dominate the drink program at Harlem Shake with straightforward flavors like Chocolate and Red Velvet thoughtfully made with whole, all-natural ingredients. The lineup of shakes highlights local products like ice cream from Blue Marble, organic milk from New York Fresh Milk and peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co., as well as seasonal fruit and hand-spun additions like house-made salted caramel sauce and malt.
Rounding out the menu are New York-style all-beef hot dogs with far-flung flavors from Texas and Mexico, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheeses/melts and creative kale and legume salads, as well as fries hand cut from Kennebec or sweet potatoes and double-fried in beef tallow (also available in vegetable oil for a vegetarian/vegan option). A rotating selection of vintage real sugar sodas and regional specialty sodas (Cheerwine Cherry Soda, Vernor’s Detroit Ginger, Foxson Park Birch Beer), and a selection of draft beers and house wines are also available.
Open seven days a week, Harlem Shake is located 100 W. 124th Street in Harlem. For further information, please visit the website, follow the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-508-5657.