Looking to meet someone? Cramped, hot places with free-flowing alcohol are still your best bet, and lucky for you, New York City is a treasure trove of such locales, as our roundup of the best bars in NYC attests. If you’re sick of being single in New York, here’s our pick of the surest spots for scoring your next first date at some of the most romantic restaurants or romantic bars in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to best bars in NYC
Best hookup bars
This relic of New York’s past is still surviving as a beauty parlor, with additional drinking and dancing options now added. Metallic, domed hair dryers and original salon-style chairs lined up against a wall make for a hyper-specific retro aesthetic. Sultry lighting and a robust drink menu, however, take Beauty Bar to the next level, making it an alluring destination for those looking to get it on. (Or those looking to laugh it off—there are weekly free stand-up comedy shows with appealing drink specials.)
Good for picking up: Well-groomed, hip humans.
Mood Ring defies expectations. There are velvety booths, but also a homemade arcade game called Yo Fight My Mans and erratic art, including red sneakers dangling from the ceiling. Its magic, like its namesake, is in the way it heightens awareness. You find yourself willing surroundings to change. The universe obliges. Blink and a clique of Snapchatting Beckys becomes a squad of gaymer bros clinking beers. It’s a place for everyone and anyone. The venue’s omnipresent rainbow LEDs throb at a gentle, tidal pace, giving the place more of a heartbeat than a bassline.
Good for picking up: Those that fall for the "What's your sign?" line.
Late-night ’Burgians have really embraced this Southern-fried corner joint since it opened a few years ago. The honky-tonk is packed virtually every night of the week—and for good reason: There’s something about the stew of cheap beer, old-country tunes, vintage porn on the bathroom walls, and smiley patrons that makes you want to stay into the wee hours. It’s tiny—and the makeshift dance floor in front of the band is a perfect place to get close to a new friend.
Good for picking up: Chicks or dudes that live by the Spinal Tap credo to “have a good time, all the time.”
This wild Bushwick spot opened in 2016 and quickly established itself as a reliable way for Brooklyn revelers to wear insane costumes and lose their inhibitions just about every weekend. With exhibitionist parties, and a panoply of aerialists, magicians and dancers on retainer, House of Yes is bringing its A-game when it comes to conversation starters.
Good for picking up: Free-wheeling free spirits.
This sprawling, West Village beer garden boasts high ceilings, long communal tables and a variety of ales and lagers so great it’d make any beer-lover blush. Get gamey with a pong companion on a weeknight or chat up a stranger at the bar on weekends. The scene is buzzy but low-key, so bring your best wingman/wingwoman along for the gluten mas.
Good for picking up: Bros that just want to get down in a beer garden.
By day, it’s a sunlit café, creative agency and fancy bike shop. By night, Kinfolk transforms into a hipper-than-thou hotspot for Williamsburg-dwelling kids in the know. It’s a breeding ground for freelancers, creatives, models and musicians—go for the streamlined aesthetic but stay for the cesspool of future hook-up buddies.
Good for picking up: Girls with Haim-like hair or guys in athleisure wear.
The grassy, spacious outdoor area of this bumping Williamsburg hangout is an apt setting for a cold Bud and a house burger, finished with pickled onions, American cheese and special sauce. Once you’ve had your fill, you can challenge your bargoing buds to a match of outdoor Ping-Pong, or when it gets late on weekends, invite a stranger to groove on the dance floor.
Good for picking up: Williamsburg rookies.
The East Village can be a fucking pickle jar in terms of the number of dudes there on the weekend, but Bar Niagara remains pretty un-bro-y. Get there early to score a seat and engage in some of the best people-watching in town—and ogle who you fancy doing the nasty with later. Japanese legend Yoshitomo Nara’s awesome graffiti on the bathroom doors is an excellent conversation starter. Trust us.
Good for picking up: Trust-fund kids who have actually heard of the New York Dolls.
Daniel Nardicio and 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 Broadways singers belting out favorites by the piano, wild ’90s dance parties and stellar cabaret and comedy nights for the queer set looking for all different kinds of entertainment.
Good for picking up: Cultured downtowners over the age of 25—well, "25."
This Greenpoint establishment is a classy spot: not the kind of place you'll want to get royally tanked in. In fact, it's largely discouraged. Half the regulars here are writers, performers and comedians—so bring your A-game and if you can hold your own (both liquor-wise and conversationally); you'll be rewarded by the unforgiving oak bar magically opening up and becoming one of the best singles bars in the city. Found a friend? Duck into one the old-timey oak booths and shut the little door; a waiter(!) will bring you your next round of drinks and/or as many pickleback shots as you can manage.
Good for picking up: Tatted-up folk with stories that'll last all night.