Food & Drink

The Best Dive Bars in New York City

Published On 01/21/2016 Published On 01/21/2016

New York City is full of beautiful, fancy places to get your drink on, but when it comes to getting down, dirty, and actually getting a drink that won’t cost you $16, nothing beats a classic dive bar. And New York City dives are a breed of their own -- they’re the bars that make even the least neighborhood-y neighborhoods feel like home, where you can always count on cheap booze, bad lighting, a wonderfully surly bartender or two, and at least one guy chugging whiskey at 11am. These are the absolute best dives NYC has to offer.

Flickr/Chris Goldberg

169 Bar

Lower East Side

THE Lower East dive bar staple. Charles Hanson’s 169 Soul Jazz Oyster Bar (yes, that is the full name) has basically every random thing you could ever think of, all thrown together seamlessly: good music, oysters, a disco ball, leopard-print pool tables, and pickle martinis (seriously).

Doc Holliday’s

Alphabet City

Craving a taste of the Old West in the middle of Manhattan? Look no further than Doc’s, where the jukebox blasts Johnny Cash and Bud heavys are downed like water.

The Rusty Knot

West Village

The name pretty much says it all -- this place is rusty, and it likes it that way. Kick back with cheap Caribbean-style cocktails and hang with local patrons at this go-to dive that actually resembles your Grandma’s house in Florida, not a boat.

Flickr/Jazz Guy

Reservoir Bar

Greenwich Village

Open daily till 4:00am, Reservoir is a favorite of NYU students and village residents alike, and there are plenty of reasons why -- loads of flat screen TVs, notoriously tasty wings, and classically dim dive lighting.

Rudy’s Bar & Grill

Hell’s Kitchen

Rumored to be a prohibition speakeasy frequented by Al Capone, everything about Rudy’s is seriously legit. You’re greeted by a 6ft-tall pig (relax, it’s a statue) before entering, and inside there are crazy-cheap brews, whiskey-a-plenty, and free Ball Park Franks.

Beverly’s

Lower East Side

An unassuming nook along Essex St, Beverly’s brings the dive bar charm with kooky neon lighting, slim surroundings, and shots of whiskey for just $6.

7B Horseshoe Bar aka Vazacs

7B Horseshoe Bar/Vazacs

Alphabet City

Sure, you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover. But one look at 7B’s weathered brick exterior, arched doorways, and Tudor-style windows, and you know you’re in for a legendary dive bar. Toss back one of the 31 on-tap brews, blast tunes from the punk rock-heavy jukebox, and take pictures you’ll probably regret the next day in the old-school photo booth.

Cherry Tavern

Alphabet City

This throwback joint is all about the dive bar essentials -- shooting pool, pounding brews, and doing it all on the cheap.

Double Down Saloon

East Village

Its slogan is “Shut Up and Drink,” so you know this place is down for a good time. Double’s is a bit of a dump, sure, but with trippy murals, blaring punk rock music, and bacon martinis!!!!, there are plenty of reasons to pitstop here.

Flickr/Jazz Guy

Jeremy’s Ale House

Financial District

A Downtown staple for over 40 years, Jeremy’s does its customers right with insanely tasty fried clams, 32oz beers served in Styrofoam cups (for nine bucks!), and bras casually hanging from the ceiling.

McSorley’s

East Village

It’s been around since 1862, and offers a choice between either “light” or “dark beer.” It’s the king. No further explanation needed.

Iggy’s Karaoke Lounge & Bar

Upper East Side

The antidote to UES pretentiousness, Iggy’s is part karaoke hotspot, part dive bar mecca, with a 100ft long bar, loads of flat screen TVs, 24 beers on tap, and riotous singalongs that everyone gets into.

Flickr/Jazz Guy

Spring Lounge

Nolita

Open bright and early at 8am, this beloved neighborhood dive has a great craft beer selection, an always-diverse crowd, and free beer-braised hot dogs on Wednesdays. Also, people used to called it “Shark Bar”... which is just pretty great.

Holland Bar

Hell’s Kitchen

After nearly 60 years in business, Holland Bar has become an NYC time capsule, with pictures of regulars and newspaper clippings lining the dark and well-worn walls. But beyond the aesthetics, Holland is simply a good old-fashioned watering hole with a laid back clientele and a reliable assortment of brews.

Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern

Williamsburg

A true throwback to the days before glitzy, shiny establishments were an everyday occurrence, Rosemary’s stays authentic to it’s dive bar roots with year-round Christmas lights, cozy red leather booths, and daily $3 drink specials from 3-7pm.

Flickr/Brian Luster

Sunny’s

Red Hook

Around since the 1890s, this unassuming bar is the ideal spot to hang out, kick back, and grab a cold one in Red Hook. There’s regular live music, a devoted clientele, and bartenders who’ll happily listen to your real or imaginary woes.

Bushwick Country Club

East Williamsburg

The antithesis of a country club, with cheap drinks and janky but glorious mini-golf set up in the backyard. Plus, it’s the place where the pickleback originated! (Get a pickleback.)

Milano’s

Nolita

In business since the 1880s, nostalgia runs deep at this Nolita dive. The booze is good, the service is friendly, and with a litany of patron photos, movie posters, and Sinatra memorabilia lining the walls, it’s the perfect snug spot to grab a low-key drink.

Flickr/Bryan Bruchman

The Library

Alphabet City

The Library’s a classic, old, very dirty (in the best possibly way) neighborhood bar with projectors showing old VHS tapes, a two-for-one happy hour, and the greatest jukebox in all of New York City.

Billymark’s West

Chelsea

Dark surroundings, a pool table, a dart board, and beer -- what else could you possibly need?

Botanica

Nolita

Botanica’s super-dark and intimate, plus it’s got happy hour until 8pm, and a huge space in the back where you will definitely not have cellphone service... which really just allows you to enjoy those $8 Ginger Yum-Yums in peace.

Flickr/Jessie Daniels

Bleecker Street Bar

NoHo

One of the best places to start your night, and it’s conveniently located just outside the Bleecker St subway stop! This dive’s got tons of space, good beer, darts, pool tables, and TVs. 

Grassroots Tavern

East Village

It’s a bit dusty and dingy, but Grassroots delivers dive bar excellence with a classic tin ceiling, loads of on-tap brews, and bowls of popcorn for just $1.

Wogies

West Village

A Philadelphia bar with the obnoxious fans to prove it, Wogies does its home-city right with reasonably priced booze, unparalleled Philly cheesesteaks, and killer subs like the Atomic Avalanche (steak, American cheese, pepperoni, hot peppers, fried mozzarella bars, and marinara sauce).

duckduck

duckduck

East Williamsburg

duckduck has this incredible ability go from a cute after-work drink spot to a bustling 2am dance party. It’s the perfect place to end your night in Williamsburg, with dart boards, mismatched vintage furniture, cheap beer/shot combos, and an always-great selection of ‘90s hip-hop.

Turkey’s Nest Tavern

Williamsburg

Margaritas in giant Styrofoam cups! Now THAT is living, my friend.

The Patriot Saloon

Tribeca

This honky-tonk dive with an impressive display of “lost” bras has only female bartenders, a country-blaring jukebox, and pitchers of Pabst for only $8.

Flickr/Phillip Kalantzis Cope

Lucy’s

East Village

Owned and operated by it’s namesake, Ludwika “Lucy” Mickevicius, this ABC bar is a local favorite for canned beers and pool. Hours can be erratic, but with Lucy herself (now in her 70s) opening and bartending the joint herself, it’s still worth checking out.

Skinny Dennis

Williamsburg

A Williamsburg honky-tonk dive with free live music and a crazy frozen coffee drink (named Uncle Willie’s Frozen Coffee -- after Willie Nelson, of course). It’s like a coffee slushy with bourbon and brandy in a to-go coffee cup for six bucks. Remember the original Four Loko? This is absolutely nothing like that. It’s amazing.

Nancy Whiskey Pub

Tribeca

A Tribeca neighborhood classic with cheap drinks, a shuffleboard table, and a highly entertaining, surly bartender.

124 Old Rabbit Club

East Village

Super tiny, super dirty (again, in a great way), with an excellent beer selection, including lots of German and Belgian brews.

Rocka Rolla

Williamsburg

Dirt cheap cocktails in enormous goblet-size glasses. Loud metal music from the jukebox. A sizable backyard. Plus, it’s owned by the same guys as Skinny Dennis, so you can get a “coffee thing” here too!

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Christine Fischer is a freelance writer for Thrillist who spends an offensive amount of time in dive bars. Follow her on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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1. 169 Bar 169 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Drenched in colored light and decked out in palm trees,169 Bar may read a tad tacky, but that’s because it is. It’s earned that right after being around since 1916 (when its original name was the “Bloody Bucket”). Strip­tease dancers perform on a tiny platform alongside worn red booths as a fun­loving crowd guzzles cheap beer, frozen cocktails, and oyster Bloody Mary shooters (yes, they have a raw bar, but expect to be served on paper plates). A leopard­ print billiards table lives in the small back room, just don’t be shy about asking patrons to move for that winning shot.

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2. Doc Holliday's 141 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

Doc's is an Ave A hideout with a great brew selection, loud music, and good company.

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3. The Rusty Knot 412 West St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

Located on the banks of the Hudson, The Rusty Knot is decked out with oat wheels, electric lanterns, and Antonio Varga sailor pin-ups. Tropical cocktails like the Singapore Sling or the Mai Tai will cost you, but mainly the next morning -- these dirt-cheap happy hour specials are made strong! Kick back with your Tiki cocktail, and soon you’ll see why this is a go-to place amongst city locals.

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4. Reservoir Bar 70 University Pl, New York, NY 10003 (Union Square)

This no-frills sports bar near Union Square has plenty of TVs on for game day, a pool table, and a sweet $10 beer and wings special. Score!

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5. Rudy's Bar & Grill 627 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036 (Hells Kitchen)

Rudy's Bar is one of the oldest dive bars in New York City history, and one of the first bars to get a liquor license when prohibition ended in 1933. It's got a pretty extensive list of draft and bottled beers for a dive (all at fantastically low prices), and free hot dogs with the purchase of any drink. The staff at Rudy's is always friendly and inviting, making it a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

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6. Beverly's 21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Darkly lit and arty, Beverly's is an NYC cool kids fave. The bar offers clever cocktails on the cheap in a hip, casual atmosphere and supports weekly pop-up dance parties, often hosted by local contemporary artists.

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7. Vazacs Horseshoe Bar / 7B 108 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

Vazacs Horseshoe Bar, also known as 7B, is an East Village staple with a star-studded history. The arched castle-like doors and rough brick exterior served as the façade of the Life Café in the movie Rent, and the interiors were used for The Godfather, Part II and Marvel's Jessica Jones. To East Village/Alphabet City locals, it's known as the perfect dive to meet your friends and throw back some cheap beers.

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8. Cherry Tavern 441 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

This EV standby is a unassuming locale, complete with the requisite jukebox, pool table, and taps aplenty to make it the dive bar of your dreams.

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9. Double Down Saloon 14 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

With its loud punk rock music and trippy decor -- vivid psychedelic murals cover every inch of the walls and its slogan “Shut Up and Drink” is painted clearly on the ceiling -- Double Down Saloon isn’t for the faint of heart. From Monday through Thursday, this dive will sell you all the “J” whiskies you want (Jack, Jim, Johnny, and more) for $5 apiece in a crazy midnight-to-2am happy hour. While you’re there, try a bacon martini, which comes garnished with a Slim Jim. Also available, Ass Juice (the bartenders won’t reveal what’s in this dive’s popular shot, which is probably for the best). Overcome the ick factor, hand over $4, and find out for yourself.

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10. Jeremy's Ale House 228 Front St, New York, NY 10038 (Downtown)

This South Street Seaport-adjacent ale house offers serious brews (in 32oz Styrofoam cups) and old school charm. Open for over 40 years, Jeremy's remains a longstanding local favorite due to its lack of pretension; generous pours; and fresh, affordable seafood menu (where else in New York can you eat a lobster roll for under $10?). Well-worn bras hanging from the ceiling and nautical, vintage bric-a-brac accentuate the dive bar decor.

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11. McSorley's Old Ale House 15 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003 (Lower East Side)

Opened in 1854, McSorley’s is the oldest still-running saloon in NYC, and was one of the last “Men Only” pubs in NY (until 1970). When you visit, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into a bit of city history -- after all, you'll be sitting at the very same counter Abe Lincoln and John Lennon did. McSorley’s also keeps it real with just two beers -- the house ale, light or dark, and nothing else.

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12. Iggy's 1452 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021 (Upper East Side)

When the bar's 100 feet long, like it is at Iggy's, you'd better drink up. They've also got plenty of finger foods (wings, nachos, and mozzarella sticks) on tap, which are perfect to enjoy while you karaoke.

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13. Spring Lounge 48 Spring St, New York, NY 10012 (Nolita)

There's nothing quite like getting up bright and early to toss back a couple of brews at 8am. OK, so eggs and coffee may be the more sensible route, but at least you know you have the option over at Spring Lounge. This Nolita dive has a diverse crowd, a great beer selection, and free beer-braised hot dogs on Wednesdays. The bar was opened illegally in the 1920s as a "to-go" shop and has gone through several transformations since. It became Spring Lounge in the '70s, but is referred to as Shark Bar throughout the neighborhood.

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14. Holland Bar 532 9th Ave, New York, NY 10018 (Hells Kitchen)

This Hell's Kitchen dive is a venerable NYC institution. Come by and sip on one of the many drafts on tap and hobnob with the locals who call this spot home.

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15. Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern 188 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211-2904

This dive is definitely serving up things right, mainly a 32 oz styrofoam cup full of beer on the cheap.

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16. Sunny's Bar 253 Conover St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (Red Hook)

A relic of Red Hook's pre-gentrification, working class days lives on in Sunny’s bar, even if beloved proprietor Antonio Balzano, aka Sunny, died in 2016. His family has owned and operated the dark hole-in-the-wall by the river since the late 1890s, when it was one of many bars and restaurants that catered to ship builders who worked nearby. The cash-only dive now draws a mix of neighborhood locals and migrating “authenticity seekers” for cheap beer and cover-free live music.

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17. Bushwick Country Club 618 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

It’s not quite in Bushwick, and it’s definitely not a country club. This Williamsburg tavern has super-cheap drink specials and a huge backyard. Its off-kilter atmosphere is decked out with pinup art, red-velour airplane seats, a Jim Beam-and-Coke slushie machine, and an old-school photo booth. To its credit, Bushwick Country Club actually does have a mini golf course (and the windmill is made of PBR boxes). BCC’s greatest claim to fame is the pickleback shot, born and raised at this joint (and undoubtably the catalyst for many-a-time 3am make-outs in the photo booth).

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18. Milano's Bar 51 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012 (Nolita)

At this Nolita gem, rock tunes blare from the jukebox and stools are littered with barflies who have been coming for years. Milano's has been in operation since the 1880s (with a short break due to a little something known as Prohibition), and it’s the kind of establishment where the scents are as much a design fixture as the Christmas lights, faded pictures, and memorabilia on the walls. You don’t come here for fancy cocktails: you come here to drink.

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19. The Library 7 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 (Gramercy)

This East Village rock & roll bar is a neighborhood classic. It's staffed mainly with badass female bartenders covered in tattoos and has a great mix of old regulars and younger people looking for a dive bar. The Library's jukebox is known for its punk rock jams and the best thing about its beer is how cheap it is.

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20. Billymark's West 332 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001 (Midtown)

Billymark's West has all the staples of a conventional dive bar, a jukebox, pool table and stiff drinks. Billymark's West is a certified hidden gem in the sea of Midtown.

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21. Botanica Bar 47 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012 (Nolita)

Boasting an absurdly cheap happy hour -- we highly recommend the Ginger Yum Yum -- this Nolita dive hub, in all of its dark and intimate glory, is largely filled with young professionals. Guests can either lounge on one of Botanica's many couches, or occupy the spacious backroom, all while enjoying the bar's occasional live music and its effortlessly dive-y atmosphere.

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22. Bleecker Street Bar 56 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012 (Noho)

Bleecker Street Bat -- widely considered a dive bar by New Yorkers -- is pleasant, spacious, and packed with respectable beer options. There are pool tables, an entire section reserved for playing darts, and both tables & booths where you can actually hold audible conversations. Its exterior is unassuming, but this bar (located right off the 6/B/D/F/M subway stop) pulls out all the stops for a great, no-frills experience.

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23. Grassroots Tavern 20 Saint Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

This subterranean dive on St. Marks Place has been an NYC mainstay for decades. Offering plenty of notable brews on tap, stop by and sip while you play darts and other bar games amongst the punk rock crowd.

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24. Wogies Bar & Grill 39 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014 (Greenwich Village)

The City of Brotherly Love comes to NYC via Wogie's, a congenial bar and grill that's famous for all things cheesesteak. Load up on sandwiches, wings, pretzels, and other bar fare while you sip on one of the many well selected house brews.

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25. duckduck 161 Montrose Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206

With mismatched furniture and an open, airy, converted-garage setting, duckduck radiates a strong East Williamsburg vibe. There's a wide variety of craft beers on tap, as well as seasonal cocktails and cheaper beer and shot combos. Open seven days a week from 4pm to 4am, the bar gets especially loud and lively with DJs spinning every weekend.

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26. The Turkey's Nest 94 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Right across from McCarren Park, Turkey's Nest is a dive bar in Williamsburg known for serving drinks in huge styrofoam cups. It has all the fixins of an actual dive: cheap drinks, pool tables, a few TVs, and a jukebox.

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27. The Patriot Saloon 110 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007 (Tribeca)

This dive bar has an endearing honkey-tonk feel, only female bartenders and an impressive collection of "lost" bras. Plus for only $8 you can get a pitcher of Pabst.

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28. Lucy's 135 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

The octogenarian owner of this eponymous hang oversees the lively proceedings that occur nightly at this famed Alphabet City dive. Come by for the cheap beer, stay for the laid back vibes. If you're lucky, you might even get a drink with Ms. Lucy herself.

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29. Skinny Dennis 152 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

On the corner of Metropolitan and Berry, Skinny Dennis is a straight-up honky tonk bar in Williamsburg. The divey spot has 18 draft beers (most of which are domestic), a variety of whiskey, and a very addicting bourbon-and-brandy frozen coffee creation. Old-school country jams play from a jukebox all night long, and there are often live performances from local bluegrass and country musicians.

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30. Nancy Whiskey Pub 1 Lispenard St, New York, NY 10013 (Tribeca)

This Tribeca dive has been serving up burgers, whiskey, and shuffleboard games since 1967. It's consistently named one of the best dive bars in the city, likely for its sub-$5 drinks and decidedly charismatic bartenders who'll serve your hot fries with a wink and smile.

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31. 124 Rabbit Club 124 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012 (Greenwich Village)

While this may not be the easiest bar to find in Greenwich Village, it is certainly one of the best. This underground bar serves over 70 imported beers to locals looking to escape the busy city streets and down some German and Belgian brews. The interior is dimly lit and gives off a grunge vibe thanks to a combination of tattered walls and artsy chandeliers.

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32. Rocka Rolla 486 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Williamsburg)

From the team behind Williamsburg favorites Lucky Dog and Skinny Dennis, this spot (which's basically underneath the BQE) is a throwback rock bar with cheap beer, a great jukebox, and shuffleboard.

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