Final Four parties, cherry blossom cocktails, and the reopening of NYC’s most famous amusement park.
“If you’re into games (i.e., carnivals, basketball, and bingo, not the emotional kind), then this upcoming weekend will be a fun one. Not only is the NCAA Final Four championship happening (see below for some of our favorites places to catch the action), but the famed Luna Park in Coney Island is reopening for the season, and then there’s also bingo with a side of drag queen to check out as well.
But if none of those strike your fancy, you’re still in luck because we live in the greatest city in the world—and on top of 50 essential Brooklyn restaurants to eat through, new restaurant openings to discover, and secret bars to sip at, there’s still plenty to do this weekend. Read on for everything fun you can eat, drink, and do the next few days in NYC, and for more things to do, check out our spring list of Actually Cool events and podcast streaming below.”
If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant industry, or are just a fan of NYC restaurant history, then you’re certainly familiar with Blue Ribbon Brasserie. The SoHo spot has long been known as a favorite late-night hangout for chefs off the clock, as well as serving an inimitable, French-inspired menu. This weekend, the restaurant once again returns to its famed late night hours; you’ll be able to order dishes like Beef Marrow and Oxtail Marmalade, and Steak Tartare until 2 am, seven nights a week. Don’t forget to order the Banana Split sundae for dessert; it’s one of NYC’s best iterations.
Cost: Entrees from $27
Taste a collaboration between two of NYC’s buzziest restaurants
Friday, April 1
Japanese and Peruvian fare are not infrequent bedfellows: Nikkei cuisine, after all, is basically a fusion of the two culinary traditions. And this Friday, you can experience a version of it at two of Williamsburg’s hottest restaurants: Nami Nori and Llama Inn. Each will be serving a special dish from the other’s menu: Nami Nori, which specializes in open-style temaki, will feature Llama Inn’s Tiradito, made with local fluke, leche de tigre, Japanese sweet potato, and garlic chips. And Llama Inn, a spot known for its modern Peruvian food, will have a special Temaki made with fluke, umeboshi, cucumber, crispy quinoa, and plum sesame seeds.
Cost: Dishes from $8
Friday, 5 PM to 7:30 PM
There are drag queens and then there are bingo drag queens. And in NYC, Linda Simpson reigns supreme. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a game called by Linda, this Friday is an excellent time to join: it will be the first session of Linda Loves Bingo! at Midtown’s new food hall, The Hugh (which is one of many great food halls in town). Grab a bite from vendors like Alidoro or Kazunori before settling in for a game (or a few) with special prizes, and get those vocal cords ready to shout bingo!
Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3
A sure sign of spring is the annual reopening of the old-school amusements of Coney Island. And this Saturday, one of the area’s most famed attractions, Luna Park, reopens with the traditional “egg cream christening” of the Coney Island Cyclone. The heart-pumping ride is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year: if you’re one of the first 95 in line for this classic rollercoaster, you can even ride it for free. And another reason to check out the park on opening day? Wristbands will be marked down to $20.
Cost: Extraordinary Wristbands (good for four hours) from $62
Whether your bracket is in shambles or not, we’re guessing you’re still looking for the best spot to catch the Final Four matchups. Some of our favorite places to watch the action this weekend include Joseph Brothers at The Hugh, who will be serving a 48-oz pitcher of beer with 20 pieces of boneless wings for $50; Mustang Harry’s, whose surround sound even extends to the bathroom so you never miss a play; or, of course, any of the best sports bars in NYC. And if you’d rather order in, we have you covered: Emmy Squared is offering a March Madness pack with garlic bread, crispy chicken wings, and three pizzas; and Sweetbriar has a delivery package with everything from Smoked, Black Pepper-Maple Duroc Ribs to Cornbread with honey butter.
Cost: Price varies
If you’re looking to impress a date with a hard-to-get reservation, we found an ultimate way to impress. Cabin Bar is the new watering hole at Quality Meats, located outside the restaurant in its own jewel box of a structure. There is room for a maximum of two people, which makes it perfect for an intimate night of steaks and classic cocktails. In addition to the regular menu, guests of the bar also have access to an exclusive collection of “Winter Warmers” cocktails as well as the restaurant’s selection of “Dusties” which are old-school bottles like Johnnie Walker Oldest and Beam’s Special Reserve “Brown Wax” 101.
Cost: Free to reserve, email email@example.com for info
While we’re spoiled here in NYC for places to see the quick-blooming cherry blossoms, floral fanatics know which locations remain blissfully mob free. One of our favorites (don’t tell the tourists) is Roosevelt Island, a narrow spit of land that is covered in fragrant cherry trees during the season. Once you have your fun in the flowers, head over to Graduate Roosevelt Island, whose rooftop bar Panorama Room, isn’t just one of the best new bars in town, but is also serving three different cocktails and mocktails in honor of the lovely blooms. We especially love the Spring Fever, made with Marasca cherry, rum, pink grapefruit, and apricot brandy.
Cost: Free to visit; cocktails from $15
Reality TV fans may be familiar with chef Tom Colicchio from his stint on Top Chef, but food lovers also know him as the brains behind NYC institutions like Craft. His latest restaurant, Vallata, began as a pop-up last year, but is now a proper, sleek, brick-and-mortar spot just north of Union Square. We love it not only for its steaming bowls of pasta like the Ricotta Cavatelli served with braised oxtail, but for its awesome food and drink deal. Order any pasta dish and you can tack on a glass of regional Italian wine for a total of just $29.
Cost: $29 for pasta and a glass of wine
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.
So many great things to see and do, places to eat and drink in NYC.
How to find them? Here are 6 more of my fave NYC suggestions: