Eat at the Queens Night Market to help support Afghan refugees.
“With summer winding down, our calendars are packed with ways to end this season with a bang. There are awesome outdoor dining setups to squeeze in before the weather cools down and a slate of new standout restaurants that should be on all New Yorkers’ to-do lists (especially now that all indoor venues started requiring proof of vaccination this week).
If all of that isn’t enough to wrap your head around, we’ve also got eight actually fun things to eat, see, and do this weekend, including some ways to lend your support as urgent humanitarian crises unfold in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Lebanon.”
Support Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Haiti in overcoming crisis situations
Humanitarian crises are unfolding in several nations across the globe—and this is in addition to the ongoing COVID pandemic and its associated challenges. In Afghanistan, the extremist Taliban group has overthrown control of the country following two decades of U.S. military occupation, which is likely to displace thousands of Afghan people. There are numerous ways to support refugee rehoming efforts and those who are most impacted by these events.
Last Saturday, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, leaving almost 2,000 dead and more than 9,000 more injured. Over 600,000 people are in need of assistance and there is an urgent need for clean drinking water. To support these efforts, donate to organizations and mutual aid efforts like Fonkoze, Hope for Haiti, Partners in Health, and Ayiyi Community Trust.
In northern Lebanon, hospitals are struggling to treat patients after a fuel tank explosion killed 28 people and injured 80 more. The under-resourced region has long been forced to deal with an outdated power grid that’s now become a crisis due to diesel shortages throughout the country. Life-threatening power and telecom outages have been lasting up to 22 hours a day since the explosion. To support their efforts, donate to organizations such as Beit el Baraka, Lebanon Relief, Red Cross Lebanon, and Offrejoie.
Union Square Hospitality Group’s all-day cafe with two locations in Union Square and the Upper West Side is adding a spot in the West Village—and this weekend, you can get an exclusive neighborhood preview. Visit Daily Provisions’ newest shop at 29 Bedford Street from 8 am to noon for a sneak peek at the coffee, sweet and savory pastries, and other menu items before their official grand opening in a few weeks.
This weekend, it’s all about NYC. The city is hosting events throughout all five boroughs as part of NYC Homecoming Week to encourage New Yorkers to support local businesses and organizations that define the city after a tough year amid the pandemic. Check out the It’s Time for Hip Hop in NYC concert, which will take place at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, on Friday, before heading to the We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert with legends like Paul Simon, Jennifer Hudson, and Bruce Springsteen performing on the Great Lawn in Central Park on Saturday. The weeklong event also features free outdoor film screenings across the city in partnership with Rooftop Films and other cultural events, so check out the full schedule.
Cost: Free but tickets must be reserved in advance via website
Friday, August 20, 5 pm
Lower East Side
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the trendy orange pours that are popping up on more and more wine lists across the city, now is your chance. At Orange Glou, the city’s only store exclusively dedicated to orange and skin-contact wines, owner and wine expert Doreen Winkler hosts a free weekly wine tasting from 5-7 pm to inform New Yorkers about this popular winemaking style. No reservations are required, so just stop by the space and you’ll have the chance to taste three unique bottles and shop around afterwards.
Saturday, August 21
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
New Yorkers already know that visiting the Queens Night Market is a fun way to support local businesses, but this weekend it’s even more meaningful. Nansense, a popular vendor at the market known for standout Afghan cuisine, will be donating 100% of its proceeds on Saturday to Children Without Borders and Emergency Relief Afghanistan, two organizations that are working to support Afghan refugees. So get out there, order up some mantu (beef and onion dumplings with split chickpea korma and yogurt) and bolani (stuffed flatbread), and give back to these incredibly important causes.
Cost: Varies; entry to Queens Night Market is free
Saturday, August 21 – Sunday, August 22
It’s been more than 100 years since Manhattan had a whiskey distillery in its borough, but that’s about to change with the opening of Great Jones Distillery on Saturday. Visit them this weekend for a tour of the space to see firsthand how their whiskey is made with 100% New York-sourced ingredients or just walk into the bar to taste two types of bourbon and rye either straight or in signature cocktails.
Cost: Tour tickets are $35 per person
Saturday, August 21, 3 pm
Lower East Side
There are just a few weekends left to check out Sonnyboy’s summer block party, so now is the time to swing by. Every Saturday through Labor Day, this Australian-inspired all-day cafe and go-to brunch spot shuts down Rivington St. and fills the area with extra seating and a local band that plays live blues and jazz renditions of popular songs. As the band plays from 3-6 pm, guests can order from Sonnyboy’s full menu of brunch staples like toast with toppings like avocado and goat cheese or fig and burrata, sharable starters like shoestring fries or banana bread, and more than a dozen cocktail options. Even better, they offer happy hour every day from 4 to 6 pm, so block party attendees can score a $10 double cheeseburger, $9 cocktails, and $2 off all beer and cider.
Cost: Pay as you go
Saturday, August 21, 3 pm
We’ve all missed showing off our moves on the dance floor, but luckily this weekend, there’s a super safe way to get back into the groove. House musicians like Detroit-based Moodymann, AMAYA Experience, Ash Lauryn, and Musclecars will be performing at Knockdown Center in Queens on Saturday for the third running of La Luna Festival, an annual outdoor dance party that celebrates all things sustainability. This year, from 3-11 pm, go dance your troubles away and enjoy bites from food vendors who only use compostable materials.
Cost: Tickets start at $40
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.
Best new restaurants in NYC
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:
Try Simone Tong’s New Menu
Silver Apricot / 20 Cornelia St.
Last summer, as restaurateurs hastily built makeshift patios, Silver Apricot partners Emmeline Zhao and Simone Tong created a space that truly translated the dining experience to the street without sacrificing a bit of elegance or refinement. (Being situated on one of the West Village’s quieter blocks didn’t hurt.) Purse hooks on the plastic dividers, lavender planted along the perimeter, and quality glass and plateware made for a setting worthy of Tong’s inventive Chinese American dishes like chile-crab rangoon dip and burnished scallion puffs. Now they are renovating the dining room in preparation for indoor service and plan to reopen June 17 with a new seasonal menu.—A.K.
Binge on Bánh MÌ
Bánh Vietnamese Shop House / 942 Amsterdam Ave.
Veteran chefs John Nguyen and Nhu Ton began peddling their Vietnamese sandwiches and crispy pork-belly salad rolls from an empty pop-up space on the upper reaches of Amsterdam Avenue last summer, and the operation was such a hit that by January they’d put down permanent roots in the neighborhood. There are five varieties of toasty bánh mìs to choose from (when in doubt, order the charcoal-grilled pork), numerous sturdy classics from Ton’s native central Vietnam (try the Frisbee-size rice-noodle delicacy called bánh dap), and a deeply flavorful beef pho. —A.P.
See How Cervo’s Spruced Itself Up
Cervo’s / 43 Canal St.
Last summer, the outdoor-dining setup at downtown Portuguese-Spanish restaurant Cervo’s was a destination almost in spite of itself. Simple wooden folding tables and chairs sprawled across an unadorned and fluorescent-lit expanse of Canal Street. Counter-service orders were called out brusquely over a loudspeaker mounted on the building’s exterior. Serviceware was disposable. You found and bussed your own table. But the Dimes Square denizens flocked nonetheless, pushing together tables laden with dark-pink Spritzes, fried-fish sandwiches, and glistening head-on prawns. It was casual, cool, and as COVID-safe as one could hope for. Now, after a winter hiatus operating as a shop, the scene returns to Cervo’s, but this time the restaurant has full-service outdoor dining on a newly built yellow-tiled patio with proper glassware, plateware, and a menu of old favorites like piri-piri chicken, mussels escabeche, and crispy shrimp heads.—A.K.
Also see Eater New York’s interactive map that highlights
all 66 restaurants that deserve your attention.