Best of NY 2011

Remind yourself why this is the greatest city in the world by experiencing the best of it. We've rounded up 50 of our favorite venues and events, ranging from arts and culture to booze and sex. Grab your friends; you'll want to visit---or revisit---everything here.

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  • Photograph: Daniel Krieger

    Best birthday restaurant: Buvette

    Best birthday restaurant: Buvette

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Best birthday bar: Employees Only

    Best birthday bar: Employees Only

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Best dive bar: International Bar

    Best dive bar: International Bar

  • Best museum to spend the day inside: MoMA

    Best museum to spend the day inside: MoMA

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Best Off Broadway theater: Playwrights Horizons

    Best Off Broadway theater: Playwrights Horizons

  • Photograph: David Baltzer

    Best Off-Off Broadway festival: Under the Radar at the Public Theater...

    Best Off-Off Broadway festival: Under the Radar at the Public Theater. Pictured: A scene from Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good), 2010

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Best store to blow your paycheck in: Opening Ceremony

    Best store to blow your paycheck in: Opening Ceremony

  • Photograph: Jon Simon

    Best spa for pampering on the fly: Benefit

    Best spa for pampering on the fly: Benefit

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Best store to indulge your analog obsession: Academy Annex

    Best store to indulge your analog obsession: Academy Annex

Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Best birthday restaurant: Buvette

Best birthday restaurant: Buvette

Birthday restaurant: Buvette
You can't make a regular reservation at Jody Williams's charming gastroteque, but savvy diners know to book the long "kitchen table" tucked in the back of the dining room for special gatherings. Under an eye-catching Warren Muller chandelier, groups of 8 to 12 can dig into a homey French feast. The family-style menus, planned entirely in advance by you and your party, center on a shareable dish like roasted chicken, coq au vin or a whole fish—along with appetizers, sides and a party-sized tarte Tatin for dessert. For reservations, e-mail fyi@ilovebuvette.com at least six weeks in advance; minimum cost is $125 per person, excluding drinks. 42 Grove St between Bedford and Bleecker Sts (ilovebuvette.com). Mon--Fri 8am--2am; Sat, Sun 3pm--2am.

Birthday bar: Employees Only
Arrive early to lay claim to prime barside real estate, and order a round of original cocktails mixed by rascally, white-jacketed gents. Then ask the resident fortune teller to divine your celebrant's future for $20 ("we see Tanqueray No. 10 with...hibiscus cordial and...yes, grapefruit, that's it"). "Silky Sundays" are perhaps the best night for a soiree: Barkeeps swap their jackets for silk PJ's and a burlesque performer drops in at midnight. Volunteer that it's your birthday and you might get a personal dance to boot. 510 Hudson St between Christopher and W 10th Sts (212-242-3021, employeesonlynyc.com). Daily 6pm--4am.

Dive bar: International Bar
Wander into this neighborhood joint at any time of day (it opens at 8am Monday through Saturday), and you'll find regulars propping up the bar, making efficient use of the low prices. A draft beer—the six brews on tap include Franziskaner, Guinness and Negra Modelo—will set you back just five bucks; same goes for a two-ounce shot of Evan Williams whiskey and a can of Genesee lager. But don't feel bashful if you're flying solo. The owners (including TONY alum Shawn Dahl) have banished televisions to promote friendly banter, and there's always the jukebox packed with Merle Haggard, Detroit Emeralds and Black Flag albums to keep you company. 120 First Ave between St. Marks Pl and E 7th St (212-777-1643, internationalbarnyc.com). Mon--Sat 8am--4am, Sun noon--4am.

Museum to spend the day inside: MoMA
In addition to its unparalleled holdings in 20th- and 21st-century art, MoMA offers cool amenities like its plush movie theater, which has multiple screenings throughout the day. And then, of course, there's the MoMA Design Store. Oh, did we mention that besides spending the day, you might be tempted to spend some serious money? 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-708-9400, moma.org). Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun 10:30am--5:30pm; Fri 10:30am--8pm. $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. For discounts, order your tickets in advance online at moma.org. Fri 4--8pm free. Film tickets free with museum admission; screenings-only admission $12, seniors $10, students $8, children under 16 free.

Place to see museum-quality gallery shows: Gagosian Gallery
The Pace Gallery may have invented this high-end form, but lately, Gagosian Gallery seems to have perfected it. Shows such as "Picasso and Marie-Thrse: L'Amour Fou," which brought together key works inspired by Picasso's favorite muse and much younger lover, Marie-Thrse Walter, packed in huge crowds last season. "Malevich and the American Legacy," meanwhile, put the early-20th-century Russian avant-gardist in the company of the big-name American artists—Richard Serra among them—whom he influenced. Both shows proved that you don't have to be MoMA to stage a blockbuster. 980 Madison Ave between 76th and 77th Sts (212-744-2313, gagosian.com).Tue--Sat 10am--6pm.

Off Broadway theater: Playwrights Horizons
Give a hearty cheer for this artistic incubator, which has nurtured emerging writers and produced such hits as Bruce Norris's Pulitzer Prize--winning satire, Clybourne Park (it jumps to Broadway this spring). Currently on offer is playwright Kirsten Greenidge's New York debut, Milk Like Sugar (through Nov 20), revolving around a teenage pregnancy pact. Seat prices are also perfect for the emerging theatergoer: $25 rush tickets for under-30s are available an hour before each performance. 416 W 42nd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (212-564-1235, playwrightshorizons.org)

Off-Off Broadway festival: Under the Radar at the Public Theater
This venue is already an adored staple of Off Broadway (and rightly so!), but the Public's annual Under the Radar festival this Jan 4 through 15 lends it serious credentials in this category. Last year, the daring international program of experimental theater included offerings from playwrights Suzan-Lori Parks and Richard Maxwell, as well as David Greenspan and funnyman Reggie Watts. The productions for 2012 have yet to be announced, but you're well advised to jump on tickets—you'll be rolling loaded dice. 425 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St (212-967-7555; publictheater.org, undertheradarfestival.com)

Store to blow your paycheck in: Opening Ceremony
Covetable finds from around the world make Carol Lim and Humberto Leon's Soho boutique a primo place to plunk down a wad of cash: If you're looking for one big-ticket splurge, stick to the racks of luxury threads, such as guys' Patrick Ervell patterned sweaters ($325), and exclusive Rodarte ruffled chiffon dresses ($740). Or scoop up more-affordable goods like indie magazines ($3--$36), toys ($18--$80), CDs ($12--$20) and hip accessories, including Jeremy Scott x Swatch lightning-bolt watches ($70). 35 Howard St between Broadway and Lafayette St (212-219-2688, openingceremony.us)

Spa for pampering on the fly: Benefit
The retro, pink-and-white decor of this two-floor flagship beckons beauty buffs inside, where aestheticians stand ready to primp and polish at a moment's notice. At the store's On the Spot! Beauty Bar, you can get your brows and lip waxed ($23 and $12, respectively); there's also a private room for bikini hair removal ($34) and spray tanning ($48). Best-selling products like rose-tinted lip and cheek stains ($29) and cream concealers ($26) are also on hand, and a purchase of three will get you a complimentary makeup application. 454 West Broadway between W Houston and Prince Sts (212-769-1111, benefitcosmetics.com)

Store to indulge your analog obsession: Academy Annex
Music fiends can spend hours sifting through the massive selection of new and used seven-inches and LPs at Academy's Williamsburg locale: It's telling that CDs are relegated to a measly display case up front, while the rest of the place is packed to the brim with vinyl. The shop offers a wide selection of genres—garage rock, electronic, jazz, folk and world, to name a few—and stocks up on a good amount of releases by local bands and labels. Free in-store performances by the likes of Stephen Malkmus, the Black Lips, Thurston Moore and Kurt Vile make the shopping experience here even sweeter. 96 North 6th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-8200, academyannex.com). Daily noon--9pm.

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2 comments
maria
maria

I have a Great experience meeting different people!