Got Rattlesnake? Ellis Bar Does.

This Fifth Avenue spot brings a mixed bag of real Southwestern food to New York

The other disasters include a muddy-tasting, gummy catfish and a garbanzo-bean couscous that's swimming in water and in desperate need of salt. But it's funny that a restaurant capable of such problems is just as likely to serve you something excellent.

The homemade pepper jelly, an old Ellis-family recipe that shows up all over the menu, is sensational: Bright-red, quivering, sweet, and sharply hot, the jelly gets slathered on chicken wings, tops goat-cheese bruschetta, and even features in my new favorite dessert—a Nutella, pepper-jelly, and goat-cheese quesadilla.

Meatloaf covered with rich, salty black-bean gravy is hearty and bovine. And the thick, brick-red chipotle sauce that clings to grilled shrimp and moistens a chicken quesadilla is wonderful—all smoky, slow-burning heat and garlicky sweetness.

Jalapeño jelly and goat cheese on toast—and other Southwestern delicacies.
Joseph Pickard
Jalapeño jelly and goat cheese on toast—and other Southwestern delicacies.

Although a friend was subjected to a martini that inexplicably contained seltzer, the drinks are mainly worth ordering. The 25 cent shots of whisky are, as promised, not "bum juice," and the pineapple chile-rita tastes tropical, with the welcome edge of a red-chile burn.

As you stumble out of Ellis Bar, either very satisfied or disgruntled, depending on what you've ordered, you might notice the sign across the street immortalizing Aaron's. I move that it be changed to the moral of this story: Unless you can eat in Arizona, you're better off at Ellis Bar.

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