Bars in Midtown tend to be harshly lit, strange smelling, and filled with loud people. Maybe you don’t typically mind any of these things, but there will be times when you’re with someone who does. A date, maybe, or a client who doesn’t think it’s charming when their hand sticks to the bar. Try one of these spots instead. They’re wine bars, and they’re unlikely to offend anyone.
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25 wines by the glass and a happy hour from 4-7. All that, plus Ardesia might also be the best-looking wine bar on this list. It’s clean and modern and feels sort of like the lobby of a hotel marketed toward 30-something business travelers. Bring a date here or have an informal meeting here. Prices are reasonable, and they also have some decent small plates.
This little wine bar is just across the way from Le Bernardin, and it’s run by the same people. Here, however, the service is much more casual. If you want to spend a few thousand dollars on a bottle, you can do that - but you could also just hang out on the big u-shaped couch and have a $12 glass of Cotes du Rhone. They don’t really serve dinner here, but they do have some surprisingly affordable small plates. Overall, expect friendly service and a space that feels like the common area of a new condo building.
The cheese list here is extensive, so bring that person who went to Bordeaux last year and won’t stop showing you pictures. There are also salads, sandwiches, and wines by the glass. This is a nice, cozy, casual spot in Midtown West, and it’s a good place to unwind while you pick at some Camembert and stare out the huge front windows.
Sofia’s in the bottom of a small apartment building in Midtown East, and the inside is full of exposed brick and chandeliers. For food, they have everything you’d expect a place with small plates to have (artichoke dip, meatball sliders, burrata, etc.) and they’ll make you a pizza with your choice of vegetables and/or cured meats. Vibes here might be too romantic for a casual hang, but you can always bring a date.
La Cava’s the dark horse candidate for best wine bar on this list. The atmosphere is nice and sort of trendy, there are plenty of glasses of wine for $10-$11, and they serve a large dinner menu until 1am every day. Bring a group of friends or come for a solo glass of wine and maybe talk to a fellow young professional. At night, the space is dark and intimate, but they also do lunch and a weekend brunch. Food is French/Italian, which means paninis, salads, cheese, and filet mignon. And if you need avocado toast, they have that too.
This a narrow little bar in the West 40s that’s good for an impromptu glass of wine. It’s casual here, and they serve Mediterranean small plates like babaganoush and stuffed grape leaves. Wine Escape probably won’t impress anyone, but when all you need is a reasonably priced glass of wine (and maybe some falafel), it’s a solid choice.
Want to feel like you’re hanging out in your friend’s basement? Go to Pocket Bar. It’s a tiny neighborhood spot on West 48th, and, although it’s not in a basement, the vibes are dark and cozy at night. They have beer on tap and wine by the glass that you can get in two different sizes (6 or 9 ounces). Technically this is a wine bar, but it’s not the sort of place you wear a suit to.
If you know someone who would buy a bumper sticker that said “I’d rather be at Lavo,” this is the wine bar for them. Think oddly colored velvet furniture and some chandeliers worthy of a super sweet sixteen. There’s a full dinner menu, but maybe just have some chocolate lava cake and a mojito. That’s what this wine bar is for, and if those things don’t sound good to you, Uncorked might not be the right choice.