Yes, romping around on the beach is the ideal way to spend a lazy Labor Day, but even if there’s no blanket on a patch of (overcrowded) sand or a cone of soft-serve in your future for the three-day weekend, a good time can still be had in New York. While many locals soak up summer’s unofficial last hurrah by fleeing the city, it’s also the perfect time to savor a quiet meal at one of these locales.
There are a slew of new exhibitions at the Studio Museum of Harlem, including a survey of conceptual artist Charles Gaines’ work. On Saturday and Sunday, when the museum is open, scope them out and then unwind at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster. After digging into Mrs. HP’s spicy chicken with coconut bok choy, jalapenos and peanuts, go for the peach pie with buttermilk-citrus ice cream and blackberry sauce – it might be one of your last opportunities to say farewell to summer’s favorite fruit. 310 Lenox Avenue, 212-792-9001, redroosterharlem.com
With many a Midtown office dim for the long weekend, the Time Warner Center becomes a laidback playground. Once you’re through with an alfresco reading session at Central Park across the street, take advantage of the silence by plopping down on the plush banquette at Center Bar. Piquillo peppers with drunken goat cheese and Marcona almonds paired with effervescent cocktails like the Blanc Royale (Moët Champagne, Lillet Blanc and orange bitters) are alluring, but there’s no greater treat than the expansive skyline views. 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9482, centerbarnyc.com
Typically it’s packed with Brooklyn hipsters, but since there’s a good chance many of them will be whiling the weekend away in swimsuits, make a beeline for Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel. Say-goodbye-to-summer dishes like spit-roasted chicken with fried corn and tomato panzanella in Reynard’s light-filled dining room pave the way for a rooftop nightcap at Ides. 80 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg, 718-460-8004, reynardnyc.com
Andrew Carmellini’s always-boisterous East Village pasta hangout, Bar Primi, will hopefully be a bit calmer this weekend. Wait for your almondy, charred Romano beans and impeccable orecchiette strewn with sausage, broccoli rabe and chickpeas with a bright Follow the Sun (vodka, Cocchi Americano, lemon, Pickett’s ginger syrup) in hand. 325 Bowery, 212-220-9100, barprimi.com
Airy, sun-dappled Claudette, in the West Village, makes for a picturesque backdrop to sip light-hearted aperitifs like the Miou Miou with Cynar and lavender honey. Fennel flatbread dipped into truffle hummus and orange- and harissa-scented chicken tagine only fuel the rustic Mediterranean vibe. 24 Fifth Avenue, 212-868-2424, claudettenyc.com