NYC
03/14/2011 08:37 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

SXSW Means Vacancy In Hipster Hangouts

What? Your wait for coffee at Stumptown Coffee Roasters this morning didn't mean a 15-minute-long line that stretches past the lobby at the Ace? And did the WiFi suddenly get faster in here? Oh, right, because this weekend is SXSW, and finally the coolest place to be is no longer lower Manhattan, but out of town on "business" at the Austin festival. Sounds like a blast for the rest of us. What to do when the tech-savvy hipsters are away? Cut the line to buy a new iPad 2? Finally snag the Foursquare mayor position at your local speakeasy-style watering hole? Not bad -- but we have some even better suggestions.

Go Balls Out: Cheap beer and the ultimate comfort food drives the hungry downtown masses at Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow's The Meatball Shop. With orders for just takeout known to exceed an hour and waits to sit even longer, we think this weekend would be a prime time to snag a seat at the Lower East Side joint. While meatballs are an obvious (and pretty much the only) choice, we still feel the need to highly recommend the classic beef smash -- a brioche-bun panini with two balls and your choice of cheese and sauce, plus side salad -- paired with Parmesan cream sauce and topped with the "family jewels" (Meatball Shop-speak for a fried egg).
The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton St.; 212-982-8895

Razor Sharp Shooter: We always joked with our girlfriends that single women should wait outside the F.S.C. Barber on Horatio to take their pick of what comes out the front door, because, more than likely, it's all good. Our better halves are big fans of their precise cuts and warm straight razor shaves -- but we think they're more than likely drawn in by the scent of aging wood, vintage vibes and, well, because dudes that work there just look cool. (We're talking to you, barber with the vaudeville villain mustache.) Waits can stretch into hours at peak times and reservations are frowned upon (not to mention, not accepted), so we can't imagine any time better than the great exodus to take your chance with a walk-in.
F.S.C. Barber, 5 Horatio St.; 212-929-3917

You Ping, We'll Pong: Secure a prime table at boozy futuristic Ping-Pong party spot SPiN this weekend, where seasoned regulars seemed to have mysteriously disappeared from the premises. Between Saturday Ping-Pong Fever and League Night on Sunday, we're ready to bring our A-game (or perhaps D-game) to the table and load up on the snack foods of champions -- cheddar-jalapeno popcorn and what we've been told is a stellar bahn mi. The competition might not be as fierce, but we're sure their selection of ice cream sandwiches -- made with Tate's cookies and Langford ice cream -- will keep the balls rolling.
SPiN, 48 E. 23rd St.; 212-982-8802