Marcus Samuelsson’s culinary love letter to Harlem gets plenty of attention as a restaurant, but architecturally speaking, that’s only half the story: walk into the loft-like room and you’re definitely in a drinking establishment. The front of the room is anchored on an undulating, zinc-topped, mahogany-striped bar at which locals and Top Chef Mastersfans alike cluster three deep, separated from the sit-down dinner crowd by a glassy room divider filled with decorative ephemera and vats of house-infused liquors. The space has the sort of convivial watering-hole vibe that turns one-time visitors into regulars, with drinks that play up Red Rooster’s pan-Harlem shtick: The Apollo, named for the famous theater around the corner, is an herbaceous gin drink with egg white foam; the Brownstoner, a smartly tweaked Manhattan, pairs nutmeg-infused bourbon with cherry heering and St. Germain. The beer list is tightly edited and decidedly quirky — is there anywhere else you can get both Keegan’s Mother’s Milk and Prohibition Ale on tap? — but there’s at least as much variety to be found on the bar menu, which works through the comfort foods of seemingly all of Harlem’s subcultures: mini Jamaican beef patties, dirty rice with shrimp, Latin-inspired yellowtail sashimi tacos, and the excellent, simply-titled Chicken & Egg: a tangy version of Ethiopian duro wat, topped with a fried egg and served with spongy, sour inerja bread for sopping up. In a culture clash perfectly in line with Samuelsson’s intentions, it’s surprisingly great washed down with the very L.A.-style Gin & Juice martini: Hendrick’s, citrus, bitters, and orange marmalade. Laid back. — NY Mag Helen Rosner

310 Lenox Ave., New York , NY
nr. 125th Street