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Things to Do in New York: History and Funk and What to Eat at the Queens Night Market

Things to Do in New York: History and Funk and What to Eat at the Queens Night Market


We’re living history this week, leaning into the past with a visit to our city’s many (deceased) founders and reliving it at a show by funk legends. Join us!

We’ve been loving your feedback and recommendations. Keep ‘em coming. (Don’t forget to use this Google map either.)

And, as always, thanks for reading.

Margot and Tejal

What’s the Plan?

This Saturday, the super band who brought you “Jungle Boogie” will get down on it.

That’s Kool and the Gang, of course. Starting at 5 p.m., come to Flushing Meadows for a celebration of the 60s (and 70s and 80s) classic known for their rollicking big-band funk with sharp horns, rhythmic vocal accents and slappy bass. This night in Queens is worth the commitment.

The group has been playing forever, but they continue to churn out fresh tunes — see their 2016 single, “Sexy (Where’d You Get Yours).” At this show you’ll get a mix of funky stuff old and new, performed by four of the original members plus some new friends.

Depending on where you are, Corona’s distance might give you second thoughts, but you can do it. Gather some friends and head over for an evening of hanging out. If it’s not too hot, bring bikes early and tool around — see the Jetsons-shaped buildings that have clearly surrendered to time since 1964 New York World’s Fair, or stop and watch some folks playing soccer or skateboarding.

If you just come for the show, take the 7 train to the Willets Point station and walk 10 minutes to the stage, set up right by the iconic Unisphere. D.J. Sylk opens the show, so settle in, ride the rhythm and stay awhile.

The Queens Night Market is also in the hood tonight (extra great given that there are no official food vendors at the show). Just a 10-minute walk away, it’s all you need to cap off an evening of big fun.

Like most SummerStage shows, this one’s free. Oh, and no show cancellations for raindrops this time — the Gang goes on rain or shine. (Google Map)

Before and After: the Queens Night Market

In the lot behind the New York Hall of Science, the market’s food stalls are open 6 p.m. to midnight every Saturday during the season.

Come with cash. Most dishes cost around $5, and while there’s an A.T.M. on site, the line gets long and unbearable when you can smell the noodles frying and the hot dogs grilling.

The Bengali snacks from Jhal NYC are bright, tangy and made to order. Get a paper cone of the spicy, seasoned puffed rice as well as a plate of fuchka — semolina puffs filled with yellow peas, cilantro, green chile onion and a tamarind sauce — and eat them immediately, in one bite, while they’re still super crisp.

Try the Ramly burger, the charred patty wrapped in a gauzy omelet from the Malaysian Project. Please don’t miss the less ostentatious kaya toast, a buttery grilled sandwich filled with a thick, sweet pandan-tinted coconut jam that the cooks make themselves.

In the sweets department, the gorgeous kue pancong, or coconut pancakes, from Moon Man are torched with sugar to give them a thin, delicately crisp top, then seasoned with a pile of freshly grated coconut and palm sugar syrup.

Basic wines by the glass and some beers can be bought in a little area to the side of the food stands, right next to the live music. But really, the best drinks at the market are booze-free and sold at the food stalls.

Look for the mote con huesillo, the Chilean-style dried peach juice from Completo (the ideal thing to sip on between bites of their spicy hot dog), the Malaysian Project’s delicious soursop juice and the huge range of bubble tea options from Panda Cafe.

(Google Map)

And Nearby, Obvious Edition

Flushing Meadows Corona Park is enormous! It’s the raggedy foil to Central Park’s glitz. Come early and poke into its many corners. Highlights:

• Take the kids to the Queens Zoo before making them dance with you. They have a bear!

• Kool and the Gang is one of the most sampled bands in history. Listen to our favorites from Ice Cube and Biggie, or dig around the full catalog to find yours.

See for yourself next Tuesday evening, when these and other cultural institutions, 14 in total and all within walking distance, are open for free as part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Night at the Museums. It’s rapid-fire history lesson slash culture crawl.

If you have time for only one visit, however, make it the African Burial Ground, a monument and visitor center commemorating the 15,000 free and enslaved Africans who are still buried under the four blocks from Broadway to Foley Square.

Through a short film, artifacts on display and guided tours of the small but mighty visitor center, you’ll learn how the remains were discovered, which parts of the city were built by enslaved people and slavery’s role in the American Revolution.

Tuesday is also Juneteenth.

To honor the day, the Burial Ground is hosting a full day of programming, both inside the center and outside at the monument. Events here start at 10:30 a.m. and include lectures, a ceremony to honor bygone elders and live Afro-Caribbean music (all events kid-friendly).

Other participants in the Night at the Museums include the China Institute, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Lower Manhattan Tours, the Federal Hall National Memorial, the Fraunces Tavern Museum, the National and Municipal Archives and Poets House. The night runs from 4 to 8 p.m.; check the museum websites for regular opening hours. (The Museum of American Finance is temporarily closed.) (Google Map)

Before and After: Restaurants

So this recommendation certainly falls in the “Before” category: On Monday, the James Beard House is hosting a dinner to commemorate Juneteenth, featuring the foods of Adrienne Cheatham, Tanya Holland, Brother Luck and Christopher Scott. (Read more about the food traditions of Juneteenth in this great story by Nicole Taylor.)

But if the rain holds off on Tuesday, grab a table on Stone Street, a cobblestone passage full of restaurants offering tons of outdoor seating. We like to sip wine and eat pies at Adrienne’s Pizza Bar. The grandma-style pizzas, simply called “old-fashioned” on the menu, are the way to go — thick, square and crisply edged.

For something faster, try Bao Bao Cafe, which has good vegetarian options with bowls of glass noodles with greens, tofu skin and mushrooms, as well as thin, chewy wheat noodles covered with spicy minced pork (called Bam Bam noodles on the menu).

If you’re en route to another museum, or want a more casual meal, pick up some subs from the neighborhood gem, Pisillo. The shop has a dreamy selection of hams and cheeses. (Warning: Ordering off menu and building your own sandwich can be tragic if you get carried away!)

(Google Map)

Before and After: Bars

The parlor at the Dead Rabbit is a destination for serious cocktails, and the space is also charming, warm and friendly. It’s not ideal for big groups, but Clinton Hall is, and offers a great, summery beer menu and games like Jenga and cornhole to play while you drink.

Underdog is open until 4 a.m. on Saturday and until midnight on Sunday, and serves cocktails that include a boozy slushy made with vodka and passion fruit. If you’re there on the earlier side, the bar does an ideal, hangover-busting brunch (breakfast poutine!).

(Google Map)

And Nearby

A wander through South Street Seaport reveals scores of new stores and restaurants, and as we are living in New York in 2018, plenty of construction. The area is finance-inflected, both in retail price-point and population, but enough of its vibe and older brick architecture remains to make it a respite from the bustle of the Financial District.

• Head to Jack’s for caffeine, or to Van Leeuwen for ice cream. (Score.)

• The Maritime Craft Center, technically part of the Seaport Museum, sits across the street. Enter through the Bowne Printers door and head to a side room to see projects by local woodworkers and, if you’re lucky, maybe catch one in action.

(Google Map)

Required Reading:

• Listen to “The Assets” episode of Gimlet Media’s “Uncivil” podcast, for context on New York’s economic relationship with slavery.

• Read an argument to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

• Read “The Island at the Center of the World,” a history from Russell Shorto that relies on recently rediscovered Dutch archives to challenge the Anglocentric view of New York’s foundation.

(Google Map)

Tip Line

Extra Extra

• There’s a silent disco on the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday. Extra points if you get a tourist to dance with you.

• The Mermaid Parade, where the spirits are as free as the nipples, starts around 1 p.m. Saturday. If you are in South Brooklyn and looking for a more G-rated event, check out the Parade of Trains, where you can ride vintage train cars from Brighton Beach.

Don’t know where to watch this year’s World Cup? Let us help.

• The Night at the Museums is a part of the much larger River to River arts festival, which includes a large-format photo exhibit by Brooklyn-born Elia Alba, a one-woman performance “set in an American landscape of Twinkies and Wonder Bread,” and a whole lot of Showtime sans subway. Runs through the 24th.

• For more event ideas, including those for Father’s Day, check out The Times’s Arts & Entertainment Guide.

From You

“Thank you for the extra idea of the group bike ride. I’m really interested in free outdoor activities that can help me to stay in shape this summer. More of that please.” — Sofia, Sunset Park

“Shakespeare in the Park: Both the line and the lottery have a senior division. I am not quite eligible but my husband once won the senior lottery and took me as his date.” — Sarah F.

From Us

Sarah, we’d be furious if he took someone else! 🙂

Next week we are heading to Brighton Beach and back to hipster Brooklyn (don’t hate us), and we’ll try to find some satisfying free and outdoor fun.

Don’t like anything you see here? Check out our previous ideas, which include the ins and outs of Governors Island, Shakespeare in the Park and the city’s most impressive rooftop bars.

Or send us tips or suggestions on what *you* want to do. Write to us at summer@nytimes.com.

Podcast recommendation graciously offered by Phoebe Lett of The New York Times podcast club.





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