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Harlem's Newest Old Jazz Joint

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Harlem has a new (old) jazz joint. Ever want to get up and groove at a swanky jazz club, but the crowd is too stuffy to dance?

Just head to Minton’s in Harlem, a restoration of the historic Minton’s Playhouse that opened on October 21st.

With three seatings a night, guests can don their best attire (that means jackets only, men), graze on prix-fixe Low Country grub, and share a spontaneous dance in the aisle between the supper club’s two rows of seating.

The new joint lets you enjoy music as you please—just like the renowned jam sessions held at the Minton’s of the 1940's. A mural from the original Minton’s still hangs behind the stage, featuring Hot Lips Page, Charlie Christian, and a sleeping woman that’s supposedly Billie Holiday.

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The club will have live music every night, but don’t forget the food: Minton’s and its sister restaurant, The Cecil, have some of the most inventive new menus in Harlem.

Executive Chef Alexander Smalls perfected the offerings at both restaurants. While Minton’s will play off his famous “Southern Revival” style, he’s deemed The Cecil, which opened next door in September, New York’s first  “Afro-Asian-American brasserie.”

Dishes like the Cinnamon Scented Fried Guinea Hen, served with charred okra, Asian red beans, and roasted sweet potato, and the West African Beef Suya blend sweet, spice, and salt in a style as smooth as the jazz playing next door.

Word has it Mariah Carey grabbed dinner at The Cecil a few weeks ago, and the diva fawned over performing on Minton’s sultry stage. Would a jazz rendition of “Always Be My Baby” be too kitschy for this legendary Harlem hotspot? Oh, the possibilities.

Looking for more jazz in New York City? Check out weekly concerts at Columbus Circle.

Emily Hartley is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure

Photo credit: Evan Sung

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