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Fun Things to Do in New York for Memorial Day Weekend

Fun Things to Do in New York for Memorial Day Weekend


Welcome to Summer!

We’ve paid our dues for this sunny warmth, and are now thrilled to celebrate Memorial Day weekend — and our new newsletter.

With Summer in the City, Margot Boyer-Dry and Tejal Rao each week will provide two plans, food and drink included, for getting the most out of New York’s best outdoor season. Both writers are very serious about having a good time: Margot writes Lorem Ipsum, a New York-based newsletter on what’s cool and why, and Tejal of The Times has won assorted awards and rave reviews for her food and restaurant criticisms.

We’d like to hear from you on what you want here; write us ideas and suggestions at summer@nytimes.com (and sign up here if you’d like this via email). But for now, let’s embrace the season full-force with what we call Summer’s Rooftop Edition.

What’s the Plan?

This weekend marks the opening of the rooftop at Elsewhere, a new music venue in Ridgewood — or Bushwick, Brooklyn, depending on who you ask.

Elsewhere was opened last fall by the team who used to run Glasslands Gallery, one of the great music venues from when Williamsburg was still offbeat. As always, their goal has been to foster a supportive environment for emerging artists, which means that this is the place to catch quality artists before they blow up. To accommodate all the time you ought to spend there, the space is plentiful: two stages, a loft cafe, a skybridge art gallery and, starting this weekend, a very large roof.

This weekend’s celebration features rooftop performances from the very rock ’n’ roll NOBUNNY on Friday and the more danceable Branko, a Portuguese D.J. and producer, on Saturday. Both days will feature food pop-ups, Holy Ground BBQ on Friday and Mission Chinese on Saturday, in addition to new art installations by Andrea Wolf and Hisham Akira Bharoocha.

Not on the bill, but guaranteed to be present, will be a slew of pretty interesting audience members; the space attracts people who are generally on the cutting edge of something. Since it’s still early days, you’ll find yourself among the insider crowd.

If you’re in town, you should go — first, because it’s going to be a good time, and second, so you can tell future generations of New Yorkers that you were there when Elsewhere first opened its roof. This is history. (Google Map)

Before and After: Restaurants

Guadalajara De Dia 2, a simple deli with freezers full of coconut paletas and fridges laden with Mexican sodas, juice and beer, also has a magnificent kitchen. Don’t miss the giant quesadillas made with puffy corn tortillas and filled with squash blossoms and melted cheese.

If you’re in the mood for chewy, thin-crust pizzas, Houdini Kitchen Laboratory (named for this converted brewery’s proximity to Machpelah Cemetery, where Harry Houdini is buried) turns out plenty from the brick oven in its open kitchen. One particularly delicious variation is topped with house-made stracciatella.

There are picnic tables in the patio out back at While in Kathmandu, a wonderful Nepalese restaurant where you can find dumplings bobbing in spicy tomato sauce, and rip into fried roti or buckwheat roti to soak up the delicious aachar. (Google Map)

Before and After: Bars

The sprawling, tree-filled outdoor bar at Nowadays opened for the season this month, serving cocktails in plastic cups, and sours and IPAs from local breweries. If you’re hungry, and too lazy to leave, the food truck has jerk chicken and fried plantains. B.Y.O. bug spray.

For small groups into board games or bingo, The Bad Old Days has the casual, friendly feel of a friend’s living room — and a $5 beer-and-shot special from 2 to 8 p.m.

Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar has a delightfully warm waitstaff, great beers on draft and local wines by the glass, as well as a full kitchen with plenty of vegetarian options (Buffalo brussels sprouts!). (Google Map)

And Nearby

• If you need a timeout from people and sounds, duck out to Molasses Books, a sun-washed little store that sells secondhand books, coffee and beer, and will trade you any of those things for books you bring in.

• The record store Deep Cuts is a bit of a walk, but has a great selection of used records as well as very knowledgeable staff.

• And bet you didn’t know about the Onderdonk Museum. Five minutes from Elsewhere, it’s the city’s oldest Dutch Colonial stone house, and recounts the Dutch history of Bushwick through archaeological finds. (Google Map)

Required Reading

• Listen to NOBUNNY and Branko.

Meet Richard “Kosti” Kostelanetz of Ridgewood. The Earl of Wordship (his preferred title) opens a fortresslike building full of books once a month as a bookstore with “Crazy Eddie” prices.

What’s the Plan?

If you don’t know about Rooftop Films … let’s change that. This nonprofit screens culturally relevant flicks on site-specific rooftops around the city all summer long, and they make for a good party.

Wednesday’s showing is “American Animals,” a true story about four college friends who plan to steal some of the world’s most valuable books from their school library. It was one of America’s most ambitious art heists. A question-and-answer session with the filmmaker, live music and free drinks just add to the night.

Where your run-of-the-mill heist movie is about a bunch of invincible-feeling guys wielding their own privilege and getting away with it (yawn), “American Animals” takes a turn: The protagonists aren’t untouchable this time, and they ultimately face the repercussions of their audacity.

Which brings us to the venue: The William Vale is the newest and most conspicuous hotel in a neighborhood that’s come to stand for privilege. Bounds taller than its competitors, it offers visitors a view that is truly the best in the city. Thanks to that view, the hotel lobby is usually swamped with people waiting to ride the elevator to the top. Your ticket to the film buys you a rare opportunity to own that space; take it.

If the crowds give you pause, or the tickets disappeared, Rooftop Films has a pretty incredible season ahead, including a film about juggalos with a live appearance by Insane Clown Posse, and another that’s both shot and screened at Pioneer Works. Plan accordingly. (Google Map)

Before and After: Restaurants

If you want to eat fresh local seafood, go directly to Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co., just on the other side of the park. The market’s restaurant has fish tacos and seafood rice bowls as well as a barely dressed lobster roll where the meat really shines.

You’ll find what might be the city’s most delicious chicken liver pâté (and what’s certainly its most meticulously nonchalant plating) at Chez Ma Tante, a bistro with crisp, twice-fried, British-style chips that come with a whole head of caramelized garlic.

Head to the Ides on the roof of the nearby Wythe Hotel for Christina Lecki’s new beef-and-pork hot dogs, poached in beer and stuffed in potato rolls, or try the the beautiful, unfussy dining room of Reynard downstairs, where you can often get away with walking in without a reservation. (Google Map)

Before and After: Bars

Operated by Greenpoint Beer & Ale, Annicka serves local beers, wines and liquors under a Farm Brewery license, along with ciders from Descendant Cider Company. The bar is an odd shape, but comfortable, and the space is open to the street when the weather is nice. There’s a full dinner menu, and fancy drinking snacks like thickly sliced sourdough with nut butter.

The Danish brewer best known for Evil Twin Brewing runs Torst, a small, sleek beer bar with the look of a Scandinavian sauna, which has over 20 beers on tap along with a particularly fine, nerdy, esoteric list of over 200 bottles.

If you’re part of a big, unwieldy group whose numbers keep expanding, the massive beer hall Spritzenhaus, which is right on the park, might be a better option with its communal tables and beers on draft. (Google Map)

And Nearby

• Time to kill before the movie? Head to North Brooklyn Farms: Right on the river, it’s another great view, from the ground this time. (Or if you’re pressed for time, East River State Park is a little closer.)

• Down the street is The Lot Radio, in case you need a coffee to make it till the after party or if you want an after-after party. They spin tunes until midnight.

• And The Heatonist is a great place to practice your own misplaced audacity before the film. Taste the obscure hot sauces, and give a pat on the back to whoever can handle the hottest.

Required Reading

• Listen to the episode on Williamsburg of WNYC’s “There Goes the Neighborhood,” a podcast on urban gentrification.

• Watch “Los Sures,” a 1984 documentary about pre-gentrification Williamsburg that received wide acclaim after its rerelease in 2016.

Tip Line

Extra Extra

• Actually celebrate Memorial Day at the 91st annual Little Neck-Douglaston parade in Queens.

• Monday is also the last day of DanceAfrica at BAM, featuring dance groups from around the continent with a focus on South Africa, plus a street fair with local groups and African businesses and organizations.

Manhattanhenge is next Wednesday at 8:12 p.m. Read our piece on the ins and outs from last year. The best views are from 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th and 79th Streets.

• Over Manhattanhenge? Take your friends to the rooftop bar at The Delancey.

• For more event ideas, check out The Times’s Arts & Entertainment Guide.

• Or just go to the park.

From You, From Us
Don’t worry, we’re not spending the whole summer in Brooklyn. Next week we’re going to the Bronx. Send us your favorite things to do up north, and you just might see them alongside our main events.

And don’t forget to tell us how this week goes! Email us recommendations and reviews any time at summer@nytimes.com.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of an artist. He is Hisham Akira Bharoocha, not Hicham.





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