Gay bars in Hell's Kitchen: where to drink in the city's gayest neighborhood

Gay bars in Hell's Kitchen offer something for every taste, from grungy neighborhood dives to swank lounges.

Photo illustration: Nate Sprecher

Hell's Kitchen has been the gayest of the city's gayborhoods for a decade, and the scene keeps growing and evolving. In addition to gay-bar pioneers including Ninth Avenue Saloon and Posh, stylish boy bars such as Industry, Therapy and Vlada draw locals and tourists alike to the West Side ’hood.

Even the old gay-bar guard is moving in: In 2012, superpopular Chelsea sports bar Boxers opened an outpost here, and the owners of downtown institution Pieces launched Hardware. Quirky newcomers like Fairytail Lounge and Flaming Saddles offer an oddball (in a good way) alternative to the fashionable, buttoned-up drinkeries in the neighborhood.

Whether you're entertaining out-of-town guests, going bar-hopping with pals, or just want to enjoy a cheap happy hour, Hell's Kitchen has got you covered.

Recommended: Hell's Kitchen neighborhood guide

Gay bars in Hell's Kitchen

Atlas Social Club

Gay nightlife honcho Josh Wood teamed up with veterans of Drom, Eastern Bloc and Splash to bring you this speakeasy-like homo haunt conveniently located in the middle of Hell's Kitchen's thriving gay strip.

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Hell's Kitchen

Fairytail Lounge

Critics' pick

This Hell's Kitchen watering hole packs a lot of glittery, pseudo-Victorian personality into a small space. Patrons can sip cocktails off the backs of sexy centaur mannequins, or park at the bar while bopping their heads to tunes from various DJs during weekly theme nights.

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Hell's Kitchen

Industry Bar

This sultry, cozy bar—with a small stage, DJ booth, pool table and couches for lounging—is the newest venture from Bob Pontarelli and Stephen Heighton, the men behind Barracuda and Elmo Restaurant.

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Hell's Kitchen

Hardware Bar

This friendly midtown drinkery comes to you courtesy of the guys behind the Village institution Pieces. Nightly drag shows, theme parties and DJs keep things lively.

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Hell's Kitchen

Flaming Saddles Saloon

Critics' pick

City folk can party honky-tonk-style at this country-western gay bar. The 74-seat spot is outfitted to look like a Wild West bordello, complete with red velvet drapes, antler sconces and rococo wallpaper. Throw back a shot and wrangle yourself a mate, or chow down on hearty grub like Texas red chili or Angus beef burgers. Don't miss the entertainment—performances by bartenders dancing in cowboy boots add to the raucous vibe.

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Hell's Kitchen

XL Nightclub, Cabaret & Lounge

This midtown megaclub is contained in the OUT NYC hotel. Expect big-room boy-dominated parties soundtracked by an mix of local and international DJs.

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Hell's Kitchen

Vlada Lounge

Vlada von Shats (who runs Russian Samovar) has stocked this stylish gay lounge with Soviet-style spirits. In addition to the 15 kinds of vodka infusions on the menu, the space features padded leather banquettes; a long, sleek bar; works by local artists; and on select evenings, drag shows.

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Midtown West

Ninth Avenue Saloon

The 30-year-old Hell’s Kitchen fixture (once known as Cleo’s) is practically a clubhouse for the area’s gay population. Though beloved in-house drag-queen-cum-barkeep Ginger has left her post, other entertainment comes in the form of karaoke (Wed 10pm–1am). During happy-hour (Mon–Fri 4–10pm; Sat, Sun noon–8pm), well drinks cost $4.50, so seats can be hard to come by.

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Midtown West

Therapy

Drinks like the Freudian Sip (Ketel One Citron, fresh ginger and lemonade), served in a nice big tumbler, are sure to leave you feeling blissfully worry-free at this cocktailcentric space. But it’s the impressive venue that draws young neurotics: two levels of slate floors connected by a dramatic staircase, crowned with a massive skylight. Mellow pop, house and techno play at the perfect level, allowing for both conversation and grooving.

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Midtown West

Escuelita

Gay and Latino is the dominant culture, the energy is infectious, the dance floor is hot, the drinks are weak and the lines to the men’s room are curiously long. You say you’re not into go-go boys, papi, but you’ll change your mind after a few moments in front of these platforms. On Freedom Fridays, everyone gets in free. Saturdays bring dance and live shows (2am), and such quality acts as La India and Dana International. You can’t not have fun.

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Midtown West
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