Despite what you might have heard, there’s more to New York’s nightlife than $20 Manhattans, unaffordable cover charges and overcrowded clubs. Buried beneath the Big Apple’s glamorous sea of flashing lights and ritzy lounges is a world of character-filled hidden hangouts waiting to be found. Here’s your guide to the rough among the diamonds–the gritty NYC holdouts in glitzy Manhattan neighborhoods.
Kettle of Fish – West Village
The West Village is New York City’s go-to spot for trendy restaurants and posh cocktail bars, but Kettle of Fish takes inspiration from a place slightly further west—the Mid-West. Known for being a bratwurst-slinging Green Bay Packers bar during football season, this Sconnie dive is the best place in the Village to skip the martini and unwind over cheap draft beer and a game of darts.
Kettle of Fish. 59 Christopher St, New York, NY (212) 414-2278
Jimmy’s Corner – Times Square
Don’t expect sugary tourist-trap mixed drinks or shiny coupes at this unassuming Times Square spot. Around the corner from the flashing billboards and swarming crowds of NYC’s de facto visitor center, Jimmy’s Corner pours $3 beers in a boxing memorabilia-lined bar that seemingly doubles as a museum.
Jimmy’s Corner. 140 W 44th St, New York, NY (212) 221-9510
Raccoon Lodge – Tribeca
Animal heads on the walls with a PBR and Fireball combo deal give the Raccoon Lodge a rural redneck vibe. The scene wouldn’t be complete without a crowded pool table, a pinball machine and stained-glass lamps dangling above the bar.
Raccoon Lodge. 59 Warren St, New York, NY (212) 227-9894
Ear Inn – Soho
It may be the fashion capital of NYC, but Soho isn’t just high-end designer stores and boutiques. The Ear Inn was established in Soho’s Hudson Square in 1817 and proudly holds the title of oldest bar in NYC. Serenaded by live performances from local bluegrass and jazz artists three nights a week and home to a lively crowd that often spills into a sidewalk seating area outside, the bar is a throwback to the buoyant sailor hangouts of old-time NYC.
Ear Inn. 326 Spring St, New York, NY (212) 226-9060
Billymark’s West – Chelsea
Chelsea is one of Manhattan’s chicest neighborhoods. The city’s newest high-end shops and art galleries sit beneath luxurious industrial-style apartments that overlook the exquisitely manicured High Line. But stepping inside the chipping blue-painted walls of no-nonsense Billymark’s West, you’ll realize you’re not in Kansas anymore. Make yourself at home with a jukebox tune and their signature drink special—Miller High Life and a shot of anything at the bar for $8.
Billymark’s West. 332 9th Ave, New York, NY (212) 629-0118