NYC Events,”Only the Best” (12/16) + Today’s Featured Pub (Upper West Side)

“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.

For future NYC Events, check the tab above:  NYC Events-December”
It’s the most comprehensive list of top events this month that you will find anywhere.
Carefully curated from “Only the Best” NYC event info on the the web, it’s a simply superb resource that will help you plan your NYC visit all over town, all through the month.


Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

Hear medieval Spanish holiday music at the Met Cloisters (a perfect setting)
“The Renaissance ensemble Sonnambula is putting on a pair of performances imbued with holiday spirit at the Met’s dedicated space for the culture and art of medieval Europe. All the music comes from the Cancionero Musical de Palacio manuscript, Spanish music written prior to the 16th century.”
WHEN | WHERE 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23; 99 Margaret Corbin Dr., Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan
INFO $65 (includes museum admission); 212-923-3700, (Newsday)

7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> Noel Nights: Rufus & Martha Wainwright and Family and Friends
>> Handel’s “Messiah”
>> Joe Farnsworth Quartet
>> Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
>> Cyrus Chestnut Trio
>> Luciana Souza
Continuing Events
>> Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
>> New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker”
>> Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes

Music, Dance, Performing Arts

Noel Nights: Rufus & Martha Wainwright and Family and Friends
“The Wainwright family’s holiday Noel Nights tradition returns after a four-year hiatus. This year’s concert includes Rufus and Martha Wainwright with family members including Loudon Wainwright III and Lucy Wainwright Roche. This year’s non-Wainwright guests include Emmylou Harris and Teddy Thompson, with proceeds from the benefit going to Stand Up to Cancer.” (Newsday)
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, The Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St., Manhattan
INFO $50 to $250; 800-745-3000,

Handel’s “Messiah”
St. Paul’s Chapel / 3PM, all performances sold out, waitlist (note this one for next year)
Today’s performance will be live streamed on our website and available on Facebook live. Visit or the live Facebook event at 3pm ET to watch.

“If you grew up thinking of Handel’s “Messiah” as a sweet, staid pageant, a holiday ritual involving a little nap and a stand-and-deliver “Hallelujah” chorus, the forces of Trinity Wall Street offer the gritty, fearless cure, from Dec. 13-17, with what stands apart as New York’s best.” (NYT)

Joe Farnsworth Quartet (Dec.14-16)
Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center / 7:30PM, +9:30PM, $25-$40
With pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Gerald Cannon, drummer Joe Farnsworth, and tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton.

“Joe Farnsworth is regarded as one of the top jazz drummers in the world, but as far as he is concerned, he is just getting started. Farnsworth is dedicated to the great tradition of jazz drumming as conceived by artists like Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, and Arthur Taylor, with whom he studied. A true jazz mainstay, Farnsworth has left his indelible mark on more than 70 albums with such diverse musicians as Wynton Marsalis, Cedar Walton, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver, Diana Krall, and Benny Golson. Tonight’s performance features Farnsworth’s regular group of elite musicians, a prestigious band including Harold Mabern, Gerald Cannon, and Eric Alexander.”

at Alice Tully Hall / 5PM, $75+
“The society’s annual performances of Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerts are a particularly beloved festive favorite. Notable instrumentalists this year include the flutist Adam Walker, a principal at the London Symphony, and the oboist James Austin Smith, of the International Contemporary Ensemble.” (NYT- David Allen)

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
at the Joyce Theater / 3PM, $45+
“The all-male Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which will be at the Joyce through Dec. 30, is cherished, mostly, for its drag jokes: the beefy thighs under the tulle skirts, the chest hair peeping out over the bodices. But the company’s erudition should also be noticed. In its version of the underwater scene from the 1864 piece “Little Humpbacked Horse,” you can see all manner of sea life—corals, squid, starfish—in dainty configurations: rosettes of emboîtés (the box step), lines of pas de cheval (the prancing step). Underneath the guys in tutus, it’s that kind of thing that makes for the comedy and, not seldom, the serious art of the Trocks.” (Joan Acocella, NewYorker)

Cyrus Chestnut Trio (Dec.13-16)
Smoke Jazz Club / 7, 9, 10:30PM, $40
“Although his most recent album, “Kaleidoscope,” finds Cyrus Chestnut reconfiguring compositions by Erik Satie and Deep Purple, it’s safe to say that this mainstay pianist—a passionate stylist who is deeply informed by the spirit of gospel music—will dip into a roomier jazz repertoire at this engagement. He’s joined by the album’s rhythm team: Eric Wheeler on bass and Chris Beck on drums.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

Luciana Souza (Dec.14-16.)
at Jazz Standard / 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., $30
Poetry has always been the marrow of the gifted singer Luciana Souza’s art. Her latest recording, “The Book of Longing,” adapts work by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Emily Dickinson, and, in his literary guise, Leonard Cohen, amid Souza’s apposite originals. Here, she reunites with the guitarist Chico Pinheiro and the bassist Scott Colley, both of whom brought their own poetic grace to the project.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)


Smart Stuff / Other NYC Events
(Lectures/Discussions, Book Talks, Film, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

More Smart Stuff coming soon.


Continuing Events

So much going on in this town over the holidays. Too many events & performances to list here. For a much fuller list, expanding every day, check out the tab above: “Holidays.”

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland.
Bryant Park (btw 5th/6th Ave. @42nd St.) / shops to 8PM, rink to 10PM
Enjoy the Holiday Shops, The Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
The Holiday Shops are open through January 2, 2019.

The Rink
This 17,000 square foot rink features free admission ice skating, high quality rental skates, and free skating shows, special events, and activities.
​October 27, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Daily, 8am-10pm (Rink hours are weather permitting and Rink may be closed for events – check here)

New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker” (Through Dec. 30)
NYS Theater, Lincoln Center / various times, $40

“New York City Ballet continues performances of its acclaimed 1954 production that would melt the Scroogiest of hearts. The elaborate staging includes a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a 12 feet to 41 feet and an 85-pound, nine-feet wide Mother Ginger. The ballet highlights dozens of talented and adorable children from the School of American Ballet, but the star of the show isn’t just one dancer but a bevy of Snowflakes. Their waltz — full of beauty and daring — will take your breath away. ” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)


Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes  (Nov.09- Jan.01)
Radio City Music Hall / various times, $46+
“There’s more great precision dancing than ever in the show’s current edition, which was revamped in 2007 and tweaked again this year. Glamorously outfitted in a series of eye-popping costumes, the Rockettes perform on a double-decker bus, a sparkly staircase and a snowy forest and enact a lightning-fast version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Not to worry: They’re still doing the classic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number, too. Each scene is enhanced by video backdrops displayed on one of the world’s largest LED screens.”

♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, plus dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.6 million, had a record 63 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2018 – awesome! BUT quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats for these top NYC events in advance, even if just earlier on the day of performance.

Bonus NYC events– Jazz Clubs:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. My favorite Jazz Clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide, feature top talent every night of the week.
Hit the Hot Link and check out who is playing tonight:

Greenwich Village:
(5 are underground, classic jazz joints. all 6 are within walking distance of each other):
Village Vanguard – UG, 178 7th Ave. So.,, 212-255-4037 (1st 8:30)
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave., 212-475-8592 (1st set 8pm)
55 Bar – basement @55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave.S., 212-929-9883 (1st 7pm)
Mezzrow – basement @ 163 W10th St. nr 7th Ave.,646-476-4346 (1st 8)
Smalls – basement @ 183 W10th St., 646-476-4346 (1st set 7:30pm)
Cornelia Street Cafe – UG, 29 Cornelia St., 212-989-9319 (6pm)

Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — / 212-258-9595 (1st set 7:30pm)
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9ave) — / 212-581-3080 (1st 8:30pm)
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway nr.106th St. — 212-864-6662 (7pm)

For a comprehensive list of the best places to hear All Types of Live Music in Manhattan see the tab above “LiveMusic.”

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. — / 212-691-7538 (1st 7pm)
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening enjoyment and discovery.

Alas, Caffe V is no more, another victim of a rapacious NYC landlord. Owner Ishrat fought the good fight and Caffe V will be sorely missed.


NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):

A PremierPub / Upper West Side

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que 700 W125th St. @ 12th ave.

Walk only five minutes from the 125th St. station on the #1 line to find this authentic honky-tonk barbecue joint. Some folks think Dinosaur is just a place to eat ribs. Au contraire. With 24 carefully selected taps, this is a place to drink beer, and eat ribs.

HarlHostStandNo food goes better with American craft ales than American barbecue. Dinosaur may be the best combo of good beer drinking and hearty eating in town, which makes the trip uptown to West Harlem totally worthwhile.

This second incarnation of Dinosaur in Harlem is in a two story, old brick warehouse near the Hudson River. Don’t let that run down exterior fool you. Inside it’s a large space with huge, rough wooden columns and unfinished wooden floors and brick walls – just right for a bbq joint. As soon as you open the front door you are hit with that tantalizing aroma of barbecue coming from the large open kitchen. Reminds me of those great rib joints I frequented when stationed in North Carolina all those years ago. If your stomach wasn’t grumbling before, it is now.

Head to the bar, sit down and try to decide on a beer. It’s not an easy decision – a good problem to have. This is a pretty damn good beer list to choose from, one that most beer bars should be jealous of. I love that they feature NY craft beers. You may want to try the four beer sampler, which is always fun, and in this place may be necessary.

The blues music playing in the background will get you in the mood for their North Carolina style barbecue, and even when it’s a full house your order shouldn’t take too long (assuming you snagged a table). The food is all slow smoked, so it’s already mostly done and ready to go. I always start with an order of their giant, spice rubbed wings, so good they may make you give up Buffalo wings.

Unfortunately, a place this good does not fly under the radar. There can be some long waits for a table at dinnertime. So you need a strategy – avoid prime time, and try not to arrive with your entire posse, which will limit your seating options.

A seat at the bar, a small table in the bar area, or in the summer, an outside table underneath what’s left of the elevated West Side Highway, all may open before a table inside the main dining room. Otherwise, try Dinosaur for lunch, or come very late for dinner, maybe after a show at the nearby Cotton Club nightclub.

Phone #: 212-694-1777
Hours: Mo-Th 11:30am-11:00pm; Fr-Sa 11:30am-12:00am;
Su 12:00pm-10:00pm
Happy Hour: 4-7pm every day; $1 off all drinks
Music: Fri / Sat 10:30pm
Subway: #1 to 125th St.
Walk 2 blk W on 125th St. to Dinosaur Bar-B-Q,
just past the elevated highway.
“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge (except for certain jazz clubs).

If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a  comment. 
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