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Scott
Chicago

New York City

Can someone recommend the best old bars and taverns in NYC?

I feel like I've seen so many cool old taverns and bars in movies based in New York but I don't know what any of them are. I'll be there for a month this summer for a summer program and would like to check out some cool ones!


14 Answers

top answer by
Kathy

The oldest bar in NYC is McSorley's Old Ale House at 15 East 7th Street. They only serve McSorley's dark or McSorley's light, at least the last time I was there. It's covered in cobwebs and completely filthy, but a must see experience!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
13 thankscomments (4)


answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

Great question--there are definitely lots of great taverns and bars in the city that hold so much history!

One of my favorites is the  White Horse Tavern where I go every time I'm in town. Legend has it that Dylan Thomas drank his last there and frequently came to write. Fabulous atmosphere especially in the summer when they have seating outside. 

Old Town Bar is around the corner from where I grew up and another great one. You'll probably recognize it when you see it because it's used in so many movies (and, I think, was used at some point in the opening credits of The David Letterman Show). It's actually not a bad family place (at least my family used to come here a lot for dinner) and a good option if you've had your fill of filthy-looking bars. 

I also grew up very close to  Pete's Tavern which actually serves a great hamburger and is in one of my favorite parts of town,  Gramercy Park. While you're in the neighborhood you should also check out  McSwiggan's which is a gritty, no-kidding-around bar on 2nd ave. Be prepared, though--this is not a cute hipstery place--the people who come here to drink are pretty serious and always insanely dark. Like can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face-dark.

I recently met a friend at  Fanelli Cafe in  SoHo and although I usually think of this place as a lunch/brunch spot, it really is a bar. It was actually a speakeasy during prohibition and, while not exactly upscale (I don't think taverns are supposed to be), a little cleaner and a little less sketchy than most taverns. 

I would also check out the  Subway Inn. It can be a little hipstery or a little creepy depending on when you go, but it's still a lot of fun. The decor isn't exactly tasteful and it's very gritty but it's a sentimental favorite of mine. 

I haven't been to  Vazacs Horseshoe Bar / 7B for years but I remember it as being pretty great. If I'm remembering correctly, it was also the scene of quite a few movie shoots so if you like visiting movie sites, this is a great place.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. White Horse Tavern (restaurant)
  2. Old Town Bar (attraction)
  3. Pete's Tavern (attraction)
  4. Gramercy Park (neighborhood)
  5. McSwiggan's (attraction)
  6. Fanelli Cafe (restaurant)
  7. SoHo (neighborhood)
  8. Subway Inn (attraction)
  9. Vazacs Horseshoe Bar / 7B (attraction)
12 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Kristin from New York City

I'm with Courtney R. White Horse Tavern and Old Town Bar are the absolute best! I love both spots. 7B is another good one, but more on the grungy side than old timey. You can really run the gamut from old school pubs to cool speak-easys to quiet taverns to hidden "mixologist" joints. I'll try to offer a little of each!

Some other places to check out:

Burp Castle - Effing awesome place. You get hushed if you're talking too loud. I mean... what better way to keep out d-bags?!

Back Room is a cool speakeasy in the LES. Hidden entrance, super small and a bookcase that hides a hidden door to the back room. I haven't been in a long time so it may be way over the top in terms of popularity now. 

Please Don't Tell (Aka PDT)  You access it through a phone booth. Must have reservations. Honestly... I much prefer the hot dog joint that the bar is housed in (Crif Dogs), but if you're into these types of hidden places -- this is a big one. 

The Campbell Apartment I mean.... it's awesome. And it's in the best building in the city, that you'll wanna see anyway - Grand Central. Go here. 

Another favorite is  Black Iron Burger. Small place for a pint and AMAZING burgers. Amazing. Yes, way better than Shake Shack.

Also for burger and pint:  Corner Bistro and a great neighborhood to hang out in.

McSorley's Old Ale House is a certifiable sh*thole. And it's filled with frat dudes. Go here at your own risk. Same with  Rudy's Bar & Grill in midtown, but they're both institutions....

I'd offer a laundry list more, but at the risk of looking like an alcoholic, I'll end here. Enjoy!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Burp Castle (attraction)
  2. Please Don't Tell (attraction)
  3. The Campbell Apartment (attraction)
  4. Corner Bistro (restaurant)
  5. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
  6. Black Iron Burger (restaurant)
  7. Rudy's Bar & Grill (attraction)
  8. Back Room (attraction)
8 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Brew from Manhattan Beach

I think a lot of it depends on where you are, but if you are near/in the West Village, I'm a huge fan of Joseph Leonard Restaurant which is a great neighborhood bar/restaurant (with great food) and Fedora as a place for a martini or cocktail.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Joseph Leonard Restaurant (restaurant)
  2. Fedora (restaurant)
8 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Sarah from Philadelphia

NYMag is one of my first reference points for local spots in NYC. Check out this list: http://nymag.com/nymetro/nightlife/barbuzz/11924/

McSorley's Old Ale House is a great place to start as it's a jumping off point to all the bars and restaurants of the East Village. Another cool spot is Pete's Tavern on 18th Street in the Gramercy neighborhood. Not as much there, but it's close to Union Square Park attractions and walkable to the East Village too. (And check out the new Headless Horseman bar on 15th Street while you're nearby.) 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
  2. Pete's Tavern (attraction)
  3. Union Square Park (attraction)
  4. East Village (neighborhood)
  5. Headless Horseman (attraction)
6 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Kris from New York City

McSorley's Old Ale House is one of the oldest and best. Def read up on them before you go since it's not your typical bar. EG: only 2 kinds of beers (light and dark) and you need to order 2 at a time for everyone at the table.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Egle

McSorley's Old Ale House is the famed classic. Otherwise, they're crawling all around the East Village. A simple google search will guide you through.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
  2. East Village (neighborhood)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Garret from United States

A must try is McSorley's Old Ale House.  It is a little touristy but for good reason.

Not too far from there is Old Town Bar which is also quite interesting.  

If it is cold out you might want to try Molly's Shebeen as they have one of the few working fire places in Manhattan.

The final one is a bit of hidden gem. Check out the Ear Inn.  It is a bit of trek to find, but it will be worth the journey.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
  2. Old Town Bar (attraction)
  3. Ear Inn (attraction)
  4. Molly's Shebeen (attraction)
2 thanks


answered by
Olga from New York City

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pete's Tavern (attraction)
  2. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Tina from New York City

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
  2. Bridge Cafe (restaurant)
  3. Ear Inn (attraction)
  4. Bridge Cafe (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Michael from Staten Island

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Megan from Seattle

Hey Scott,

I went to this awesome Irish bar on 79th street just east of Broadway. Nice old school bar.  It's called  Dublin House.

Dublin House


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Dublin House (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
John

Old Town Bar- 18 th st

McSorley's Old Ale House - 7th St

Ear Inn Spring St


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Old Town Bar (attraction)
  2. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
  3. Ear Inn (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Joe from Brooklyn (New York)

If it's nice out (spring or summer), check out the bars on Stone Street in the Financial District. That area has a lot of history, George Washington used to frequent a bar around there. When it is nice you can sit outside and all of the bars have tables down the entire cobblestone road-- it turns into a great beergarden. Depending on when you go you'll see your typical finance types and suits, more visitors on the weekends.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Financial District (attraction)
1 thanks




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