New York’s Best Museums (That Aren’t the Met)

The Met.  The Museum of Natural History.  The MoMA.  Those are all iconic New York City museums.  But what about those that are lesser-known?  Even if they don’t have the brand of the bigger names out there, these smaller museums, often devoted to niche subjects or local interests, are no less amazing.  I recently came across an article that mentioned a few of these off-beat museums.  Here are a couple of these:

The tenement museum

The Tenement Museum: In the early 20th century, over one million immigrants a year landed in New York City and were processed through Ellis Island.  Many immigrants stayed in New York, living in crowded tenement buildings.  The Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side exists in one of these former buildings, a living testament to the working-class culture that once characterized the region.  The museum offers tours and costumed actors, who teach visitors about the lives of these immigrants.

the noguchi museum

The Noguchi Museum: The 12 galleries of the Noguchi are dedicated to the life work of celebrated artist Isamu Noguchi, serving as a break from the chaos of New York.  Alluding to his Japanese heritage, Noguchi’s work captures the harmony of modern sculpture with natural elements.  It’s located in a part of Queens where there are plenty of other great museums, including the Socrates Sculpture Park, MoMA PS1 and the Museum of the Moving Image.  

Torah animal world

The Torah Animal World: Apart from sounding like the title of a Wes Anderson film, the Torah Animal World is the largest “Hasidic taxidermy museum” in the world.  It was built by a rabbi in his Brooklyn brownstone, it was meant to bring the stories of the Torah to life with an immersive real-life diorama.  In addition to ancient Jewish artifacts, the museum more famously features taxidermied specimens of over 350 different animals mentioned in the Torah and Talmud.  

museum of the american gangster

The Museum of the American Gangster: Thanks to Hollywood, the gangsters of the 20th century have captured the imagination of Americans.  Yet the true story of organized crime in America, as told by this museum in the East Village, is a lot more complex and darker than what Martin Scorsese has shown us.  Visitors get a look at life for these criminals in Prohibition, with help from photos, newspapers and original documents from that time period.  

MoMath

Museum of Mathematics: Even if you hate math (and there are plenty of people out there who do), this place makes it fun.  Here, interactive exhibits make the formulas you learned in school suddenly come to life.  It’s as much of a visual experience as it is educational, and might just make you enjoy math in a way your tenth grade algebra teacher couldn’t.  

NYC fire museum

New York City Fire Museum: New York’s fire department is arguably the most famous in the world, and this museum is dedicated to its history.  It offers an in-depth look at how New York’s fire department has evolved over the years since its beginnings in the colonial era.  It boasts a collection of various artifacts, including alarms, tools and vehicles from every era.  They also boast a memorial dedicated to the 343 members of the FDNY who died on 9/11.  

morbid anatomy museum

The Morbid Anatomy Museum: Like the Torah Animal World, this one’s a little out there.  The main theme here is centered around death, funeral ceremonies and medicine; the perfect place for anybody interested in the morbid details of daily life and the cultural practices around death.

Hamilton grange national memorial

Hamilton Grange National Memorial: Can’t get tickets to see “Hamilton”?  That’s okay, you can still visit his house and see how he lived!  Before his death, the founding father built a home in what is now aptly named “Hamilton Heights”.  The home has been preserved over the years, and now serves as a museum to Hamilton’s legacy.

City Reliquary

The City Reliquary: A small non-profit museum, the City Reliquary serves as a reminder of New York’s history in a neighborhood that has undergone rapid and shameless gentrification.  With old souvenirs of the past, it offers a unique snapshot of the daily life of New Yorkers of the past.  It might be small, but this is a museum that has a whole lot to show off.  

NY transit museum

New York Transit Museum: For over 100 years now, New York’s metro system has connected all five boroughs to each other with a complex system of underground tunnels.  The MTA’s museum celebrates this heritage, commemorating the subway with educational exhibits, old artifacts and subway cars from various eras of New York history (including contemporary advertisements and subway maps).  

Broadway Etiquette

Broadway Etiquette by Ari KellenIf you’re into theater, then New York may very well be the best place to be.  Whether it’s a play, an award-winning musical or an off-Broadway satire, whether the cast members are well-known stars or total novices, you can find it in New York.  If you aren’t a regular theater-goer, it’s never too late to start, so that’s why it’s important to know Broadway theater etiquette.  Here are some tips for theater etiquette, based off an article that I found on the blog “Tracy’s New York Life”:

Dress like you’re going to the theater: There might not be an official dress code for Broadway, but out of respect try to not dress like you’re going to the gym.  You don’t necessarily need a tux and evening gown, but shorts and sneakers are just tacky.  Women should be stay away from sweats, flip flops, athletic tanks and anything you’d consider “indecent”.  It’s also important to remember that the temperature in theaters tends to get cold.

Arrive on time: Nobody likes that person who goes to a show 20 minutes late.  You want to get to the theater in enough time to find your seat before the curtain rises.  Latecomers disrupt the show.  Most Broadway theater doors open 30 minutes before curtain time.

Use the bathroom before the show starts: Take care of the bathroom before the show starts.  First acts can run up to 90 minutes, and some shows don’t even have any intermission.  And nobody likes the person who climbs over an entire row of theater-goers to get to the bathroom.  If you have to use the bathroom, try and do it during a scene change to not disrupt too many people.

Don’t wear too much perfume or colognes: Theater seats are packed together tight, and there’s no masking body odor; if you can smell yourself, so can everybody else.  Come to the show clean and wear your fragrance light.

Turn off your ringer: This should go without saying, but there’s always that person whose phone rings during a performance.  Checking text messages, email or social media during a scene is pretty bad too.  If you’re waiting for something particularly important, most shows have intermissions where you’ll have 15 minutes to check messages.  

Don’t eat during a show: Loudly munching during a performance is just as distracting as talking or a ringing cell phone.  Candy wrappers are notoriously loud, which is why many theaters ask you to put them away before the show.

Don’t talk: This should be a given, but you’d be surprised.  If you absolutely have to say something, whisper between scenes.

Don’t take photos: Photo and video recordings aren’t allowed during performances, otherwise an usher will come over and reprimand you, maybe even kick you out, which will disrupt everybody.  It’s also fairly embarrassing.

Avoid PDAs: If you’re on a date, save time after the show for PDAs; it will distract the people behind you.

Applaud: It’s totally fine if you end up not liking a show, but out of respect applaud the actors, crew and musicians.  Most shows end with standing ovations, and if you liked the show, feel free to join the audience!  

Best East Village Bars

Best East Village Bars by Ari KellenThe old vanguard of New Yorkers, who remember going to see the Ramones at CBGB’s and the days when Alphabet City was a no-zone, have often complained that the “East Village is dead”.  Maybe the neighborhood doesn’t have the “edge” that it did when it inspired the game-changing rock musical “Rent”, and the cost-of-living has gone up dramatically.  But that’s not to say that a good time can’t still be had in this neighborhood, with 585 active liquor licenses in the neighborhood, you can be sure to find plenty of places to hang out with your friends over a couple beers, a plate of pierogies or an arcade game and have plenty of fun in the process.  Here is a list of some of the top bars in the neighborhood, based off an article that I found online with some of my personal favorite places added in as well:

The 13th Step: If you’re looking for a super rowdy night, then this is the place to go.  It gets crowded here, but if you’re up for downing a few pitchers of Bud Light with your buddies, then you can’t get much better than here.  

Jimmy’s No 43: Located just around the corner from the famed explosion that shook the neighborhood last March, Jimmy’s is considered one of the top beer bars in all of New York, thanks to a pub-like decor, an excellent food menu and an ever-changing selection of delicious (and hard-to-find) craft brews.  If you stop by, be sure to say hello to Jimmy Carbone, the friendly and fun-loving owner who can often be found chatting with patrons.  

Proletariat: Located near Tompkins Square Park, Proletariat, like Jimmy’s, specializes in serving craft beers that you most likely won’t get anywhere else.  The walls are decked with punk art, and the bathroom features pages from a book of Russian prison tattoos.  The only problem is that the bar is a little narrow, so when it gets crowded it gets very crowded.  

Standings: Conveniently located right above Jimmy’s, this sports bar offers a solid selection of beer in a dive-y atmosphere covered with Mets-related gear.  The best bar in the neighborhood to watch a baseball game, there are a surprising number of TV screens to make the experience here truly immersive.  For diehard sports fans, it doesn’t get much better than this.  

Lois: Not too far from (and in the same group as) ABC Beer Co, where many of the bars on this list specialize in beer, here the name of the game is wine.  There are 16 wines on tap in this slick, chic and inviting space, making it a must-visit for any wine nuts.  

Alphabet City Beer Co: The cozy Alphabet City Beer Co offers an array of delicious craft beers, board games and notoriously comfy sofas.  Visit on a lazy weeknight, sit down on a comfy chair, drink a beer, catch up on a book, or maybe bring a friend and you can play a few rounds of “Guess Who”.  They also sell beer here, so be sure to pick up a few cans for your fridge at home while you’re leaving.  

The Wayland: Few New York bars are able to nail the “rustic” look both on the inside and the outside, but few New York bars are like the Wayland.  The cocktails here are something to write home about, using fun ingredients and interesting combinations that are hard to replicate at any other spot in the city.

Lovers of Today: While its underground location make it easy to miss, Lovers of Today is hardly a place that you want to miss.  A snug and dark speakeasy haunt, it features a great menu of specialty cocktails, many of them a couple dollars cheaper than other speakeasies around the city.  The only problem about this place is that on weekend nights it can get a bit loud and crowded.  

New York Bars For History Buffs

INew York Bars for history buffs by Ari kellenn the past 400 years, New York has gone from a remote wilderness at the corner of the world, to a remote Dutch trading post at the corner of the world, to a major city in the 13 Colonies, to a bustling port in a fledgeling United States, to one of the most important and recognizable cities in the entire world.  There are plenty of places where you can get in touch with New York’s history; you could visit a museum or go to the New York Public Library.  But one of the best ways to enjoy history is with a good meal or a few rounds of drinks.  I recently came across an article that shares some of the best historic bars and restaurants in the city.  They had some great options here, but in my opinion the author missed a couple key ones.  Here’s what they had to say, with some additions from me:

Fraunces Tavern: Over 250 years old, Fraunces Tavern also operates as a museum and is registered as a national historic landmark.  It’s arguably the most historically significant place on the list; it briefly served as George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution and was where peace negotiations with the British took place at the end of the war.  Today you can enjoy colonial-inspired pub fare alongside 200+ varieties of whiskeys, cocktails, ciders and craft beers in the same setting that the founding fathers did.

McSorley’s: When McSorley’s adopted the slogan “we were here before you were born”, they weren’t lying.  Established in 1854, this is one of the oldest continuously-running bars in all of New York City.  Covered with sawdust and mementos from its 160+ years of operation (none of which have been removed since 1910), McSorley’s prides itself on sticking to tradition and doing things the way they always did (they didn’t even let women in until the 1970s).  Staffed by surly Irish bartenders, it’s a cash-only establishment with an unabashedly simple and limited number of options: the food menu fits onto a small chalkboard, and your alcohol options are limited to either “light” or “dark” beer (according to legend, they also served whiskey for a brief period in the late 19th century, although it didn’t go well).  While it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, McSorley’s is an institution and an essential experience, particularly for those people interested in New York’s history.

One if by Land, Two if by Sea: Although it’s just around 43 years old, this place is situated within a carriage house built in 1767.  For those who can afford the pricey menu, it’s one of the romantic date spots in New York, with numerous engagements happening here every year.  That’s not too hard to understand; the ambience here perfectly channels history and old-world charm to appeal to just about everybody.

21 Club: First opened in 1922 at the height of Prohibition, 21 Club started its life out as a speakeasy and survived several raids by Prohibition agents. It moved around locations before finally settling at 21 West 52nd Street, where it’s remained since 1929.  Since then it’s been frequented by countless celebrities and film and TV characters.  It serves up traditional American cuisine and delicious signature cocktails, reminiscent of its days as a speakeasy.

Apotheke: Apotheke isn’t exactly an old business, but that’s not to discredit its historical significance.  This speakeasy is located in Chinatown on a bend of Doyers Street known as the “Bloody Angle”, which in the early 20th century was a popular spot for fights between Chinese gangs.  Apotheke itself is housed in a building that during that era served as an opium den.  Although it was established fairly recently, Apotheke relishes in the history that comes with being a speakeasy in such an historic neighborhood, and regularly features “Prohibition nights” with live jazz music.

Katz’s Deli: In the 1940s, there were over 2,000 Jewish delis around New York City proudly slinging pastrami and matzoh ball soup.  Now that number has dwindled to about 20, so those who have survived need to be very good at what they’re doing.  One of the oldest and best of these is Katz’s in the Lower East Side; since it was first founded in 1888, it has outlasted countless other restaurants and delis around the city.  It might be a tourist trap, but that’s only because it’s delicious, and a sandwich from them piled high with pastrami and corned beef is well worth the hectic lines.

Keens Steakhouse: Since it was first established in 1885 (just two years before the New York’s other well-known steakhouse, Peter Luger’s), this has served as the go-to hangout for famous actors, producers, playwrights and other big names in show business.  They’re known for their mutton chops here, and the ceiling plays hosts to over 50,000 smoking pipes.  Notable patrons here include Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers and Albert Einstein.  Like McSorley’s, it started out as a “men’s only” establishment, although that was overturned in 1905 after being sued by actress Lillie Langtry.

Barbetta: This upscale Italian restaurant was first founded in 1906.  Grand chandeliers and antiques dating from the 18th century fill the dining room.  This was the first New York restaurant to “elegantly” approach Italian cuisine in an era when such food was considered “rustic”.  If it’s warm out, you can dine outside in the garden, which is filled with flowers, statues and a fountain to give the feel of a European country estate.

Best Outdoor Drinking Spots in NYC

Best Outdoor Drinking Spots in NYC by Ari KellenAs the weather gets nicer, many people start to venture out of their apartments in New York to go out, drink with friends and have a good time.  For many New Yorkers, outdoor drinking is a favorite summer activity, and who can blame them?  Since German immigrants first introduced the concept of the “beer garden” to Gotham, it’s become a classic activity.  Listed here are some of the best places in New York City to partake in it:

Northern Territory: Out in Williamsburg, a good 10-minute walk from any subway stations, lies Northern Territory, an Australian restaurant that features a knockout rooftop bar.  Even when it gets crowded, the rooftop affords a spectacular view of Williamsburg and Lower Manhattan.

Studio Square: Two massive 20-foot screens, free-flowing beer, a kitchen that makes wings and cigar vendors all combine together to make Studio Square one of the best places in New York to watch a big sports game with your buddies.  If you’re going there for a big game, however, it’s a good idea to get there about an hour early, as it tends to get crowded and the bouncers start imposing a substantial cover charge.  But time flies when you’re having fun, and once you get there, five hours seems to pass like 30 minutes.

Iona: Since it was first opened, Iona has developed a reputation as a stellar summer drinking spot in Williamsburg.  There’s a friendly vibe here, helped by a huge backyard with BBQ and ping pong.  The perfect place to spend an afternoon drinking icy beer.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden: For over 100 years, Bohemia Hall has served as a center for Astoria’s Czech and Slovak culture.  The beer garden, which is open year-round, has a weathered look about it that some might consider unappealing, but it adds a genuine charm to the entire place.  To top it all off, a special refrigeration method makes sure that the beer is always ice cold, making this the best place to enjoy a cold brew on a hot day.

Brooklyn Crab: Out in Red Hook, a good 30-minute walk from any subway station is Brooklyn Crab, an outdoor seafood restaurant/bar with two levels, three bars, plenty of picnic benches, cornhole and mini golf.  Here the beer flows freely, including a house IPA brewed by Southern Tier.  The perfect place to waste a lazy Sunday in June, it’s also right next to Hometown BBQ, easily one of the best barbecue spots in New York, in case you’re more into pork than crab.

Union Pool: It might get crowded here and filled with plenty of tourists, and might not be for everybody, but there’s a festive vibe at this Williamsburg hotspot that makes up for all of that.  If you get hungry while you’re drinking, there’s a taco truck, so it’s hard to go wrong.  If you want to go inside, there’s a back room that features live music.

Blockheads: There are multiple locations of Blockheads around the city, but the one to visit is in Hell’s Kitchen on 50th Street.  With its plethora of frozen alcoholic drinks and plenty of outdoor seating, Blockheads makes for a great place to kick back with your friends, a bowl of nachos and some frozen drinks on a hot day.  It’s also right across from Mother Burger, which features the same style of frozen drinks and outdoor seating in case Blockheads is too packed.

Spuyten Duyvil: Like the Brooklyn Crab, Spuyten Duyvil is right around the corner from one of New York’s best barbecue joints (Fette Sau).  But that’s where the similarities stop: Spuyten Duyvil is a bar first and foremost, and in the warmer months features a spacious garden filled with picnic benches where you can seemingly always find a seat.

The Standard: No pun intended, but the biergarten here has set the “standard” for outdoor drinking in Manhattan and beyond.  Milking the “german biergarten” trope without being too obnoxious about it, they do a great balance here, that can be washed down with beer, sausages and pretzels in-between ping pong games.

Transmitter Park: It isn’t a bar, but Transmitter Park is easily one of the best parks in Brooklyn.  Located in the sticks of Greenpoint out on the water, it’s hard to go wrong here, where you can get a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline at night and, if you get there at the right time, the best sunset in all of New York.  Pick up a bottle at Brouwerij Lane or the local bodega nearby, but it in a brown bag and sit down on a park bench and take in the view.

NYC’s Top Grilled Cheese

NYC's Top Grilled Cheese by Ari KellenGrilled cheese is one of those brilliantly simple dishes: there are only two ingredients, yet it’s astoundingly satisfying.  While grilled cheese is a great dish on its own, there are a few tweaks here and there that can really bring a grilled cheese to the next level.  I recently came across an article that shared where you can find New York’s best grilled cheese, listed below:

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter: Amanda Beame, who previously cut her teeth at Blue Smoke, started Bobwhite as a way to dish out sustainable Southern classics.  Her grilled cheese takes Hudson Valley collard greens and puts it into a house-made red-pepper pimento on Orwasher’s sourdough.

Gorilla Cheese NYC: There are seven different versions of grilled cheese available from his roving truck, with a choice of bread and cheese.  Each sandwich goes through an electric press to give it a crisp brown crust, and features dipping sauces ranging from honey Dijon to sweet Thai chili.

Earl’s Beer and Cheese: Cheap beers go great with grilled cheese here.  The thing to get is the NY State Cheddar, which features braised pork belly, a fried egg and kimchi.

Little Muenster: The brainchild of a husband-wife duo: slices of white cheddar or American cheese between thick-cut, local pullman bread coated in a secret cooking spread and finished on a flattop grill.

The Queens Kickshaw: Chunks of mozzarella add texture in-between brioche buns.  The sandwich comes with either cool gazpacho in the summer or hot tomato soup in the winter.

Morris Sandwich Shop: Originally a truck, this has since found a brick and mortar location that offers New York State cheddar and New Hampshire Landaff.

Melt Shop: With various locations across the city, you’ll always be sure to find a fine combo of melted American cheese over white bread.

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Legendary Seattle cheesemaker Beecher’s operates this complex, where you can watch cheese being made in giant vats before being sold at local markets.  The flagship grilled cheese is what you want to order.

Meltkraft: Partnered with Valley Shepherd Creamery in New Jersey, this place makes a three-cheese grilled cheese with aged cheddar.  They offer various fun combinations, such as brisket and macaroni or raclette with jalapeños and pickled tomatoes.

Murray’s Cheese Bar: If you call yourself a cheese shop, you better have some good cheese, and Murray’s certainly delivers.  The namesake sandwiches here are a secret blend of three curds on a pan-baked pullman loaf.

RIP Phife Dawg

Phife DawgA Tribe Called Quest founding member Malik Taylor, better known by his stage name of Phife Dawg, passed away earlier this week at the age of 45.  Over the course of his career, Phife left behind one of the most influential bodies of work in hip hop.  His family has confirmed that Phife’s death has to do with diabetes, the reason behind his 2008 kidney transplant.

A native of Jamaica, Queens, Phife befriended the other founding members at a young age.  In the documentary Beats Rhymes and Life, Phife and bandmate Q-Tip discuss playing hooky during grade school and writing rhymes together.  He said that the excitement behind the whole scene led him to risk getting kicked out of the house to just be a part of it.  Strongly influenced by other New York groups, particularly De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest came to prominence with their 1990 debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, which featured Phife delivering fast, high-pitched verses that perfectly contrasted with the smoother delivery of Q-Tip.  Although he admittedly didn’t care for his early work when looking back, Phife came into his element with the second album, Low End Theory.

With the single “Yo!” and everything else, Phife was able to secure a name for himself among the greats of hip hop.  No longer the sidekick of Q-Tip, he was able to prove his wordplay, musical chops and energy, helping make Tribe stand out.  1993’s Midnight Marauders featured Phife handling entire tracks on his own and delivering some classic one-liners.  Yet the rest of the 90s proved tougher for Tribe, with tension between Phife and Q-Tip being accentuated by Phife’s failing health.

Even though he knew that he had diabetes, Phife had an addiction to sugar.  Many have suspected that the revenue from A Tribe Called Quest’s sporadic touring in the 21st century was to pay for Phife’s medical bills.  Yet despite this, he was always excited about getting back on the road and doing new projects.

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Chinatown’s Best Food

As small as it is, there’s no shortage of Chinese food in Manhattan’s Chinatown NYCChinatown, representing food from every part of mainland China and Hong Kong.  While these choices may seem overwhelming, here is a list of the best restaurants in Chinatown, no matter what you’re looking for:

Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Located in the heart of Chinatown on a crook of Doyers Street known as the “bloody angle” due to its use for gang fights in the early 20th century, Nom Wah has been open since 1920, and the restaurant is rich in history.  Here, you can get plenty of delicious dim sum plates made fresh to order.

Ah-Wah: While it looks like any run-of-the-mill greasy spoon Chinese restaurant, Ah-Wah, located right off Bowery, boasts one specialty that no other spot in Chinatown has come close to replicating: bo zai fan, listed on the menu as “rice casserole”.  This is a rice dish cooked in a clay pot until the edges are crusty.  The perfect comfort food, it’s warm, stick-to-your-ribs and delicious.  While it’s often easy to overlook soy sauce, the house-made sauce here will make sure you never view this condiment the same way again, and you’ll want to pour generous helpings of it all over your bo zai fan.

Joe’s Shanghai: While many spots around Chinatown boast soup dumplings, the undisputed master here is Joe’s Shanghai.  In addition to their legendary soup dumplings, the cold sesame noodles, greasy and covered in peanut sauce, are excellent.  If you do visit, be sure to not go into neighboring Joe’s Ginger instead; while good, Joe’s Shanghai does everything else better.  It might also be a good idea to go at an odd time, because it tends to get crowded.

Xi’an Famous Foods: Part of a New York-only chain made famous by none other than Anthony Bourdain, the food here is inspired by the city of Xi’an in western China.  As one of the last stops on the Silk Road, the food from Xi’an has plenty of Middle Eastern influence, as evidenced by the restaurant’s signature dish of spicy cumin lamb noodles.  The flavors here are a combination Whatever you order here, make sure it includes noodles, which are the house specialty.

Peking Duck House: Before serving it, the waiter here parades the roasted duck here past your party before dramatically slicing off meat.  Yet it’s important to remember that you need to order this specialty in advance.  Select the “three way”: the duck main course, complete with pancakes, plum sauce, vegetable stir-fry and a cabbage soup.  While there are other options on the menu, you’d be foolish to go to the “Peking Duck House” and order something other than Peking Duck.

New York’s Best Theaters

movie theaterNew Yorkers love movies.  For one, the city has plenty of amazing locations for filming, and its central location means that you can regularly brush elbows with stars on the subway.  Unlike other places, where the only movie theaters are large corporate chains, here in New York there are plenty of small movie theaters where you can see all sorts of films.  I recently came across an article that shares some of the coolest movie theaters in New York, listed below:

Nitehawk Cinema: This Williamsburg hotspot mostly focuses on third-run and indie films along with the occasional blockbuster.  However, the main draw here is the event programming, such as “Country Brunchin’”, which offers brunch and western films, or “Booze and Books”, which focuses on film adaptations of books.  And to make it even better, they offer drinks so that you can drink while watching your movie.

Film Society of Lincoln Center: With a tagline “film lives here”, the Film Society of Lincoln Center talks a big game, but they’re able to back it up.  It’s best known for its two festivals: the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films, although it’s busy all year round.  The offerings here are diverse indeed, with plenty of unique films and no shortage of fun events.

Landmark Sunshine Cinema: Located on Houston just a couple blocks from Katz’s Deli, this is a surprisingly large theater that offers art-house films, midnight showings of cult classics and special screenings.  It’s located next door to Fool’s Gold, one of the neighborhood’s best beer/whiskey bars, which offers a 10% discount to anybody who can show their movie ticket.

The Paris Theatre: Unless you’re looking for it, you’ll miss this small theater just south of Central Park.  It only shows one film at a time, so your options are limited, but it’s a wonderfully cozy place, where you never have to wait at the theater before the film starts (queuing in the lobby is banned).

IFC: If it hasn’t been played here, then it probably doesn’t exist.  The IFC screens a whole array of films, from sci-fi cult classics to Oscar-nominated short films, and has a reputation for showing the best independent films; if you go early, you’ll even be able to catch a short film that screens before every feature.  With the exception of the “main” theater, the theaters here are small and cozy, making films here an intimate and immersive experience.

NYC’s Best Winter Rooftop Bars

Rooftop bars, just like smelly fermenting trash and sweaty subway platforms, are a staple of New York City summers.  Yet even when winter is in full swing, there are still some places with removable covers, heat lamps and hot drinks to warm up patrons.  I recently came across an article that shares some of the best all-season rooftop spots in the city, which I’ve shared below:

The Lodge at the McKittrick Hotel: In the winter, this spot become a work of art: a sneaky hideaway bar that looks like a woodsy cabin with bunk beds, battered books, a fire pit and plenty of furs.  You can sip on a maple toddy, then see if you can brave the haunted Macbeth house below.

The Ides at the Wythe Hotel: While the outdoor section here is ideal for summer, you can still enjoy the scenery behind the windowed roofdeck in the winter.  You can enjoy such cocktails as the Old Pal or Dark and Stormy while watching the snow fall.

NYC skylineKimoto: Brooklyn might turn some people off, but even those who hate it have to concede that Kimoto is an exceptional place.  With 26 craft beer options, mostly Japanese, 9 custom cocktails and a diverse menu of Asian fusion, it’s more than enough to lure even the biggest Brooklyn skeptic.

Baita at la Birreria: In the winter, the rooftop bar at Eataly become Baita, a pop-up bar and restaurant inspired by the Italian Alps.  It’s more food-oriented, but that food is delicious, and can be washed down with warm drinks like mulled wine and an extensive list of brews.

Upstairs at the Kimberly: The retractable roof keeps the uppermost level of this hotel bar cozy, even when the temperature drops.  Luckily, the glass doesn’t obscure the views here, allowing you to overlook Midtown and the peak of the Chrysler building.

Hotel Chantelle: Filled with plush banquettes, this art-deco lounge is a jazzy, covered rooftop that can transport you directly to Paris.  With a full bar and a DJ booth, after the clock strikes midnight it attracts a young crowd looking to dance the night away.

The Heights Bar and Grill: Finding a rooftop bar north of Midtown can be tough, but this Morningside Heights spot does just that.  It’s covered and heated in the winter.  It should be noted that it’s mostly a Columbia University bar, so it might not be the best place for those who aren’t as into the collegiate crowd.

Top of the Strand: This small Midtown spot gives you an up-close and personal view of the Empire State Building, and a retractable glass structure to seal in the warmth in the cooler months.

Refinery Rooftop: Like Top of the Strand, this is just a stone’s throw away from the Empire State Building that gives you a great view and a comfortable space with cushioned chairs and romantic lights.