Washed ashore along the famed Bleecker Street, Wicked Willy’s welcomes visitors to its Caribbean-themed retreat rife with pirates, palm trees, food, and drink specials. Instead of hiring actual pirates to come in and perform stand-up routines, the tropical stop keeps guests entertained with a combination of live music and karaoke every week. Amid the tunes, patrons bite into wings, wraps, and specialty burgers. Wicked Willy’s makes sure to ward off thirst, too, with a drink selection that ranges from margaritas to mixed concoctions and pitchers of beer.
Although New Yorkers have no problem singing out in the streets, many still prefer to reserve a private room at one of the city’s many karaoke bars. In Chinatown, Inhabit Karaoke Lounge takes up more than 5,000 square feet on the third floor of a five-story residential building that also – somewhat quixotically – houses a preschool. The space itself is divided up into eight suites of different sizes, with the largest able to accommodate up to 35 people. Each room comes fully equipped with 42”+ LCD monitors, L.E.D. and disco mood lighting, alongside the expected touch-screen operated database of 120,000 songs in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Japanese. If you need help reaching your inner Beyoncé, order cocktails by the pitcher.
From the steamy dry ice-like fountain that greets customers at the entrance to the cavernous interior beyond, this pan-Asian restaurant in Greenwich Village oozes a pleasant gaudiness. Decked out with red velvet curtains, red paper lanterns, a back-lit dragon’s head, glowing blue Japanese-style walls and a curved piano-shaped bar, Apple Restaurant and Bom Bar creates a fun, warm ambiance appreciated by the many NYU students who often fill the tables. The menu is also an attraction, including a wide range of Asian dishes like tuna mango spring rolls, fried Vietnamese dumplings, beef sate and sautéed lemongrass with shrimp, while many vegetarian dishes are also available. The private room in the back, the Red Den, is fully equipped for private karaoke sessions.
A Korean karaoke bar, Nemo NYC furnishes private karaoke parties with flavorful cuisine and a variety of mixed drinks. Today's deal grants up to three aspiring warblers an hour in the private rooms of this Union Square saloon (an $8 value/person, per hour), providing ample opportunities to impress featherless friends with soulful renditions of their favorite birdcalls and Tina Turner hits. Between songs, sate stomach cravings with snacks ($3-–$12) including a slew of dupbap varieties ($8) or the Spice Girls spicy rice cakes with vegetables in sweet and spicy sauce ($9).
When Arlene’s Grocery opened in 1995, it was in a Lower East Side that was hungry for live music. Fortunately there was no shortage of bands to fill the stage. The venue quickly became rooted in punk, garage rock, and bohemian music, saving their spotlight for then-unknown artists such as Jeff Buckley. Over the years, Arlene’s proved itself a tastemaker, booking regular shows with up-and-comers the Strokes and securing a residency from the Bravery before the band hit it big by swapping their instruments for baseball gloves and becoming the Atlanta Braves. As the neighborhood evolved and the club, an actual former grocery store, sprawled into the butcher shop next door, the owners hired a live rock ‘n’ roll karaoke band. The multi-weekly sessions became wildly popular, even attracting neighbors such as Moby to take the stage for some impromptu singing. Beyond karaoke, the calendar still focuses on indie-alt-rock, with performers that have included Delta Rae and Conner Youngblood.
Settle into one of many urbanized nooks in the expansive reaches of Karaoke Boho, where private brick-lined lounge rooms come fully furnished with top-quality speaker boxes and crisp flatscreens. This generously sectioned-off space provides you and your backup singers the freedom to let loose on the mics with the safety of a buffer between you and crooning karaoke strangers. To loosen up the vocal chords, order some courage-boosting liquid concoctions such as melon balls, martinis, Long Islands, and other fine spirits ($7–$12 each).