15 NYC Bars Where You Can Meet New PeopleWhere to go when you feel like asking strangers if they “come here often.”
It’s a Friday night, and dinner is winding down. What now? “Where do people even go out these days?” someone groans. We’re here to help.
These aren’t places where you’ll quietly sip a $17 cocktail in some booth in the corner, nor are they places with dance floors that feel like extreme group fitness classes. They’re bars where you can actually expect to meet new people. How it goes from there is up to you.
Frog is a candlelit spot in Bed-Stuy where you can drink natural wine from a stubby glass and loudly discuss the literary magazine you’re thinking about starting. The little room is as casual as a house party thrown by a friend who owns too much wine, and it has a few dark corners that are perfect for quiet conversations, as well as a pool table that tends to stay occupied. If it gets too crowded, head to the leafy backyard.
So you’ve been reading Roadside Picnic on the train everyday and the brooding bookworm of your dreams still hasn’t appeared to ask you out to peruse Russian sci-fi at The Strand. You can find yourself a literary type who likes cheap drinks and communist relics at KGB Bar. Everyone there is probably too snooty to ever use the phrase “meet cute,” but they’re probably also secretly looking for one, so check the calendar for a night with a book reading you’re into.
At Danger Danger in Bushwick, the conversation starters are endless. You can discuss the zebra print carpet, the parrot chandeliers, or the lone smoke machine in the corner that seems to be imploring people to start a dance party. Somewhere between a dive, a cocktail bar, and a nightclub, this place was built for mingling and random encounters, with a row of booths and lots of standing room. The drinks are great, and the lights stay low.
Bar Valentina is from the people behind Kind Regards and Ding-a-ling, two places where you go to meet people when it’s 2am and you realize you’re lonely. But this LES spot is more mellow than its siblings. It has a European cafe setup, with a handful of little tables and a sidewalk patio that turns into an outdoor mixer. Stop by in the early evening, eat a burger, drink an espresso martini, and hang out for a few hours while people filter in and out. If you don’t make any new connections by midnight, we give you permission to visit Kind Regards.
A "queer space for all," Oddly Enough is part bar, part restaurant, and part living room that occasionally hosts dance parties. The space has plenty of seating, it never feels too crowded, and you'll probably hear some loud funk or disco when you stop by. Grab a table if you want to share a few small plates and a bottle of wine while you scope out the scene for a stranger who might be willing to hold your hand one day.
Corner Social is a lot of things rolled in one. It’s a place where you can sit down and have a kale salad and some salmon with a friend, and it’s also a place where you can show up on a Friday night and listen to a DJ play for a crowd as big as any you’ll find in the Meatpacking District. It’s a great spot to meet up with a group, and then infiltrate another one to shake things up.
You know a bar is committed to making sure you have a good time when they have Happy Hour every day, free popcorn on deck, and a bring-your-own-food policy. That's what you'll find at Judy & Punch, a cocktail and craft beer bar in Astoria that’s intent on being your neighborhood haunt. Making conversation with the stranger next to you is totally kosher here, just be aware that this place could turn into a dance party at any moment, should the right song come on.
There’s a lot of charm and a hint of romance in the red accents and natural wines at this Bushwick wine bar. That said, this isn’t the sort of dimly-lit date spot where people will be tucked away with a lover they’ve already locked down. It’s a small open space with a large rooftop patio where people mingle as a musical guest plays some tunes.
This two-story spot on the corner of 11th and Berry has a ground-floor space with tropical plants and high ceilings, in addition to a clubby downstairs room where you can dance beneath a disco ball with a bunch of people you’ve probably been eyeing at the Williamsburg Trader Joe’s. The downstairs is usually only open Thursday through Saturday, so that’s when you should stop by if you’re looking for a more social scene.
Le Dive is in the middle of Dimes Square, the perennially-packed Lower East Side micro-neighborhood where fashion trends go to live fast and die young. If Nolita Dirtbag doubles as your Tinder, go here and strike up a conversation with the person wearing high socks with loafers seated next to you. The space itself is fairly small, with a handful of stools and a single row of tables, but the plaza out front has plenty of room for anyone who wants to sniff natural wine.
Walk down the steps to Peachy’s, a cocktail bar beneath Chinese Tuxedo, and you’ll see a pink neon sign that says, “no photos, no fighting.” The latter is simple enough, but expecting people to abstain from taking pictures when they’re surrounded by hanging flowers, neon signs, and cocktails served in Buddha-shaped mugs might be asking a little too much. This Chinatown spot has very good cocktails and lots of seating, and when people start roaming around at 11pm, you can strike up a conversation with someone who’s trying to sneak a photo of the wallpaper.
If you find yourself asking why they have both disco balls AND paper lanterns, you don't understand the true appeal of Industry Bar. Is it gaudy? Yes. But if a gay bar is too sharply dressed, can you really trust its true intentions? Who really financed this place, anyway? Saturdays are the right night to be here—it’s a great, energetic crowd with very high odds of meeting someone new.
We’re not going to make any promises, but there’s a decent chance you'll leave this West Village bar with someone’s number. Happiest Hour has a retro 1950s theme, so when you walk inside, you feel like you’ve been transported back to a time when meeting people actually happened in real life. If all else fails, there’s an excellent burger waiting for you as the best kind of consolation prize.
The Penrose is one of the best places on the Upper East Side to meet people whose names you forget mid-conversation. A cross between a pub and a nice cabin you'd find upstate, this spacious bar is pretty much the neighborhood clubhouse, and it’s usually filled with folks who really want you to know that they played sports in college. It has a good selection of beer and cocktails, as well as an expansive menu with everything from steak frites to fish tacos.
If you’re on the Upper West Side, and you need a place to eat a burger and play Jenga, go to E’s Bar. It’s a long space with a bunch of tables, a jukebox, and a stack of board games, and, while it isn't quite a dive bar, it does sort of look like one. Stop by when you need something fun and unpretentious. You'll see a bunch of folks who live in the neighborhood, and you might even be able to crash a birthday party.