NYCGuide

The Best Bars In Midtown

From rooftop lounges to places with karaoke, here's where to drink within walking distance of Rockefeller Center and Grand Central.

The Best Bars In Midtown guide image

photo credit: Nicole Franzen

Drinking in Midtown may not be your first choice. But it’s frequently a necessity. Whether you’re hitting Happy Hour with people who watch you scribble things on a whiteboard during meetings, grabbing cocktails after a Broadway show, or hanging out with your craft beer-loving cousin who’s staying in Times Square, here are the best places to get a beverage in the area.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Darling review image

Darling

If you want to see what kind of view you could have if you threw a couple hundred million dollars at a penthouse on Central Park South, head to this rooftop bar on the 47th floor of the Park Lane New York hotel. Sip on cocktails ($22-$25) and snack on bites like spicy chicken sliders and basil arancini in their awning-covered patio with lots of greenery and a DJ playing disco and funk.

This multi-story spot is in a small townhouse tucked into the side of Rockefeller Center, and investors include Pete Davidson, the producer of “Uptown Funk,” and that guy who plays Ted Lasso. The space looks like a multi-million-dollar residence you’d find in Greenwich Village, and there’s a tiny dining room on the third floor where you can sit in a leather booth and eat steak tartare with truffle aioli. We like to hang out on the second floor, where you'll find a standing room-only bar that draws a good after-work crowd.

When you go down the stairs at the downtown 1 subway station at 50th Street, you’ll see a section of blacked-out windows to your right. The space looks like it’s in need of a new tenant, but this bar inside is very much open. Despite its nihilistic name, you'll have a good time at this speakeasy-ish spot. Most of the cocktails are $18, and the space is one big room with exposed pipes and metal grates hanging from the ceilings. Expect a lot of ‘90s hip hop and R&B like “Feel Me Flow” and “No Diggity,” and be sure to check out the bathroom for your daily affirmation (see photo above).

Dear Irving on Hudson is a perfect place to get to know someone who might become more than a friend one day. The views are great, the cocktails are well-made, and there are little "seating stations" (made for two) that will make you feel like you're in your own little bubble as you try to figure out what the day's colors on the Empire State Building mean. This sister bar to Dear Irving takes up both the 40th and 41st floors of the Aliz Hotel Times Square, so there's plenty of space for big groups too. Most of the seating is indoors, but there are multiple open-air balconies. 

photo credit: RPM Underground

RPM Underground review image

RPM Underground

$$$$(646) 609-3828
Hours:SAT
5PM-4AM

You’re never too old to have a themed birthday party—not even if you spend most of your week in a suit and tie under fluorescent lights in Midtown. You can have yours in one of the 18 themed karaoke rooms at RPM Underground, whether you want Marvel madness in the Avengers room or LA sleaze in the Sunset Blvd. room. If you’re not here for a private party, there’s plenty going on around the huge venue, where you'll find live comedy, an in-house vinyl shop, and two bars that often have drink specials going on.

The Whitby Bar review image

The Whitby Bar

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You get the feeling that a lot of people stumbled upon this bar at some point and just kept coming back. Sure, you’ll see some tourists (because this place is in a Midtown hotel), but the Whitby doesn’t feel like a generic spot that exists primarily for guests with room keys. The massive space is filled with random things that look like they were collected from estate sales, and if you get hungry, you can get some bar snacks like beef sliders and za’atar chips or order from the adjoining restaurant’s full menu.

The Rum House is the best place to drink in Times Square. We know that isn't saying much, but trust us when we tell you that this bar in the bottom of the Edison Hotel is actually a very pleasant spot for a casual cocktail. The drinks are great, the space feels like a nice old-timey saloon, and there's live music most nights.

If sparkly things give you an instant endorphin rush, you should go to the bar at Baccarat Hotel at least once. Yes, it’s the same Baccarat known for making fine French crystal and yes, there are more than a few extravagant chandeliers in this place. The bar opens at 4pm every day, and it’s a great spot to hang out in this part of Midtown, especially if you’re using an expense account. The cheapest cocktails are around $30, but they come with generous servings of spiced nuts and olives—so if you do the math, it’s kind of a deal?

Lantern’s Keep, located off the lobby of The Iroquois Hotel, is a great place for a highly civilized drink. There are private tables, and you can even make a reservation. Keep this place in your back pocket for when you need to impress someone.

Aldo Sohm is the casual wine bar from the people who run Le Bernardin (just across the way). Being here feels like drinking in the lobby of a really nice condo, and the extremely knowledgable staff will gladly help you pick a glass or bottle from the impressive wine list. There's also a menu of snacks and small plates like shrimp cocktail, foie gras, and truffle fries (which you will not see at Le Bernardin).

Beer Culture has the distinction of being something near Port Authority that’s not the absolute worst. As you’d imagine, they have an extensive list of canned and draft beers as well as a food menu that includes things like a meatball sandwich and fried cheese curds.

The Campbell used to be called The Campbell Apartment, but now it’s under new management, and it’s slightly more casual. There’s now a little outdoor area, and there’s no longer a dress code, although drinks are still pretty pricey. The ceilings are high, there are nice leather chairs, and we especially like the seats on the balcony overlooking the bar. Just know that this place is semi-hidden in Grand Central, and, on weeknights, it'll probably be packed with commuters.

Valhalla, a loud tavern with more than beers on 40 tap, feels like a grown-up version of a place you’d find in the East Village. So consider this place the next time you're planning a low-key team outing with the people you sit next to 40 hours a week. In addition to beverages, they serve snacks that go perfectly with microbrews like Bavarian pretzels and bratwurst.

Ardesia is a true Midtown utility spot. Meeting a date? Going out with a couple of work friends? Hanging out with a random relative? Wine and small plates in a non-cheesy environment help make this place exactly what you need. Factor in the wide-ranging menu, friendly service, and outdoor seating, and you’ve got yourself a go-to.

When you think of a suspendered bartender making good cocktails in Midtown, you might think of $22 martinis in small, dimly lit lounges attached to hotels. But Tanner Smith’s actually pretty laid-back. This is a big, bright bar (a fancy pub, essentially) with a long menu of well-made house cocktails that are all about $18. Up front, there’s a bar and a few tables as well as open space for standing when they don’t have live music.

If you’ve ever wondered who lives in the brownstones in the West 40s, join the club—because we have no idea. But we do know that one of them has a bar inside. Bar Centrale is a classic pre- or post-theater spot for cocktails and small plates, and there's a decent chance you'll spot some Broadway actors here.

As Is is the coolest bar in Midtown. It's neither flashy nor divey, and it somehow doesn't get too crowded. The room is full plants and exposed brick, and there's a nerdy beer selection in addition to a few house cocktails. If you're looking for a pre-theater or after-work spot, come here. This is also an ideal place for a first date, in case you're doing that in Midtown for some reason.

The Stag’s Head is a good place in the area to grab an IPA or sour. Their beer list goes beyond the typical roster of Ballast Point taps, so if you’re into deep cuts of craft beer, you’ll be happy here. You can watch a game on one of their TVs, and if it's nice out, have a drink on their outdoor patio on the second floor.

Bo Peep is down a flight of stairs beneath The Ragtrader on 38th Street, and—with its antique lamps and velvet furniture—it feels like a study in someone’s home from the 1920s. There are two seatings every night, and there's always a pianist playing live music. So if you're looking for a unique place to bring some out-of-towners, try this spot. For a Midtown bar, it's weirdly charming and enjoyable.

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