Top ten dive bars in NYC: Gotham’s wonderfully grimy drinkeries
So long, Jackie’s! As the seedy Park Slope dive bar closes shop, we sound off on the beloved watering holes still standing.
Fri Sep 13 2013
Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin
Photograph: Courtesy Hank's Saloon
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern
Rudy’s Bar & Grill
Turkey’s Nest Tavern
Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin
NYC might be known for its grittiness, but finding a legit dive bar is increasingly hard. That’s why we’re so bummed to hear that Jackie’s 5th Amendment (404 Fifth Ave between 6th and 7th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-788-9123), a no-nonsense, down-and-out bar situated in a sea of spiffy spots, is shuttering on Saturday 14. But don’t start crying into your Gennys yet. These tried-and-true haunts have you covered.
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 what time of day—BillyMark’s opens at 8am.) It has all the hallmarks of any self-respecting dive—pool table, reasonable (for Manhattan) beers and shots ($4 each), scuzzy bathrooms—along with nicer touches, such as a truly excellent jukebox stocked with funk, classic rock and ’80s pop.
- 332 Ninth Ave, (at 29th St), 10001
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).
- 46 Third Ave, (at Atlantic Ave)
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.
- 120 1/2 First Ave, (between St. Marks Pl and E 7th St), 10009
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 $2 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.
- 206 Nassau Ave, (at Russell St)
News flash: The Bedford Avenue of ten 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 $4, is tough to top.
- 188 Bedford Ave, (between North 6th and 7th Sts)
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.
- 627 Ninth Ave, (between 44th and 45th Sts), 10036
Earlier this year, Chicago glam-rock troublemakers Smith Westerns told us Sophie’s is their go-to joint whenever they’re in town. Local celebs Nick Tosches and Anthony Bourdain love it too. So if it’s good enough for them—it being an East Village staple that boasts $2 mugs of brew, loads of worn-down charm, a sweet jukebox and a pool table—then yeah, it’s good enough for us. (212-228-5680)
- 507 E 5th St between Aves A and B
The tattered red awning outside this Woodside, Queens, haunt might be gone, but don’t question the watering hole’s seedy status. Yes, it’s an Irish pub (filled with football jerseys, Celtic knickknacks, proper pints of Guinness [$6] and patrons with heavy brogues), but the bare-bones back pool-table room, oldies blasting from the jukebox, huge American flag and blue-collar clientele signal you’re in dive-bar country.
- 39-50 61st St at Roosevelt Ave, Woodside, Queens
Like its fellow Bedford Avenue throwback Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern (see above), this grubby spot shells out ridiculously huge Styrofoam cups of suds ($5). Expect hirsute ’Burgians, kickball players from nearby McCarren Park and affable older folks staying occupied between slugs by partaking in Big Buck Hunter II and scratching some Quick Draw lottery cards.
- 94 Bedford Ave, (at North 12th St)
If the East Village fave looks to you like the Platonic ideal of a dive, you’re not alone: It’s played the part in The Godfather Part II and Sex and the City. Belly up to the imposing crescent-shaped bar that gives the place its name and split a pitcher (wallet-friendly suds are $12), or order a shot from one of the dusty bottles that crowd the high, rickety shelves. If you want to do more than just drink away your troubles, there are also two pinball machines, an old-timey photo booth and a jukebox with a killer punk selection.
- 108 Ave B , (at 7th St), 10009
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