NYC is full of incredible restaurants. There are countless places to eat: James Beard award-winners, Michelin darlings, quaint hidden gems—and yet if you’re visiting for a short time, which do you choose? If you’re on a tight schedule, I suggest you pack as much in to each meal as you can. Below are five dining experiences that combine your meal with your entertainment for the evening. Whether you’re outdoors munching on the city’s best bites or watching a sultry acrobatics show while devouring a suckling pig, these five dining experience will give you your fill of food, fun and revelry.

Queen of the Night

So here is dinner and a show for you. But this one has no kids allowed. At “Queen of the Night,” you’ll experience a raucous performance of sultry dancing and acrobatics. You’ll get pulled into the Queen’s lair for a sip of a secret elixir; some have even been said to have taken a bath in her boudoir. And of course there is a dinner just as elaborate as the show, with suckling pig, huge lobsters and plenty of meat. Taking place underground at the Paramount Hotel, this performance offers a delicious, fantastical escape.

For “Queen of the Night,” tickets start at $140. You can find them here. This fanciful affair is perfect for your LBD. You could even go in black-tie.


To stimulate another group of senses, try dining in the dark at Camaje. When you arrive, you’ll slip on a blindfold and experience your meal in complete darkness. The menu is secret, so you’ll only know what you’re eating when it touches your lips. Held three times per month, these dark dinners provide a completely different way to see the NYC food scene.

Two tickets to a Camaje dinner cost $85. Click here to make a reservation. Feel free to dress up or down for this evening. Since you’ll be blind for the meal, the focus won’t be on your outfit, anyway.

Dominique Ansel UP Dessert Tastings All about the cronuts.

You may have heard of Dominique Ansel. He coined the Cronut and has amassed thousands of fans for his cookie shots. His newest idea though, is perhaps his most exciting. Starting on May 25, you can buy tickets to Dominique Ansel Kitchen’s U.P. after-hours dessert tasting. Standing for Unlimited Possibilities, U.P. will to surprise and delight with wild dessert interpretations. Bring your sweet tooth and your curiosity. This tasting will be sweet in more ways than one.

Tickets to UP sell out quickly, but are worth the hustle. They go on sale here every Monday at noon for the entire week seven weeks out. At these elegant dinners, you should dress to impress.

Eataly Eat, sleep, love, Italian

Eataly might just be Mario Batali’s greatest gift to New York City. Within the Italian emporium’s walls, you’ll find nine different restaurants and dining spots, offering everything from Panini and pizza to pasta to just-made mozzarella and fresh seafood. Also inside is a grocery where you can pick up your favorite specialty items, like wild mushrooms, pestos and cheeses. There’s even a Nutella bar reopening next month, where you can satisfy your Nutella-mania with crepes, cones and more. Plus, the space is so large and so bustling that if you happen to enjoy two dinners and two sets of desserts, no one will ever notice.

You don’t need tickets to get into Eataly. Just walk right in! Depending on the time of day you arrive, you can get seated right away or there will be a little wait. (Though the wait won’t be a problem with so much to explore.) If you have a few minutes, I’d head straight to the mozzarella counter or grab a quick scoop of gelato for a pre-meal sweet.


If you absolutely cannot make up your mind about what you want to eat, Smorgasburg is the place to go. Tucked into Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays and in Williamsburg on Saturdays, this massive food cart festival, if you will, is stocked with incredible eats. Start with a ramen burger, then move on to fried chicken and biscuits. Sip a bubbling sweet tea and then get as much ice cream as you can handle. Perfect for a nice sunny summer afternoon, Smorgasburg is an ideal way to eat your way through the city’s best restaurants and vendors all in one place.

Smorgasburg is open every weekend through November from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You don’t need to pay to enter. Dress casually (with comfortable shoes). There will be tons of walking around and eating with your hands.

Ariel Kanter
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City and contributing food writer to amNewYork. She lives and eats in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @RavenousRel and Instagram @ArielKanter for photos of meals and, occasionally, her cat Jasper.