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Blog - Bushwick

Best Dive Bars in NYC

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Whether you’re coming in from out of town or a regular resident in your NYC borough, sometimes you’d rather skip the ritzy and pretentious bars with overpriced cocktails and head for a cold one at a laidback dive bar. While these establishments tend to get a bad rap—for being dirty or full of hooligans—it is also guaranteed you’ll leave with a memorable story to tell.

Manhattan

West Village

If you’re in the Manhattan area there are plenty of bars to choose from, depending on what section you’re gallivanting in. One region that isn’t known for having many dive bars is the definitely the West Village, however, the Trailer Park Lounge & Grill would be the closest thing. Walking down the street you won’t miss the vibrant green and orange signage. Upon entering the bar, which feels like a cross between a tiki bar and a 50s diner, you’re bombarded by the sights of neon signs, vintage memorabilia and fake palm trees. The cocktail menu incudes margarita pitchers and unique cocktails, always complete with an umbrella or other fun adornments, and there’s bottled beer as well. They also serve up some delectable dishes, such as burgers, sloppy joes, nachos, tater tots, mac & cheese and homemade chili. While this is a little bit pricier than most of the other dive bars on this list, it’s still reasonable compared to the other bars in the Chelsea district (271 W 23rd St New York, NY 10011).

East Village

On the opposite side of the island there’s a few good spots in the East Village to satisfy one’s need for the dive vibe. First up, the Coal Yard has all the essentials for a great dive bar: inexpensive drinks, conversational bartenders, a jukebox, graffitied ballroom stalls, a dartboard, happy hour from 3 to 10 p.m., and as an added bonus, they have an outdoor patio (102 1st Ave New York, NY 10009).

Another favorite in the East Village is Doc Holliday’s. The honky tonk bar is known for its friendly bartenders and steady stream of country music mixed with rock ‘n’ roll. This spot also has reasonably priced drinks, a jukebox, a pool table, cowboy boots stapled to the ceiling and a mural of cowboys on the side of the building (141 Ave A New York, NY 10009).

Lower East Side

If you’re looking for the mecca of dive bars go to Manhattan’s Lower East Side; there’s one around almost every corner. Out of all the watering holes, The Library is probably your best bet in this neck of the woods. As you walk into this dimly lit gem of a place you’ll notice shelves of old books and most likely an ‘80s movie on VHS playing on the projector screen in the back. This bar is also known for having one of the best punk jukeboxes in the city. To top it off they also have a colorful staff, dirty and graffitied bathrooms, tattered banquettes and affordable drink prices. Their 2-for-1 happy hour is every day from 5 to 8 p.m. (7 Ave A New York, NY 10009).

Across the street from The Library is another popular spot called Double Down Saloon. Although this place is technically a chain, it still appears to the everyday passerby like no other bar, while also dubbed “The Happiest Place On Earth.” This establishment is known for selling their famed “ass juice,” which is a fruity vodka concoction of some sort, along with the equally one-of-a-kind bacon martinis. This is the type of joint that has no rules, except one: “You puke, you clean.” They also have an impressive jukebox packed with the best punk, blues, rock and lo-fi tunes, a pool table, daily happy hour specials and a backyard smoking patio (14 Ave A New York, NY 10009).

Another dive bar in the area is the intimate Welcome to The Johnson’s. This bar is considerably smaller than the rest and has less flair, but still provides. What’s special about this spot is that when you walk in you immediately feel like you’re being transported to your childhood friend’s basement. The bar’s unique décor includes plastic-covered chairs, ripped up couches, bizarre family photographs lining the walls and a fridge stocked with $2 PBRs. There’s also a pool table in the back with a built in couch-like sitting area along the walls positioned next to a jukebox, which helps keep the party going at this place, usually full of interesting characters (123 Rivington St. New York, NY 10002).

Last but not least, Home Sweet Home is one of the more swanky looking dive bars, but it still has the right to be on this list. This underground lounge, always faintly lit, has a lengthy bar stocked with plenty of spirits, which includes their own signature beer on tap. Some of the specialties this bar offers includes DJs, which regularly spin ‘80s and ‘90s hits, which satisfies the sea of dancers in the snug, but ample dance area in the back, peculiar taxidermy scattered throughout the bar and ghostlike chandeliers. The libations here are a little pricier than the average dive bar, but with all the extra perks, this bar is definitely worth the trip (131 Chrystie St. New York, NY 10002).

Hell’s Kitchen

Rudy’s Bar & Grille located in Hell’s Kitchen is one of New York’s oldest existing dive bars rich in history. Supposedly the bar was frequented by gangster Al Capone back in the day when it was first a speakeasy in 1919. The joint was also one of the first to be given a liquor license when the Prohibition ended in 1933. Nowadays an obnoxious looking pig statue stands outside the bar, and after it being taken twice, it is now bolted down to prevent people from stealing it. This place is known for their red leather and duct taped old couches and free hot dogs (with the purchase of a beer). They are always stocked with beer on tap ($3-5 pints), bottled beer and even offer pitchers of beer (which is sometimes hard to come by in the city). (627 9th Ave New York, NY 10036).

Tribeca

Hidden within the mostly upcsale Tribeca, The Patriot Saloon’s down-to-earth spunk will ease one’s mind, especially when you leave and your wallet isn’t completely empty. This is the type of dive bar where the bartenders allow people to climb up on the bar to bust a move. They also regularly have food specials and an all day happy hour. The bar is known for blaring country music out of the jukebox and the décor includes bras hanging from the ceiling (110 Chambers St. New York. NY 10007).

Brooklyn

Bushwick

The Lone Wolf in East Bushwick is one of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets when it comes to dive bars. This place has all the regular things that make a dive bar great, like reasonable drinks, happy hour, a jukebox full of nostalgic music, a pool table, but unlike most bars it also has a pinball machine and a photo booth (1089 Broadway Brooklyn, NY 11221).

Gotham City Lounge is comic book-themed dive bar with plenty of nerdy flair. The joint is connected to a house, so in order to enter you have to be buzzed in. There really isn’t any other bar like this in the city; with its walls covered with comic posters, action figures and memorabilia. Another fun offering is that select drinks are named after superheroes, such as the Mr. Freeze and the Green Lantern. The drinks themselves are also on the cheaper side, costing anywhere from $2 to $8. There’s also a pool table and a Marvel vs. Capcom arcade game.One aspect that’s different about this bar is that the bathroom is somewhat cleaner and spacious compared to the rest on this list (1293 Myrtle Ave Brooklyn, NY 11221).

Williamsburg

When people go to gentrified Williamsburg, they’re mostly looking to frequent the countless hipster bars, but there are still a few decent dives left in the area. The Levee, right across from the Radegast Hall & Biergarten, has everything one could ask for from a dingy dive bar. It’s stocked with cheap beer, hot dogs, complimentary cheesy poofs, tons of board games, pool, darts, a giant connect four on the wall and a patio. The place itself is exceptionally big considering the usual size of dive bars. The bartenders are also extremely friendly and the regulars bring chill vibes as well (212 Berry St. Brooklyn, NY 11211).

Queens 

The Jar Bar is an old school type of dive bar that’s a little more on the laid back side. This low-key bar, which is off the beaten path in Sunnyside region of Queens, has all the essentials, like inexpensive drinks, a pool table and a jukebox. Some of the highlights to this bar is their happy hour is from noon to 7 p.m., they have a KISS pinball machine and a small beer garden in the back. Also, the reason they call it “The Jar Bar” is because they have $5 specials on any draught beer and it comes in a jar (4506 48th Ave Sunnyside, NY 11377).

Bronx

What’s special about The Duck in the Bronx is that to enter the establishment you have to go through a faux bar before you get to the entrance of the actual bar, giving it a mysterious speakeasy vibe, but then sure enough it’s a grimy dive bar. This place definitely has charm and everything the perfect dive needs, like $2 Gennesee cans of beer, pinball machines, a pool table and a jukebox (although there’s only about 20 songs that actually play). Next door there’s also a Indian/Pakastani eatery to satisfy the munchies after cheap beer (2171 2nd Ave New York, NY 10029).

Another favorite dive bar in the Bronx is The Punch Bowl, which has been family owned and operated since 1979, although the building was erected in 1901. During the Prohibition it was an ice cream parlor/speakeasy. Upon entering the Irish bar you’ll notice it’s dimly lit, but always welcoming. It also provides cheap drinks, a pool table and has live music and karaoke on select nights (5820 Broadway Bronx, NY 10463).

Staten Island

During the day Mother Pug’s Saloon caters to old Staten Island old-timer hockey fans, but according to the sign outside the place, it’s a “Punk Rock Dive Bar.” It’s earned that description due to the hardcore shows, featuring old and new bands, that are held every now and then at the establishment. Another perk to this place is that the bartender cooks for the whole bar every Sunday (usually something like baked ziti or pulled pork). In addition there’s also a pool table, jukebox and a patio area (1371 Forest Ave Staten Island, NY 10310). 



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