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Alternatives to the Ear Inn?

I meet my buddies at the Ear Inn weekly for drinks and dinner. About once a month, after we've all met up and had a drink, the crowd looks to me for an alternative dinner venue. So far I've led the group to Walkers, Broome Street Bar, Molly's and Tavern on Jane.

All of these places have gone over well and share a similar vibe.

I'm running out of suggestions. Looking to add to my list. The only requirement (other than a good burger and a decent pint of Guinness) is the ability to seat a group of about ten and preferably located below 34th.



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  1. Tips - that's a pretty good rotation - I'll just add some variation to your theme:

    Old Town Bar

    Perhaps some other contenders with slightly different vibe - not sure about the Guiness availability

    Irving Mill
    Stoned Crow - comes up in conversation, I've never been and have no idea if 10 would work.
    Spotted Pig - maybe if the number shrinks and you have some time to wait - but great burger


    7 Replies
    1. re: harrison

      Old Towne
      Stoned Crow

      All spot on choices.

      Corner Bistro, is good but the crowd is only interested in the burgers. Prolly can't seat 10. Fanelli's is small, and is my fav of the above 3. U could get 10 if they pushed the tables together in back. Fanelli's can get really crowded on weekends.

      Alot of the recs below seem to be based on the fact that the interiors have an old feel, but the crowd vibe will be way off. If you're looking for a molly's or Broome St bar I would def not rec The Smith or Lucky Strike.

      R.I.P. Chumley's

      1. re: 2slices

        Umm... McSorleys? No. That is absolutely not what the OP is looking for (i don't think). That place, while fun in its own way, is mostly a trainwreck. It's mostly tourists and the only reason people go there is to get rip-roaring drunk. I know they serve some food, but I can't imagine the burgers are any good.

        1. re: egit

          i loved mcsorely's in high school. back then the regulars were still complaining that they started letting women in

          1. re: egit

            I was going on the assumption they were looking for a real "dude" place. It's not all that touristy compared to Lombardi's or something. Though the kind of tourists interested in going to a bar are prolly the good kind. Always see a lot of hockey fans in the winter. I had a burger there years ago and have only been 2 other times. But it's a loud manly old timey joint.

            1. re: 2slices

              While McSorley's does have the kind of "gritty" atmosphere we like, it's menu is way too limited.

              We're usually all on motorcycles and wearing fairly bulky protective gear...not to mention toting helmets.

              We don't like to go anyplace where a bunch of guys (and a few girls) dressed in motorcycle gear would be out-of-place. I've been to both Old Town and Pete's many times...these are the type of places we're seeking. In my opinion, they're very similar to the four in my opening post.


              1. re: TipsyMcStagger

                Not in manhattan but the waterfront crab house in LIC is a good fit and it's just a couple miles off the 59th st bridge. Big menu of food that is just ok. Burgers, steaks, seafood. There's a bathtub filled with peanuts shells on the floor, a couple thousand hats hanging from the ceiling, FDNY stuff and lots of famous boxer's autographs. Old time joint.

                I'm in the steel business and our company xmas party has been held here forever. They're known for the giant prime rib which I do not like at all, overall the food is just ok but I've had some good shrimp dishes. Haven't had a burger but I think it'sd be pretty good. But for atmosphere I think you'll like alot. Plus plenty of parking.

                Another idea is Hill Country BBQ on 26th near 6th. It's huge, has a big downstairs bar with picnic tables, incredible ribs and brisket, but no beer on tap.

        2. re: harrison

          i echo the recs for rare, royale and resto.

          1. re: malibu

            No Guiness (or pints for that matter!) and 10 would be tough..

            1. re: harrison

              well, the CORNER BISTRO does have draft beer (and guinness in a can). closest they have on draft is the dark mcsorleys, which i usually get, but as we all know, it sucks. pilsner urquell is the best draft beer they have there.

              i'd say if they go early the group would be ok in the back, but if they go even a hair past 5pm, no chance.

              ps -- other options i'll throw in are the white horse tavern on hudson and the brass monkey in the meatpacking. plenty of big group seating at both of those.

          2. You could try McCormack's just up a few blocks from Molly's. It's a very nice irish pub. Their back dining room is a little nicer than the Ear.. it's carpeted, has nice wainscoating, etc. Most of their food is good, but I can never seem to order anything but their Shepherd's Pie.

            You may also want to consider Pete's Tavern on Irving Place and (maybe?) 18th St.

            I heartily second the suggestions of Fanelli's and Old Town.

            1. Just a little fun fact about the Ear Inn...it's haunted by a sailor...

              1. Daddy-O on Bedford? Not sure if they can accomodate 10 (it's small) but if you're there at an early hour it could probably happen.

                1. One more I just thought of...Lucky Strike.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: billyeats

                    Walker's has the best burgers and the most room so that's the best choice in the same neighborhood. Circle Rouge has burgers and guiness. The Raccoon is good for the guiness but I dont think i'd venture eating anything there. Maybe Odeon is a good choice they have room and they have burgers and it's in Tirbeca.

                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      Something's not right with Walkers as of this last week. Higher prices, mediocre food, and poor service. They're in guidebooks, and selling coupons now, so I don't think they can handle the extra attention, and enlarged dining space.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        What "enlarged dining space?" They've got the front room and the 2 adjoining narrow dining rooms. It's been like that forever.

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          they've done some construction, larger kitchen, back area extended on one of the dining rooms. plus whatever retrofitting etc. they did here:

                          anyway, prices gone up, foods not what it was....sad.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            Interesting Eater article. It was written in May of 2008 and I've been to Walkers 7 or 8 times since then. If they've expanded it's sure not public space. They've got the same 3 rooms I mentioned in my earlier post.

                            While I usually just go for drinks I've had 2 meals there since the article was written and didn't notice any fall off in food quality or service.

                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                              The kitchen is noticeably larger.

                              Service in the front would be okay. Same manager serving tables.
                              The back is a crapshoot. They just can't handle the crowds, since normally it's leisurely casual place. Our waitress to be blunt acted outright crazy. Mind you, I've been eating there for about 20 years....

                              As for the food, I went twice in December....first trip, great as usual. Second trip, total garbage, and higher prices. The place was packed for brunch but their once amazing omelette filled with ingredients was now a premade egg wrapped around some stuffings. You could chose 2 and pay extra for every added ingredient. A far cry from a perfect fluffy lobster omelette special with 6 or so fillings included, which they offered at the same time last year for the same price. The french toast wasn't soaked through, so it was like eating hot bread. It was also more expensive then it was 3 weeks before. Did Challah or egg prices go up? If the quality stayed the same, I wouldn't have cared.

                              My guess is the place is transitioning to new owners or something.

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                So you had one bad meal. A brunch. And you're blaming it on a larger kitchen.

                                As for crowds, they've always drawn well. I don't notice that it's any more crowded than before.

                                FWIW there have been no other reports of any type of decline at Walkers. I suspect your bad meal was an exception and not the sign of any tectonic shift.

                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                  The food didn't resemble what I'm used to being served there, and there were changes to the menu. You're mistaken, I did not blame this on a bigger kitchen.

                                  This is a current report, as of last week on a place which has few other reports/reviews, from a loyal customer of 20 years.

                    1. re: jpmcd

                      Circle Rouge, Irving Mill & Resto …not familiar with these at all. Will look into them!

                      Been to Spotted pig…I think that’s a little too stuffy/trendy for this group. Seating a large group would probably be a challenge here…and at Corner Bistro and Fanelli’s too.

                      I’ve had Stoned Crow on my list for a while...but I thought I recall reading that seating is limited to the bar???

                      Daddy-O! I forgot all about that place!

                      Luck Strike…been years since I’ve been there. I can’t recall the layout…but it’s worth revisiting.

                      Pete’s would probably work well with this crowd.

                      Keep ‘em coming. Thanks!


                      1. re: TipsyMcStagger

                        There's a similar neighborhoody feel at Gaetano's on Christopher and Greenwich. Good local crowd and not what you might expect from the address.

                        1. re: TipsyMcStagger

                          Cercle Rouge, Irving Mill and Resto are all decent places, but they're nothing like the gritty nature of The Ear. Lucky Strike is a bit like a "gritty bistro" vibe. It may be a little more upscale than what you're looking for, but it's not as polished as the first three.

                          Stoned Crow... it's definitely a bar and the hamburgers, while decent, are incidental. I don't know if there's table service or not. There ARE tables in the back room, but I'm not sure if they'll bring your burgers to you or if you have to get them at the bar and carry them yourself. I like Stoned Crow, but it's even less of a restaurant than The Ear (which I also like).

                          1. re: egit

                            Let me throw some E.V. locations out there:

                            Royale 10th & Ave C - the best option
                            Sunburnt Cow 9th & Ave C
                            The Smith 10th & 3r Ave
                            Zaitzeff 2nd & Ave B

                            1. re: MinhLikesFood

                              I second Royale (seriously, the best option) and also suggest Black Iron Burger on East 5th between A and B. In the west village, Waverly Inn and Garden may seem overly hip and cool and exclusive but they do have a great burger. Worth trying if you go early-ish on a weekday (since they don't take reservations) and if you can manage without a Guinness.

                              1. re: trm555

                                I have to say, I was really not thrilled with my Royale burger. It didn't match any of the reviews I had read.

                                Waverly Burger is now $25, so not so worth going for. Higher priced then their pot pies, and fish.

                              2. re: MinhLikesFood

                                I also like the Royale suggestion. Not sure if they have guinness, specifically... but they have a bunch of good options on tap. Something about Sunburnt Cow irritates me. Though, by and large, the food there I've had has always been good.

                                1. re: egit

                                  another big 'yea' on royale... great and cheap burger:


                                  atmosphere / decor is not quite in the ear inn family, but if you commandeer the jukebox, or sit in the back patio on a warm day... it's can be nice enough. waitresses are also very friendly.

                                  there are half king and brass monkey for the outposty pub vibe. can't vouch for the food and the crowd get's a little douche-y on some nights.

                              3. re: egit

                                Its true Cercle Rouge isnt as gritty as the Ear. But its by no means fancy and they have burgers. and it's in Tribeca. Walkers is closer to what the Ear is. Patriot bar is grittier than the ear and upstairs the barmaids get up on the bar with their pasties and pour shots. Theres a pool table and lots of country music. They have sliders to eat. Raccoon is pretty gritty too , not sure what kind of food they have,,, its all still in Tribeca. Theres also Puffy;s an old time neighborhood favorite. Or South's is pretty gritty and has great burgers( church st.).. Of course there is also Pig and whistle on Greenwich st. All this in Tirbeca,,, want more upscale theres Odeon,, Back to semi gritty is White Horse in the village on Hudson, good burgers. OR Five Points during happy hour has dollar beers and dollar oysters. good food , and can get loud and fun,,,

                            2. re: jpmcd

                              While I like Whitehorse for it's atmosphere, the food is pretty mediocre (a lot of Sysco-sourced reheated appetizers).

                              1. re: Sugar

                                Yup, just had a tasteless drippy (as opposed to juicy) burger at White Horse last week. It looked amazing, but just didn't taste good. At least it was cheap. Patron next to us kept having to send a soda back because it tasted funny.

                            3. dude, do not waste your time with resto or irving mill. i would say royale for sure. the smith is a great burger + beer special on sun nights. my best suggestion is waterfront ale house at 31st and 2nd ave (another one in brooklyn). place has a sick beer list and unreal burgers.



                              4 Replies
                              1. re: winedanddined

                                ...and after Waterfront Ale House, you can head to Whiskey River for some more cheap, good beers

                                1. re: winedanddined

                                  Waterfront is a good choice. Plus free popcorn.

                                  1. re: winedanddined

                                    I third Waterfront Ale.

                                    Resto is great, but is the opposite of gritty, and nothing like The Ear or Molly's.

                                    Pete's is good for beer and atmosphere but you'd be better off eating your bar stool than anything on the menu.

                                    1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                      Another vote for Waterfront.

                                      You should also add Old Town and the White Horse Tavern to the list.


                                  2. South's in Tribeca on Church b/t Franklin and White. Great pub like vibe, friendly barkeeps who aren't afraid to spot a drink now and then, and a very good burger. Nice, youngish crowd at the bar, but no poseurs, yelling suits, or unhinged hipsters. You can get a big table in the back for larger groups. Don't go fancy on the food though and you'll be ok.