Supersizing Your Sunday


The Zinc Bar in the West Village has long offered samba jazz on Sunday nights.CreditCasey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

IN the field of Weekend Studies, few issues divide scholars more than the role of Sunday night. Is it a part of the weekend, to be celebrated like a Friday or Saturday? Or the start of a slow death march toward the Monday morning commute?

But now, NYC & Company, the city’s tourism agency, is promoting a third path: taking Monday off. At least that’s the implication behind the recently announced NYC Sunday Stays program, which gives hotel guests 20 to 30 percent discounts on Sunday night in some of the big- name hotels, like the W’s, both Ritz-Carltons, the Parker Meridien, the Helmsley and about 25 others. Many also offer a free room upgrade, free parking or spa discounts.

And if you live within a few hours’ drive of New York or even a shuttle flight away, you can bring Monday work clothes, get out of town early and go straight to work.

So all that’s left is to figure out how you’re going to spend the extra evening. Here are some easy ideas: book a reservation in a restaurant like the Union Square Cafe, where it is impossible to get a table before 10 p.m. on Saturdays without performing feats of telephone acrobatics. You have a good shot at a 7:30 table on Sunday by calling just a few days in advance. You’ll also find much better seats for the handful of Broadway shows that have Sunday evening performances (“Avenue Q,” “The Color Purple” or “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” for example). Or just enjoy the city’s more relaxed, just-between-us-New Yorkers feeling that is absent on busy Friday and Saturday night.

There are also deals and events you’ll find only on Sunday. Zarela, in Midtown, one of the first upscale Mexican places to open in New York (in 1987), has a long-running Sunday prix fixe dinner whose price seems out of the ’80s as well. The $20 three-course meal, including wine, changes seasonally and might include cochinita pibil (a pork dish from the Yucatán) or other Mexican regional cuisines. The décor is not modern or slick, but the place, like Zarela Martinez, is about honest food, not hip imagery. (To wit: the featured video on features the owner showing how to render lard.

And Aroma, a wine bar and Italian restaurant in a small space with 24 seats wedged into East Third Street, has a $25 prix fixe, with live Spanish and South American guitar and a menu that can change slightly every Sunday (hope the zucchini parmigiana and Sicilian meatloaf stick around). See if you can reserve one of the few tables in the back (not that there are that many tables in the front); it’s cozy, less busy, and romantic, with views of the wall of the building next door. Hey, this is dinner in New York for $25 — don’t complain.

For music fans, there are a number of choices, like the semiregular Sunday night jazz series at the Blue Owl in the East Village. They’ll tell you to look for the wordless sign with the blue owl on it, but it’s easier to spot the neon sign of the business above, Lao Yu’s Body Spa. Go down the stairs and inside, where comfy (but not cartoonishly oversize) chairs around a coffee table and the candle glow make the place seem a bit like your living room during a power failure. The jazz band usually starts playing between 7 and 9 p.m.

A more intimate space is the Zinc Bar, which has long-running samba jazz on Sundays, with musicians who switch up, except for the constant keyboard player, Cidinho Teixeira. The music is easygoing but with an occasional explosive flair helped along by the low ceilings. Get there early or you’ll probably have to wait until the end of a set to get a decent seat among the mixed-age, multiethnic crowd. You can also get a decent $9 caipirinha should you want to stick with the Brazilian theme.

A step up on the energy level, also Brazilian and also serving caipirinhas, is the six-year-old Sunday night Brazilian Beat party at Black Betty‘s, a smallish spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that is an easy cab ride over the Williamsburg Bridge (especially if you’re coming from dinner at Aroma). Sean Marcand and Greg Caz spin Brazilian tunes largely from the ’70s, and the dancing — which doesn’t get going much before midnight — is impressive, although the space is so informal that you’re allowed to be bad, too.

Old-school reggae also has a home on Sunday nights at Reminisce Reggae Sundays at the Lower East Side live-music club Crash Mansion. The cool basement space features live bands most weeks and lots of dreadlocks all weeks.

Those who prefer hip-hop and are willing to brave the ego-bruising velvet ropes should head to the meatpacking district for the Sunday night scenes at Lotus, One or PM. The “guest-list only” policy can be punctured by reserving a table (for pricey bottle service), stocking your party with good-looking women (and few men) or bearing an extreme resemblance to a celebrity. Things don’t pick up until midnight, though, so if you must be on the 6 a.m. shuttle from La Guardia, be sure you request a wake-up call before you go out — it’s included in your discount rate.


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