New York is the worst place to try to have a birthday party. Every large private space is expensive, everything free is bad, everything good is crowded, everyone conspires to ruin your birthday. Cheer up emo kid -- here are a few places to scout out in advance.
Burnside is Midwestern-themed, but that doesn't matter because who doesn't love picklebacks, shuffleboard, juicy lucys (burgers with cheese inside) and french fries? From the outside, I thought this was a fancy cocktail bar -- indoors, it's really just the comfiest warmest dive bar with nice bartenders. Good for large groups.
So maybe Radegast is a deafening dudefest on most evenings. Why not try brunch here with a big group of friends at a long beer table? Breakfasts are yummy 2-hour affairs of blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes, eggs en cocotte, fruity mascarpone toast drippled with pomegranate maple syrup, potato pancakes, and framboise lambic.
Go early to get a seat in the pristine white upstairs room at this delicious comfort brunch spot, and order biscuits and gravy, buttermilk donuts, shrimp and grits, or a fried chicken or meatloaf sandwich. While waiting or for a coffee after, head to Think across the street.
You're in for a wild old Moscow night at RVR. The pianist takes birthday requests, the flavored vodkas range from lemon to spicy chile, and the night goes on and on in this dark, intimate space.
Chantelle is like the most popular girl you just can't hate. She's got it all -- lovely rooftop, fun French Mediterranean menu, very hip crowd, hot servers, jazz brunches with Dandy Wellington, and Friday night burlesque with Calamity Chang. Snuggle up on those red leather banquettes with your honey and get an eyeful of New York sexiness.
Dinner at Macao combines Portuguese and Chinese flavors, with flavorful coconut milk cocktails and supersavory entrees like Hoisin barbecue noodles and forbidden black rice.
Monday nights at Macao mean Drunken Dragon Nights, a burlesque show hosted by producer Calamity Chang with a fabulous (read: long and topshelf) open bar. And yet, some of my friends have turned this show down.
New York City: the only city in world where you can call up a friend, tell him there's an open bar of fine cocktails in a beautiful setting where he'll be entertained by gorgeous girls doing burlesque for free, and he responds that he's going to stay home and watch Modern Family.
You'll regret it when you're older. Go now.
You'd think this classy new incarnation of the old Slipper Room was only burlesque -- and you'd be wrong. Buxom beauties do indeed shimmy and shake, but fire eaters, snake charmers, aerial artists and contortionists also wait behind the velvet curtain for you. Every other Monday, beloved show The Big Quiz Thing takes center stage.
Nurse Bettie has spicy ginger martinis, refreshing cucumber margaritas, and devilish Wednesday and Thursday night burlesque. Pinups line the walls of this 1950s Bettie Page-inspired bar, and gorgeous mid-century vintage furnishings give you a resting spot amidst the fratboy-ridden Lower East Side.
Delicious dirty fries, Southern chicken sandwiches and jalapeño chips!
Noon feels better with a bloody mary from Pine Box. Lovable local bar that features the Vegan Shop-Up market, trivia night, and empanadas with vegan daiya cheese.
Rent the whole space and hire a pianist to play a birthday shebang for you here. With wine and beer at the bar and panini for your hungry friends, this lovely cafe is even more fun after dark.
Did you know that Berry Park has weddings? I happen to know because several couples I know have gotten hitched on Berry Park's rooftop, with yummy food catered by the bar. If there's a gorgeous sunset, an outline of Manhattan, plenty of food, and enough folding chairs, what more do you need? Head to The Gutter for a dive bar reception of bowling afterwards.
This large, ornate, Gujarati village-themed Curry Hill restaurant is perfect for groups, with its all you can eat Indian buffet. As with all buffets, go strategic -- don't overdose on samosa before having any main dishes! Make reservations beforehand, especially for large groups.
The day may have 24 hours, but there's never enough time to eat Korean food. This spot is perfect late at night, after karaoke, when you're starving and need to fulfill the barbecue urge. Simply ornamented, with consistently decent food, this restaurant was made for drunk happy groups who need their fill.