10 Best Dive Bars in New York, Readers’ Edition, 2013


When we recently shared our 10 Best Dive Bars, including classics like Sophie’s and the Times Square hole Jimmy’s Corner, we also asked readers to nominate their own choices, via hashtag #vvdivebars and comments. Dive bars are personal–every neighborhood has a great one, and every New Yorker has a favorite. Now it’s your turn:

Colorful Christmas lights give this Fort Greene subterranean bar a jolly feel all year round. But in the back of the house, graffitied walls, a well-loved pool table, and frequent bouts of arm-wrestling turn Alibi into a down-and-dirty drinker’s dream. Order up a whiskey neat for just $4, and no one will bat an eyelash if you BYO dinner in a Chinese takeout box. 242 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn

Connie O’s
The only brews you’ll find on tap at this Greenpoint bar are Coors and Bud, and most of the alcohol comes poured with mixers straight from grocery-store jugs. Everyone in this local crowd seems to know one another, and the bartender asks about kids, dogs, and grandparents over free Cheetos. Spending just a few hours here makes you feel like one of the gang, but there’s another way to prove your commitment: Come Sunday, regulars put on their game faces for the weekly pool league. 158 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn

Ding Dong Lounge
A number of commenters pleaded with Fork in the Road to include this beloved Upper West Side joint, which hosts punk acts on the weekends. Toilet-paper rolls are slung on a thick metal chain in the bathroom. A single bare light hangs over a gnarly pool table, and after a few drinks, regulars gravitate toward the hula hoops hanging from a nail. In a neighborhood filled with polished pubs, the Ding Dong is as classic as it gets. 929 Columbus Avenue

179th Street Subway Bar
Despite the bottles of Absolut and Bacardi Gold, Subway Bar has no velvet ropes. Even top-shelf drinks at this bar in Jamaica, Queens, are $5. Flags from Trinidad and Guyana adorn the wall, and small TVs blast sports games and the occasional music video. The crowd is sparse on most nights, and the F train rumbles beneath, a steady reminder that Manhattan’s just far enough away. 18002 Hillside Avenue, Queens

Milano’s Bar
Tucked between Soho’s pop-up shops and artisan chutney companies is a bare-bones spot that’s been slinging drinks since 1880. Just a few ripped stools line the bar, and posters of Frank Sinatra and Michael Collins are complemented by a jukebox full of Springsteen. On Tuesdays every whiskey shot is accompanied by pickle juice. Neighborhood regulars who remember the days of a very different Soho still clock in here in the afternoon, and are hard-pressed to give up a seat in the narrow room. 51 E. Houston Street

If Sophie’s is the queen of East Village dives, Lucy’s is the princess. Newcomers might recognize the mahogany walls and Miller Lite lamps from the movie Hurricane Streets, but most locals know the place for its bartender-owner, Lucy Valosky. A Polish flag and porcelain tchotchkes represent her home country, and Lucy herself can often be found turning the jukebox to polka legend Stan Yankovic. Here, she’s the boss, which is just the way it should be. 135 Avenue A

The Levee
This Williamsburg staple used to be the noted bar and drug den Kokie’s, which closed in 2001. The spot reopened as Antique Lounge, and then as the Levee. It warns customers with a sign: “Beware Pickpockets & Loose Women.” Iron Maiden fans and hipsters come together to pick from a surprisingly impressive (yet still cheap) craft beer list. Order a chili-drenched Frito pie, devour all the free cheese balls, and bring one of the Jenga sets to the back room–all best enjoyed with the house special, Beam Cream (Jim Bean mixed with cream soda). 212 Berry Street, Brooklyn

Welcome to the Johnsons’
To its Lower East Side neighbors–and fans around the city–Welcome to the Johnsons’ is known as “that ’70s bar.” With fake-wood-paneled walls and a dingy old brown refrigerator it’s reminiscent of an old rec room where the booze flows free from dad’s liquor cabinet. But here, no one will point fingers if you spill a little on the plastic-covered couches. 123 Rivington Street

Ovidio’s Bar
Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside has a sprawling row of dives, and where the drag meets 39th Avenue lies Ovidio’s Bar, a nondescript haunt next to Thai hotspot Sripraphai. Metal bars cover the windows, and walking in feels like descending into a cave–but with much better Spanish-language music videos cued up. 64-19 39th Avenue, Queens

Blue and Gold Tavern
A green awning that reads “Blue & Gold 79” has been about to collapse since the ’50s–even after renovations in 2010–but the thin metal doorframe leads the way to a bar where ice is limited and mixers come from the back room. Sidle up to a ratty pool table, a Lower East Side lush celebrating a birthday with $5 shot-and-beer combos, or the jukebox loaded up with Jimi Hendrix. Most patrons are longtime East Village residents and love to wax nostalgic about the old ‘hood with wide-eyed new neighbors. 79 E. 7th Street