50 best New York bars: Chinatown/Little Italy

Before Chinatown and Little Italy drew thrill-seeking chowhounds, the 'hoods were home to delightfully seedy New York bars. This one is our favorite.

Photograph: Hannah Mattix
169 Bar

169 Bar

Critics' pick

The bouncers at the door aren’t window dressing—they’re serious about keeping out the rough element that characterized this hangout for much of its 80-year history. True, the venerable dive has evolved, hosting events with such partners as Triple 5 Soul (there’s an occasional cover of $5) and adding DJs who spin jungle and new wave. It hasn’t evolved too much, though: 169 remains a satisfyingly obscure place to get a beer for $3 and, until it’s time to hit the pool table, pump the music and start dancing.

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Chinatown & Little Italy