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The best dive bars in NYC

With a bit of gritty New York disappearing each day, we sound off on the best dive bars still standing strong

Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Jen Gallardo
Best dive bars in NYC: Jimmy's Corner

NYC might be known for its gritty history, but the forces of gentrification have made the bona fide dive bar an increasingly rare commodity. And while we all love sipping on finely-crafted cocktails or clinking glasses at swanky wine bars in NYC, sometimes you just need to kick back at your favorite no-fuss spot and guzzle down some wallet-friendly booze. From Hell's Kitchen to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, these are the best dive bars in NYC to drink at right now.

Best dive bars in NYC


Rudy’s Bar & Grill

This bustling haven for native New Yorkers is just a stone’s throw from Times Square’s tourist traps. Split a pitcher (Rudy’s Blonde goes for just eight bones), peep the wall of confiscated fake IDs, and ask for—if you dare—a free hot dog from the steamy roller behind the bar.

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Hell's Kitchen

BillyMark’s West

This unfussy hidey-hole remains firmly entrenched at the corner of 29th Street and Ninth Avenue, just across the street from a massive postal depot. (You’ll likely encounter a few of its employees no matter the time of day; BillyMark’s opens at 8am.) It has all the hallmarks of any self-respecting dive: pool table, reasonably priced (for Manhattan) beers and shots ($4 each), scuzzy bathrooms, amd nicer touches such as a truly excellent jukebox stocked with funk, classic rock and ’80s pop.

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Old Town Bar & Grill

Amid the swank food sanctums sprouting around Park Avenue South, this classic tavern remains a shrine to unchanging values. Most old-time Old-Towners go for the much-praised burger, which we found needed a little salt. For lightweights, there’s a smattering of salads and other sandwiches. Some things, however, do change. Bloomberg’s antismoking legislation has made the once befogged booths and long mahogany bar strangely haze-free.

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This unassuming wharfside tavern has been passed down in the Balzano family since 1890. On weekends, the bar buzzes with middle-aged and new-generation bohemians (the latter distinguished by their PBR cans), and the odd salty dog (canines, not sailors). Despite the nautical feel, you’re more likely to hear bossa nova or bluegrass than sea chanties warbling from the speakers.

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Red Hook

Jimmy’s Corner

This boxing-themed dive bar, opened by former trainer Jimmy Glenn, is certainly more colorful than its Times Square brethren. Mirrors are emblazoned with photos of Glenn's right-hook big shots, but these days, it’s magazine honchos, not KO kings, who slum it here. The joint ain’t fancy—the full bar is standard: four beers are on tap and there’s soul on the juke—, but it covers the basics just fine.

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Midtown West

169 Bar

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 more than-80-year history. True, the venerable dive has evolved, hosting cover-charged events 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 on the cheap and, until it’s time to hit the pool table, pump the music and start dancing.

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Hank’s Saloon

Don’t let the flames painted on the exterior fool you: The vibe at Hank’s is less terrifying biker bar, more ramshackle honky-tonk. (Old neon beer signs, a giant American flag hung behind the tiny stage and a John Wayne photo help with that.) Live acts lean toward the rockabilly end of the spectrum—and go well with a can of Schaefer ($3).

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Boerum Hill

International Bar

The second iteration of this dim, narrow saloon opened in 2005; its first was a nearby standby in the ’hood for 40 years. (Fun fact: Keef saunters by the original location in the music video for the Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend.”) Order a can of Schaefer and a whiskey shot ($4 for both) from the cramped bar, pop some punk on the jukebox, and bask in the lack of obnoxious coeds—a rarity around these parts.

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East Village

Palace Cafe

This corner hang, which dates back to the ’30s, might have the diviest stained-glass windows ever—a real lowbrow-meets-highbrow feat. Toss in two-buck mugs of Bud, a worn U-shaped bar, and a soundtrack that caters to both metal fiends and Skynyrd beardos, and you’re in for a booze-soaked evening on the cheap.

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Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern

News flash: The Bedford Avenue of 10 years ago ain’t the Bedford Avenue of today. Yet somehow this go-to for thrifty ’Burg dwellers feels almost exactly like it did back then. Its shambolic decor—hanging Christmas lights, wobbly red-and-black booths—as well as its mishmash of new-to-the-neighborhood party kids and weathered regulars creates a warm, come-one-come-all vibe. And its biggest draw, 32-ounce Styrofoam cups of Bud for five bucks, is tough to top.

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david j
david j

Damn you.  Damn you all to hell.

Getting a seat at Jimmy's was struggle enough before.....