Since there's way more to going out in one of Manhattan's most historic 'hoods than navigating NYU gentry and Tweeting SJP-nose sightings, we pulled together 20 of the West Village's best bars that keep the shopping-happy charade in check. From kitschy Tiki haunts to subterranean game emporiums, here's your guide for when you're cobblestone-stumbling South of the grid.
The 20 Best Bars in the West Village
Best bar food: Corner Bistro
331 W 4th St
Everyone talks about Corner Bistro's burger, and they should. Even while caught in the crossfire of the city's Burger Wars, it's straightforward, delicious, and under $10. Hot tip: show up 10 minutes before they open and that line won't be there.
Best sports bar to maybe get free pizza: Village Tavern
46 Bedford St
Since there’s no kitchen, halftime on Sundays means free pizza ordered from local joints. And while free food is great indeed, my personal favorite part of my last trip was the even freer advice on how to play long-stick middie at Quinnipiac and "totally slay".
Best bar for inventive cocktail names: Bar Sardine
183 W 10th St
Stop by for one of the goofily dubbed drinks like the The Manhattan Bound 'A' train, or Apple Ventura: Sazerac Detective, but continue to return for the unreal Fedora Burger at the Little Wisco watering hole that has a Sag Harbor-meets-Parisian-bistro vibe. Try to figure out how that works.
Best cocktail bar on top of a Five Guys: The Garret
2nd Floor, 296 Bleecker St
Find the secret stairwell entrance just beyond the burger counter, and never wonder again why everyone seems to be completely overdressed for a night out at a fast-casual restaurant chain.
Best live jazz plus ping pong bar, ever: Fat Cat
75 Christopher St
It's basically The Emporium from Dazed & Confused, except only some of the people are in high school. The impressive rows of ping pong, pool, and shuffle board tables, plus Scrabble galore, will boggle the mind even before the shockingly good live jazz gets going. Don't expect to get a table right away though. Let's be reasonable.
Best cocktails: Little Branch
20 7th Ave S
Save for the suspiciously quiet queue that wraps around the corner, the outside is unmarked. You'll wait, ID in shaking hand, for the frightening man at the door to decide if you're worth the mustachioed barman's bespoke cocktails. Once inside, you'll realize no one wants to whiskey-shame you -- the joint is actually totally, totally chill.
Best whiskey bar: Highlands
150 W 10th St
The selection of single malts at this authentic Scottish gastropub is legitimately staggering, and just because the menu has haggis doesn't mean you’re required to order it. But it’s always nice to have the option.
Best Irish bar: Dublin 6
575 Hudson St
Leave the faux-authentic chain restaurant feel to the pubs in Midtown because the upscale kitchen at D6 is helmed by an actual Irish chef. There’s outdoor seating for summer, a fireplace for winter, and plenty of custom cocktails and craft brews on tap.
Best bourbon and tater tots: Daddy-O
44 Bedford St
Bourbon and tots go together like hair mousse and Anne Burrell, who coincidentally once told the Food Network that Daddy-O’s Herbaceous Mojito was the best thing she ever drank. It's not a bourbon drink, but that's still high praise.
Best dive: Johnny's Bar
90 Greenwich Ave
The bright red “BAR” sign is your beacon. Follow it to terrifyingly cheap beer, a hefty jukebox, a tasty Shot of the Day, and sometimes, a dog.
Best wine bar: Anfora
34 8th Ave
The extensive, accessible menu that includes, but is certainly not limited to, wines from Slovenia, Lebanon, Italy, and Austria, is only as intimidating as you allow it to be.
Best bar that's a billion times better than its Midtown cousin: Galway Hooker
133 7th Ave S
Pretty much any bar, anywhere is going to be better than its Midtown counterpart, but this cavernous bi-level West Village outpost is particularly tolerable due to its multiple screens for game-watching and beyond-satisfactory draft beer selection.
Best beer: Blind Tiger Ale House
281 Bleeker St
The best beer bar in the city, hands-down. The frequently-updated chalkboards tell you what's on tap that very minute and the food is shockingly good, too. Expect a mix of afterwork button-ups, beer snobs, and general West Village riffraff all talking loud and drinking hard.
Best bar that makes you feel like you're in Belgium: Vol de Nuit
148 W 4th St
What might be the city’s best selection of Belgian beer is nestled within these hushed walls. Slather the moules-frites in copious amounts of ketchup and mayo to keep things unquestionably authentic.
Best date spot: Employees Only
510 Hudson St
It’s dark, seductive, and exclusionary, kind of like your Tinder profile pic. Except you don't do this in your Tinder profile pic.
Best bar for picking someone up: Wilfie & Nell
228 W 4th St
Seeing as it's constantly packed to the rafters with excellent-looking humans, head here to increase the probability of going home with one of them. Math, people.
Best free jukebox and paid Tiki drinks: The Rusty Knot
425 West St
Unlike the jukebox, tropical cocktails like the Singapore Sling or Mai Tai will cost ya. Mainly tomorrow morning. Island-themed bamboo decor lends the place a kind of fruity vibe, but they get the kitsch to the exact right place where it's actually fun.
Best bar where Dylan Thomas died, but that's okay: White Horse Tavern
57 Hudson St
So no, he didn't exactly die sitting at the bar, but legend insists he imbibed quite a bit before he retreated to the Chelsea Hotel where he croaked a few days later. The White Horse Tavern: almost killing really famous poets since 1880!
Best college bar: Kettle of Fish
59 Christopher St
It's technically a Wisconsin bar, and it has the Leinie's to back it up, but you can casually play darts or hang out at one of the many tables or couches in the back and not be engulfed by people quoting Aaron Rodgers insurance commercials.
Best live music: Arthur’s Tavern
57 Grove St
You'll find grand jazz here almost every night of the week, but it's only on Thursdays and Fridays that super-saucy blues singer Sweet Georgia Brown comes on to growl classics like "Car Wash", then bark at you to tip her. Which you will, partly because she's amazing, partly because she's kind of terrifying.
1. Corner Bistro331 West 4th Street, New York
2. Village Tavern46 Bedford St, New York
3. Bar Sardine183 W. 10th Street, New York
4. The Garret296 Bleecker St, New York
5. Fat Cat75 Christopher St, New York
6. Little Branch20 7th Ave S, New York
7. Highlands150 W 10th St, New York
8. Dublin 6575 Hudson St, New York
9. Daddy-O44 Bedford St, New York
10. Johnny's Bar90 Greenwich Ave, New York
11. Anfora34 8th Ave, New York
12. Galway Hooker Downtown133 7th Ave S, New York
13. The Blind Tiger281 Bleecker St, New York
14. Vol de Nuit148 W 4th Street, New York
15. Employees Only510 Hudson St, New York
16. Wilfie & Nell228 West 4th St, New York
17. The Rusty Knot412 West St, New York
18. White Horse Tavern567 Hudson St, New York
19. Kettle of Fish59 Christopher St, New York
20. Arthur's Tavern57 Grove St, New York
From the outside, Corner Bistro seems like an unassuming dive, but step inside this iconic NYC establishment, which touts itself as one of "the last of the bohemian bars" in West Village, and you'll find plenty of local charm. A timeless NYC tavern and dive, Corner Bistro is renowned for its burgers; piled high with juicy beef, crispy bacon and melted American cheese, they're tasty, satisfying, and affordable.
This old school dive bar is a good place to watch the big game on TV. Drinks are the main act here, with a good selection of draft beers. Video games galore can also be found at this spot.
Opened by restaurateur Gabriel Stulman, Bar Sardine is part of the Happy Cooking family of restaurants that includes Perla, Fedora, Joseph Leonard, and Jeffrey's Grocery Restaurant and Bar. On the menu you can expect light bar food that rotates seasonally, with the exception of the hearty Gruyère grilled cheese or the Fedora Burger, both of which remain popular staples. The bar is in the center of the snug room, and drink rails line the walls of the windows where you can sip on great cocktails, a beer, or a glass of wine.
The Garret is a handsome, speakeasy-esque cocktail bar tucked away about the West Village Five Guys. In addition to the bar area that sits below massive skylights, there's a cozy alcove by an old fireplace where you can sip craft cocktails from an inventive booze program, and if you get hungry, you can order one of the special Five Guys burgers exclusive to the bar.
Fat Cat's impressive rows of ping pong, pool, and shuffleboard tables, plus Scrabble galore, will boggle the mind even before the shockingly good live jazz gets going. Don't expect to get a table right away -- especially on the weekends -- but if you're interested in entering one of its gaming tournaments, check out their website for an updated list of dates, times, and prices.
Stashed in a hard-to-locate, speakeasy-style basement where the bartenders wear suspenders and the standup piano encourages jazz trios, Little Branch is a Prohibition-style bar doing cocktails like Sidecars and Aviations. The space is dark and candlelit, and if you don't want to squint at the menu in a dark corner feel free to have the bartender whip up something customized for you.
Highlands in the West Village is an upscale gastropub with a Scottish-inspired menu. This classy dinner and drinks spot features dishes like beer-brined chicken, braised pork shanks, and of course, Scotch eggs. Scotch, malt whiskey, and gin-based libations take center stage on the cocktail menu. Brick walls, tartan chairs, and a mounted buck’s head give the whole restaurant an old-fashioned, rustic feel.
Dublin 6 has been bringing the luck of the Irish to the West Village since 2003. Outdoor seating and a fireplace make this a comfortable place to share a drink (we recommend the Luscious Lou) or snack (like Kobe Pigs in a Blanket).
Serving right up until their own 4a close, the spot known for having one of the best burgers in town has other out-all-night-friendly choices, including the Zweigles Dog covered in Norm's Beef Hot Sauce, and a must-have heaping pile of "Jamie Gordon Tater Tots" topped with jalapenos and cheese. Just don't let anyone tell you they're nacho tots.
A colorful, lively tavern and taproom, Johnny's in the West Village is a neighborhood dive, through and through. No matter the day of the week, neighborhood barflies zip into this cozy counter space (the bar is roughly the size of a subway car) and knock a few back after hours. The collage-like aesthetic of the narrow, brick-walled interior space only adds to its friendly and intimate feel.
Anfora-goers are sure to find a great beer selection, creative house cocktails, and a bar menu filled with snacks, charcuterie, cheeses & sandwiches. The atmosphere is typical of most West Village haunts -- it's intimate and cozy and the place is pretty small (so make sure to get there early to snag a corner booth).
Named for the traditional fishing boat typically found in Western Ireland, this cavernous, four-story bar in the West Village boasts multiple screens for game-watching and a beyond-satisfactory draft beer selection. And much like its Midtown cousin, Galway Hooker's spacious interior and cozy, seafaring decor has made it a popular neighborhood haunt.
Arguably the epitome of a New York City craft beer bar and a true pioneer in the NYC craft scene, Blind Tiger’s been doling out a fine selection of the top tier libations since it opened in 1995. It’s the go-to spot to meet folks from your favorite breweries who happen to be swinging through town, and the tap takeovers are legendary to say the least. Sip from 28 taps, two casks and a staggering list of microbrew bottles.
Vol de Nuit is completely sequestered from your frustrating weekly existence: an unmarked bar and courtyard, hidden in an alley where you'd expect to find a vermin war between pigeons and rats, not the city's best selection of Belgian brews.
This dimly lit industry bar/restaurant/lounge is tucked away from the busy streets of the West Village but inside, there's a bustling social scene and warm, welcoming ambiance. EO’s mixologists are constantly creating new and serving old-time, all-time favorite cocktails. Try the Billionaire Cocktail -- a bourbon drink made with lemon, EO’s own grenadine, and Angostura bitters. You’ll feel right at home with a staff that acts like a family, bonded by a shared love of EO (and they’ve all got the “EO” tattoos to prove it). Be sure to chat up the head bartender, who was a subject in the documentary Hey Bartender.
This compact & homey West Village space serves locally-sourced pub food (like Scotch eggs and shepherds pie) alongside a selection of craft cocktails. There are communal tables as well as bar seats, all of which get packed with lively after-work crowds. There's no pretension and reservations aren't accepted, so come as you are, mingle, and be flexible.
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.
Dating back to 1880 as a hangout for longshoremen, this West Village saloon later became a popular gathering spot for literary lushes like Michael Harrington, James Baldwin, Dan Wakefield, John Ashbery, and Hunter S. Thompson; a popular myth even says that Dylan Thomas’ ghost haunts his favorite table in the room where his picture now hangs. Take your chances with a ghost run-in and enjoy the roomy West Village digs (a rarity for the neighborhood's bars) with a beer or cocktail, but remember to grab cash beforehand, since debit and credit aren't accepted.
Kettle of Fish, opened in 1950 and moved locations twice since, was once a haunt of Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan. Bought by a Wisconsinite somewhere along the way, Kettle of Fish is a popular spot to toss back a few beers and catch the Packers onscreen.
This West Village jazz club has been bustling since it first opened in the 1930s. There’s no cover but there is a two-drink minimum, so settle in at the long wooden bar and get ready for a night of live music that usually varies between jazz, blues, and New Orleans-style Dixieland.