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Best theater bars and cafes

Best theater bars and cafes

Photograph: Stephen Lovekin

Ars Nova

The program changes constantly at this snug Midtown West venue—theater, comedy, music, what have you—but the full-service bar remains constant. Grab a microbrew or something a bit stronger and enjoy whatever emerging talent you've selected for the night.

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Hell's Kitchen

BAMcafé

Jolly, chic and laid-back, this wide-open restaurant bar on the second floor of the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House is the perfect place for a pre-show nosh or splash of wine. The menu includes simple pasta dishes and salad, as well as artisanal cheese. Also, you may be able to catch a musical performance on off nights.

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Fort Greene Free

BAM Harvey Theater

fter trekking out to Fort Greene for some European theatrical event, you might want a refreshing coffee or wine in the airy café. Be warned, though: The Harvey lobby fills up fast, so you may want to get there early. If you don't care able sitting down, stroll about with your snack and check out what books or DVDs are on sale.

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Fort Greene

Claire Tow Theater

Lincoln Center Theater's newest space is a 131-seat venue that showcases new plays by rising talent under the LCT3 umbrella. The Tow is also the centerpiece of a 23,000-square-foot rooftop complex, designed by noted architect Hugh Hardy. The bar opens a couple hours before the show and serves after, too. So grab a drink or soda and check out the view from the outside terrace.

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Upper West Side

Classic Stage Company

East 10th Street Coffee, an excellent purveyor of first-class beans, keeps the patrons caffeinated for the classics. There aren't a lot of tables in Classic Stage Company's somewhat cramped lobby, so you may have to enjoy your cup of joe standing. Watch out for the scrumptious, rich brownies—they're classics of a different sort.

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Downtown

59E59

This sleek multi-venue complex is a little bit lonely in Midtown East; there aren't a lot of other theaters in the immediate vicinity. But that's part of what makes a trip to 59E59 such a refreshing treat. The second-floor bar is a great place to sip a wine or a couple fingers of whiskey from the impressive single-malt selection.

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Upper East Side

HERE

For 20 years this downtown institution has been presenting genre-defying new work that blends music, puppetry, dance and other disciplines. But you can't survive on experimental theater alone. Wine, salads, panini and coffee: Here’s all the pre- or postshow noshing you need. Can’t enjoy avant-garde stagecraft on an empty stomach!

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Downtown

The Library at the Public Theater

In the landmarked building that houses the Public Theater, white-hot chef Andrew Carmellini stages his third, much-anticipated act: a preshow lounge. The Café Boulud alum—whose holdings include the Dutch and Locanda Verde—will return to his classical culinary roots with a French-inflected menu. Artists and audience can mingle there as late as 2am.

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New World Stages

Formerly a movie multiplex, this inviting theater center offers plenty of light tourist fare and party-friendly entertainment. It's also a perfect after-work rendezvous spot for cocktails and canoodling. The bar is low-key and the lights are low.

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Hell's Kitchen

Pershing Square Signature Center

Designed by star architect Frank Gehry, the new Signature Center comprises three major Off Broadway spaces: a 299-seater mainstage, a 199-seat miniature opera house and a malleable courtyard theater named for the late Romulus Linney. Plus, the wonderful, spacious cafe area is great for meetings or preshow drinks and a nosh.

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Hell's Kitchen

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