Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Harlem is a great choice for a date night outing or special occasion, but you’re not about to drop $18 on dish of mac and cheese for your little one (as much as you adore them). However, Samuelsson’s latest venture in the neighborhood, a more casual and budget-friendly eatery dubbed Streetbird, is serving up food both you and the kids will enjoy in a fun and vibrant setting infused with a hip-hop and historic Harlem sensibility. Here’s the word on the bird!

OutsideSB

 photo: Matt Slavin

Go for the Food, Stay for the Decor

Streetbird celebrates and combines two elements: Samuelsson’s love of Manhattan and his affinity for a zesty Rotissere chicken — the bird of the street, apparently.

Hand-painted chairs and beer barrels line the outside of the airy, open restaurant; the inside is just as diverse and wonderfully eccentric as the exterior. The walls are adorned with 80’s-inspired graffiti, posters of famed musicians like James Brown, vintage signs, high top and Chuck Taylor kicks, leather jackets, and more. It’s dynamic and really cool, with so much to look at—both kids and parents alike will be impressed with the diner-meets-Harlem Renaissance “so much to explore” decor. There’s even an impressive tower of old school boom boxes.

MainDiningArea

photo: courtesy Streetbird Rotisserie

Take a Seat

The front of the restaurant is outfitted with a nice, long counter area where a large rotiserrie cooks/spins the chicken right before your eyes. An additional rounded counter can be found in the very back of the restaurant  — a spot which may appeal to older kids who think it’s cool to sit on red and yellow bar stools. Both counters give the restaurant a classic NYC diner vibe.

You’ll also find booths and individual tables here, but the area can be a bit tight for strollers; parents can stash them near the front of the restaurant. Take note of the cool old-fashioned photos and patterns on the table which showcase the Harlem Renaissance. Wooden high chairs, hand-painted by local artists, are covered in swirls and patterns. Even the bathroom on the main floor features awesome decor of vintage wallpaper and large, decorative TVs. (It’s also quite large, so there’s room for you and the kids to be in there all at the same time, should the need arise.)

ChickenRotise

photo: courtesy Streetbird Rotisserie

The Bird on the Street

Chicken is obviously the main attraction on the menu. Chicken dishes available include whole or half rotisserie birds served with Samuelsson’s very special Smokey Q Sauce (which gives the chicken a little sweet kick; very subtle, very tasty); chicken & waffles (red velvet waffles, bourbon maple syrup, Streetbird spiced chocolate sauce) and the crispy bird sandwich (crispy chicken and cheddar on a potato roll with smokey Q, lettuce, tomato and pickles).

Still, vegetarians need not despair here. Non-chicken choices include various salads (with fantastic names, including, “The Fly Girl” and “Grace Jonezzz”),  and Return of the Mac, which is — what else? — mac and cheese, which we give high marks for fans of the dish of all ages. (It’s $8.50.)  Other non-meat options include veggie dishes, sides like cornbread, notti greens (green beans, chili, peanuts) and pickled cucumber.

Regardless of your culinary preferences, things are likely to get a bit messy — which is why you’ll find a big roll of paper towels on every table.

yummy

photo: Matt Slavin

Good to Know

Chicken Fingers (called “Bird Tenders”) are also available, and very popular for kids, plus staffers will happily do their absolute best to make exceptions to accommodate special requests for children. For example, Streetbird offers traditional french fries, which can also be combined with sweet potato fries upon request, and if parents want a small side of mac and cheese for the kids— instead of a full portion — that’s a “do” as well. Desserts include super sweet cookies, and more.

The restaurant is open for brunch — served all day! — on weekends at 10:30 a.m.; while it is not currently accepting reservations, Streetbird does deliver.

Our final word?: Go! (Just be prepared to answer questions such as, “What’s a boom box?” and “Who is Billie Holiday?”)

Streetbird Rotisserie
2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Harlem
212-206-2557
Online: streetbirdnyc.com

Have you stopped by to Streetbird? Give us your review in the comments!

— Rachel Sokol