The Best Bars In Chelsea guide image


The Best Bars In Chelsea

Drink a martini under a big chandelier, or spend a night out at a disco-themed club.

Chelsea is one of those neighborhoods you’re bound to wind up in. Maybe you just got off work somewhere around 23rd Street. Maybe your parents are in town and really want to see The Highline. Or maybe you know people who still go to clubs in Meatpacking and you’ve agreed to meet them in the general vicinity. In any event, you’re going to need a drink beforehand. And probably afterwards as well.


Lobby Bar

Located in the newly renovated Hotel Chelsea, Lobby Bar looks like the foyer of a gracefully aging mid-tier palace. The space features couches and armchairs, a long marble bar under a massive chandelier, and a garden room to the side where you can get some sunlight. All of that might sound stuffy, but Lobby Bar is pretty laid-back, and it’s one of our favorite spots to drink an extremely strong martini, eat some fries, and catch up with a friend. If you want to grab dinner after your drinks, head next to door to El Quijote.

Many bars in Chelsea serve decent cocktails. But if you want the best, go to Jungle Bird. The drinks here have names like “Cigarettes After Sex,” and they’re made with nerdy ingredients like Cynar, Sfumato, and granny smith apple juice. With its leather booths, colorful abstract art, and tropical houseplants, this two-floor spot is also one of the most attractive bars in Chelsea, perfect for a date or a birthday hang. Make this your default casual-cocktail destination in the neighborhood.

La Noxe is a speakeasy in the 1 train's 28th Street station. You enter at street level, then walk down a set of stairs to a small, loungy room filled with velvet furniture and a few low tables. Despite the gimmicky concept, this is a very pleasant spot to hear some good music and enjoy a mellow drink with a couple of friends. After 10:30pm, the colorful, ‘70s-esque space turns into a walk-in-only party, so swing by then if you’re looking to dance.

There are bars where you can sing karaoke, and there are bars where you can hear live music. Then there’s Sid Gold’s Request Room, a magical place where you can do both. Six nights a week, Sid Gold’s hosts live piano karaoke in their back lounge area. You can request anything from Elvis to Olivia Rodrigo, but you’ll have to sing your selection in front of a room of strangers. It’s a great time. Reservations are easy to get, and there’s no cover, just a two-drink minimum.

There are two levels at this Chelsea spot—a staple for the NYC leather community—each with its own full bar, and an excellent rooftop for warmer nights. The drinks are reasonably priced and you’ll find early 2000s Falcon porn (the young Matthew Rush kind) playing on the TV screens around the bar. If you don’t come prepared with the proper attire, there’s a leather and fetish gear shop in the industrial elevator which floats between floors.

Against all odds, Italian fine-dining restaurant Al Coro has a club downstairs, and it’s a fun place. Discolo is basically two small octagonal rooms—one has the bar, and the other has a dance floor surrounded on all sides by banquettes and tiny round tables. Both rooms are almost completely dark except for red, purple, and blue lights on the ceiling that pulse to the blaring music. Discolo only takes walk-ins, and a lot of people arrive in jeans and tees, so come as you are.

Located directly under Chelsea Market, The Tippler is a massive bar that’s useful for exactly two things: parties and group outings. If you need to organize a Happy Hour for everyone who works on your floor, come here. The subterranean room is filled with rugs, tables, and exposed brick, and there’s more than enough room for huge groups to mingle. There aren’t many snacks available, but you can bring in your own food from Chelsea Market.

A good spot for impressing out-of-towners, Bathtub Gin is your standard-issue Prohibition-inspired speakeasy with a quirky name and a secret door. In order to get in, you have to walk through Stone Street Coffee and speak to a bouncer (you are dangerously close to Meatpacking, after all). If you want to guarantee yourself entry, make a reservation. As the name would indicate, gin is the focus. And there’s a bathtub. You can also catch live music and DJs most nights.

The rooftop of The McKittrick Hotel, home of “Sleep No More,” is something of an extension of the nightly interactive performance/high-minded haunted house that takes place throughout the rest of the building. This means you’ll ride up in an old-timey elevator with an attendant in some kind of costume, who may or may not do a card trick, and some “characters” may walk around. But for the most part, this is just a cool rooftop bar with quality cocktails.

Porchlight is a big space on 11th Avenue operated by Danny Meyer, and it’s great for when you need to gather a large group in a fun, unpretentious environment. They have a solid booze selection, as well as some excellent takes on bar food, including everything from Texas chili to chocolate chip cookies. There are plenty of tables that wrap around the Southern-themed space (sort of like a barbecue joint meets a nice cocktail bar), and there’s a room in the back you can book for big groups.

Trailer Park Lounge & Grill

True to name, Trailer Park Lounge is a trailer park-themed bar, which is actually better than it sounds. The space is jam-packed with Christmas lights, Elvis memorabilia, and other knickknacks like old license plates and bowling pin lamps. This is probably not the place to plan a meeting of any professional nature, but it’s a good, unique spot to kick back with a few friends over some beers and tater tots.

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photo credit: Annie Schlechter

The Best Bars In Chelsea guide image