DIVE BARS AND CHEAP GREAT FOOD
I've been doing searches here for some months now for our upcoming trip to NY 4/24-4/28, but as time has grown closer, i thought i'd ask for the latest info. I'm very into the food scene in San Francisco/Bay Area (faves: Canteen, Coco 500, Spork, Foreign Cinema, Gary Danko, Jeanty at Jacks, Pizzaiolo), but we're trying to make this a very frugal and casual yet tasty trip. We want street food, ethnic food, the best local, etc. We have an afternoon planned for a trip to Flushing Mall Food Court for the pork belly burger and other delights, i'm also thinking of checking out Shopsin's (although i think it's moved a couple of times?), and we're going to Brooklyn Sunday night to see the Wooster Group's newest production. We plan on checking out art galleries, and just wondering around. We like divey bars - by which i mean medium-to-low on the hipster quotient, definitely a pool table or two, cheap drinks (gin tonics for me, Cuervo for him - fancy drinkers we're not.) Mostly we'll be doing the divey bars in Manhattan. We're staying at The Carlton Arms in Murray Hill and prefer something walking distance, but not adverse to a cab ride. Are bars still open late in NY? Any that are still smoke-friendly? Back to food - we like it all - vietnamese, mexican, deli, central/south american, thai, korean, middle eastern, etc. Best hot dog, best pizza, best bahn mi? i hope this isn't too broad a request . . . We are SO EXCITED! thanks in advance . . .
Some places you have to hit:
KENKA (St. Mark's between 2nd and Third Avenues) - the only fifth dimensional Japanese izakaya in NYC. Sure there are other izakayas but none of them instantly beams you into an alternate universe where Japan won the war and schoolgirl ero guro artwork decorates menus. $1.50 beers, and while the food isn't "good" per se, it's a lot of fun. Bull penis anyone? How about the mysterious Special Employee Dinner? Stingray fin jerky? You can take four people here, get drunk as lords, order a ton of food, and walk out with an $80 bill.
GRASSROOTS (St. Mark's, between Second and Third Avenues) - it's dirty and wooden and the bartender hates you a lot. In fact, if you ask him too many questions you get the feeling he'll strike a match and the whole place will go up in flames. But it's the perfect bar for that 4pm beer and popcorn, and now that the economy has nuked itself it's often somewhat deserted until later in the evening too. My favorite dive bar, hands down. Plus, it's almost directly across the street from Kenka. (Also on St. Mark's, the Holiday Cocktail Lounge between 1st and 2nd Aves, but it's not as comfy as Grassroots).
SLY FOX - (140 Second Ave, at 8th Street) the bar in the Ukranian National Home. I have been here at 8pm on a Friday, 10pm on a Saturday and every time in between and never have there been more than 3 other people in here with me. They also appear to have only one bartender, a very nice Ukranian student who will talk to you until your ears explode if you so desire. She's a trip. It's attached to a semi-secret (but not really) Ukranian restaurant that even CH-ers like:
TIFFIN WALLAH (28th Street between Park and Lexington) - the best Indian food in Murray Hill. Sure there are probably better places but this remains my favorite simply because the food comes with a certain degree of invention. You get the feeling that they thought about it before they slung it out of the kitchen, and it's the kind of Indian food that manages to seem authentic and inauthentic simultaneously. Also, it's as cheap as sitting in your hotel room getting drunk on screwtop wine and Cheeto's.
There's also a good Grand Sichuan kind of in the Murray Hill area (Lexington between 33rd and 34th) and it's totally different from what you're used to and although opinions differ, I think it's pretty great the first time you have it. If you want a fancy beer bar in that 'hood (with food) then there's the Waterfront Ale House (2nd Avenue and 30th Street - also has popcorn but with weird flakes of carbonized popcorn machine in it, or maybe that's pepper?) and by all means avoid Desmond's Tavern on Park Avenue between 29th and 30th. It looks like a dive, and it is a dive, but it's an unpleasant, moldy, expensive dive.
Thanks everyone for all the recommendations! These are fantastic ideas . Thanks for being so specific, too! that muffaletta made my mouth water, and i'm intrigued by Grand Sichuan, and Grassroots. I know smoking is illegal in bars in NY, as it is here in San Francisco, but there's always the exception to the rule - such as Karma. I'll do further research on all the places listed by LeahBella, and thanks for putting all those links at easy reach, kathryn. i'll post when we get back. If anyone else thinks of anything else along these lines, please post. Can't wait - and thanks again!
Bars here stay open until 4am.
Here's some recs for Murray Hill & vicinity (use www.menupages.com to view addresses and menus):
Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
Los Dos Molino's
inoteca (haven't been to this location in the 20's
)Rare Bar & Grill
Shopsin's is located in the Essex Street Market. Tuesday - Fri, 9am to 3pm, Saturdays 9:30 to 2pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays, and for dinner.
Many bars are open late in NYC but it often depends on the day you're there. Last call at some places on the weekends is 4am. Smoking indoors is illegal in NYC except for enclosed areas dedicated to the sampling of tobacco products (like cigar bars) where food/drink is incidental to the main purpose.
Your food request is very, very vague. There are plenty of other tourist-friendly threads on these boards, many started in the last 1-2 days....
These aren't utter dives, but my favorite lower-priced bars are The Magician on the Lower East Side (I have had many a tasty gin and tonic there) and Ace Bar in the East Village. You can order in food both places and in those neighborhoods you will find many tasty and cheap options (I like toting a Katz's pastrami sandwich to The Magician myself.) Ace has pool tables and skee ball. Both places are reasonably near Shopsins and very walkable on a nice day like this one. Bars are open until 4. You cannot smoke inside.