9 Actually Fun Things to Do in NYC This Weekend
Free movie screenings, flower shows, unlimited bourbon, and more.
“We may have moved quickly this month from, “Yay, it’s shorts weather!” to “OMG, it’s too hot!,” but such is June in New York City. Luckily, the temperatures for this weekend will be much more humane, which means it’s an ideal time to take advantage of the many festivals happening.”
There are movies indoors, movies outdoors, immersive flower installations, and dance performances to keep you entertained—in addition to social justice events like a rally dedicated to protecting trans youth. And if you’re looking for exciting things to eat, we have you covered with bowls of pasta to slurp, unconventional ice cream flavors to sample, and lots (and lots) of barbecue to eat. Read on for nine actually fun things to see, eat, and do this weekend in NYC. And for more actually fun things to do, check out our podcast streaming below.
While NYC has seen a wonderful renaissance of Korean restaurants in the last few years, there is always room for more, especially when the menu is as exciting as LittleMad’s. This new spot, from chef Sol Han (Le CouCou, Ai Fiori) and HAND Hospitality (Her Name is Han) is Korean by way of America: think zucchini “a la Caesar” with sesame seeds, or noodles with crispy duck skin, corn, and umami foam. And yes, for $25 you can add uni on top of anything, or for $30, eight grams of Royal Osetra caviar. After the year we’ve had, we give you full permission to order both.
Cost: Entrees from $21
If a trip to the south of Italy isn’t in the cards for you this summer, we have the next best thing. Chef Antonio Salvatore, who helms the well-known Rampoldi in Monaco, has just opened his first NYC spot, which is an ode to his childhood in the Basilicata region of Italy. Casa Limone will serve dishes like Naples-style pizzas, lobster spaghetti for two, and agnello alla lucana, a lamb dish popular in Salvatore’s hometown. Save room for dessert, where classics like tiramisu, panna cotta, and house-made pistachio gelato are the perfect ending for a hot summer day.
Cost: Entrees from $19
Upper East Side
Did you know that some of NYC’s best new ice cream can be found at a fish market? Of course, Noz Market isn’t your typical shop; it’s run by the same team as Sushi Noz, one of the city’s best omakase restaurants. You can expect that same attention to quality and detail in their new ice cream, whose flavors range from the delightful (matcha topped with white chocolate rice pearls) to the unconventional (furikake, which is normally sprinkled on top of cooked rice or fish). Look out for changing flavors throughout the season, including sweet miso, soba, and sudachi (a type of citrus).
Cost: Two scoops with toppings from $7
Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12
The reemergence of the drive-in was one of the silver linings of the pandemic. Far from being just an outdoor movie screening, NYC’s top operators are creating immersive experiences more akin to live theater. One of the best is Radial Park at Hallets Point Play, where Broadway singers and actors perform in tandem with the film screenings. This weekend, they’ll be showing the classic The Blues Brothers, with live accompaniment from actors like Charity Angel Dawson (Waitress), and Nick Rashad Burroughs (Kinky Boots).
Cost: Tickets from $50 per car, $35 for a single ticket
Saturday, June 12, 3 pm–6 pm
We have two words for you: unlimited bourbon. You shouldn’t need more motivation than that to head to Route66 American Bar & Kitchen’s Bourbon, Brew and BBQ event, but we’ll give you some, anyway. The Saturday afternoon affair will feature unlimited sampling of about a dozen bourbons, ryes, and American whiskeys; over 20 craft beers to taste; and as much house-smoked barbecue as you can scarf. If you get tired of eating and drinking (unlikely), there will also be giant games of Jenga and Connect4, plus, that summer staple, cornhole.
Cost: $65 per tickethttps://b773ff500cdc1e72ef562f2b8a085a76.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13
Green-thumbs and those aspiring to be one: head to the Meatpacking District this weekend for the inaugural mounting of NYC’s first contemporary flower show. L.E.A.F. will display the best in floral design, with a European-style flower market featuring over 20 of the city’s top florists, and multiple floral installations and displays across the neighborhood. If you’re looking for a particularly ‘grammable spot, we recommend the large “Double Rainbow by Aerie” on the southwest side of Gansevoort Plaza, which was designed by East Olivia.
Sunday, June 13, 12 pm
The Brooklyn Museum
After the death of George Floyd gave rise to a worldwide movement for racial equality and social justice last summer, one of the most memorable moments of 2020 was Brooklyn Liberation’s silent march (which had more than 15,000 attendees) dedicated to Black trans youth. This Sunday, the organizers will again hold another similar event—with a focus on protecting trans youth—and like last year, asks participants to wear white and meet in front of the Brooklyn Museum as the march’s starting point. Check out their IG post for more info and whether you’re vaccinated or not, don’t forget to wear a mask.
In exciting news for film buffs, the Tribeca Festival returns this week after a long pandemic hiatus. From June 9–20, the festival will host everything from premieres of buzzy marquee titles like In The Heights; immersive virtual reality experiences; panels with the likes of Stacey Abrams and Emily Ratajkowski; and, of course, dozens of film screenings, including shorts, documentaries, and features. All screenings and select events will also hold a limited number of complimentary tickets; act fast to score spots for you and a pod of up to four people. Can’t make it? There will also be streaming passes available, which can give you access to the features and short films being shown.
Cost: Screenings are free with limited reservations, but virtual passes start at $25 and live, full-access passes at $999
This year marks the 20th anniversary of River to River, an arts festival that first launched in the wake of 9/11 as a way to highlight how creativity can help spark renewal and recovery. Two decades later, with the backdrop of the pandemic, there is no better time to remind yourself of the healing power of the arts. From June 10–27, River to River, presented by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, will host events like film screenings, walking tours, and dance and opera performances. Tickets are free, but reservations are recommended.
Thrillist, a site with tons of food, drink, travel & entertainment info, introduces folks to the coolest things to do in NYC (and other places when you are traveling). I like to check them out regularly. You should, too.
If you are looking for some of the best info on food and drink, restaurants and eating in New York City, then you want to head to New York magazine’s Grub Street.
Right now you want to check out: The Return of Restaurants
“Make up for lost meals. No takeout, no pasta kits, just 66 of the best new (or newly relevant) places to eat.”
Edited by Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, Photographs by Dina Litovsky
Here are 3 more of my faves:
Linger Over Chinese Fast-Casual
Milu / 333 Park Ave. S.
Quick-serve grain-bowl spots don’t typically attract bustling social scenes. Not so this Chinese-inspired rice-bowl specialist, whose customers like to gather as much as they do grab and go. On a recent weekday evening, the restaurant’s breezy curbside shed drew a practically rowdy group of bowl aficionados: young women in NYU Dental School scrubs letting off steam, two skate punks hogging four seats, and, in a sure sign of the return to normality, rival parties aggressively eyeing a table whose occupants kept looking like they were about to bolt but never did. On weekends, we hear, things get even crazier. Chalk it up to an elegant-for-fast-casual design; cozy indoor booths; a short but sweet list of wine, beer, and sake; and chef Connie Chung’s savor-worthy cooking, especially her Yunnan brisket bowl — sticky, ripply, caramelized nuggets of meat candy with perfect rice and marinated cucumbers. —R.P. & R.R.
Cross Delancey for Goat-Neck Biryani
Dhamaka / 119 Delancey St.
International destination dining took a long hiatus during the pandemic, but Chintan Pandya’s homage to the regional culinary traditions of India, which opened recently at the new Essex Market, is packed these days with mobs of gastronauts from around the city. The space inside is strung with colored lights and includes an increasingly crowded, lively bar, but if you wish to feel the full heat of the fresh, made-to-order cooking, we suggest you secure a table within the sidewalk enclosure, where there’s more space to spread out. Order a round of Brooklyn’s fine, Indian American–owned 1947 beer, then begin merrily working your way through the menu, which is filled with dishes that even the most knowledgeable food scholars from India may not have tried, like pots of Bihari-style mutton infused with garlic and crunchy-topped biryani folded with bits of chopped goat’s neck. —A.P.
Order Omakase in a Sushi Speakeasy
Sushi On Me / 71-26 Roosevelt Ave., Elmhurst
With its pink neon sign, piano for live jazz, and bamboo placemats, this subterranean spot on the border of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights feels more like an artsy friend’s basement than an austere sushi counter. The $89 15-course omakase — including Hokkaido scallops, fatty tuna, and lobes of uni one recent night, among other pristine morsels — is exactly the sort of meal one should experience in person. While the sushi is top-notch, it’s chef Atip “Palm” Tangjantuk’s ability to turn a hushed culinary ritual into what feels like a fun night at a piano bar that makes the place so special. If you’re lucky, you may even be handed a blowtorch to sear your own fish.—B.O.
Also see Eater New York’s interactive map that highlights
these 66 restaurants that deserve your attention.