Dive bars come in all shapes and sizes; dark and dank or brightly colored and loud. Dive bars don’t care about what they look like or what people think of them. They care about the people, plain and simple. If you respect them, they’ll respect you and show you how to have a good time. Here is a list of the Top 10 Dive Bars in Manhattan. `
1. The Iron Horse
Friday nights are usually loud and wet at this South Street Seaport dive. With a swing over the bar and two poles (yes, pole-dancing poles), the bar actually reads “Get on the bar at your own risk.” The Iron Horse is notorious for it’s antics; spin the Wheel of Misfortune for $5 to do whatever the wheel lands on, including “shotgun a beer” and “dance for your shot”. Join the crowds for UFC fights, or come for some pool. Watch as the bartenders clog to “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and hoola-hoop with Coronas on their heads. The Iron Horse staff is friendly and they love their bar, but they’re not afraid to throw you out. Follow them on Facebook for events, including an enormous pig roast/block party held on July 4th every year.
The Iron Horse, 32 Cliff Street, New York, NY USA. (646) 546 – 5426
New York has a rich punk-rock history, and Manitoba’s is a microcosm of that history, all wrapped up in a dim-lit dive. The walls are covered in pictures and punk-rock memorabilia. They pump out the classics and the recents, along with a lot of cheap booze. Venture down into the dark depths of the basement for some pool, air hockey, or some photo booth fun. It’s a place for friends and good memories, and maybe some memories you’d like to forget.
Manitoba’s, 99 Ave. B, New York, NY USA. (212) 982 – 2511
3. Double Down Saloon
Double Down Saloon is all about pushing the limit and not giving a damn. Order the “Ass Juice’. Don’t ask any questions because the bartender won’t answer them. After downing their signature fruity $4 shot, try and not be mesmerized by the cartoon and vintage porn playing on their TVs. If you want something not-so-potent, try the Bacon Martini’s because everything is better with bacon. This is the classic Lower East Side experience and a good place to end your adventures around Alphabet City.
Double Down Saloon, 14 Ave. A, New York, NY USA. (212) 982 – 0543
4. Rudy’s Bar & Grill
Rumored to be one of the first speakeasies in 1919, Rudy’s belongs in the history books. Many famous faces have walked through the original wooden doors and many hot dogs have passed through their hands. At Rudy’s you get a free Ball Park hot dog with every drink purchase. Come by after the theater for some ultimate contrast, or make this your regular Hell’s Kitchen haunt. It’s full of both regulars and people just stopping in for a free hot dog. Just look for the giant pig with an odd look on it’s face under the bright neon sign. You’ll know you’re in the right place.
Rudy’s Bar & Grill, 627 9th Ave. New York, NY USA. (646) 707 – 0890
5. Arlene’s Grocery
If you’re tired of the old jukebox jams, head over to Arlene’s Grocery for some live music. This former grocery store opened in 1995 and kept the name, making people question the establishments true identity ever since. But at 10:00 PM every Monday night, the rock and roll karaoke will confirm that this is, in fact, a bar. Other nights you can find up and coming indie bands entertaining an enthusiastic crowd. The venue has a good amount of seating, especially for a music venue, making it a surprisingly comfortable dive.
Arlene’s Grocery, 95 Stanton St. New York, NY USA. (212) 358 – 1633
6. Grassroots Tavern
St. Marks Place was made for dive bars and the people who frequent them. At first it’s hard to find, but once you find the steps and climb down into the darkness, you feel right at home. A great place for large groups of friends, they have big tables for large mobs, along with big pitchers for big drinkers. Darts for entertainment and popcorn for the munchies, this dive is an all-around fun place to end the night in. Grassroots even features live jazz on Sunday nights.
Grassroots Tavern, 20 St. Marks Place, New York, NY USA. (212) 475 – 9443
7. Trailer Park Lounge
People don’t normally go to dive bars expecting to find a menu, let along risk eating anything off of it. Trailer Park Lounge offers a stick-to-your-ribs menu of burgers, mac & cheese, and other bar food fares, as well as a variety of margaritas and cold beers. (You know they have cold beer because the mannequin in a tub is holding a sign that says so). Trailer Park Lounge has a bright green front covered in all sorts of oddities, along with a colorful, christmas tree-esque, slightly tiki-inspired interior. Strange for Chelsea, but a favorite of many.
Trailer Park Lounge, 271 W 23rd St, New York, NY USA. (212) 463 – 8000
8. Mercury Lounge
Mercury Lounge is an intimate music venue with a dive bar in the front and a stage in the back, so come ready to battle your way through drunken hoards to reach the music. Part of “The Bowery Presents” concert promotion and venue management organization, they do a good job of organizing their website so you can keep track of all the upcoming events at this unusual dive. The drinks may seem a little pricey, giving this a more upscale-dive feel.
Mercury Lounge, 217 Houston St, New York, NY USA. (212) 260 – 4700
9. McSorley’s Old Ale House
Step back in time at one of the oldest bars in Manhattan. With saw dust on the floors, walls covered in old pictures and newspaper articles, and only two types of beer (light and dark), McSorley’s has been open for roughly 150 years, and still going strong. Fun fact; they didn’t allow women in until 1970 when they were forced into it via court order; the true dive bar beginning. For a snack, order the cheese and raw onion platter. For a meal, choose any of their bar food staples like burgers and fish & chips. Simple, classic and no-frills, this is the type of place you go for the history and the ambience of old New York.
McSorley’s Old Ale House, 15 E 7th Street, New York, NY USA. (212) 473 – 9148
10. Hank’s Saloon
Amidst the gentrification of Brooklyn there are still a few old bars still clinging to their roots. Hank’s Saloon is one of those neighborhood dives. The majority their shows are free, making it a great place to stop in to discover new bands while having a cold brew. It’s an anybody’s bar full of locals, and if you are new to it, you’re sure to make a few friends along the way.
Hank’s Saloon, 46 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY USA. “ain’t no phone”.