8 Actually Fun Things to Do in New York This Weekend
Festivals citywide make this weekend extra awesome.
“It’s official: NYC has finally reopened! After the city reached a milestone adult vaccination rate of 70% this week, Governor Cuomo announced the end of the COVID restrictions that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. That means goodbye to six feet of social distancing and back to full-capacity restaurants and bars (dance party anyone?).
On top of the city reopening, there is much to celebrate this weekend, whether it’s dear old dad or citywide Juneteenth events. And while we have plenty of suggestions for both of those, there are also chocolate cakes to eat, vegan menus to sample, and early morning yoga classes in Times Square to welcome the solstice. Read on for eight actually fun things to do, eat, and see in New York this weekend.”
As one of the most famous restaurants in the world, whatever Eleven Madison Park does always makes headlines. But their latest pivot, to a totally plant-based menu, raised more than a few eyebrows. Luckily, even without dairy and meat, EMP continues to amaze diners with its innovative preparations and spectacular service. The new menu includes seasonal dishes like a summer squash with lemongrass and marinated tofu, and cucumber with melon and smoked daikon. And while the price tag is hefty, the restaurant is donating five meals to New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity through Rethink Food.
Cost: $175 for a six-course bar menu; $335 for the tasting menu
We’re calling it now: Chinese-Jamaican fusion cuisine is officially our new favorite mashup. Try it for yourself at chef Andre Fowles (Miss Lily’s) pop-up at the Williamsburg location of Kings Co. Imperial. Fowles’ menu, which he created in concert with chefs Josh Grinker and Tracy Young, includes everything from shrimp dumplings served with Jamaican-style curry and cinnamon red oil; to large-format entrees like “hot peppa” lobster lo mein, topped with a fiery Scotch bonnet-scallion pesto.
Cost: Entrees from $23
Some of this summer’s prettiest cuisine is coming out of the kitchen at YUCO, which opened in the West Village this week. Helmed by chef Christian Ortiz and restaurateur Trent Walker, the menu here features traditional Yucatan ingredients—think pork pibil or chicken tamal—with a dose of French technique and molecular gastronomy. The wine list should also not be missed: its goal is to provide diners with some of the buzziest and rarest wines in the country, all at prices about half of other fine-dining restaurants.
Cost: Entrees from $29
If you’ve never tried one of Lady M’s ethereal, multi-layered cakes, now is an excellent weekend to do so. The bakery is launching a decadent (even for them) collaboration with IWAI Tradition whisky: a chocolate sponge cake layered with dark and milk chocolate whiskey mousse, and whisky jelly. And, if you’re wondering if it’s really boozy enough: you have to show ID to purchase this confection. Make sure to share with friends; the rich cake serves 10 – 14 people.
Celebrate Juneteenth with events across the city
Saturday, July 19
Juneteenth events and celebrations continue to increase in prominence every year and we couldn’t be happier. This weekend, explore Black Beyond’s _origins, an ode to Black femme, womxn, and gender non-conforming culture, through their four-day virtual festival of workshops, talks, and performances. Meanwhile, in Downtown Brooklyn, the Black Creatives and Culture Market will feature a marketplace with over 40 BIPOC brands, live musical performances, and cultural conversations. If dance is your creative outlet, make sure you sign up for Ailey Extension’s free West African class. The 75-minute session will teach students the basics of the form along with a dive into West African culture. And for live music lovers, head to the main floor of the World Trade Center’s Oculus at 1 pm, when The Unsung Collective will perform four pieces of classical music by Black composers.
Saturday, June 19, 4 pm-Midnight
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
As all food-loving New Yorkers know, summertime means the return of a bevy of outdoor markets. And we’ve been waiting very patiently for the reopening of one of our favorites: Queens Night Market. The weekly festival kicks off this Saturday, with live music performances, dozens of art vendors, and, of course, eats from every corner of the globe. Nearly fifty vendors will be serving everything from Malaysian-style grilled lobsters to Tibetan momos to Oaxacan tacos, plus desserts like pie-crust cookies, Haitian chocolates, and Romanian-Hungarian chimney cake. One piece of advice: go hungry.
Cost: $5 per ticket; food costs vary
Spoil your dad on his special day
Sunday, June 20
We’re sure all your dad wants is to spend time with you, but we think you can get a little more creative than that. If he’s a whiskey fan, make a reservation at Fiddlesticks for their Teeling Whiskey Father’s Day Celebration. Not only will there be specialty cocktails for the holiday, but everyone will receive complimentary, personalized leather coasters. If he’s into Nic Cage (who isn’t?), bring him to Grand Army Bar, where the entire summer cocktail menu has been redesigned in honor of everyone’s favorite action hero. Don’t miss the “Face/Off,” made with “Travolta’s favorite Pimm’s Cup.” And, for the film buffs, treat him to a private night at the theater. Walker Hotel Tribeca’s Walker Watch Party gives guests access to a screening suite, a “movie concierge” to help pick the ideal film, and tons of snacks from Dylan’s Candy Bar.
Sunday, June 20
The middle of Manhattan may not seem like the ideal place for your yoga practice, but we’ve seen weirder things this year, right? This Sunday morning, starting at 7:30 am, the Times Square Alliance will host Solstice in Times Square: Mind over Madness Yoga. Events include seven free yoga sessions right in the heart of New York’s iconic landmark, plus Yoga Village, which will have yoga-focused activities, giveaways, and more.
Cost: Free, but donations welcome
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:
Meet in Midtown for Hunanese
Blue Willow / 40 W. 56th St.
When this terrific Hunan restaurant opened last year just down the street from Trump Tower, the owners had trouble attracting customers because security arrangements limited access to the block. But true fans of Hunan cuisine — which can be just as spicy as Sichuan, with a broader array of sharp flavors — have a way of sniffing out talent and overcoming obstacles in their path, and Blue Willow gradually became a word-of-mouth hit, especially among Chinese Americans. Now, with the barriers gone, the restaurant draws diners looking for dishes like house-smoked Hunan bacon (thick swatches of pork belly stir-fried with cloves of garlic) and “snow red greens” (minced mustard greens riddled with pickled red chiles). —R.C.S.
Share Thai Disco Fries at a New-Wave Diner
Thai Diner / 186 Mott St.
It’s clear while sitting at Thai Diner’s packed outdoor setup on Mott and Kenmare that Nolita, a reliably bustling corner of the city that felt eerily quiet throughout the past year, is very much alive these days. At this, Ann Redding and Matt Danzer’s latest spot, they’re serving Uncle Boons (RIP) favorites, such as khao soi and crab fried rice, alongside cheeseburgers, fried-chicken sandwiches, and Thai disco fries smothered in curry sauce, which we recommend pairing with a notably strong martini while ogling the ecstatic-to-finally-be-out-and-about passersby. —R.P.S.
Gorge on Russian Spa Food
Matryoshka at Wall Street Bath & Spa 88 / 88 Fulton St.
The Russian bathhouse isn’t just about cleansing; it’s about restoring and nourishing, which is why the indoor-dining ban hit the banya so hard. You were permitted to sweat it out on Fulton Street, but you couldn’t seek rejuvenation through hot borscht and cold beer. Now, after a few rounds in a sauna set to a screaming 220 degrees, you can once again bring your body back to life in a cafeteria with other dripping-wet patrons wearing very few clothes. Consider filling up on slippery Siberian pelmeni drenched in butter, fried potatoes slicked with enough garlic to qualify as a medicinal supplement, and Georgian lamb soup that will scorch your tongue for days, which means it’s precisely the right temperature.—R.P.S.
Also see Eater New York’s interactive map that highlights
these 66 restaurants that deserve your attention.