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.
Several people dancing in a disco-ball lit bar with a smoke machine

photo credit: Danger Danger

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. If you're looking for bars with exceptionally good drinks, check out our guide to the city's best cocktail bars. But if you're looking for an exceptionally good time, head to one of these NYC bars.


photo credit: Molly Fitzpatrick


Midtown West

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysPeople WatchingHappy Hour
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The best shows in the Theater District happen inside a dive bar. You might not realize what you're in for at Barcelona Bar until you clock the hats, masks, glasses, swords, wigs, and animatronic Grogu stocked behind the counter of this Hell’s Kitchen dive. Barcelona's theme shots—which traffic heavily in millennial nostalgia like Harry Potter and SpongeBob—are bonkers mini-performances, complete with music, costumes, and props. And at $10 each, they're some of the most fun you can have per dollar in town. In the wrong hands, this could feel like a tortured rendition of a chain restaurant's royalty-free birthday song, but the bartenders here are totally willing to commit to the bit. The enthusiasm is contagious.

The vast majority of the city’s speakeasies feel silly, or like a normal bar that hired a new PR firm. But not this Greenpoint listening bar from the team behind Eavesdrop, another place where people use the word "audiophile" in casual conversation. Walk through what looks like Upside Pizza's kitchen door and into a room with perfectly tuned speakers, a mountain of cassettes behind the bar, and olive-oil washed gin martinis. It’s tight back here, but you can boogie in your seat—especially if you reserve one of the three large booths. They have plenty of standing room for walk-ins, too. And, if you get hungry, grab a slice of pepperoni from outside.

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain (while being chased by a pack of bloodthirsty werewolves), this tiki bar by way of a B-movie in the East Village should tally with your idea of a good time. Horror film sound effects and intentionally kitsch decor aside, this dark, eerie bar with an unmarked door and demonic rock soundtrack manages to stay on the cool side of tacky, thanks largely to its long, creative drinks menu. It’s pricey, but go ahead and order a cocktail that involves smoke, fire, and about seven different ingredients you’ve never heard of before. It'll be worth it.

You can merry-go-round your way through this spacious, ’70s-themed bar in Bushwick and find something new to do in every area. Shaped like a carousel, it has a big bar in the center, and various rooms and seating arrangements around it. This place gives you options—from the booths on one side, to a second bar, a pool room with two tables, and even a dance floor with a DJ. A couple of sunken living room-style lounges take you back to a groovier time in American architecture. Even groovier—the cocktails are all $15, and they have two types of absinthe in stock, in case you want to feel a little wavy while you dance to Stevie Wonder.

People love to toss around the word fun, but is a bar really fun if the cocktails are $25? If you also struggle with shelling over $100 for drinks just to pretend you're having a good time, consider Jeremy's. The self-proclaimed "last great dive bar in NYC" has fried fish baskets, 10 wings for $10, and quart containers full of beer that start at $8. That's a quart container we're talking about—like the kind they put soup in when you get takeout. Have your birthday at this family-run spot in the Seaport, or just come here when you'd like to drink enough that citibiking on cobblestones seems like a really good idea.

Please Tell Me is only slightly larger than a room at the Times Square Hilton, so it doesn’t take many people to make this Williamsburg bar feel like a house party. A strong sound system and oversized disco ball provide the proper ambiance for late-night dancing, and there are snacks like wings and a quesadilla that you can enjoy alongside several espresso martinis. On weekends, a DJ is present, but no matter when you stop by, you’ll hear some good music, most likely in the realm of ‘90s hip hop.

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. 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. They now 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.

Looking for the next great dance party? You’ll find it at The Last Call in Williamsburg. Most nights, 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 Fridays, there’s yakitori available, but you can stop by any day of the week for fun bar snacks like loaded okonomiyaki fries with bonito flakes, okonomi sauce, and Japanese 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.

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.

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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