The Weekend Shortlist March 26 to 28
Friday March 26
L.A. act The Dan Band are comedy gold taking well-known female fronted hits like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and jazzing it up with lots of obscenities and swearing. They’ve been in movies like Old School and The Hangover so check them out in real life.While the original Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn is best, this midtown location offers a nearly identical menu of deli sandwiches, diner entrees, and of course soul food fixin’s, on top of some of the best cheesecake in NYC, which is saying a lot! For drinks check out The View . Not the TV show, but the bar high atop the Marriot Marquis. Plus it revolves. If you’re looking for something to do, go to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Yes, it’s a cheesy tourist attraction, but where else are you going to get a picture with Nicholas Cage or Samuel L. Jackson?
Friday March 26
Malian act Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba take the African instrument the Ngoni and make sweet contemporary African music with it. While Times Square is obviously an expensive mess of restaurants, Havana Central offers affordable Cuban food like Camarones con Coco – coconut dusted jumbo shrimp fried and breaded with pineapple ($12). The former office of 1920s mogul John W. Campbell, The Campbell Apartment is an utterly spectacular bar in Grand Central Terminal. Who knew? For fans of Japanese pop-culture, Kinokuniya Bookstore has a large selection of Japanese themed books, videos, CDs, magazines, comics, and stationary.
Saturday March 27
Folk songstress Basia Bulat who works best with her autoharp takes a detour to the mountains on her new album Heart of My Own creating an album full of great southern inspired music. What I like about Three of Cups the most is that the food is classic Italian fare like Pizza made in a wood-fired oven, risotto, pasta, while also offering more exciting dishes like lamb stew in a barolo wine reduction, served with potato gnocchi. The atmosphere is relaxing, bordering on romantic. With a name like Whiskey Ward, it’s expected that they deliver the goods, which lucky for this bar, they do. Whether it’s Scotch, Bourbon, Whiskey, or Single Malts, they got em’ along with a pool table and a damn good jukebox. Who doesn’t like cupcakes? Sugar Sweet Sunshine has one of the best in the city. With 10 different kinds, it’s hard to beat.
Saturday March 27
Blending Rock N’ Roll and Latin soul, Rene Lopez takes these elements to make old school sounding songs with a vintage Motown feel. Paladar, whose celebrity chef, Aarón Sanchez is from the Food Network show “Melting Pot,” delivers a Pan-Latino concept taking traditional Spanish fare and adding deliciously executed gourmet twists. Feeling retro? Then Welcome to the Johnsons is the place for you. It’s like being in your uncles wreck room from the 70s. With all wood paneled walls, plastic covered couches, and a Pac Man machine, this bar is out for a good time. Stop by Economy Candy and get a small taste of what it might be like to walk through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, minus the hijinks, as there’s all sorts of candy everywhere. A real NY landmark, it’s been around since 1937.
Sunday March 28
Grammy-nominated jazz and R&B star Ledisi brings her heart and soul to every performance. Known especially for her scatting ability and positive energy, the New Orleans-bred, Oakland-based singer’s latest release, Turn Me Loose is a mix of jazz, soul, funk, and R&B. Though small, Empanada Mama packs a hefty punch with more than 40 kinds of empanadas. Choose from a wheat or corn flour shell to start as ingredients include basic rice and beans to what they have dubbed “Viagra,” a wheat flour empanada stuffed with shrimp, scallop, and crab ($3). For drinks, I’d recommend the wine bar Xai Xai. With a South African theme, this darkly designed spot is great for a date as well as for before or after event drinks. The wines are incredible and they even have fondue! An alternative wine bar, Vintage has a wine list with over 200 wines by the glass or bottle from most of the boutique wineries in Long Island and Upstate New York.
Sunday March 28
At the Brooklyn Brunch Experiment the most creative and competitive chefs will prepare various brunch-type dishes and showcase them to you! The audience, along with one of the most esteemed, culinary judging panels, will select their favorite dishes and grandiose prizes and cash will be awarded to those who strive to be the next Brunch king or queen. Keeping the night going, try El Viejo Yayo for dinner. This gorgeous and warm restaurant has an elegant dining room and an affordable menu offering Dominican/Latin cuisine. The outside of Buttermilk Bar may look non-descript, but looks are deceiving . . . just not in this case, as this low-key watering hole is where you can grab a cheap drink in a friendly atmosphere, while playing a board game or two. With a near insane menu of chocolates from coffee and tea to delectable dessert, and even beer, The The Chocolate Room is a great way to end the night on a high note.