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April 24, 2008 - by Ellis Whitman
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From torch-song cabarets to cutting-edge dance clubs; from neighborhood bars to velvet-rope lounges, plus world-class comedy clubs and establishments with all manner of live entertainment; New York City is a world capital of nightlife. Here you can find libations from beer and wine to elaborate cocktails and high-end champagne, often accompanied by great food.
A throwback to the fabled days of New York nightclubs, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill features top-caliber music stars and soul-accented entrees. The Showcase Room has video screens and state-of-the-art sound, a bar where you can snack and listen, and a dance floor. Lucille’s Grill (named after B.B.’s famed guitar) features specialties bursting with flavor, including blackened catfish, barbecued ribs, and more. Reservations are recommended. 237 W. 42nd St. (Seventh-Eighth Aves.), 212-997-4144; www.bbkingblues.com
Located in the heart of the Theatre District, Bill’s “Gay Nineties” offers an experience from another era—it originally opened as a speakeasy during Prohibition in this brownstone built in the 1860s. The decor features stained glass, chandeliers, turn-of-the-20th-century theatre posters, playbills, and images of prizefighters, and racehorses. The menu offers hearty fare with a variety of seafood, and excellent steaks. There’s also live piano music Mon.-Sat. beginning at 8pm. 57 E. 54th St. btw. Madison & Park Aves., 212-355-0243
One of the best early-evening hotspots on the midtown scene is Bombay Palace, which is earning notice for its “cocktails & Indian hors d’oeuvres” happy-hour festivities. The array of appetizers offered Mon.-Fri. from 4 to 7pm are complemented by signature drinks: Bombay Rum Punch (Carabaya mango rum mixed with pineapple and orange juice); the Plaid Martini (Ketel One Citroen, melon liquor, drizzle of Chambord); the Blue Sky Martini (Ketel One Citroen vodka, splash of blue Curaçao); the Ultimate Cosmo (Ketel One Citroen vodka, triple sec, lime juice, and a splash of cranberry); the Ultimate Dirty Martini (Ketel One vodka, olive juice, and olives); and the Dark Chocolate Martini (Ketel One vodka with Mozart dark-chocolate liqueur). 30 W. 52nd St. btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves., 212-541-7777; www.bombay-palace.com
The city’s largest stand-up comedy venue, Broadway Comedy Club features top comics as seen on Comedy Central, Letterman, and “The Tonight Show.” Scheduled performers include Wali Collins, Dean Edwards, Laurie Kilmartin, Rodney Laney, Jim Mendrinos, and many more. Showtimes are Sun.-Thurs., 9pm; Fri. & Sat., 9, 11pm, & midnight; plus the Industry Room Showcase at 7pm on Sat. Mention City Guide and get 2-for-1 admission. 318 W. 53rd St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves., 212-757-2323; www.broadwaycomedyclub.com
Club Groove is the only place in New York City where you can hear the best live R&B and funk music seven nights a week. Every night at 9:30, the club features great house bands performing favorites from artists such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder through Mary J. Blige, Usher, and Jay-Z. Club Groove also has a full bar and food menu, and offers one of the best happy hours in the city - all food and drinks are only $4. There is no cover charge except for Fri. & Sat. after 9:30pm ($5). 125 MacDougal St. at W. 3rd St., 212-254-9393; www.clubgroovenyc.com
Co-founded by Rodney Dangerfield in 1969, Dangerfield’s is the longest-running comedy club in the world. It features top comedians straight from other leading clubs, motion pictures, and TV shows such as “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “The Late Show With David Letterman,” “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” and Comedy Central. Stars who have performed here include Jay Leno, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Andrew Dice Clay, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and others. Dangerfield’s features no drink/food minimum—rare for a comedy club—making it an inexpensive place to get your laughs. 1118 First Ave. btw. 61st & 62nd Sts., 212-593-1650; www.dangerfields.com
A magical presentation awaits you at Ninja New York. It’s an eye-catching place—in fact, it’s a pitch-perfect recreation of an 18th-century Japanese ninja village, and magicians visit each table to perform illusions. There’s an extensive sake list, including several exclusive to Ninja (one even freezes as it lands in the glass). Ninja serves traditional Japanese dishes such as sushi and shabu shabu, while adding a French or Italian spin to others. Only the freshest ingredients are used at Ninja, as wasabi is prepared tableside and even the ginger is homegrown. 25 Hudson St. (Reade-Duane Sts.), 212-274-8500; www.ninjanewyork.com
At Sofrito, an aromatic mix of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, the magnificent sounds of music from around the world, and a Caribbean atmosphere takes you back to la Isla del Encanto. It’s also the new restaurant from Jimmy Rodriguez, of Jimmy’s Bronx Cafe fame. Mi casa, tu casa...Sofrito. On Sun., Carmen Carrasco sings in eleven languages; on Mon., Fri. & Sat., there’s a live Latin band. 400 E. 57th St. (First Ave.-Sutton Pl.), 212-754-5999; www.sofritony.com
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