The Best Bars In The East Village guide image

photo credit: Briana Balducci


The Best Bars In The East Village

There are a lot of bars in the East Village. Here are the ones we like best.

If you’ve ever walked through the East Village, you’re aware of the outrageous number of bars there. Sometimes, we feel like the East Village should start a bar relocation charity, for neighborhoods in need of good drinking establishment. Toss a couple of those random places on 1st Avenue up to Midtown East! We’re sure they’d be glad to have you.

Until that happens, there are a lot of bars to sort through. Whether you’re looking for a quiet wine bar, a place to play darts, or a spot where you can dance beneath the light of a disco ball, here are the top places to drink in the East Village.


Accidental Bar imageoverride image

Accidental Bar


98 Avenue C, New York
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After spending an hour or two at Accidental Bar, you'll walk away knowing more about sake than when you walked in. The sake list here is riddled with descriptions like “cute AF” and “like watching leaves fall in your grandma's backyard,” and all of the food on the short menu is meant to bring out different flavors in your beverage. Most of all, this place just feels like a party where you could either hang with your friends and or take a date. The space is small, and it's also "cute AF."

Mister Paradise feels a bit like an anomaly. The cocktails here are super ambitious and filled with atypical ingredients (salted pineapple caramel, buckwheat, etc.), but we get the feeling that if you ordered a glass of rosé with a few ice cubes here, the bartenders wouldn't immediately ask you to leave. This place is more fun and laid back than it is pretentious, and the space features soft lighting and big pleated booths. Whether you're drinking with a group or planning a first date, Mister Paradise should be plan A.

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Like its next-door neighbor Mister Paradise, Sidney’s Five is a fun East Village bar where you should meet up with friends or take a date whom you might make out with in public. It doesn't get quite as busy as Mister Paradise, so it’s usually easy to grab an indoor booth or outside table here. All the drinks at Sidney’s Five are under $15, plus there’s a whole martini menu if that’s your mood for the night. If you get hungry, there's stuff like a lamb burger, shrimp toast, and oysters.

What happens when you put a waterbed in a bar then round out the vibe with a disco ball and a bunch of weirdly squishy furniture that was probably found at a yard sale in 1983? You get Joyface. When it's a Saturday night and you absolutely need to stumble around in the dark and feel the flickering lights of a disco ball on your face before lowering yourself into a decades-old armchair, this place should be your number one choice. It's fun. But if you come before 11pm, you might be the only one here.

photo credit: Briana Balducci

Ding-A-Ling review image


Speaking of bars that don't get busy before 11pm, here's Ding-a-ling. Similar to Joyface, this place has a vaguely-1970s theme—and it also happens to be about half a block from Joyface. So how do you choose between the two? Ding-a-ling feels like more of a let's-listen-to-loud-music-and-dance sort of place, whereas Joyface feels like a basement party. We have yet to spend a night dancing at Ding-a-ling, but we have heard that the late-night lines to get in are pretty long. Think of this place as a retro, semi-glitzy bar/club where you can eat a hot dog if you get hungry. It'll probably be a scene when you stop by.

Drinking in the East Village can be kind of intense. There are crowds, college kids, and super famous places you can never get into. But Mace feels like it’s far away from all of that. This is a relatively calm spot where you can sit at a long bar and have a conversation with a date or claim a small a table and share some small plates like fried deviled eggs and tempura cauliflower. Mace may not be as flashy as PDT or Death & Co.—but the drinks here are just as good. Cocktail nerds will appreciate this place.

Deep in Alphabet City is Mona’s, a little bar where you can hide from the world and hear live music (often jazz, sometimes bluegrass). It’s a good, divey spot to know about when you need a low-key drink but you also need to not be in your apartment.

Like The Garret West, The Garret East is a speakeasy (hidden behind a taqueria), and it's much more tolerable than most speakeasies. It feels kind of a like a lively living room in here, with a big bar area, a couple of booths, and a back area covered in sofas. Use this place as a Saturday night compromise the next time one of your friends wants to go to a club and you're thinking about calling off the friendship.

Avenue C is filled with fun bars suited for everything from a nice date to getting wobbly at 2am. The Wayland is one of those places that manages to do it all—and that's probably why you'll see a crowd here whenever you walk by. The frequent live music is certainly a draw, but the cocktails are great too, and the food menu is perfectly respectable, with items like a chicken liver sandwich and fried oysters. Make this your go-to weeknight drinking spot.

Basement bars often smell like feet and/or sweat. Not Lovers of Today. This is a small cocktail bar down a semi-hidden set of stairs on 7th Street, and it's perfect for a quiet date. On weekends, it gets busier, but somehow this place has stayed fairly under-the-radar. Remember it the next time someone suggests cocktails at Please Don’t Tell, but you’re not in the mood to wait an hour for some vodka.

There are several situations in which you might find yourself at The Scratcher: You work in Noho/The East Village and you’re having a “bonding” beer with coworkers (whom you’re not quite ready to get drunk with). You live or work in Noho/The East Village and you want to meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You live or work in Noho/The East Village and you need a place to kill time before your next plans start. What we’re getting at here is that you don’t need to go out of your way for The Scratcher, and it’s definitely never going to be your final Saturday night destination—but it’s an excellent place for a low-key drink or two.

There are dive bars, and there are cocktail bars. Sometimes, it's hard to find the in-between: a normal bar. A place where you can get a beer/shot combo or a cocktail (that won’t cost $17), where the setting is nice without feeling overly fancy and where you could easily have a first date or a friend group hang. Maiden Lane is one of these places. It's a normal bar, done really well. Even better news? They serve a bunch of tinned fish that you can snack on.

A lot of bars claim to be “speakeasies.” And while none of them actually warrant that title—alcohol has been legal for a long time, folks—Please Don’t Tell is about as close as you can get to the real thing. You enter not just through the hot dog shop Crif Dogs, but through a vintage phone booth within Crif Dogs. Which means that once inside, along with the excellent cocktails, you can also enjoy a hot dog (or a few). The space is small, and you should come with a date you’re trying to impress. Make a reservation beforehand if you can.

The Wayland has been our longtime go-to for great drinks, good food, and a scene that can be anything from date night-ready to straight-up rowdy. Goodnight Sonny is from the same people, and it lives up to the standards set by its sister establishment. But while The Wayland is far from the subways on Avenue C, Goodnight Sonny is on a prime 1st Avenue corner. Versatility and convenience is a tough combination to beat.

Holiday Cocktail Lounge imageoverride image

Holiday Cocktail Lounge



open table

Holiday Cocktail Lounge has been around pretty much forever. (Leon Trotsky apparently used to hang out here, if an establishment’s Marxist pedgiree is important to you.) This place looks like a dive bar that you'd find a on quiet street in a state where gambling is legal, but, incredibly, they do serve delicious cocktails here. In other words, Holiday Cocktail Lounge is pretty great. It's casual, it doesn't get unreasonably packed, and it's a good place to start your night.

On one side, The Immigrant is a wine bar. On the other side, it's a beer bar. Choosing which side to sit in might seem stressful, but it doesn't really matter either way. Both sides are charming, quiet, and usually not too crowded. Come here when you're catching up with a friend and need a place where no one will spill a drink on.

This classic, 6th Street speakeasy is actually just as good as it was when you went on a date here four years ago. Bonus feature: The food’s pretty good too. (Expect small plates like octopus and buttermilk fried chicken.) Reservations aren't accepted here, so we fully encourage you to swing by and try to grab a bar stool the next time you want to drink a perfect cocktail in a small, dark space.

Ace Bar is for college reunions and anyone who's ever been on a first date and thought, "I wish we could play darts instead of having this conversation." This place is all about games: pool, darts, pinball, skee ball. It’s great for big groups, although it does very much feel like a college bar on weekends. This is the East Village, after all.

Everyone needs to know about a bar like Drop Off Service—a place where, even if it looks busy, you’ll always find a seat (even at Happy Hour). This place is mostly a craft beer bar, but they also serve well drinks and wine, and it’s a spot you should keep in your back pocket for any situation that calls for a very casual drink.

Our friend once ordered a gin and tonic at Amor y Amargo, and the bartender said, “Sure.” The bartender then delivered what was actually a gin cocktail with club soda and grapefruit bitters and quinine syrup. That’s because this is a “bitters tasting room,” and all the cocktails on offer are made accordingly, with bitters. No bottles of Schweppes here. The space is minuscule, but this is an East Village institution that you should check out at least once.

DBA has two key features that draw most of its fans in: a large and excellent beer selection and a large and excellent backyard patio. Unlike most East Village “backyard patios,” DBA’s is not simply a dark alley with two broken lawn chairs where the bartender puts out the trash at the end of the night. This is a real patio.

Head down the stairs past that flashing “On Air” sign and you’ll end up in a graffiti-covered cave of sake. Tables fill up quickly here, so don’t come with a big group, but do come if you want to experience one of the coolest and most unique rooms in the city.

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