By Kamal Ahmed
Garage Restaurant and Cafe
99 7th Ave South
New York, NY 10014
Cross Street: Between Grove Street and Barrow Street
Directions: 1, 9 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.
This place is wonderful, the food is always great, and when they have the live Jazz performers, it’s just amazing. They have great bartenders/ barmaids. The drinks are always good and the service is wonderful.
Out-of-towners and locals alike dive into the a la carte dinners and weekend prix fixes while watching the show. In summer, the outdoor cafe is a airy spot for microbrewed beers, raw bar selections, and chargrilled burgers and fries; in winter; tables around the stone fireplace warm crowds.
158 Ludlow St
New York, NY 10002
Cross Street: Between Rivington Street and Stanton Street
Directions: F, V at 2nd Ave
There’s no cover at the door, but it’ll cost you to catch the band in the back room, which serves as a dark, sweaty antithesis to the stark cleanliness of the main bar. Seats line the sides of the performance space (which is often standing-room-only), and the ground-shaking sound system helps draw local and national up-and-coming rock bands. Unless there’s a private party, you’ll find a chilled-out middle ground in the upstairs lounge.
204 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
Directions: 1, 9 at Houston St
The name stands for “Sounds of Brazil,” but this nicely sized room, decorated in full bamboo tropical regalia, showcases everything from Trinidadian calypso and Jamaican reggae to Cuban salsa, samba and the latest in Afro-pop. It also pulls in big-name performers, old-school and new, like bossa nova queen Astrud Gilberto, R&B smasher Angie Stone, street poet Gil Scott Heron and the hip-hopping Beatnuts.I recommend getting there early to get a good view of the stage, as well as ordering sangria and the ‘volcano’ chocolate cake.