The Top Places in NYC to Eat Really Crazy Shit

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Bull’s penis, grasshopper tacos, kangaroo. Yep, NYC offers a lot more than just the Statue of Liberty and a couple of nice parks. If you search hard enough, you’ll find some of the craziest, most unexpected foods around. When you’re sick of the usual pasta alla vodka dish and beef enchilada – and craving a wild dining experience – consult our list of NYC’s top places to eat really crazy shit.

Contact the author of this post at bgleicher@bbook.com, and follow her on Twitter

Getting High in London: Tickets for the Shard Observation Deck Now on Sale

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It’s time to get your advance tickets for the observation deck of Western Europe’s tallest building – the Shard.  This Renzo Piano creation officially opens February 1, 2013 – just in time for that certain holiday of luuurrve. We know planning ahead can be a tall order, so we’ve done it for you. Check out our list of eight ways to keep your date swooning after taking in those million-pound views.

Midnight Mixologists: Tommy Merolla’s Toplist

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Thomas Merolla has been mixing cocktails that transport his patrons beyond an average bar experience, and is currently developing his innovative ideas as the Mixologist and Creative Director at B Bar at the Betsy Hotel in Miami. Check out Tommy Merolla’s favorite spots to grab a cocktail in Miami, after the jump.

B Bar at the BetsyLiving RoomThe Florida RoomSra. MartinezSoleàHakkasanSunset LoungeClarke’sMercaditoCafeina Lounge

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Midnight Mixologists: Damian Windsor’s Toplist

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This Australian-born spirit master knows how to shake things up. Damian Windsor is swiftly becoming the go-to guy for the freshest and most unique cocktails, serving up one-of-a-kind drinks at the hottest spots in town. Currently, you can find him concocting his creations at West Hollywood speakeasy The Roger Room, where he consistently puts his spin on classic cocktails. Not only is Windsor making a name for himself behind the bar, but he is also the co-founder of For Medical Purposes, a consulting company that helps restaurants and bars improve their mixology. Windsor is pouring himself to the top, one drink at a time. Check out Damian’s Windsor’s favorite spots to grab a cocktail in L.A.

The Roger RoomEl CarmenJones HollywoodThe VarnishProvidenceTiki TiBuffalo ClubThe Rainbow Bar & GrillTonga Hut

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Midnight Mixologists: Camille Austin’s Toplist

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Steamy, sexy, and red-hot: three words that describe Camille Austin, the city where she works, and her signature cocktails. Austin trained under a master mixologist for her gig at haute Chinese boîte Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau in Miami, where the Mexico native lives, works, and pours. The Betty Page look-alike has a flair for all things retro, and she likes her cocktails with a kick—like her White Pom and muddled apple-infused Red-Hot Passion—as much as she likes Luis Miguel. Check out Camille Austin’s favorite places to grab a cocktail in Miami.

HakkasanB Bar at the BetsyBleau BarLIVSra. MartinezArea 31Love HateMichael’s Genuine Food & DrinkThe Florida RoomThe Living Room Lounge

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Midnight Mixologists: Nadia Underwood’s Toplist

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If STK in West Hollywood broke traditional steakhouse barriers by losing its overly masculine vibe, then Nadia Underwood, the peppy gal behind STK’s see-and-be-seen bar, is doing the same for the brooding mixologist stereotype. Underwood is like your favorite neighborhood bartender, only with a serious education in mixing alcohol. The easygoing Chicago native (and die-hard Bears fan) is all smiles behind the bar, as long as thirsty customers keep their cool. These things take time, after all. Check out her favorite places to grab a cocktail in L.A.

The Roger RoomThe Tasting KitchenThe Bazaar at SLSThe Edison The Living Room at W HollywoodSTK

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Autumn’s Awesome New York Adventures

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The weather is starting to scare even the hardiest New Yorkers into hibernation. But before we exchange the booze-heavy fall social calendar for weekends and evenings on the couch, hot cocoa, DVR’d television, and being woefully boyfriended/girlfriended, it’s high time to have an adventurous day in the city — whether it’s solely for the purposes of getting action (in which case, you will undoubtedly succeed) or to throw a curve ball to your “friends who brunch.” With the right attitude (and full pocket flasks for the ride), recruiting an adventure partner/team should be easy. Some of the destinations are ambitious, some easily manageable; all require a bit of a trip from downtown Manhattan, or wherever you happen to wake up after weekend benders. Take your pick, get outside, and Twitter away for your followers who’d rather nurse hangovers from the comfort of their homes.

Parks

image Plenty of dark hiding places in the shadows for…

Ambitious Riverbank State Park (Harlem): Okay, fine: it’s built on top of a residential wastewater treatment facility. But ice skating (from November to January, $5 admission) with views of the Hudson is absolutely date-friendly (for that hottie you’ve been trying to casually bed since Labor Day, or the ‘new friend’ you happened to shack with after your last drink). Riverside’s an outdoor sports complex and park on a 28-acre, multi-level landscaped recreational facility, so before you start fattening up for the Holidays, try out the tennis courts, basketball courts, softball field and hand/paddleball courts all overlooking the river. Not bad for forcing yourself to exercise.

● Head downtown a few blocks to Nectar Wine Bar for an after-exertion libation.

Manageable Fort Tryon Park (Washington Heights): Visit for: The Heather Gardens, trails, hills, trails on hills, greenery, changing foliage, and an intimate secret garden atmosphere. Given to the city by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1935, this was, unlike other “presents” we’ve been given (Rudy Giuliani, the BQE, Atlantic Yards, etc), taken with open arms. Also offers panoramic views of the Hudson in Washington Heights, perfect locale for sipping a to-go Irish coffee.

● Nosh on some Italian trattoria cuisine before or after hitting the park at Bleu Evolution, even considering moving your brunch way uptown. Mimosas necessary.

Pumpkin Picking

image Rotund, orange, hard to lift…’pumpkin’ is not a term of endearment.

Ambitious Historic Richmondtown (Staten Island): Times Square cheesy away from Times Square. It’s authentic! Employees dress in colonial garb. Enough backcountry for most New Yorkers. The trek here’s just that: a trek. Staten Island Ferry to a 30 minute ride on the S74 bus. But: Shaolin’s most revered, plump pumpkins ripe for the pickin’ and making it home with one of these babies will really feel deserved and brag-worthy. If you’re into that sort of thing.

● After stepping off the ferry, stumble into Ulysses for cheep booze and rubbing shoulders with plenty of white guys in finance (who will undoubtedly try to one-up your adventuresome spirit).

Manageable Queens Farm (Queens): Accessible via the E or F Train (to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike Station), and activities galore to accompany pumpkin picking: The Farm Museum, hayrides, farm animals and…a corn maze! If you’re a born leader, you’ll get a group together to bask in the innocence of family-friendly fun. Trivia: It’s the only working historical farm in the city on 47 acres of land owned by the NYC Department of Parks.

● After a uncharacteristically wholesome day, roll into Eddie’s Sweet Shop for nostalgia-flavored scoops of old-school, creamy, thick ice cream, and keeping up with that good girl/good guy vibe for just a little longer.

Horseback Riding

image Straddling a large animal was never so fun!

Ambitious Bronx Equestrian Center (Bronx): Trail riding through picturesque Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx runs $35 an hour. The park’s Bridle Path gives urban-weary city slickers decent respite: a micro-rural experience through lush woods just a short train ride away from Yankee Stadium.

● Venture into nearby City Island for kitschy seafood at the Black Whale and a more-than-necessary beer or two (or four) after a day of riding. Cozy setting is crucial for sealing the deal (if you opt for the impressive date option).

Manageable Kensington Stables in Prospect Park (Brooklyn): Located in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, designed by the same architects responsible for Manhattan’s famed Central Park, the open, expansive tract of green space provides a friendly trail-riding background for novices and true equestrians alike. Royal treatment for the Borough of Kings.

● Reward yourself for kickin’ it on a horse all day, and puff a cigar, drink a bourbon, reminisce of the good ol’ days with the old school regulars at Brooklyn Social Club.

Cemeteries

image Beware roaming tweens searching for potential vampire lovers.

Ambitious Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx): Perfect for creepy fall cemetery strolls, scattered with mausoleums and lined over rolling hills for broad, vista views. Rural take on urban burials.

● Pour one out for your lost homies at Rambling House, an Irish pub for Irish-Catholic drinkers. Live music is common and they pour a perfect pint of Guinness.

Manageable Green-Wood Cemetery (Brooklyn): Spanning 478 acres, Green-Wood is one of the largest cemeteries in the city. Resting place for many of the city’s noteables, with tombstones to match prestige. Also, must see: collection of outdoor 19th- and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums, one of the greatest in the US of A.

● Continue the creepyness into the evening and visit the Hideout, a fort-like, dark speakeasy vibe joint.

[Main image via Flickr/Creative Commons] [Third image via Flickr/Creative Commons] [Last image via Flickr/Creative Commons]

Vancouver: Top 10 Joints for Stiletto Sightings

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Mastering the art of a well-heeled West Coast life should include the following: a few down-dogs, perfecting the ordering of a massively complex warm dairy libation (a.k.a. the latte at Starbucks) without a flinch, and knowing where to get a leg-up on life. Whichever you choose to perfect, grasshopper, read the list below and reap the rewards.

O Lounge (Downtown) – Wanna shoe-in for a fun night? They come in all shapes, heights, makes, and models here. The view is so much better from the top. ● Lift Bar and Grill (Coal Harbour) – The only thing better than watching the floatplanes take off from this yacht-laden enclave is gawking at the folks getting on them in their fabulous shoes.

Bacchus (Downtown) – Not sure where the Donald and his newest wife hang out in NYC, but if they lived in Van City, they’d be here, enjoying their golden years along with the rest of them. ● George Ultra Lounge (Yaletown) – If you’re into model mayhem (the site) or America’s Next Top Model (the show), you’ll want to get here. Whisperings of “Are those Manolos she’s wearing?” can be heard near the private room in the back, known as G-Spot. ● Boneta (Gastown) – The ladies love Boneta for many reasons (we’ll save that for another list), and as Boneta’s slogan affirms, “Boneta Loves You”. What else is lovable about Mark Brandt’s cool shindigs besides the cocktails? Eavesdropping on up-and-coming designers talking about sewing class. ● Goldfish Pacific Kitchen (Yaletown) – Before the red card, there was a black card. And before that there was a gold card. James Bond would’ve had the time of his life in this fishbowl. ● Opus Bar (Yaletown) – The CCTV in the loo will help you decide which leggy fashionista (or male model) you’ll stomp over (or with) on the way home. ● VOYA (Downtown) – Are you a desperado searching for the perfect solemate? Save your time and the legal fees and just order the drink with the same name. ● Yew (Downtown) – Sorry, but if a direct walking-link to Holt Renfrew, its shoe department, and Harry Rosen isn’t a good enough reason for you to check out this scene, then we just don’t know you anymore. ● Joeys Bentall One (Downtown) – Because girls wearing Payless pumps are worth something too (and because the Italian built-in-the-wall wine dispenser is really cool).

New York: Top 10 Brooklyn Restaurants Worth the Wait

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Flatbush Farm (Prospect Heights) – Everything you’d expect from a restaurant with “Farm” in the name: local, organic, sustainable. Decor is more modern than country, save for the bangin’ backyard overflowing with green. ● Vinegar Hill House (Dumbo) – Cast iron dishes, straight from the wood fire oven, are killer tasty and surprisingly affordable. Mismatched knickknacks and vintage furniture make the space a real charmer. ● Rose Water (Park Slope) – It’s not surprising that a seasonal menu helps the coop crowd get off. Park Slope’s favorite date spot comes with flickering candles and chocolate pot de crème.

Buttermilk Channel (Carroll Gardens) – Brooklyn’s M.V.P. in the fancy-fried-chicken craze serves their birds with cheddar waffles. A clean interior — large windows, industrial lighting, dark wood floors — is the epitome of Brooklyn chic. ● James (Prospect Heights) – Hidden in the first floor of a brownstone, the restaurant draws a neighborhood crowd, but the food — New American with local ingredients — is worth a commute. ● Al di Là (Park Slope) – Park Slope’s favorite Italian job comes with the longest wait. Rustic fare (pork loin scallopine, tagliatelle al ragu, roasted duck) is served in a purposefully deteriorating dining room. ● Franny’s (Prospect Heights) – Ultra-thin pizza fancied up with super fresh — and yes, you guessed it, sustainable — toppings like clams and mussels. Husband and wife owners don’t skimp on the salads or apps, either. ● Acqua Santa (Williamsburg)- The romantic, go-to spot for the more committed hipster types. Italian favorites, like spaghetti puttanesca and fettucine amatriciana, are easily paired with a bottle of vino. ● Applewood (Park Slope)- Mom and pop joint serves up responsible food in a cozy, ski-lodge setting; think fireplace, wooden tables, and flowers. The meal won’t weigh as heavily on your conscience as it will your wallet. ● The Good Fork (Red Hook)- A reason to go to Red Hook other than IKEA. This eclectic restaurant serves global bites like Korean style steak and eggs, as well as neighborhood favorites like Steve’s Key lime pie.