Marcus Samuelsson’s Guide to Harlem

  • The bar at 67 Orange Street.

    The bar at 67 Orange Street.

  • The entrance to Harlem Haberdashery.

    The entrance to Harlem Haberdashery.

  • The Emancipation Again at 67 Orange Street.

    The Emancipation Again at 67 Orange Street.

  • The dining room at The Cecil.

    The dining room at The Cecil.

  • Marcus Samuelsson at his Red Rooster restaurant.

    Marcus Samuelsson at his Red Rooster restaurant.

  • Afro-Caribbean-inspired rice at The Cecil.

    Afro-Caribbean-inspired rice at The Cecil.

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Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, chef Marcus Samuelsson has lived in New York City’s resurgent Harlem neighborhood since 2005. His own contributions to the area’s buzz include four-year-old comfort-food restaurant Red Rooster (310 Lenox Ave.; 1-212/792-9001) and its downstairs sister space Ginny’s Supper Club (1-212/421-3821), a swank jazz den inspired by the speak-easies of Prohibition-era Harlem. “The community’s hospitality and energy is unlike anything I’ve felt before,” Samuelsson says of the ’hood. “I moved here because I wanted to be a part of the magic.” Here are a few Harlem haunts that have cast a spell on him:

To Dine For
“Harlem is home to the best soul food in the world, and Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken (2839 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; 1-212/281-1800) is as authentic as it gets, with Charles Gabriel there day in and day out overseeing his legendary buffet. But there are plenty of other culinary options as well, including amazing Afro-Caribbean food at The Cecil (210 W 118th St.; 1-212/ 866-1262) and hand-cut ramen at Jin (3183 Broadway; 1-646/559-2862).

Harlem Nights
“For delicious craft cocktails, I head to my good friend Karl Franz’s 67 Orange Street (2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; 1-212/662 -2030). I also love Bier International (2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; 1-212/280-0944), Harlem’s first beer garden. And for old-school jazz and blues, Showman’s Jazz Club (375 W 125th St.; 1-212/864-8941) is hard to beat, with plenty of good food and drinks to go along with the music.”

Dress Sense
“One of my favorite shops in New York City is Harlem Haberdashery (245 Lenox Ave.; 1-646/707-0070), whose clothes speak to the Harlem Renaissance while adding a modern element. Plus, everything is made right in the neighborhood.”

The Reel Deal
“Just a block north of Red Rooster, the Maysles Cinema (343 Lenox Ave.; 1-212/537-6843) is my go-to spot for edgy films. It’s here that I first saw one of my favorite documentaries, Style Wars, about the New York street culture of the early ’80s.”

Parks and Recreation
“Central Park lies just across 110th Street, but I prefer Harlem’s two lesser-known green spaces: Morningside Park, one of those forgotten New York City gems that’s a great place to relax; and Marcus Garvey Park, which, when spring and summer roll around, is a nonstop celebration with music, drinks, and food. You could hang out there for hours, chatting with people and enjoying the vibe. It really embodies the sense of community that I’m so proud to be a part of.” —Ayesha Khan

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2014 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Uptown Appeal”)

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