When the crowds are away, the foodies will play. With much of the city gone between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can have these sizzling hot spots and must-attend events to yourself (well, almost) this summer.
Tropical Vibes in the Concrete Jungle
Heating up the Miami and Chicago drinking scenes and landing a spot on the world’s best bars list wasn’t enough for Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi, so they brought their white-hot tropical concept—Broken Shaker, already wildly popular in Miami, Chicago, and L.A.—to Lexington Avenue’s Freehand hotel. Expect mixed cocktails with a New York edge, a Caribbean–meets–Middle East snack menu, and a Technicolor interior (designed by award-winning firm Roman and Williams) for a night of full escapism.
If a bohemian rendezvous is more your style, a Mexican import is arriving just in time for peak maxi dress season. Gitano, known as one of Tulum’s hottest spots, with all-night dance parties, never-ending mezcal flowing, and fashionistas and yoginis abounding, is popping up in SoHo and promises a more zen-ful approach without losing its buzz—meditation circles, a reflection pool, community garden for local nonprofits, and all of the tropical plants for your social media feeds.
Boogie Down in the Bronx
Now that you’ve eaten your way through Queens via its International Night Market (you’ve done that, right?), it’s time to take a bite out of the Bronx. The inaugural Bronx Night Market—held once a month between June and October—puts a much-needed spotlight on the culture, flavors, and vibes of this underrated, food-ily speaking, borough. Fill your plate with Trinidadian curry goat, empanadas and flan straight from Puerto Rico, and a most soulful fish fry, before taking your red-hot dance moves to Fordham Plaza with local musicians and DJs.
On the more upscale side of the spectrum is the fourth annual Eat NYC: The Bronx Food + Wine Festival. Don’t expect your usual food-fest fare—the night’s host, Bronx culinary ambassador Baron Ambrosia aka Justin Fornal, is renowned for his love of, ahem, challenging meats like raccoon and bear. While you’ll probably be eating more satiable dishes, one guarantee is that the under-the-radar location is worth the $50 ticket price alone; the event will be held in the Neoclassic landmark known as the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.
Gin Is In
Instead of settling for your regular gin and tonic during office happy hour, order outside of the box. The botanical sipper complements many of summer’s most hyped herbs and produce, so getting something that tastes like the season is a must. A few to try: the spruced-up Mr. Muir from NoMad’s Patent Pending; George Washington Bar’s Middle Eastern–inspired For Sarah, with pomegranate and cardamom; and Peachy’s Chinatown take on the gimlet, with coriander, kaffir lime cordial, and a superfood dash of chlorella.
Prefer a walk-through of how your liquor gets to your glass? Summer is also the perfect time to take an impromptu gin distillery tour. In an area of Williamsburg most tourists don’t flock to is New York Distilling Company. Not only does it offer three tours a day on weekends, but the attached tasting room shakes and stirs unconventional cocktails made with the distillery’s final product—try the Acerbic Mrs. Parker, made with hibiscus and Combier, when you have a hankering for something fresh with a kick.
Dinner and a Movie Under the Stars
Summer nights were made for alfresco entertainment in unexpected settings; one such locale is the offbeat Socrates Sculpture Park on the outskirts of Astoria. On August 15, take in the sunset along the East River and sit in 3D-printed RRRolling Stones concrete chairs by the artist Hannah for a screening of the 1985 Japanese “noodle western” Tampopo, in collaboration with the prestigious Film Forum. Yes, noodle western is meant to be taken seriously; the film follows a ramen shop owner in search of the perfect noodle. P.S. You’re welcome to bring your own noodles—we suggest a trip to Tamashii Ramen before the screening.
The très parisien screening series Films on the Green is a perennial gem, and the 11th edition of the film festival revolves around the world of gastronomy. Lay out a blanket for Jean Renoir’s 1939 classic following the lives and dining habits of the bourgeoisie, The Rules of the Game; the modern-day romantic comedy Romantics Anonymous about dueling chocolatiers; and Gilles Legrand’s familial drama You Will Be My Son, following the hardships of owning a wine estate with your kin. Don’t forget to pack your favorite tote with a fresh baguette and a bottle of rosé inside an incognito S’well bottle.