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Photo illustration: Nate Sprecher

The best gay bars in Hell's Kitchen

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

By Ethan LaCroix

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 and Therapy draw locals and tourists alike to the West Side ’hood. 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

1. Flaming Saddles Saloon

Bars Beer bars Hell's Kitchen

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.

2. Atlas Social Club

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. Vintage beefcake and athletic images adorn the walls, and lines can get long when popular DJs take over the back room on the weekends.


3. Industry Bar

Bars Lounges Hell's Kitchen

The men behind longstanding Chelsea haunts Barracuda and Elmo Restaurant bring you this sultry 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. Those seeking a more intimate scene will find plenty of private nooks and comfy couches.

4. The Ritz

Bars Lounges Hell's Kitchen

This Restaurant Row staple is the place to belly up to the bar with locals and theater queens for happy hour or nightly themed soirees.


5. Ninth Avenue Saloon

Bars Dive bars Hell's Kitchen

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.

6. Hardware Bar

Bars Cocktail bars Hell's Kitchen

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.


7. Therapy

Bars Cocktail bars Hell's Kitchen

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.

8. Posh

Bars Lounges Hell's Kitchen

This down-to-earth bar with a cozy back-room lounge draws an attitude-free crowd, especially post-theater and when DJs spin. A seat at the bar provides a view of the frozen-margarita machine and the mixed bag of kitsch that makes up the decor. DJs, drag shows and/or cheap drink specials can be found most nights.


9. Escuelita

Bars Lounges Hell's Kitchen

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.

10. Boxers HK

Bars Sports Bars Hell's Kitchen

The popular gay sports bar stakes a claim on Hell's Kitchen with a three-level spin-off featuring a surprisingly lovely 1,500-square-foot roof deck.  Go for a frozen drink or one of the 13 beers on tap and watch the various sporting events on the 20 situated all over the bar.


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