New York City
New York City Nightlife
Breathe in the electric Manhattan energy from one of the city's swankiest and most spacious rooftop garden bar. A summer pilgrimage point for tourists and locals alike since its inception in 2006, this Chelsea hot spot draws the crowds largely for its stellar views - soak in the skyline while sipping on signature cocktails and sampling made-to-share appetizers from their Malaysian-inspired menu. Open year-round, 230 Fifth responds to the chillier months with flaming drinks, heaters, and hooded robes on their rooftop patio, or invites guests to retreat to the luxe penthouse lounge one floor below. The lounge, which exudes a 1940s modernist mood, touts floor-to-ceiling windows, lacquered red ceilings, rare ebony walls, and designer sofas that have played host to fashion and showbiz hot shots (think Luis Vuitton and The Sopranos cast).
See where legends like Billie Holiday, James Brown, and Lauryn Hill got their start at this landmark 1914 theater in the heart of Harlem. Hour-long tours are offered daily, and are a must if you want a chance to follow in the fingerprints of the greats by rubbing the infamous on-stage tree trunk for good luck. Amateur Night Wednesdays, a long-time tradition held every week at 7:30pm, is still popular for a fun, interactive experience that sure beats the heck out of watching American Idol on TV.
Historically, gay nightlife centered on Chelsea and the West Village, but it has recently spread to Hell's Kitchen. What this trendy bar lacks in, say, a particularly notable personality, it makes up for with a solid 11pm to midnight happy hour and friendly crowd. As far as the actual ambience is concerned, expect photos of naked men on the walls and an earful of all the typically popular tunes (again, not necessarily a bad thing!).
Smooth jazz and blues resonate from this legendary Greenwich Village club, which books top-rate acts like John Scofield, Chris Botti, and McCoy Tyne , plus big and budding names in blues, Brazilian, and R&B. Though the food is overpriced and the décor itself nothing to shout about, you pay to experience the talent, period. Mondays feature local artists and Sundays offer afternoon matinees. Otherwise, show time is at 9pm and 11:30pm sharp (with additional late-night jam sessions on Fridays and Saturdays).
Friends, this is not your average bowling alley. The 23,000-square-feet former iron works warehouse, comprised of sixteen lanes, a 600-person music venue which hosts live acts most nights, and two bars, is outfitted with comfy leather couches, 10-foot HD projection screens, and cloaked in exposed brick (it also is the only LEED-certified bowling alley in the world). Food is provided by Blue Ribbon with a finger-licking menu of fried chicken, ribs, and chocolate chip bread pudding (no frozen pizza’s here!). The service isn’t terribly remarkable and drink and food prices are average (with so much going on, though, it’s easy to rack up a fast tab). Stop by weekdays from 6-8 for happy hour specials or sample a bourbon milkshake and one of the nine local brews on tap. Come during an off-time if you want to bowl – otherwise, fuggedaboutit.
Catch a Broadway Show
Experience the magic of the Great White Way with world-class shows in the grand old theaters surrounding Times Square. Hit up the recently improved TKTS booth (www.tdf.org) at the intersection of Broadway and 43rd Street for 25 to 50 percent discounts to popular on- and off-Broadway shows. Just get there early and come prepared with at least a couple backup choices, as the favorites tend to get scooped up fast.
Pouring expertly crafted cocktails in a Gatsby-esque setting since January 2008, the Hotel Delmano on North 9th and Berry Street (just four blocks from the L train’s Bedford Avenue stop) has been heralded as Williamsburg’s first bona-fide cocktail bar (similar to Manhattan’s Death & Co. or the exclusive Milk & Honey). Though worthy contesters have also quietly opened their doors in the borough (like Prospect Heights’ Weather Up and, in late 2009, Greenpoint’s Manhattan Inn), in our opinion, this chic watering hole still takes the cake as the best. A sophisticated crowd sips the $9-$14 libations – packed with flavor, made with quality ingredients, and aptly named (see “Corpse Reviver No. 2” and “the Last Word”) – on marble- or copper-topped tables in a timeless, dimly lit Edisonian atmosphere (complete with elegant chandeliers, high ceilings, black leather banquettes, and dark wood accents). Hungry? The rabbit liver pate ($7) is to die for.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
The go-to spot for classical and contemporary symphony, dance, jazz, opera, and theater hosts companies like the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet. Daily guided tours are available and free public performances are offered every Thursday at 8:30pm, featuring everything from spoken word to salsa by both local and internationally-renowned artists.
The city’s original Irish pub (opened 1854) has a sawdust-strewn ground and historic photos bedecking the walls. A court order finally allowed women to be admitted in 1970, but the space with its old-wood smell and purposefully modest menu – still arouses a particularly macho-minded sense of nostalgic appeal. Be prepared to drink beer – only dark or light ale is available, and mugs of the house-made ale are served by the pair.
A single blue light bulb marks the entranceway to this Alphabet City club where several renowned bands, like Brazilian Girls and Kudu, got their start. While it’s not as underground as it once was, this hot spot, now in the top echelons of New York’s music scene, is still edgy and cool. There are live bands and DJs every night, spinning anything from samba soul to gypsy grooves. The cover charge is low and the dancing crowd of a hipster downtown kind. The Brazilian night on Wednesdays is ultra-popular.
While it no longer holds its status as the coolest spot in town, this subterranean slice of Sovietica still retains its speakeasy-style vibe. Located on the edge of SoHo, it successfully milks the U.S.S.R theme – there’s chicken wire in the bathrooms and aptly named cocktails like Leninade and Bakunin. Choose over 70 vodka varieties or the fantastic martinis. The Russian-accented food features lots of caviar and smoked fish.
You just might run into the girl (or guy) from Ipanema in this elegant space (whose name is short for “Sounds of Brazil”), where Brazilian and other Latin music is the specialty on the large dance floor. The cover ranges from $10 and up nightly, and on Fridays and Saturdays, you can shake it until 5am. Sundays offer a bossa nova brunch, serving up such Latin fare as fried plantains, hamburger steaks, and lime snapper in banana leaf.
The Knitting Factory, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Public Assembly – Williamsburg has gobs of live music venues that offer better sound and more than one beer on tap (Zywiec), but none can match this old-school concert hall’s polka-competition character. Set within Greenpoint’s Polish National Home in (where else?) Little Poland, just three blocks from the G train’s Nassau stop, the ornate ballroom frequently books internationally renowned acts of a more alternative type while serving up steaming, inexpensive plates of pierogies, hunter’s stew, and kielbasa to concertgoers.
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