Villanova won't begin their Big East Tournament campaign until Thursday afternoon, but assuming you are the basketball junkie we think you are, you're probably thinking of playing hooky from work and making this a week-long trip. We support this endeavor. Commonly known as the BET Bender, it's about the best week you can spend money on in early March.
Having executed this bender several times (with varying degrees of success), the staff decided to share our recommendations for New York so you can make the most of your trip. We'll start things off with a day-by-day look at the schedule of Villanova events, and then give you our favorites places to have some fun.
Wednesday March 11
BIG EAST KICKOFF EVENT
6 to 8 p.m. at American Whiskey NYC, 247 W. 30th Street
Don't miss this opportunity to come together and enjoy appetizers and drink specials. Meet Villanova Athletics staff and coaches and get ready for a great week of Villanova Basketball.
Thursday March 12
VILLANOVA POWER BREAKFAST
7:30 a.m. at Convene NYC, 730 Third Avenue
Join us for breakfast, networking and a dynamic look at critical issues impacting the business and culture of sports today.
PANEL DISCUSSION: In the Red Zone: NFL Crisis Management and Communication Get a closer look at deflate gate, domestic violence and other media highlights in 2014-2015
Panelists include: Rosa Gatti '72, Charlie Gerow '80 VLS and Jonathan Grella '96
MODERATOR: Andrew Brandt, director, Moorad Center for Sports Law, Villanova University
School of Law; NFL Business Analyist, ESPN; Columnist, Sports Illustrated and former vice president, Green Bay Packers
Cost - $35/person Register soon - space is limited.
CLICK TO REGISTER
ANNUAL BIG EAST TOURNAMENT RECEPTION
3 to 7 p.m. at Stout NYC, Lower Level, 133 West 33rd Street
A 4-hour postgame party (after a victory of course) is the only way to celebrate.
Saturday March 14
VILLANOVA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION MASS
5 p.m. at New York Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway
Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, Celebrant
Alumni, parents and friends of all faiths are welcome to celebrate Mass together before the Big East Championship Game. Please inquire at the hotel for the exact room location.
The subway is your friend. I repeat. The subway is your friend. It's completely safe at all times of the day (though I wouldn't advise it too late at night). Taxi's are terribly overpriced and there's almost always gridlock in some section of Manhattan. Things will go better if you are brave enough to read a subway map and walk a little bit.
If you are going to travel in cars, use Uber (shameless plug - use my sign up code: uberchrisjjlane). Beware the surge pricing (especially when it's raining and at rush hour), but you'll have a cleaner ride, and the drivers are much better at their jobs than the taxi drivers.
Just know that if you want the Kevin McAllister experience from Home Alone 2, you'll be spending a lot of money. And if you have it, knock yourself out. But I've always been of the belief that spending as little as possible on the hotel is crucial so you can save your hard-earned cash for the extracurriculars.
Here's the secret to Manhattan - all the hotels are pretty good because they can't afford not to be. Obviously I'm not encouraging you to stay in a Super 8 or anything like that, but here's a #PROTIP for you: Use Hotwire or Hotel Tonight and pay attention to the user reviews. Most 4-5 star rated hotels on there are boutique hotels that are pretty much on par with the high-end chain hotels.
VUHoops NYC Favorites
Favorite Breakfast/Hangover Joint
- Chris - Johny's Luncheonette - On 25th between 6th and 7th Ave., it's not too far from MSG. It might sound weird that early in the day, but ask about the beef stew as an off-menu item. It will set you right.
- Brian - Any 24-Hour Diner - They all have the same menu, none of it is good for you, and it will make you feel much better in the morning.
Favorite Lunch Spot
- Chris - Rosticceria (Eataly) - There's a special sandwich every day, but you want the prime rib sandwich (served every day). Prime rib, olive oil, salt/pepper. Simple and effective.
- Brian - Bobby Van's - I had a pretty good burger here, though I should note somebody else was paying for it.
Favorite Restaurant for Dinner
- Chris - Uncle Jack's Steakhouse - Very close to MSG, so a perfect pregame dinner if you can get a table around 5:00 because they'll turn your around fast.
- Brian - La Churrascaria Plataforma - A good Brazilian Steakhouse, so (especially if you followed my Bobby Van's advice for lunch) is a guaranteed case of gout.
Favorite (Pregame) Bar
- Chris - Stout - The usual meeting spot for Villanova students and alumni alike, and right next door to MSG.
- Brian - St. Andrew's - Because it's probably the only Scottish bar in NYC, and it's near MSG.
Favorite (Postgame) Bar
- Chris - Tir Na Nog - You'll find a lot of 'Nova folks in here too, and it'll probably be less crowded than Stout.
- Brian - Comedy Cellar - Always good for a few laughs to celebrate a win or forget a loss. There is a strict maximum of two pitcher of sangria per person, I learned, but the street is lined with bars if you want to keep going after the show.
- Kevin - McGee's Pub - The McGee's near Columbus Circle. If you're a How I Met Your Mother fan, this is the bar that inspired MacLaren's. The cast stops by a lot.
Favorite (Late Night) Bar
- Chris - Mehanata - Swings, hookahs, Bulgarian line dancing and a frozen vodka room create mayhem. Once described to me as, "Mehanata is to calm nights as nuclear proliferation is to world peace."
- Brian - The Dubliner (Hoboken) - It has three levels and a popular roof deck. Brave the cold and enjoy some 'fresh air.' The PATH train runs all night, so try and enjoy New Jersey.
Locanda Verde - Spaghetti alla Chitarra.
Sparks - Oysters on the Half Shell, Filet Mignon, Creamed Spinach.
2nd Ave. Deli - Corned Beef on Rye, obviously.
Rare - Go for the Burger Master's Special, which is changed weekly. Trust these guys. They know what they're doing.
Tacombi at Fonda Nolita - Purely a taco joint, try the Crispy Fish & Huevos con Chorizo and beware the orange salsa. It will light your mouth on fire.
Hill Country - I challenge you to keep your bill under $25. You'll want a little bit of everything.
Favorite Korean BBQ
Don's Bogam - Marinated Beef Platter, Man's Mountain Sake.
Kanoyama - Very quiet and rarely crowded. Great selection of Oysters too if that's your thing.
Favorite Late Night Food
Los Perros Locos - Amerro-Perro and any of the Salchipapas.
Enjoy your trip to NYC, and share any other favorites you have in the comments!