20 NYC Bars Where You Can Meet New People guide image


20 NYC Bars Where You Can Meet New People

Where 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.


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Sincerely, Ophelia


221 2nd Ave, New York
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Sincerely, Ophelia is an unusually huge downtown speakeasy, which means there’s plenty of room for a large assortment of fish in this strange, neon-lit sea. There are a few different seating areas with red lighting and one way mirrors, so it draws a pretty interesting crowd. Make your way through this funhouse to find the one for the night (or forever), and plan an official first date at the bar’s attached sister restaurant, Chicken & The Egg.

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Social Drink and Food

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True to its name, this rooftop bar is designed for you to meet people. Big tables and wrap-around couches make it great for groups, and the space is mellow enough for when you finally decide to talk to that person you share the elevator with every morning at your Midtown office. On any given day, they might break out foosball tables, a popcorn machine, or a screen for a rooftop movie night on the huge open terrace, so you’ve got plenty of opportunities to chat someone up. 

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Sadly, you’re probably not going to find the surfer summer love of your dreams in NYC, but you can scope out Surf Bar until you find someone you can’t help but picture in swimwear. This Williamsburg bar and restaurant has a few beach shacks in the back, lots of trees, and wall-to-wall sand floors. Invite someone into your shack to share some tropical drinks and fish tacos that come on a big wooden surfboard platter. 

photo credit: Daniel Dorsa

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Oddly Enough

A "queer space for all," Oddly Enough is a good time all around. 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. This Bed-Stuy bar is a great place to share a few small plates and a bottle of wine with a friend 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).

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. 

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. If you don't want to dance, grab a locally brewed beer and head to one of the picnic tables in the back.

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, 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 been eyeing at the Williamsburg Trader Joe’s. The downstairs is only open on Fridays and Saturdays (starting at 9pm), 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 seating-filled plaza out front has plenty of room for anyone who wants to sniff natural wine and make plans to meet up at Clandestino at 2am.

This East Village spot is a sober bar, but no one said you can’t meet someone over a couple of zero-ABV beverages. Hekate serves a combination of mocktails, teas, and coffee drinks, and it feels like the kind of place where those who like to shop for spell candles at the shop next door would want to hang out after. The bar is quiet enough to facilitate actual conversations, but happening enough that you still feel like you’re at a legit EV dive where you might find someone else who lights up upon hearing phrases like “botanical elixirs” and “Stevie Nicks.”

PeachyWalk down the steps to Peachy’s, a cocktail bar underneath 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 in red leather booths, and when people start roaming around at 10 or 11pm, you can strike up a conversation with someone who’s trying to sneak a photo of the wallpaper.

The crowds at Mood Ring turn this astrology-themed Bushwick bar into a party almost every night. Get a seat at the long bar up front, and drink a cocktail inspired by your zodiac sign before moving to the dance floor. To see what sort of parties and events are coming up, check out Mood Ring's IG.

Many nights on the Lower East Side end at 169 Bar. Some of them even start here. This semi-divey institution features disco balls, a leopard print pool table, and a wall-mounted dinosaur head. Hang out for more than a few minutes, and you’ll probably end up taking a shot of whiskey with a stranger.

Jungle Bird is tropical-themed, and some of its taps are shaped like golden peacocks. But this place isn't too fancy or gimmicky. Mostly, it's just a nice, casual cocktail bar in Chelsea that happens to be very attractive. Share some large-format drinks in a booth, and watch your newly-single friend talk to strangers.

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 thing happening, 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, know that 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. It has a good selection of beer and cocktails, as well as an expansive menu with everything from steak frites to fish tacos.

Restaurants aside, The Spaniard is just about the toughest place in the West Village to walk into on a Friday or Saturday night. But if you get here early enough, you’ll be in good company. Nobody wants to leave once they have a place around the big horseshoe bar, and when the very good cocktails eventually turn the word “Wednesday” into a tongue-twister, you can balance them out with some high-end bar food, which is served until 11pm.

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. So stop 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.

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