The Best Bars In Soho And Nolita
photo credit: Noah Fecks
Ah, Soho and Nolita. Land of boutique hotels, high-end art galleries, and places that sell faux-leather jackets that cost more than your rent. These neighborhoods aren’t known for their abundance of great bars, but if you know where to look, you can find a few where you'll actually want to hang out.
photo credit: Spring Lounge
Spring Lounge has been around since the 1920s, and you can tell. It has a tin ceiling and old wooden floors that look like they’ve been walked on by several million people—and sometimes the whole place smells a little like a sock. But it’s a classic spot, and it's your best option for unpretentious drinks in Nolita that won't cost $20. Like every other place in the neighborhood, Spring Lounge is a bit of a scene nowadays. If you want to avoid a crowd, you can always stop by when they open at 8am.
photo credit: Daniel Krieger
As any longtime Soho resident will tell you, Milady’s used to be a dive. But that was years ago. Now, it’s more of an upscale spot with elaborate cocktails and fancy bar food like duck liver pâté and crab mac and cheese. The drinks are obviously more expensive these days, but they’re very well made. Bring a few coworkers, or stop by with your roommate when you need a place to drink a martini and can’t handle the scene at Fanelli. If it’s warm outside, grab a table on the sidewalk.
photo credit: South Soho Bar
From the folks behind The Tyger (right next door), South Soho Bar is the size of your average bodega, and it’s perfect for when you want to hide out and drink a good Old Fashioned. You can grab a seat at the bar and stare at a massive wall of booze, or sit in a booth and eat some fancy chicken nuggets or a burger. The soundtrack is great, and the lights stay dim enough to cover up for the fact that you haven’t washed your hair in several days, so keep this place in mind for first dates.
photo credit: Beyond the Pale
Beyond the Pale is a slightly confusing but highly useful place. It looks like a mix between an Irish pub and an upscale cocktail lounge, and it’ll come in handy when you need a spot in Nolita that’s more attractive than Spring Lounge and less hectic than Mother’s Ruin. The room is long and narrow, with hanging globe lights, a few leather booths, and some tables in the back where you can hang out and sip on a $20 martini made with olive oil-washed vodka. Be sure to get a side of curly fries.
photo credit: Kenny Yang
Local is a cozy beer-and-wine bar in Soho that manages to be versatile despite its tiny space. There’s a counter where you can have an involved conversation about ciders and sours with the bartender, a quieter room in the back with tables and chairs, a dark nook by the window that’s perfect for dates, and a good amount of outdoor seating as well. A lot of people seem to drop in for a drink on the way to somewhere else, so if there’s nowhere to sit, something will probably open up if you wait a little while. Free popcorn is available upon request.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
This relaxed Nolita bar is cool without being too cool. It's been around for over a decade now, and it's still the first place you should think of when you want to drink a great cocktail in a space that's slightly nicer than your average dive. There isn’t a ton of table seating, but there's a long bar where you can usually find a stool, and you'll likely find some outdoor seating as well.
In almost any other part of town, Sweet and Vicious wouldn’t be that special. But there aren’t too many semi-divey bars in Nolita where you can drink a margarita with a group of coworkers and also maybe meet the next person you’re going to date. So if that’s what you want to do, come here. It gets extremely busy, but that’s kind of the point.
photo credit: @masonreidfox/@stapl3remover
Across the street from Sweet and Vicious, you'll find The Vig Bar, a generic-looking place with a few high-tops and a back room that you can rent out for parties. Sweet and Vicious is a little more fun, but it's easier to have a conversation here, and you usually have a good chance of finding a seat. So think of this place as your ultimate backup plan. If you stop by on a Saturday night, however, you can expect to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of folks who just finished pregaming in their LES apartments.
photo credit: Noah Fecks
This is the best wine bar in the area. In addition to a list of natural wines that's long enough to qualify as a novella, La Compagnie has plenty of comfy chairs and banquettes that tend be occupied by people who recently met on Hinge. You can either book a table and get some steak tartare to accompany your wine, or you can hang at the bar and drink a glass of chilled cab franc while you stare at your phone.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Botanica is a dive, and it's the kind of place where you bring a group of friends or coworkers when all you want to do is drink something cheap in a room that gets very little natural light. There's a great Happy Hour until 7pm daily—and seeing as how everyone seems to know this, it can be hard to find a seat here.
photo credit: Michael Tulipan
The original St Tropez is in the West Village, and this is the second location in Soho. It’s a little bit smaller, but it’s a similarly useful spot for when you’re going on a date and aren’t sure if you want to order food. If things go well, you can get some meatballs and octopus. Either way, you can drink some good wine.
The most nondescript, bar-iest bar listed here, Broome Street Bar is a classic spot that checks off all the boxes: lots of space, good beer list, and... yeah, that’s basically it. But don’t underestimate this place. It’s the only bar of its kind in the heart of Soho.