The Roof


124 W 57th St
New York NY10019
(212) 707-8008

Sometimes on date night you want to rise above it all. Take your sweetheart to The Roof at the top of Viceroy New York and you’ll be master and mistress of all you survey. You’ll signal your honey right off that you’re in on something, as you lead the way down an industrial hallway that ends with a private elevator. Twenty-nine floors up you’ll find yourselves at a rooftop bar face to face with the iconic midtown skyline. Take a moment to get your bearings. That huge patch of Central Park beneath you is probably more open space than you’ve seen for a while. Grab a cozy seat on the terrace or the outdoor bar and luxuriate in the view. Should the weather prove uncooperative, you can seek shelter in the lounge. It’s as snug as a yacht, with brass, walnut, and leather upping the glamour. Since this bar is a Gerber Group production, you can be assured the staff is not hard on the eyes. The drinks menu goes deep, with scotches, rums, and whiskeys, but it’d be a shame not to take advantage of all the mixing mastery on hand. A Without Fear cocktail starts with Jameson Black Barrel whiskey and finishes with the tart intrigue of a liqueur made from fresh apricots. For your date, order a Spicy Paloma, a smooth blend of tequila, grapefruit soda, and Thai chilies. It makes your lips burn. Rarely a bad turn of events on date night.

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Photograph by Kyle May

The Long Room


120 W 44th St
New York NY10036
(212) 997-3933

The Irish are known for the gift of gab, and also for the gift of pubs. For a group outing where conversation is guaranteed to flow, it’s hard to top the old world charm of an authentic pub like The Long Room off Times Square. This is prime midtown territory for a post-work tipple or a Broadway warmup. Nothing gets tongues wagging like a loud, buzzy room, and that’s what you’ll find here, especially during weeknight happy hours. True to the name, when you come in you’ll follow the room down for a nice long stretch. Let your eyes graze the colorful array of taps at the bar, as a serious draft selection beckons. A greatest hits of American craft beers are joined by a deep run of Belgians and Brits. Then again, the Dublin callbacks of arched ceilings and faux books (references to Trinity College Library’s Long Room) may have you craving a well-poured pint of Guinness. Find some seats in the roomy back quarters, maybe a cozy perch by the fireplace if the season’s right. Stained glass and vintage prints class up the scene. Smart gastropub offerings are available to satisfy everyone in your crowd, from flatbread pizzas through healthy salads and on to a classic fish ‘n’ chips with ale-battered cod. A little sustenance helps keep the conversation going that much longer.

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Photograph by Jenny Downing

Queens Botanical Garden


43-50 Main St New York NY 11355
(718) 886-3800

Sometimes a city kid just needs some space to scamper. The Queens Botanical Garden has room aplenty to stretch little legs, and it’s a great destination for a family outing. Start off exploring the broad meadow, which has a long stretch of green that will dazzle urban eyes. From there, winding paths lead little ones onto colorful gardens. Stop and smell the roses, or check out the popping colors on the annual and perennial beds. Floral scents fill the air, and the soundtrack is birdsong, making it a special treat for any visually-impaired members of the family. Breezes from the arboretum will have you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Get your kids engaged with nature. In the bee garden, show them how honey is made by pointing out one of the see-through hives. Discreet signs on the grounds work as tip sheets, providing background information for moms and dads to do a little enlightening. The state-of-the-art visitor center has a “living roof” integrated into the gardens, so you show your kids how life may look in a greener future. Keep your Facebook feed fresh with the many photo ops: by fountains, or ducks, or framed by blossoms. If your kids really get hooked on the place, there’s a Children’s Garden built just for them. Sign up for a course and they’ll be learning more as they plant and harvest. They’ll even get a chance to cook, so you might actually get to see them eat their veggies for once.
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Photograph by The All-Nite Images
Edited by BlackBook

Gotham West


600 11th Ave New York NY 10036
(212) 582-7940

It’s hard to please everyone on a group night out, but Gotham West Market makes life easier with a broad range of topflight food and drink. This may be a food court, but it’s built to Manhattan standards. Blackened steel and concrete floors provide an industrial-chic sheen for a full block’s worth of culinary gems. Take a moment to center yourself when you come in. There’s a lot to choose from. Send an emissary to claim some bench space under the glamorous glow of exposed bulbs. You’ll track down drinks for your table. At classic tapas spot El Colmado they have beer, wine, and cava (sparkling Spanish wine) on tap, conveniently available by the pitcher. Or maybe it’s time for a cocktail. The crew at The Cannibal will hook you up with something creative like the Antihero’s amaretto, lemon, egg, and cherry. Your crowd will be feeling upbeat, as a pop and indie soundtrack keeps energy levels high. Now it’s decision time. Maybe some comfort food like tacos from Genuine Roadside, or a grilled veggie sammy from Court Street Grocers? It may be hard to say no to ramen, however. The gaijin king of Japanese soup, Ivan Orkin, has a “Slurp Shop” counter that turns out super-refined bowls. You’ll find depth aplenty: his recipe for Shio Ramen runs 36 pages long. Some nights you really can make everybody happy.
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Photograph by Bex Walton
Edited by BlackBook

The Pony Bar


637 10th Ave New York NY 10036
(212) 586-2707

Some group nights call for a beer bar. And not just any beer bar, one that takes its suds seriously, like The Pony Bar in Hell’s Kitchen. You’ll feel the warm buzz of the room right when you come in. The space is small and convivial, with vintage gear on the walls, and growlers doing double duty as lighting fixtures over the bar. Take a moment to size up the tap list, which will impress even the biggest beer snobs in your crowd. The options are easy to scan on a lighted screen—no smeared chalkboards here. You’ll be pleasing a spectrum of drinkers, from IPA lovers to fans of shandies, doppelbocks, and barley wines. Two cask ales complete the rarified list, but there’s nothing pretentious about the surroundings. This crowd is dressed to spill, and you’ll feel right at home adding your voice to the dull roar. Food is anything but an afterthought. Pulled pork or fried oyster and bacon sandwiches make perfect complements to the brews. Pretzels were invented to help people drink longer, and the jumbo ones here are awesome, served with beer mustard (or course). At the end of the night, tip your head back and admire the canoe nailed into the ceiling. It shouldn’t be too hard to picture yourself paddling away on a river of beer.
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Photograph by James Cridland
Edited by BlackBook

Sammy’s Roumanian


157 Chrystie St New York NY 10002
(212) 673-0330

For a vintage New York experience, head to Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House on your next outing with friends. Between the food, the crowd, and the atmosphere, you’ll find that ultimate rarity: a guaranteed good time. Walking inside the basement space you’ll feel relaxed and ready to rollick. The décor is zero-pretense, with old snapshots for wallpaper. The staff carries over the mood, dressed low-key in t-shirts, but with a high level of energy. Get things started right with a trademark bottle of vodka, frozen into a solid block of ice. Bring your appetite, as there’s nothing nouveau about these portions. The signature skirt steak makes no effort to stay on the plate, the succulent beef hanging over the sides. Order the chicken liver and it’ll be mixed tableside, more than tasty enough to earn a grandmother’s envy. That fluorescent-yellow syrup bottle on your table? That’s chicken fat, and it makes everything taste better. Speaking of schmaltz, the room will be laughing as much as eating thanks to the shtick of the emcee, who’s been working the crowd here for decades. You’ll love stepping back in time to the comedy of the Borscht Belt era, and once “Hava Nagila” starts up you’ll find it impossible not to take to the floor and dance. Don’t worry, you won’t be alone, and you’ll probably be leaving a night at Sammy’s with more friends than you came in with.
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Photograph by Arnold Gatilao
Edited by BlackBook

National Museum of the American Indian


1 Bowling Green New York NY 10004
(212) 514-3700

Discovering new cultures is a thrill for kids, making the National Museum of the American Indian a great destination for your next family day in New York. Even before you enter, you’ll get your children’s attention by pointing out that they’re standing on an actual Native American trail, since Broadway began as an Algonquin trading route. Inside the museum, you’ll all marvel at the elegance of the architecture, especially the masterful rotunda. Next, the kids dash off to check out the exhibits. Native American art is incredibly crafted, and the representations of animals here will be a big hit. Check out the permanent collection “Infinity of Nations” to marvel at the feathered headdresses and other spectacular adornments. Little eyes will delight to artifacts like the wood carving of a killer whale with a raven rising from its back. Get more hands-on in the “Tipi Room,” a special space for kids, with buffalo and deer hides they are free to touch, and a real tipi they can explore. When you’re ready for a little downtime, daily films for kids in the screening room will buy you a few minutes of rest on a comfy seat. You’ll all enjoy animated shorts, like the stories of a trickster god, which you’ll be watching with a new sense of context.
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Photograph by Jeff Kubina
Edited by BlackBook

Mesa Coyoacan


372 Graham Ave NY 11211
(718) 782-8171

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food with a lively atmosphere to match, make a run to East Williamsburg’s Mesa Coyoacan on your next date night. The neighborhood is unassuming, so the romantic interior here will come as a bonus surprise, with exposed bulbs and candles casting you both in flattering light. Conversation flows as you note clever touches like the arrays of vintage frames, and the flowers used to obscure a back staircase. An outgoing staff has you feeling welcome, and intimate seating boosts the energy. Traipse through the margarita menu and see who’s got the courage for a chile or habanero infusion. When it’s time for dinner, you’ll enjoy sharing with each other, as you sample small plates that let you mix and match. Feel like you’ve traveled across the border as you dig into sophisticated takes on classics like cactus salad, tacos, quesadillas, and tamales. Order the mole enchiladas and you’ll be in on a secret: The chef’s closely guarded family recipe is used here, upscaled with organic chicken and crema fresca. For dessert, indulge in another family recipe, as you and your loved one mingle forks on a tres leches cake made with tequila, mango, and strawberries.
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Photograph by Barry Pousman
Edited by BlackBook

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken


2841 Frederick Douglass Blvd New York NY 10019
(212) 281-1800

Many a Harlemite boasts a Southern connection, creating a ready audience for the mastery of North Carolina’s own Charles Gabriel. For a golden bird unlike any other in NYC, plan a friends’ outing to Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken. This is not a night to wear your skinny rock-star jeans. In fact, a drawstring may be your best friend here. The restaurant lays out an all-you-can-eat buffet, and you will want to eat it all. There aren’t many seats, so limit yourself to the real soul food aficionados in your crowd. As you settle in, a red neon glow adds authenticity as it gets stomachs growling. Order some sweet tea and put yourself in a Southern mood. The buffet table beckons with yams, stewed collards, and creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, but you’re here for the chicken. As the name suggest, Chef Gabriel gives the conventional fryer a pass in favor of a massive cast-iron skillet which he tends for hours, seasoning the meat through a dry rub, an egg wash, and a final flour dredge. Let your mouth water a moment before you tear in. The golden crust gives way to juicy, juicy insides, the meat bursting with flavor and character. Now it’s time to test your discipline, to see if you can hold back from another drumstick and preserve room for his famous banana pudding for dessert.
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Photograph by Stu_Spivack
Edited by BlackBook