Three New York City Neighborhood Dive Bars

14 Feb
2013

It’s been a while since we visited New York. We’ve missed it. New York is a really great city. Times Square, however, is terrible and crowded. We managed to get stuck walking through Times Square three times even though we were committed to avoiding it. Whoops! If you’ve never been to New York, don’t judge it based on Times Square. Judge it based on its great neighborhood dive bars. Here are three we ended up at:

Upper East Side, Manhattan: McKeowns

Not only is this bar cute and cozy — they have great happy hour deals. We always expect the worst in New York — in terms of pricing — but there were no $7 beers here. The Irish-accented bartender knows everybody’s name and favorite drink (some even seem to be pre-poured based on historical arrival time data), and I got the feeling that we’d be bumped to “regular” status on our second visit — it was really a friendly place. Stop here after a visit to the Met or before a visit to Papaya King. I had both a Goose Island IPA (a beer from “home”) and a Brooklyn Lager. Yum.

McKeowns is close to Central Park and is a great place to warm up after exploring the park on a snow-free winter day.

McKeowns is close to Central Park and is a great place to warm up after exploring the park on a snow-free winter day.

Union Square, Manhattan: Pete’s Tavern

Pete's Tavern. Almost at year 150.

Pete’s Tavern. Almost at year 150.

This was our second visit to Pete’s Tavern, the “oldest continuously-operating restaurant and bar in New York City.” We first visited about 7 years ago. Nothing much has changed, as you would expect from a place that’s been around for just-about 150 years. Pete’s, however, scored some serious bonus points for literally kicking a pregnant woman and her friends off one of the front tables so that we could sit down and drink. Now that’s service! If you want a table at Pete’s, you’ve got to drink for it. I spotted Ron Swanson’s Scotch-of-choice on the menu (Lagavulin) and had to try it. I liked it better than this:

Park Slope, Brooklyn: High Dive

Seeking a refuge from the cold after exploring Prospect Park and the amazing Brooklyn Library, we ducked into High Dive for a pre-hotel-check-in beer. We were too early for happy hour, but prices were reasonable anyway. The bar is a solid dive complete with popcorn. There’s also a pay-it-forward drink chalkboard where you can buy a buddy a drink, just like at Island Brewing in Carpinteria. I kept my ordering divey and had a Yuengling. Delicious.

High Dive booze on the left, drink credit chalkboard on the right.

High Dive booze on the left, drink credit chalkboard on the right.

That’s it! Three wonderful dive bars. I can’t wait to return to New York and discover even more.