When you think of wine bars, maybe you think of places with red brick walls that advertise their free hummus appetizer on Groupon, right below the laser hair removal. Or maybe you think of the place where you went on a date with someone who lectured you about grape varietals. Fortunately, wine bars don’t have to be sad, pretentious, scary places. There’s a whole crop of spots with great wine, friendly service, and food options worth getting excited about. Whether you’re meeting a date for drinks, hanging out at the bar solo, or looking for a place to grab a glass of wine before dinner, here are some of our favorite wine bars in the city.
Most places either feel like bars (where you can also maybe eat) or restaurants (where you can also maybe drink). Gem Wine, which is around the corner from its sister restaurant Gem, is that rare, perfect middle ground. You can order from a frequently changing menu of small plates, as well as more substantial options like lamb tartare tossed in a creamy oyster emulsion. There's no wine list, which means you'll have to discuss what you're looking for with your server. If you want to try some different things, there are a handful of wines by the glass for $15 each, and you can expect at least one type of red, white, sparkling, orange, and rosé.
At this wine bar from the Oxalis team, the wines by the glass are predominantly from Spain and Chile, and the limited food menu revolves around meats, cheeses, and exceptional little bites of chilled seafood. Stop by, give a few small plates your full attention, then drink some funky wine from fashionably stubby glasses as you and a friend touch base on your five year plan. There’s a big bar near the open kitchen for when you can’t snag a reservation. You can assume that will be often.
Seeing as how it’s hidden behind the kitchen setup of a fake deli (complete with quart containers and large refrigeration units), we suppose you could call One19 Wine Bar a speakeasy. This bar has a lineup of wine on-tap, reasonably-priced bottles that hover in the $40-50 price range, and a couple of flight options that allow you to try some of the stuff they’re excited about. The space is pretty small, but it’s cozy enough to feel like a party at times—and there’s a full food menu of the usual snacky options like marinated olives, charcuterie, and tinned fish.
A good deal of natural wine-drinking happens on Bushwick rooftops, usually involving some combination of climbing a fire escape and a janky Bluetooth speaker. At Cherry On Top, things are a little more professional, although hanging out at this spot does feel a bit like being at a friend’s place. The funky list of wines includes plenty of glasses under $15 and bottles under $50, and there’s also a small food menu. You can drink your orange wine on a large rooftop or in an indoor area downstairs that we’d describe as extremely cute.
This laid-back natural wine bar on the border of Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy is perfect for a first date whether you want to dip after 30 minutes or linger for a casual dinner that might last a lifetime. You can stop by for a midday glass of natural wine or a morning coffee any day of the week, but dinner is only served Wednesday through Saturday. Expect dishes like risotto, trout crudo, and charred pork belly.
The next time you’re meeting up with one or two other people who only want to talk about and drink pet-nats, try Skin Contact on the Lower East Side. Even if you know next to nothing about wine, this natural wine bar's condensed list of options and friendly staff will help you find something exciting without paying a ton of money. Most of the glasses cost around $15.
There’s no official wines-by-the-glass menu at this Williamsburg wine bar. Instead, you go up to the bar where the bartender will ask what kind of stuff you generally like and then pour a few tastes of the 20-or-so wines available by the glass based on your interests. Bring someone who loves wines that taste kind of like a watered-down Now & Later and massive backyards that feel like small public parks. Sauced’s patio has macramé chairs hanging from trees, twinkle lights, and more picnic tables than a middle school playground.
No matter how much you know about wine, you’ll have a good time at Ruffian. This 19-seat East Village wine bar has over 250 natural wines, mostly from small producers in Southern and Eastern Europe, and the knowledgeable staff is always happy to go into detail while pouring tastes of obscure orange wines from Greece or oxidized options from the Jura. You could also have a great time just sitting on their patio with a date, eating some excellent Mediterranean food, and drinking rosé from the “Beach Sipping” section of the menu.
Kindred, run by the same people as Ruffian, is another great spot to drink natural wine and eat small plates in the East Village. Their selection of wine changes pretty often, but the wine list is usually full of bottles from Croatian and Slovenian producers. Plus, they serve a full menu of handmade pastas like mushroom agnolotti and creste di gallo topped with a roasted red pepper pomodoro.
Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights has a lot of great places to eat: Olmsted, Maison Yaki, Faun, Chuko, and more. But of all of the spots on this stretch just north of Prospect Park, it’s LaLou that has the best wine program. The long wine list is mostly made up of natural wines, with a big selection of familiar varietals from famous regions in France and Italy, as well as some lesser-known options. Come for dinner and ask the very friendly staff to help you choose a bottle—most are in the $50-$90 range—or just get drinks and snacks at the bar overlooking the open kitchen or on the back patio.
A vineyard, but on a roof. That’s essentially what you’ll find at this rooftop wine bar in Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has rows of grapevines you’ll want to touch. It’s also one of the most unique wine drinking experiences you can have in the city. So book your reservation here whenever you want sip a glass of rosé grown in the soil just a few feet away from your open-air picnic table.
Rhodora in Fort Greene focuses on wine made using small-scale, natural processes as part of the wine bar’s larger sustainable mission to produce zero waste. If you want to try natural wine from places like Germany, Austria, or a cave in Southeastern France, Rhodora has one of the best lists in Brooklyn. As for the food, the menu has a bunch of conservas, snacking vegetables, and cheese. We particularly like sitting on their sidewalk, but there’s also plenty of space inside their brick-walled dining room with four huge street-facing windows.
The team behind Le Crocodile opened this flashy French wine bar six floors above their Williamsburg restaurant on the bottom floor of the Wythe Hotel. Bar Blondeau is full of green velvet banquettes and wooden two-tops where you can snack on pickled mussels, order several rounds of oysters, and take in some great views of the Manhattan skyline with friends. You can also choose a bottle from their natural list full of up-and-coming wine regions around the world to enjoy on their large outdoor terrace.
The folks at Wildair run both a wine shop and wine bar downstairs in The Market Line. Despite the fact that the open-air space looks out onto an Ample Hills stall, Peoples feels a lot cooler than somewhere that’s in the basement of a food hall. This place is especially great if you want to try something you’ve possibly never heard of. Whether you’re looking for a bottle of orange stuff from Austria or just a solid, under-$20 chilled red, they’re always selling and pouring new bottles you likely won’t find at most other bars.
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This casual wine bar on the UES serves over 50 wines from South Africa and encourages you to try them all until you find exactly what you’re in the mood for. Bring a date, sip on some sparkling wine from Capetown, and snack on things like oysters, peri peri shrimp, or a juicy lamb burger.
Temperance in the West Village offers over 100 wines by the glass, which means you can drink a range of things like a nutty-savory French white or order a bottle of something that tastes as though a can of kombucha dressed up to go out on a Saturday night. With its big, hidden backyard and helpful staff, Temperance is the most useful bar for a wine-fueled date night in the area. Glasses start around $10 and go as high as $50-ish for something like a Champagne brut rosé.
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There are plenty of spots in the city where you can deep dive into Slovenian orange wine or French pet-nats. But if it’s California wine that you’re looking for, go to Coast And Valley. This Greenpoint spot only serves wines from California, with around 50 of them by the glass. You try everything from a traditional Napa cab to a natural roussanne, and you can also sign yourself for a wine omakase or a tasting with wines from Black-owned wineries.
When you want to drink wine at a rooftop bar with great views, but you don’t want to spend $16 for a glass of jug wine pinot grigio, go to City Vineyard. This restaurant and wine bar is off the Hudson River running path in Tribeca, and the huge roof is a great spot to get affordable, quality wine, much of which is made at nearby City Winery.
photo credit: David A. Lee
Franks Wine Bar
Franks Wine Bar is worth going to just for the food, because you can get anything from the menu next door at Frankies 457 or small plates specific to the wine bar, like a cheese plate, a wedge salad, or sweet potato gnocchi with roasted cauliflower. You could also go to this Carroll Gardens spot just to drink wine and spend a couple hours or months working your way through the 400-bottle list that’s organized with helpful descriptions. Or you could do both.
When a vegan wine bar serving Italian food makes perfectly al dente pasta and pine nut ricotta-covered carta di musica, we want to tell everybody we know about it. That’s why we’re writing about Soda Club in the East Village. In addition to a large wine list featuring different orange bottles and chilled reds by the glass, this place also serves great pasta dishes—such as the standout bucatini arrabiata with focaccia breadcrumbs. This wine bar now has a permanent spot in our date-night rotation, since nothing says romance like sitting in a velvet chair with a glass of wine and some pasta.
They serve pasta at Have and Meyer, and it’s pretty good. But that isn’t why you come here. You come because there are over 100 wines available by the glass, including more than 30 different orange ones. So if you want to try something obscure that the majority of the Earth’s population has never heard of, this little Williamsburg spot is a good place to do it. There are only a few tables inside, but there’s a long bar where you can hang out, and it’s a great option for date night. It feels kind of like an old Italian bookstore, but with wine bottles on the walls instead of books.
Maybe you’re a fan of natural wines and you order funky pet-nats whenever you see them on a menu, or maybe you’re just tired of drinking the same four bottles from the sale rack at your corner wine store. Either way, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Terre in Park Slope. They have over 100 natural wines, all of which are available by the glass. Tell the friendly staff what looks interesting to you, and they’ll bring you tastes of a few different options to help you decide. They also have a huge charcuterie selection and some bar seating. For all these reasons, this is one of the best casual date spots in the neighborhood.
D’Antan is from the same people as Have & Meyer and Terre, and all you need to know is that it’s basically a replica of those places, but in Crown Heights. If you’re unfamiliar with those spots, you can expect a mostly-Italian wine list that includes more than 100 natural wines by the glass. It’s a good option for casual dates, when you want to sit at an outdoor table and share a bunch of different wine and charcuterie.
There’s no shortage of bars in NYC that have Happy Hour wine deals, but most offer a choice between oaky chardonnays and malbec that’s been open for three days and now tastes like lukewarm grape juice. If you want more options than a house white and house red, head to Amelie in Greenwich Village. During Happy Hour, $13 gets you half glasses of any three wines on the menu (Sunday through Thursday). If you don’t want to go through the long, international wine list yourself, the servers are always happy to recommend flights as well.
Tailfeather is a wine bar in Clinton Hill that specializes in natural wine. Glasses start at $9, and there are a bunch of options from places like Greece, Georgia, and the Czech Republic. There’s also a whole section devoted to chilled reds, in case you need a cold drink but have a phobia of white or rosé-colored beverages. It’s an interesting selection, and the friendly bartenders will help you find something you like. Try this place for a casual date, use it as your go-to neighborhood spot for a weekday glass of wine, or go if you’re especially into natural wine. The space is one big room with dark-gray walls and plenty of tables, and there’s a little patio out front where you can hang out with some wine and cheese.
June Wine Bar
Another bar specializing in natural wines is June, a truly excellent neighborhood spot in Cobble Hill. This isn’t the kind of place you meet your friend of a friend who wants to network, or your clingy ex-roommate you’ve been putting off. This is the kind of place you come with people you really like (or for a first date), on a night when you don’t need to rush. It’s comfortable, it’s charming, and it’s reasonably priced enough that you won’t be horrified by your three-hour bill.
If you want a fun night out that’s still pretty relaxed, you should know about Brooklyn Winery. This big, industrial wine bar in Williamsburg has communal tables that are good for meeting new people or drinking a lot of discounted wine during Happy Hour. They make their own wines on site, and it never gets too rowdy, since people looking to turn things up will just go to Union Pool or The Commodore a few blocks away.
Technically Jadis is on the Lower East Side, but it doesn’t really feel like it. This spot in the basement of an apartment building is quieter than your average LES bar, but it still has a laid-back, downtown feel. It’s good for a first date or some low-key drinks with friends, and if you decide you want to get a little less responsible afterward, all those other LES bars are still right there.
The Immigrant is two bars in one. On the left side they serve beer, and on the right they have wine. Why they divided it up like this, we have no idea, but at least they’re doing something different. And once you get past the unusual concept, you’ll find that this is a nice bar to spend some time in. It isn’t divey or fancy—it’s just a good, calm place to have some wine and cheese in the East Village.
This is a French wine bar, but not the quiet/quaint kind. The layout is open, the atmosphere is lively, and it’s good for groups. Come with some friends and get your night started here. Or maybe just hang out at the bar and eat a meat and cheese plate by yourself. The next time you’re hanging out around Lincoln Center or Columbus Circle and you need a not-boring place to get a drink, keep Vanguard in mind.
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
This Soho wine bar offers about 25 wines by the glass and can suit lots of different situations—whether you want to roll up to the bar solo, sit one-on-one at a table, or reserve a semi-private room for a larger group. The lounge-y space feels like a nice living room, and you'll typically find a big after-work crowd here.
The Ten Bells
The Ten Bells is a great Lower East Side standby. The big wine list is made up primarily of natural wines from France, with about 30 options available by the glass, and most importantly, they have a wine and oyster Happy Hour every day until 7pm. There’s a long menu of mostly Spanish small plates, but eating a full-blown meal here is unnecessary. Stick to the oysters and the wine, and you’ll be very pleased.
The Ten Bells also has a second location in Bushwick. The Brooklyn version sits just a few feet away from Maria Hernandez Park with a brick-walled backyard and some daily Happy Hour specials of its own, including $1 oysters, $6 glasses, and $18 carafes. They’ve also got a dark wood-covered dining room where you can drink natural wine and snack on lamb meatballs and charcuterie.
Whether you come to Four Horsemen for their massive natural wine list, or because of the excellent small plates, or because it’s partially owned by a member of LCD Soundsystem, you’re going to have a good time here. The space may be small, but the bar and tables are both excellent spots for a date or small group hang. Be sure to ask your server for recommendations. The people here know what they’re talking about.
BLVD doesn’t have a big enough by-the-glass selection to make it a must-visit from other parts of the city, but if you live in the area or want somewhere to decompress after listening to your friend “hmm” for the last three hours at MoMA PS1, this is the best place to drink wine in Long Island City. The wine list is organized by style and has options from all over the world, with a lot of good bottles under $50.
Terroir used to have locations all over the city, but this is the only one left. That’s a shame, because this place is great. They offer half-glasses of most wines on the huge wine list, which is full of entertaining blurbs about varietals and tasting notes that you can repeat at a dinner party to sound like you know what you’re talking about. It tends to attract a corporate crowd due to its location, but it’s still relaxed, and the food is excellent. Order the meatballs. You won’t regret it.
Located on the ground floor of a condo building, Ardesia is a nice place to drink wine in Hell’s Kitchen. The focus is on “mineral-driven” wines, and while that’s a strangely specific and unhelpful way to categorize a 100-bottle wine list, this spot is a good option for a date or after-work drink during Happy Hour. The food is solid, too.
In some ways, Lelabar is your standard wine bar: candles everywhere, a jazz soundtrack, and an intimidating list of over 500 wines you have to navigate. But there are a few things that make this place stand out. For one, it has an excellent daily Happy Hour (until 7pm), during which normally pricey bottles are $36 and glasses are $10. We’re also fans of the U-shaped bar setup. Should you be feeling social, it lends itself well to chatting with your neighbors and getting some ordering advice from the friendly and knowledgeable sommeliers.
Black Mountain Wine House
Black Mountain Wine House is the mountain cabin of your dreams, smack dab in the middle of Gowanus. If you can’t get away from the city for a weekend, this is an excellent alternative. Bring a date, get comfortable, and enjoy the cozy yet totally un-cheesy environment. If you’re looking to turn things up a bit, walk a couple blocks to Royal Palms afterward.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Aldo Sohm is admittedly a bit expensive and a bit stuffy. It is, after all, Le Bernardin’s wine bar. But the staff is really knowledgeable, and if you’re looking for an upscale place to meet for drinks (and some great small plates) in Midtown, this one is worth checking out.
Anfora is the sister bar to L’Artusi, one of our favorite restaurants in the West Village. The dark space has a long bar that works well for a glass of wine after work or before dinner—but the best move here is to get one of the leather booths with a date or small group, share some cheese and charcuterie, and order from the extensive bottle list. In addition to our indoor bar seating, they also have a large, covered patio outside.