Best bars in Chelsea
Thu Apr 7 2011
The Seventh Avenue digs of this congenial Italian wine bar are roomier than at its East Village original, but the prices remain unchanged: Most small plates cost less than $8. Only one bartender caters to the after-work, wine-swigging crowd, but you won't have to wait long before a thin-lipped glass is placed in front of you. A sandwich of Italian tuna and ripe tomatoes is sandwiched between slices of soft white bread. Grappa-soaked apples are paired with equally bold sidekicks of speck and Taleggio cheese in one of the pressed sandwiches. Desserts, too, are reliable, especially the dense pear sorbet. 176 Seventh Ave between 20th and 21st Sts, Chelsea (212-629-5300, barveloce.com) Average glass of wine: $11.
Though Meatpacking mayhem rages around this low-key pub, the Brass Monkey remains the eye of the nightlife storm. The attitude is relaxed, and the decor is simple—just plain wooden chairs and tables. You won't find any hypersweet cocktails or tarted-up bar snacks, either: There's a rotating list of 20 drafts (including Hoegaarden, Chimay and Magic Hat), 60 bottled beers, and tavern fare like mussels, burgers and shepherd's pie. 55 Little W 12th St between Washington St and Tenth Ave, Meatpacking District (212-675-6686, brassmonkeybar.com) Average drink: $6.
Cabanas at the Maritime
Show up at 10pm on a Friday or Saturday night and you might be turned away (we were). Come back at 7:30pm on a Tuesday and you can walk right up the stairs and into a practically empty South Cabana (there's also a North Cabana; each can be rented for private parties). Comfy alfresco couches, tropical drinks and a canopy of paper lanterns help set the mood. 363 W 16th St (at Ninth Ave) Meatpacking District (212-242-4300) Average drink: $13.
Chelsea Brewing Company
Not only can you participate in just about every sport imaginable at Chelsea Piers, you can rehydrate afterward at the city's largest microbrewery. The cavernous Chelsea Brewing Company provides an insider's view of the beer-making process (glass windows show the brewers at work) and a ringside seat on the Hudson River. Malty Sunset Red Ale is always on offer, or sample a seasonal brew like the refreshing, bubbly April Showers Spring Wheat. Chelsea Piers, Pier 59, 18th St (at West Side Hwy) Chelsea (212-336-6440, chelseabrewingco.com)
This "lightship"—a floating lighthouse once used by the Coast Guard—sank while docked in Maryland and spent three years underwater. Later salvaged, she is now a floating bar near Chelsea Piers. Pier 66a, West Side Hwy (at 26th St) Chelsea (212-989-6363, fryingpan.com)
The Half King
Average main course: $14.
Don't let their contrived apathy fool you—the creative types gathered at the Half King's yellow pine bar are probably as excited as you are to catch a glimpse of the part owner, author Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm). While you're waiting, order a draft like Widmer, a cloudy Hefeweizen, or a specialty cocktail (we like the Parisian, made with Hendrick's Gin, sauvignon blanc and elderflower liquor). A better bet for aspiring scribes: the weekly Monday night reading series. 505 W 23rd St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, Chelsea (212-462-4300, thehalfking.com)
This subdued lounge attempts to bring back some dignity to the Meatpacking District with pedigreed cocktails, and uncomplicated entertainment like foosball and Ms. Pac-Man. The cocktails alone almost pull it off: The Karzai blends Hennessy, egg white and poppy-seed puree; the Sommerwind juxtaposes lychee and cucumber in riesling for a fruity, fragrant melange. Unfortunately, the forced quirkiness of the snack menu (chocolate-covered bacon?) undermines the terrific drinks. MePa definitely needs a makeover, but 675 isn't its saving grace. 675 Hudson St (at 13th St, entrance on 13th St) Meatpacking District (212-699-2410, 675bar.com) Average drink: $12.
Socarrat Bar de Vinos
The tiny Chelsea paella eatery, Socarrat, opens an adjacent Spanish wine bar. The country's 16 regions will be represented by around 120 wines, with approximately 15 offered by the glass, as well as sherry and sangria. While the full Socarrat menu won't be available, a selection of tapas will include empanadas stuffed with Manchego cheese and Serrano ham, and cocas, small pizzalike rounds topped with ingredients like goat cheese and anchovies. 261 W 19th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, Chelsea (212-462-2244, socarratpaellabar.com) Average drink: $10.
The Standard Biergarten
The most affordable of hotelier Andre Balazs' Standard Hotel venues, this beer garden sets the price of everything on its limited menu to $7—including the suds. Expect brews like the traditional Ayinger Weisse and Koestritzer Dark Bier, all served at picnic tables alongside brats, currywurst and pretzels. 848 Washington St (at 13th St, entrance on Little W 12th St at Washington St) Meatpacking District (212-645-4646, standardhotels.com)