Twenty-first Birthdays: How to Celebrate Like a Baller


Published: January 31, 2008

Apparently it’s all down hill after 22. So when planning your 21st birthday extravaganza, take the time to scout a location that suits your style, invite friends in advance and enjoy a large meal, because when the bottles start flowing, you’ll be thankful you did. For those of you who would like to party like Paris, slap a few knees or sink further into debt, here are some suggestions for a poppin’ good time.

A-List Experience: Le Souk
47 Avenue B (Third St.)
(212) 777-5454

Named number seven on’s list of best lounges in the city, Le Souk is quickly becoming a New York hot-spot. This Middle-Eastern themed restaurant, featuring tables with hookahs and cozy ottomans within tents, creates an air of exoticism and sensuality with dim lighting and the occasional belly dancing performance. Le Souk offers two party menu options: the $42 per person combination tends to favor meat lovers with entrees such as sautéed shrimp and lamb sausage and plat principals consisting of lamb, chicken and sea bass. For those of you dining with vegetarians, the $32 per person package features entrees such as vegetable-stuffed pastry and a plat principal known as vegetables tagine, described on Le Souk’s Web site as a “a medley of summer vegetables [in] spicy tomato sauce.” This option also offers a plat principal made with lamb. Desserts are available with both. If you’d prefer to avoid the party package, the menu is primarily in the $15-$20 range per item. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Cheap Laughs: Comedy Cellar
117 Macdougal St.
(212) 254-3480

Right in the heart of the Village, Comedy Cellar is a self-described “intimate and cozy” comedy club that has seen the shticks of comedians such as Dave Chapelle, Wanda Sykes, Jerry Seinfeld and Robin Williams (just to name a few) told on its stage. One of my good friends had her 21st celebration at Comedy Cellar this past June and met Chris Rock, noted on the club’s Web site as being a frequent regular, along with Chapelle and “Saturday Night Live”’s Darrell Hammond.

The easily-accessible venue has two shows Monday through Thursday, one at 9 p.m. and one at 11 p.m. On Fridays, the shows begin at 8 p.m., 9:45 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., while Saturday offers four viewing options: 7:30 p.m., 9:15 p.m., 11 p.m. and 12:45 a.m. Cover from Monday through Thursday is $10 plus a two-item minimum, which can be anything from soda to liquor to food. The menu ranges in price from $6 burgers to a $12 shish kebob platter, the most expensive item served. As for drinks, bottled beer starts at $5, cocktails are $6.50 to $9.50 and a small pitcher of sangria will cost you $12. Friday and Saturday cover is $15, plus the two-item minimum. The club does have a minimum on group size, however, as reservations only allow for parties up to eight and multiple reservations that would result in a group larger than eight will not be honored.

Gambling: Trump Taj Mahal
1000 Boardwalk At Virginia Ave.
Atlantic City, NJ

Though it may be too early to hit the beaches, it’s never too early to test your chances with Lady Luck. In years past, Atlantic City had earned a reputation for catering more toward the retired than the recently-turned-legal. But AC has undergone a makeover, and with the erection of the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, a property co-owned by the backers of Las Vegas’s MGM Mirage, the gambling mecca has been able to recoup some of its original mystique. The Borgata has proved so popular, in fact, that it is booked months in advance, and when an opening can be found, rates are at least double that of any other AC casino. But a stay in AC shouldn’t be ruled out as a result. With some legwork on, a weekend stay at the Trump Taj Mahal from March 14 to 16 (one room, one to four people) can be procured for $274 per person (AC can be reached via round-trip bus ride from Pennsylvania Station for a price of $60).

When looking to party at the Taj, hit up one of four unique lounges, each offering a different ambiance: Casbah, a typical night club; Ego Bar & Lounge, a live entertainment venue; Moon, an upscale bar known for specialty drinks and sushi creations;,and Rainforest Lounge, a low-key haunt to have drinks and conversation. In addition, the Taj Mahal offers nine restaurants ranging in price and level of dress from the Italian fast-food chain Sbarro to the Hard Rock Café to the Taj’s own Dynasty, a fine dining “bastion of Oriental cuisine [that] features a multitude of dishes from the Far East, Cantonese, Chinese and Sushi.