Category: Midtown – Times Square


There’s something about live music at mealtime that enhances the dinning experience. It’s refreshing to be greeted by a rousing brass band, stellar guitar solo, or the smooth stylings of an incredible vocalist. Regardless of genre, live performances tend to draw  great crowds. Plus, when you throw great food and drink into the mix, a great time is to be had!

Restaurateurs have definitely been bitten by the “live tunes” bug. It’s no longer a new trend, more like a mainstay in many locations. Bars, lounges, supper clubs, and other dines have regularly scheduled performers during service. Since I love to indulge in great tastes and music, here are a few of my favorite places for both!

The Darby

244 West 14th St.

212-242-4411

Iron Chef Alexandra (Alex) Gaurneschelli is the culinary force behind the wildly popular speakeasy, The Darby. Reviving the illustrious 1920s, this sexy, intimate, and beautifully decorated dine transports diners into the yesteryear prohibition’s thrilling rebellious swagger. With plush cranberry and dark redwood accents, opulent chandeliers and a raised center stage highlighting The Darby Band – an exquisite five person jazz band with vocalist- this NYC dinner destination is well worth the hype. And since I’m all about food, the dishes are as spectacular as the band. Plates such as perfectly grilled octopus with a bacon and red wine dressing adorned with pickled jalapeno peppers, seared Colorado rack of lamb with roasted potato cake, green olives and fresh mint and a wide raw bar selection as well as caviar service (with Beluga Noble Russian Vodka!) are well worth a splurge as Iron Chef Gaurneschelli guarantees guests are dazzled by the selections and entertainment!

Tosh’s Living Room

9 West 26th St.

212-839-8000

Toshi’s Living Room, a part of the Flat Iron Hotel, is a fun, trendy spot for live music chasers. With whimsical, colorful furniture, guests are invited to relax or dance the night away to the tunes of rock, jazz, pop, or whatever’s on the nightly music menu. The fishbowl setting with its spacious front stage is the perfect backdrop for live entertainment. Click here for my full review of this rockin’ living room.

The Garage

99 7th Avenue

212-645-0600

Set in the heart of the West Village, stands a jazz haven pumping out original and iconic arrangements like Take Five by the late Dave Brubeck. Thoughtfully named The Garage, this jazz café is popular among the locals. Its raised stage spotlights local artists and bands playing classics by such legends as Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. Portraits of many musical all-stars are displayed on the walls along with abstract designed car parts (playing into the name of the café). Weekend brunch is the best time to visit as there is a delicious prefix menu ($17) ranging from creative egg benedict dishes such as the Crab and Lobster Benedict smothered in a turmeric hollandaise sauce or the Surf and Turf with filet mignon and Main lobster covered in a smooth béarnaise sauce, to a delicious Belgium waffle with a choice of homemade macadamia coconut rum butter and freshly made chocolate sauce or a cinnamon apple compote. The Jazz Brunch also offers unlimited Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and Screwdrivers for an additional $6. Can’t beat that!

These are just a few tasty, tune-centric haunts NYC has to offer. My list is continually growing. Check back for more soon!

I love stumbling upon social gems in the city. That’s exactly what happened one day, when I noticed a building with floor-to-ceiling windows decorated by the glow of flashing neon lights and people dancing outside. Naturally, I was drawn in. It turns out that the fun factory was Toshi’s Living Room, aka Toshi’s Play House, a lounge in the Flatiron Hotel. This lounge was anything but low key; more like an after work play land. Surrounded by mom and pop shops in an uneventful section of Broadway, this meet up spot is a diamond in the rough. Colorful, cozy, sunken couches paired with low, chic coffee tables, created a grown-up Alice in Wonderland effect. The spacious hot spot houses a corner bar with egg-shaped stools, and a massive cylindrical aquarium with exotic fish as a backdrop. In fact, the surrounding windows gave visitors a fish bowl feel as well.

 

A great setting to showcase local bands, Toshi is known for nightly live music with space for impromptu dancing.  Foot tapin’ tunes inspire freestyle dancing, whether on the floor or in your chair.  Since it’s a hotel, there are guests of all ages which adds to the fun on any given evening, especially when drinks are involved! There’s a host of spirits ranging from bellinis, to traditional cocktails and wines. When you order wine, the waitress wheels over an actual barrel with a spout to fill your glass… Can you say “out of the box”?

 

With touches of whimsy, a great relaxed vibe, Toshi is now one of my fav picks for a nightcap. I did not try their fare since I had indulged before getting there, but that’s more reason to return!

So, Cino de Mayo has come and gone. Hope you seized the day for all it was worth! My NYC Mexican/Spanish food crawl was fantastic! First stop was Las Ramblas in the West Village. This quaint, rustic, cantina was the perfect spot to start the evening. Touted for serving traditional Spanish tapas, here are the highlights: ensalada costa brava (tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers, orange segments, & basil w/ raspberry vinegar – a great choice to prepare the palate for further fare), empanadas de pollo (chicken turnovers), savory chorizo con alubias (Spanish sausage w/ cannellini beans & onions) and brochetas de res (Grilled skewers of beef in a tempranillo wine reduction). All of this plus refreshing white peach sangria, brought tears to my eyes. I could have called it a night, but what sense did that make? I hadn’t had the expected margarita, and it was too early in the evening. So, after the first round of noshing, a friend and I did some sightseeing and walked 30 blocks to Penn Station (si, you read it right, THIRTY blocks). Meeting up with another friend, we all journeyed to the Murray Hill area for ‘ritas!

Second stop on the crawl was at Tavern on Third for a classic margarita. Although, the restaurant was not a typical fiesta hang-out, it served up a mean margarita. Strong and ice cold with a wedge of lime – just what we needed to kick off the fun. Afterward, we stumbled, (literally) upon a hole-in-the-wall, La Palapa (3rd Ave. bwn 26 st& 27th st), next to the tavern. There, housed absolutely authentic tacos and burritos bursting at the seams with a choice of juicy grilled chicken, pork, or beef, rice, beans and cheese. Knowing we were only snacking, instead of devouring, we each ordered a $2 soft taco. The best of our choices was the chorizo: finely ground and full of flavor with a pleasant balance between salty and the spicy peppers.

ImageThe last stop was Rodeo Bar and Grill I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was an actual rodeo going on there. With live music in the main bar area and celebrations all around we picked a great party spot. Being the nacho aficionado that I am, I dove head-first into the Nacho Grande Platter (pictured right). Each tortilla was beautifully decorated with chicken and black beans, covered by a blanket of magnificently melted cheese. And it got better with pico de gallo scattered on top. Somehow, I have developed a dangerous taste for empanadas (and so have my friends) so it was obvious that we’d have a side of those. Golden brown, fried to perfection, filled with diced red peppers and pollo mixed with Mexican spices, these bite size treats stood no chance. Both dishes were excellent. For this last leg of the trip, we washed everything down with agave’s favorite cocktail – frozen margaritas! (Naturally.) Our flavors of choice were Pomegranate and Mango…

Happiness.

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