Before food was artful or playful or thoughtful, it was soulful; and nowhere in the city knows and serves that soulfulness like Sylvia’s, the homestyle heart of Harlem that has been doing it since 1962. These days the food, heavy as it is, feels lifted by the spirit of founder Sylvia Woods, who passed away in 2012 as the uncontested Queen of Soul Food. These are chicken livers, short ribs, potato salad, mac ‘n’ cheese, collards, gumbo, and other church-picnic classics that have been sought out by Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, the late Nelson Mandela and, uh, Conan O’Brien. Yes, all are welcome here. The house specialities are the chicken & waffles and the barbecue ribs in Sylvia’s Original Sassy Sauce. Regulars know to sit at the counter and ask what’s good that day, then kick back and watch this throwback throw down.