New York's Best Dive Bars

In his new book, New York City's Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the Big Apple, Ben Westhoff riffs on the five boroughs' finest dumps. Here are his 10 favorites.

Junior, the owner, who looks about 70. He can be found smoking out front, or sitting near the door and carding those who look young, which is pretty much nobody. It's a fair assumption that he was excited about Obama's election, as nearly every inch of Tip-Top's wall space is filled with Barack and Michelle pictures—with the queen, with Oprah—and Obama dollar bills.

Linda, the bartender and Junior's daughter. She has long braids and pours a generous drink, as long as you don't order something from a bottle hanging upside down that is regulated by those exact-shot spouts. Ask to see her personalized, bedazzled "Tip-Top" ball cap, which rests on a shelf behind the bar.

Enormous customer, draped in a giant piece of white fabric with a winning smile. One assumes she makes the mistake of eating too much of Corrine's food, considering her tendency to clutch her side and wreak havoc upon the bathroom.

Not really a café, but check out the taxidermy.
Ashlei Quinones
Not really a café, but check out the taxidermy.
It's bikini weather inside.
Ashlei Quinones
It's bikini weather inside.
Yes, the Swedish meatballs are on the house.
Sarah Sellars
Yes, the Swedish meatballs are on the house.
Please don't ask for an Appletini.
Ashlei Quinones
Please don't ask for an Appletini.

Location Info


Nancy Whiskey Pub

1 Lispenard St.
New York, NY 10013

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Tribeca

Billymark's West

332 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10001

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Chelsea

Blarney's Cove

510 E. 14th St.
New York, NY 10009

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East Village

Holland Bar

532 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10019

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: West 50s

O'Connor's Bar

39 5th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Brooklyn

Tobacco Road

355 W. 41st St.
New York, NY 10036

Category: Attractions and Amusement Parks

Region: West 40s

Station Cafe
39-50 61st Street (near Roosevelt Avenue), Queens, Phone: Disconnected

The name Station Cafe conjures up a cosmopolitan image, but this Woodside pub is less "Grand Central Station" than "Greyhound bathroom." That's harsh; in fact, there's something glorious about the deterioration here. A room off to the side is dedicated to little more than stacks of empties waiting to be recycled—or decompose, or whatever. Décor includes an ancient "No Dancing" poster, featuring a pair of tired boxers clutching each other.

The shelves are dusty because the selection is meager. Station Cafe doesn't need much, because the staff knows what everyone who enters is going to want. Grizzled and Irish, mostly, they're all regulars, and no one is throwing back any aged single malts. Typical answer when the barkeep asks how they're doing? "Good enough."

It's been said that all of New York's real dive bars are in Queens, and Station Cafe brings truth to that statement. As you approach, you'll think it's closed, but—have no fear—it's open, despite the fact that the door has no handle. On second thought, have a little fear: The Station Cafe, it's clear, caters more to fighters than to dancers.

Ben Westhoff will read from his book, 'New York City's Best Dive Bars,' at 8 p.m. October 6, at Port 41, 355 West 41st Street. For more information, visit

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