Best piano bars
- Critics choice
If you like how people in musicals can go without warning from normal conversation to singing their hearts out, this is the West Village bar for you. One minute, the barmaid is pulling you a pint of Bass, the next she’s belting out “Me and Bobby McGee.” The main attraction of this basement joint is the piano, around which show-tune lovers gather nightly, starting at 5:30pm.
- 59 Grove St, (between Seventh Ave South and Bleecker St), 10014
Setting the pace for campy, good-natured fun (though not classic glamour), the city’s oldest cabaret is still going strong at 55. A generous mix of regulars and tourists laugh and sing along with drag performers, comedians and rising stars in the cabaret room on the second floor. (Special showcases are still in the intimate game room, which is also upstairs and has a separate bar.) In the ground-floor piano bar, the merry singing waitstaff is entertaining enough to avoid charges of gimmickry.
- 61 Christopher St , (at Seventh Ave South)
What good is singing alone in your room when you can sing along with show tunes at a Theater District cabaret? Cabaret performers often congregate in the bar area before and after their numbers, and best of all, there’s no cover charge there, just a two-drink minimum. Sip a bourbon, hum a few bars, and soak up the Art Deco chic.
- 343 W 46th St , (between Eighth and Ninth Aves), 10036
Think of an all-gay 1950s country-club dining room: A narrow space with stone-colored walls, skinny beige chairs and full-length mirrors. The reflections make for prime eyeballing, but most of the deep-pocketed, silver-haired dan-dies in crisp Oxfords seem to already know each other. The menu is prim and predictable. The shrimp cocktail was a little wilted. Entrées like pan-seared filet mignon in a spicy green-peppercorn sauce had some flavor, but a roasted lamb shank was rubbery. If the Townhouse’s secret is its shockingly reasonable express-lunch deal, its claim to fame is its bar (down the street), where the gentlemen gather around the piano for drinks and show tunes, and perhaps some risqué stories.
- 206 E 58th St, (between Second and Third Aves), 10022
If a beer-soaked watering hole doesn’t relax you after a long week at the office, this UES piano bar just might. The exuberant musician on the creaky upright bangs out favorites ranging from Bette Midler to Les Miz, while the weathered cocktail waitress darts between the bar and cramped tables. Boozers may be tempted to sing along; boost your courage with a powerful martini, a dollar off during happy hour (4–8:30pm).
- 235 E 84th St, (between Second and Third Aves), 10028