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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  • Best theater to see a movie that will change your life: Film Society of Lincoln...

    Best theater to see a movie that will change your life: Film Society of Lincoln Center

  • Best theater to catch your favorite old movie on the silver screen: Film Forum

    Best theater to catch your favorite old movie on the silver screen: Film Forum

  • Photograph: Francine Daveta

    Best place to laugh at funny people before they end up on SNL: Upright Citizens...

    Best place to laugh at funny people before they end up on SNL: Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Pictured: UCBEast

  • Best small venue for checking out headlining comics: Carolines on Broadway

    Best small venue for checking out headlining comics: Carolines on Broadway

  • Photograph: Allison Auldridge

    Best place to remember why you love Brooklyn: Brooklyn Historical Society

    Best place to remember why you love Brooklyn: Brooklyn Historical Society

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brett Rollins

    Best game night: Gameshow Speakeasy

    Best game night: Gameshow Speakeasy

  • Best place to see a not-boring lecture: 92nd Street Y and 92Y Tribeca

    Best place to see a not-boring lecture: 92nd Street Y and 92Y Tribeca

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

    Best bar to sing your heart out in front of strangers (in a group): Marie's...

    Best bar to sing your heart out in front of strangers (in a group): Marie's Crisis Caf

Best theater to see a movie that will change your life: Film Society of Lincoln...

Best theater to see a movie that will change your life: Film Society of Lincoln Center

Theater to see a movie that will change your life: Film Society of Lincoln Center
Considering that this classy theater hosts new art-house titles (at its Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center), rep series and beaucoup festival offerings, you are guaranteed to see something old, something new, something borrowed or maybe even a revival of Blue Velvet that will alter the way you watch movies forever. 165 W 65th St between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave (212-875-5600, filmlinc.com)

Theater to catch your favorite old movie on the silver screen: Film Forum
Yes, the crowds here are notorious for being a little chatty, but given the exquisite repertory and revival programming—plus gourmet snacks—this tastemaking downtown venue is still your best bet to relive that original thrill of seeing William Powell, Al Pacino or Jean-Paul Belmondo at their larger-than-life best. The schedule is consistently jam-packed with pre-Code oldies, '70s New York crime thrillers and more French classics than you can shake a baton at. 209 W Houston St between Sixth Ave and Varick St (212-727-8110, filmforum.org)

Place to laugh at funny people before they end up on SNL: Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
The original members of UCB (Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh) decamped from Chicago to start this NYC offshoot in the mid-'90s, but TV execs began taking notice of the improv venue's rising stars only a few years ago. Now, nearly every sitcom on NBC's Thursday-night lineup—along with Comedy Central favorites like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report—features performers who honed their craft at the Chelsea venue. We expect the recently opened UCBEast, a stand-up--focused outpost in the East Village, to serve as a similar incubator. 307 W 26th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-366-9176, ucbtheatre.com) * 155 E 3rd St between Aves A and B (212-366-9231, east.ucbtheatre.com)

Small venue for checking out headlining comics: Carolines on Broadway
Yes, you'll pay a cover charge, and yes, there's a two-drink minimum. But the pleasure of seeing big-name comics (Dave Chappelle, Susie Essman, Tracy Morgan and others) in a more intimate setting is worth it. The club also hosts under-the-radar talent, like delightfully filthy Australian jokester Jim Jeffries, who will perform Nov 23 to 26. 1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Sts (212-757-4100, carolines.com)

Literary hot spot: McNally Jackson Books
Its warm atmosphere, well-curated selection and convivial caf make McNally Jackson a book lover's beacon in Soho. But on a grander scale, the store is a guiding light for brick-and-mortar shops throughout the city. It opened nearly seven years ago amid declining print sales and a multitude of closing indies, stepping forward with an optimistic business plan and thoughtful programming that aspires to offer much more than authors carrying on behind a microphone. McNally's enthusiasm for books and its literary-minded customers have paid off, and it's always looking to improve upon a winning formula. Case in point: It has the city's first Espresso Book Machine, which prints a growing number of texts on demand for impatient bibliophiles. 52 Prince St between Lafayette and Mulberry Sts (212-274-1160, mcnallyjackson.com)

Reading series with a twist: Happy Ending Music and Reading Series
Great authors (and musicians) line up to be a part of Amanda Stern's monthly show at Joe's Pub, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that they can't just hide behind their words. Whether the writer in question is a Pulitzer winner like Jennifer Egan or former New Yorker Jonathan Ames—all scribes here tend to be high-caliber and have to have a book published in order to perform—they'll be required to take a risk onstage. Recently, A.M. Homes speed-dated several members of the audience and Jesse Ball taught the crowd how to steal a book from Barnes & Noble. Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St (amandastern.com). Next event: Wed 9 at 7pm; $15 plus $12 minimum.

Place to remember why you love Brooklyn: Brooklyn Historical Society
There's no better spot to trace Kings County's evolution from a Manhattan suburb to a diverse, artist-friendly hub than this Brooklyn Heights institution. Its permanent collection and rotating exhibitions mine the borough's past and present, while assorted events—such as a Brooklyn Brewery beer night or a lecture on the Crown Heights riots—examine the borough's historical, cultural and gastronomic legacies. 128 Pierrepont St at Clinton St, Brooklyn Heights (718-222-4111, brooklynhistory.org). Wed--Fri, Sun noon--5pm; Sat 10am--5pm. $6, seniors and students $4, children under 12 free.

Game night: Gameshow Speakeasy
This five-year-old show relocated to Le Poisson Rouge, but its zany, spontaneous format remains the same. Master of ceremonies Neil O'Fortune runs the proceedings, during which wisecracking panelists from New York's nightlife circuit try to guess the occupations of regular New Yorkers from all walks of life (a Hooters girl and a rocket scientist have challenged attendees in the past). A famous mystery guest also joins the festivities; past celebs have included Zach Galifianakis and Martha Plimpton. Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St at Thompson St (212-505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com). Third Friday of every month 8pm; $5.

Not-boring lecture: 92nd Street Y and 92Y Tribeca
Whether you're seeking a literary conversation, stimulating analysis of current events or an evening of sing-alongs, this 137-year-old organization has you covered. Offerings at the 92nd Street Y's younger sibling, 92YTribeca, are typically quirkier and cheaper and often include a beer. Three cheers for uptown and downtown culture. 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5500, 92y.org) * 200 Hudson St at Canal St (212-601-1000, 92ytribeca.org)

Bar to sing your heart out in front of strangers (in a group): Marie's Crisis Caf
This small, basement piano bar needs no gimmicks to coax rousing choruses from its patrons. Named in part after "The Crisis" by Thomas Paine, who died in the abode where the bar is now located, and Marie's, a house of ill repute that once existed at the site, the beloved dive attracts Broadway babies from all over the city. Every night, a pianist mines the Great American Songbook well into the wee hours. 59 Grove St between Seventh Ave South and Bleecker St (no phone). Daily 4pm--4am.

Users say

2 comments
maria
maria

I have a Great experience meeting different people!