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Photograph: Courtesy Jordan Bowens

The 30 best gay bars in NYC

The best LGBTQ+ bars in NYC are welcoming spots to drink and party the night away all year round

Written by
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Contributors
Will Gleason
,
David Goldberg
&
Adam Goldman
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New York has played a major role in LGBTQ+ history and it’s no wonder there are a slew of bars that have been beacons for the community (and prime party spots) for decades. The best queer bars in NYC range from dive bars to dance clubs, with historic spots like the Stonewall Inn anchoring them all. The West Village is a classic destination for queer nightlife, but you’ll find something exciting and welcoming in pretty much any part of the city.

You can check out the best drag shows or cabaret performances, but these queer spaces all offer something unique, from cozy vibes and cheap drinks to high-energy dancing and brunch parties - sometimes in the same place on different days! Maybe your interests skew more trendy and urbane, or perhaps you're more of the down-and-dirty hook-up spots, the "what happens on the weekends, stays on the weekends" type — we're not here to judge! There are plenty of LGBTQ+ things to do in New York, but if it’s a bar you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in NYC

Best gay bars in NYC

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  • Bars
  • South Slope

This trendy Park Slope gay bar is totally where the cool queers hang out and for good reason. It’s unpretentious yet stylish and offers top-notch drinks plus vegan fare and soft pretzels, a true crowd-pleaser for all. Follow their socials for themed nights, viewing parties and more. 

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Suite Bar
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Upper West Side

Is the fact that this self-declared “gay pub with a local feel” is attached to a fast-casual Indian restaurant a big draw? Yes, it is. But the bar itself is also very much worth visiting, for nightly cocktail specials, karaoke and drag performances. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

Alan Cumming took over the former Eastern Bloc bar in 2017 and reimagined it as a cabaret, comedy and party hub evocative of NYC's golden era of downtown nightlife. Count on Broadway singers belting out favorites by the piano, nostalgie-fueled ’90s dance parties and stellar cabaret and comedy nights just about any time you drop in.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Chelsea

This classic, attitude-free gay lounge in Chelsea has outlasted the competition due to its combination of great location, awesome drag shows, generous happy hours and friendly bartenders.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

Bushwick's queer renaissance thrives at this laid-back spot, at which there's drag without a high ticket price, dirty dance parties and backyard hangs are the order of the day. Grab a cheap happy hour special and relax into a cozy couch; you're certain to make new friends. 

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

The birthplace of gay liberation says “yes!” to empowerment and “hell, yes!” to go-go boys. The high-energy dance music draws a mixed, flirty crowd. Drink at one of two bars, or shake your groove thing on the dance floor upstairs. Daytime brings gawking tourists, but the evenings are still for partying. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Williamsburg
  • price 1 of 4

With so many exciting queer spaces to choose from, how is an New York gay supposed to stand out? Metropolitan has the answer: their backyard is the best place in town to relax with a drink and a few pals crowded around a picnic table. You’re sure to run into friends (or just friends of Dorothy). And don’t be afraid to go inside, where an excellent DJ or drag queen is surely keeping the crowd shrieking and/or dancing.

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

A friendly, spacious bar with an intimacy-heightening low ceiling, Nowhere attracts Manhattan’s scruffier crowds—and the place is filled with everyone from dykes to bears, thanks to a fun lineup of theme nights. There's no official dance floor, but don't be surprised to find yourself bopping along to disco, rock, new wave and whatever else the DJ feels like spinning.

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  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • West Village
  • price 1 of 4

Established in 1864, this is New York’s oldest operating gay bar, and the rich sense of history and community here are palpable. Thanks to a resurgence in popularity in recent years, the crowd has an intergenerational mix; longtime patrons sip their drafts at the long wooden bar as younger groups tend to gather at tables in the back and wolf down cheap eats from the in-house grill. Don’t miss this West Village staple.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

You want a dive bar that feels like home? Look no further than East Village standby Boiler Room. Between the jukebox and the pool table, this place has something for every vibe. Given its central location, be warned that it’ll probably be bumping if you visit on the weekend. Sometimes you want to go somewhere a little loud, raucous, and sweaty (it’s called Boiler Room for a reason), and on those nights this is the place to be.

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  • Bars
  • Ridgewood

This Ridgewood bar serves homestyle favorites for brunch and dinner, and hosts queer-skewing parties and performances later into the night. Bear parties, otter throwdowns and queer womens' bashes go down just about every week, so get ready to sweat on that dancefloor. 

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • West Village

Cubbyhole is one of the Village’s more festive and hetero-friendly gay-and-lesbian bars. Chinese paper lanterns, tissue-paper fish and holiday decorations hang from the ceiling. Barstools are upholstered with glossy vinyl bearing pictures of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Eclectic? You bet. Like the best LGBT spaces, Cubbyhole is one of a kind.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • East Village

This local watering hole has been a favorite on the queer East Village circuit ever since it burst onto the scene back in the ’90s. Phoenix isn’t fussy, and that’s why it feels like home. Expect theme nights, drink specials and a straight-up good time.

  • Bars
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant

This Bed-Stuy standby is unique because it feels like several different places at once: a crowded bar on one side, lots of seating in the next room, and an intimate performance space in the back. Expect pop diva-themed dance parties, deeply chaotic drag and friendly vibes. C’mon Everybody is an LGBTQ+ oasis in a part of Brooklyn that’s not flush with queer spaces, and it’s not to be missed.

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  • LGBTQ+
  • East Williamsburg

Enjoy drinks in the lovely Americana bar 3 Dollar Bill, which features shows and events like Sunday BBQ parties; then head to the fabulous warehouse space in the back of the venue, for thumping dance parties every night guided by sound systems inherited from venues like the Roseland Ballroom. Some of the best drag performers and DJs in the city have begun their takeovers here; get in early and join the community.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

A self-described “rock and sleaze fag bar,” the Cock is just the sort of dark, sketchy dive where you can unleash your inner sexy beast. The dearth of uptown attitude (or any apparent concern for cleanliness) pulls artists, musicians, writers, fashionistos, tourists and closeted rebels in stiff polos, all of whom can appreciate a little dirty fun. Weekends get so crowded (midnight to 3am) that there’s often a cover charge. Stuff your pockets before coming here; it’s cash only.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Williamsburg

If you like your kink with a wink and a drink, think pink. Pink Metal is a well-kept Bushwick secret that’s one-of-a-kind. Drop by for a signature cocktail (or mocktail) and stick around for fetish figure drawing, drag bingo or a burlesque show. Need to fuel up between drinks? Enjoy treats like mochi donuts and potato croquettes from their all-vegan snack menu. Pink Metal might be a small space but it leaves a big impression.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

A can’t-miss combo of a Melissa Etheridge–heavy jukebox and strong drinks poured by cute chicks has kept this lesbian spot busy since 1991. Reggae and hip-hop spin most nights, inspiring a good bit of booty-shaking among the young, flirty patrons. Weekends bring a higher out-of-towner quotient, but it’s nothing a Naughty Girl (blue curaçao, coconut rum and pineapple juice) can’t help you overlook.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Hell's Kitchen

The men behind longstanding Chelsea haunts Barracuda and Elmo Restaurant bring you this high-energy midown drinkery. Unlike cozy Barracuda, Industry is a sprawling, high-ceilinged space, featuring a long concrete bar (manned by hunky, often shirtless bartenders, naturally), a stage hosting drag and music performances and a sizeable dance floor.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Jackson Heights

A long and narrow dance hall dressed resembling Babylon from Queer as Folk, Hombres has a more Manhattan vibe than the other gay bars on the Jackson Heights strip. Cheap tequila/vodka shots and frozen margaritas (and scantily-clad go-go boys atop the bar) keep the young and beautiful coming back, with the crowd overflowing the sweaty dance floor and spilling out into the street. A downstairs lounge is only open for private events, so if you’re not lucky enough to snag one of the few barstools, you may as well dance all night. Hombres is something of a destination for Long Islanders and Connecticut gays, perhaps thanks to the ample on-street parking just outside.

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  • Theater
  • Off-Off Broadway
  • West Village

Setting the pace for campy, good-natured fun, the city’s oldest cabaret is still going strong. In the ground-floor piano bar, the merry singing waitstaff and pianists are often excellent; drag performers often grace the tiny stage of the  lounge upstairs, which has a separate bar.

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • West Village
  • price 1 of 4

The draw at this beloved West Village institution ain't the drinks—cheap beer, vodka highballs—it's the old-school piano-bar experience. Belt out a Broadway tune with the rest of the bar, which draws a mixed crowd but still has a traditional gay leaning, especially on weeknights.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Chelsea
  • price 2 of 4

Whatever your kink, this fetish bar will satisfy with its array of beer blasts, foot-worship fêtes and leather soirees, plus simple pool-playing and cruising nights. In warmer months, the roof deck is a surprisingly lovely oasis. It’s a bit of a trek unless you’re already in midtown west, but if you’re up for an adventure it’s always worth the trip.

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 2 of 4

City folk can party honky-tonk–style at this country & western gay bar. The 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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  • Clubs
  • Hell's Kitchen

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.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Elmhurst

Evolution offers 360-degree bar access, nightly drink specials, three drag shows a week, and the most youthful crowd on Roosevelt Ave—the Christopher Street of Queens. This is where all the cute young things come to learn how to party under instruction of drag queens and a crew of bartending go-go boys whose uniforms consist of baseball caps, jeans and whistles around their necks. Occasionally the pool table gives way to create a secluded lounge for private parties and events.

Best gay clubs in NYC

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