The Most Fun Bars In NYC Right Now guide image


The Most Fun Bars In NYC Right Now

Call them what you want. Happening. Cool. Busy. Lit. These are the most fun bars in NYC right now.

Sometimes you want a pint and, really, any place will do—like one that only plays muzak over the speakers or reruns of Westminster dog shows on a TV in the corner. But other times, you want to drink at a spot with games to play, people to watch, and dancing to do. Head to one of these NYC bars whenever you’re looking for an exceptionally good time.


Motel No Tell

The East Village loves a retro bar. The neighborhood is home to a few ‘70s-inspired spots like Joyface and Ding-a-ling, and now it has Motel No Tell, a motel-themed place where you can drink a Miami Vice and feel like you’re in Miami Vice. If you’re looking for a fun place to bring a group that isn’t a club, come grab a few seats under a golden disco ball. The music is loud, the walls are decorated with neon signs and leafy wallpaper, and there’s pizza available in case you need a snack.

Submit to the fog machine at Danger Danger in Bushwick. It wants you to dance, and it’s not like you’re here to read a book or do your taxes, so you might as well. This is one of the newer nightlife spots in the neighborhood, and it’s perfect for a late night that you’ll only partially remember. The whole place is covered in zebra-print carpet, with other funky touches like purple mood lighting and parrot chandeliers, and you can get a pretty impressive cocktail here. If you’re looking for mezcal and tequila, they have a great list.

Since it opened in 2019, Public Records has been one of the top destinations for music nerds in NYC. This Gowanus venue has a restaurant where you can listen to vinyl while you eat plant-based burrata, as well as a Sound Room that hosts live shows. And now, as of late 2022, they also have a second-floor listening lounge. It's called Upstairs at Public Records, and it feels like a mellow, futuristic club designed by someone from the 1980s. Book a table, then hang out on a white leather sofa while a DJ works some turntables in the middle of the dark, loft-like room.

Unlike its sister bars, Kind Regards and Ding-a-ling, Bar Valentina isn’t the sort of place where you go to dance with your friend who just got out of a long-term relationship. It’s more of a low-key spot that’s perfect for when you want to eat fried olives and make small talk with a few acquaintances who happened to pop in for an espresso martini. The space looks like a divey European cafe, with a few little nooks where you can hide in the back, and there’s a patio out front that’s consistently a scene.

Why should you visit a ‘70s-themed speakeasy in the back of a burrito shop? Because ‘70s decor is fun, and burritos taste good. Swing by this Williamsburg bar, and enjoy one alongside a mai tai or margarita. 320 Club is from the same people who run Super Burrito (the shop it’s inside of), and, in addition to Mission-style burritos, they also serve things like burgers and nachos. They often host special parties and DJs in their tiny wood-paneled space, so keep an eye on their IG to see what’s coming up.

Looking for the next great dance party? You’ll find it at The Last Call in Williamsburg. On Fridays and Saturdays, this retro punk rock izakaya features a DJ spinning vinyl under a rotating disco ball. The space is dark, loud, and filled with vintage Japanese posters, and there’s a little dance floor in the back that gets crowded on weekends. On Thursdays, there’s yakitori available, but you can stop by any day of the week for fun bar snacks like wonton nachos topped with tuna and spicy mayo.

Outer Heaven is the ideal spot for anyone who loves house, disco, techno, anime, and manga. This Lower East Side “microclub” (i.e., very small club) has a minimalist Japandi look, a sound system designed by the founder of Cielo and Output, and a comic book stand at the entrance. It’s an interesting place, with a sleek wood-and-concrete space that’s divided into two rooms: a bar area for laid-back listening and a dance floor with a DJ booth. Check their IG for upcoming events, and feel free to play a vintage arcade game when you need a break from dancing.

You’d never know from the relaxing atmosphere at Al Coro that there’s a straight-up dance club (with no cover) right downstairs. Discolo is basically two relatively small octagonal rooms—one with the bar and the other has tiny round tables. It's a dark space, except for the red, purple, and blue lights on the ceiling that’ll remind you of a sheet of candy buttons. The flashing lights are in sync with the blaring music, which leans more disco and house, less club remixes of Bieber tunes. They do take some reservations, but most of the space is for walk-ins—a lot of people here are in jeans and tees, so come as you are.

The cool thing about Wiggle Room is that you can use it in a couple different ways. The main floor has a few nooks that surround a long bar where you can sit with a date and explain why you think marriage is antiquated—but the basement has a whole different vibe. It has squiggly pink neon lights, a disco ball, and a dance floor, although you should know that the DJ doesn’t get going until after 10pm. It’s also legitimately freezing downstairs, which you’ll appreciate when the room gets packed and you work up a sweat. If you’re planning to stay until this place shuts down at 4am, get a few of the espresso martinis they have on draft.

You can show up to Club Cumming on any given night and get something different: open mic night, drag show, musical comedy, or celebrity appearances. Don’t let the super popular, overcrowded nightly shows discourage you from trying to get in here. It might just look like a tiny East Village dive, but this is actually a place where anything is possible. You could come at 11pm on a Sunday and make a bunch of new performer friends, or end up singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" with shirtless men while one of them accompanies you on the piano.

If you’re looking for a bar that has house-party energy, frozen Dole Whip cocktails, and a playlist that feels like it was made by your friend who’s a self-described “crate-digger,” head to Lullaby on the LES. It’s in a basement on Rivington (below a sushi spot), and it has couches, low ceilings, and lots of people dancing even though there’s no formal dance floor. Lullaby is the kind of place that feels like a compromise between going out to a club and going to a cocktail bar. You can drink something better than a watery vodka soda and hang out in a space that feels like a B-list celebrity’s birthday party that you happened to stumble in on.

Considering how many bars there are in the neighborhood, you would think that Williamsburg would be stuffed with places where you can dance. Not the case. Cafe Balearica is a great option, though. This two-story spot on the corner of 11th and Berry has a ground-floor space with tropical plants, high ceilings, and a big vibrant mural in addition to a clubby downstairs room where you can dance beneath a disco ball with a bunch of people you’ve probably seen at the local Trader Joe’s.

Most people’s idea of a fun night out in Park Slope plays out in the backyard of a brownstone. But ever since this gay bar from the people behind C’mon Everybody opened, the number of exciting things you can do late at night in this neighborhood has drastically increased. Good Judy has two floors with several booths, banquettes, and high-top tables where you can take jello shots and speak several octaves higher than usual with a group of friends. Plus, their event calendar is packed with weekly drag shows, karaoke nights, and other events where you’ll end up memorably embarrassing yourself on the dance floor.

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photo credit: Tim Saccenti

The Most Fun Bars In NYC Right Now guide image