Tongues of flame twist in a fireplace, hinting at the warmth filling the bustling kitchen at MK Valencia. Rail lighting spills a blue aura over dishes that draw from myriad culinary traditions. Mediterranean flavors shine through in salmon drizzled in a pesto sauce and lamb osso bucco. In the dining room, glasses clink occasionally like a xylophonist failing a performance review, setting a tempo for the wait staff, which totes roasted salmon in a pesto sauce.
A curtain of bubbles rises up through champagne cocktails in lively colors that match the crescent-shaped orange booths or electric-blue wine racks. During warmer months, the murmur of conversation spills out onto a patio draped with live plants.
Behind Brownstone Lounge's doors, exposed brick, neon lights, and thumping beats underscore patrons' bubbly conversations over plates of tapas-style fare and ice-cold drinks served straight from a chilled drink dome. On comfy couches scattered throughout the restaurant, diners nosh on small plates ranging in style from Latin or French fusion such as mango fish tacos with chipotle sauce and sautéed mussels in white whine sauce, to comforting pub grub such as buffalo chicken wings and mac 'n' cheese wedges. Beer, wine, sangria, and cocktails complement meals, and all of the lounge's vodka flows straight from a drink dome chilled to negative 32 degrees, the precise temperature of a broken heart. The space is also decked out with jukeboxes, allowing guests to express musical preferences without climbing onto the bar and belting out their favorite showtunes.
In 2004—on a mission to bolster its community’s wellspring of art, creativity, and education—the nonprofit Bergen Performing Arts Center took over the former John Harms Center, an art deco–style movie and vaudeville palace built in 1926. Today, in the same antique theater where Shakespeare screened his first car-chase movie, the Bergen Performing Arts Center hosts 150 yearly events that bring dance, music, and theatrical productions to an estimated 250,000 annual audience members. Networks like HBO, PBS, and MTV all have filmed international broadcasts on Bergen Performing Arts Center’s stage, which has seen the likes of Tony Bennett, Woody Allen, and the Dixie Chicks.
Combining coffeehouse cool with club beats, Sip Bar entices patrons with an inventive array of international eats for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant delights morning diners with rise-and-shineables such as granola and yogurt ($7) or eggs in a basket, a more portable alternative to orange juice in a butterfly net ($10). Tongues in need of a tasty wakeup are treated to frothy, creamy cappuccinos ($4). Later in the day, small wooden tables cheerily grumble beneath the weight of roasted eggplant sandwiches, stuffed with garlic, roasted red pepper and mozzarella ($9), garlic shrimp ($17), and Hungarian-style goulash with potato dumplings ($20). Sip serves its full menu every day until 4 a.m., ensuring that hungry night owls needn't gnaw on coasters or deep-fried napkin rings.
Surrounding its 24 oil-slicked lanes with exposed-brick walls, an arcade, and private VIP lounges, Harlem Lanes complements the thrill of striking down pins with the relaxed atmosphere of a swanky nightclub. Anchoring the two-story space, a sports bar serves drinks and food under the glow of flat-screen TVs, and couches throughout the facility allow bowlers to kick up their feet after celebrating strikes with mock tap dances. The ambience gets funky on Friday and Saturday, when live DJs and glow-in-the-dark bowling loosening up straitlaced pins.
Executive chef Rene Hernandez calls upon a culinary education at Spain’s world-renowned restaurant El Bulli to craft a tapas menu of 14 hot and cold plates of shareable dishes that draw from broad international influences. With a chosen glass of wine in hand, guests can cool tongues with the artisanal manchego cheese bolstered by organic chorizo and white grapes. Chefs hide crabmeat salad inside smoked salmon to surprise palates and place the fish on eggplant shaped like caviar to fit in at black-tie functions. Forks protect fingers from scorching by spearing-hot tapas including grilled baby squid served on a bed of caribbean salad with a cider vinaigrette. The crispy shells of sweet-plantain croquettes deliver dollops of chipotle aioli sauce, and teeth chomp their signature into packages of pan-seared shrimp in garlic and white wine.