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Any suggestions for a LES dive bar tour, kind of in the same vain as RGR's "(in)famous Lower East Side food tour." ?

Heading to NYC for Allman Brothers, staying near Little Italy/Chinatown. Can anyone suggest a self-guided LES dive bar tour?
Perhaps another neighbourhood would be better suited? All suggestions welcome. Tnx.

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  1. Some initial ideas, not all of them dives: Lolita, 169 Bar, Clandestino, The Magician, Nurse Bettie, Donnybrook, 151, and Whiskey Ward.

    1. All in the LES or EV: B Side, Cake Shop, Crocodile Lounge, Double Down, Lit Lounge, Local 138, Manitoba's, Mercury Lounge, Motor City (my favorite), Niagra.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Joanie

        Mercury Lounge is a music venue. It's not really divey at all.

      2. I shouldnt be condoning this, and I hope this is just going to be a few of you, and there will be no santa hats, or anything else that even remotely resembles a theme. This area has had enough crawls, But;
        Max Fish,
        The Magician
        Happy Ending
        Welcome to the Johnsons
        If you want to include some north of houston places:
        Hi Fi
        B Side
        Heathers - might have closed
        Key Bar

        1. The dive bar is a threatened species, even in the LES/EV: we've lost many good ones recently. A lot of the suggestions posted so far are not really dives (Nurse Bettie is closer to a lounge; Donnybrook is a spanking new mock-Irish pub, 169 used to be a hellish dive, but is now more like a music venue with Hawaiian decor).

          Here are some dive-like dives, above and below Houston:

          Manitoba's (although it's much less a dive than it once was)
          Double Down Saloon
          Doc Holliday's
          Welcome to the Johnsons
          Lit Lounge (if you ignore the gallery space)
          Mercury Lounge
          Ace Bar
          Grassroots Tavern
          Basement bar under Three of Cups
          Iggy's and Parkside Lounge are borderline dives

          This isn't a list of the most enjoyable bars in the neighborhood, but I think it's closer to what you asked for.

          1. Up Stairs at 59 Canal is a split-personality dive. Part Chinatown old-timers, part younger non-Chinese locals (the disparate crowds coexist reasonably well). Short menu of bar grub: fries, dumplings, fish balls, nothing special. No beer on tap. Karaoke nightly, live bands once a month. TVs tuned to sports or, for some reason, the travel or food channels. Accommodating owner named Rena.

            1 Reply
            1. re: squid kun

              I forgot the classic Chinatown dive, Winnie's. Beware nightly karaoke (which can draw a lot of students). Great in the afternoon.

            2. Maybe a little clarification.
              When first visiting Manhattan years ago, we usually stayed in the Times Square/Theater district. As a new visitor, the lights and theaters were exciting.
              However, I was always frustrated in finding a good, honest bar in this disneyland, and found myself returning again and again to Jimmys Corner, or trekking to 9th.

              We're not a theme group (no groucho moustaches or hats) and we're not trying to re-live frosh week. I simply want a loose trail to follow when heading out from our place and another when returning.

              Thanks for all suggestions.

              2 Replies
              1. re: porker

                If its more like little italy, there are a few good divish bars further west from my original list, such as Spring lounge, Tom and Jerrys, Bleeker st Pub, Milanos.

                I agree my first list wasnt necessarily all dive bars, but just good, non pretentious bars in the area. All better than Jimmys corner, but Im biased, cause Jimmy kicked me out the one time I was there, cause I didnt have a beer in my hand when I went to use the bath room. After a My Morning Jacket show, actually.

                1. re: Hey19

                  Was it Jimmy who kicked you out, or was it his wife Swanny? She can be tough and ruthless in a loving kind of way......

              2. Blarney Cove and International Bar...provided you're looking for a real dive bar and not a hip, crowded place that's just *slightly* dingy :)

                1. Thanks for the suggestions, folks.

                  My feeble report;
                  First, like any trip to NYC, we had an extensive list of things to see, places to eat, and spots to drink. Throw in unplanned stops, items leftover from the last trip, sobriety, and weekday closures, not all planned stops make the roster...
                  We did get to:
                  Welcome to the Johnsons - great divey place, great prices.
                  Motor City - my kind of music, great times (barmaid informed us they are closing in a month or so...)
                  Nurse Betty - perhaps a great place, but not a dive bar. Great decor, I left after 1 expensive drink (with a name like that, my anticipation was high, but I was let down).
                  Iggys Celtic Lounge - closed on Monday afternoon.
                  169 Bar - Loved this place (my favorite)...besides libations, I enjoyed a plate of crawdads.
                  Double Down - either closed Monday afternoon, or distracted by Mrs. Porker before I could get there.

                  While in the area, I endured a generic "Irish Pub" on Orchard, corner Rivington.
                  Lucky Jack's a bit further down on Orchard - meh.
                  Not a dive, but a good joint, Marshall Stacks on Allen corner Rivington.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: porker

                    I guess The Magician wasn't divey enough to make the list?

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Actually, it IS on the list, along with most of the suggestions on this thread AND others.
                      Alas, we only had a long weekend and other things to do, so the listed places above were the joints I got to.