Biting off a task as gargantuan as visiting and documenting every New York City dive bar is inherently an iterative pursuit. This space and these reviews will evolve over time as the slow march across many boroughs worth of dive bars takes place, but even at this early juncture, it’s clear and perhaps obvious that the dive bar standard is high in New York.
Mapping out the multitude of options as you can see below shows a handful of concentrations where the conditions have been ripe over the years for dive bar growth. The East Village (and close friend Ukrainian Village) is one of those hot spots, home to McSorley’s Old Ale House
, one of the no-brainer kings of New York dive bars. The sawdust on the floors, the 1854 heritage, the beer options of “light” or “dark,” McSorley’s compelling attributes run deep. Blue & Gold Tavern
, Cherry Tavern
, the walking-distance options for great dive drinking in the East Village are plentiful.
Elsewhere, a giant porcelain pig and free hot dogs on a gas station-style roller behind the bar provide a strong lure to Rudy’s
further uptown. In the shadow of MSG, Billymark’s West
resembles a hollow blue cube that just happens to serve High Life and looks to have been assembled about 100 years ago. And there are dozens upon dozens of great neighborhood drinking options in between. Look for this space to evolve as the real work begins, dive bar drinking our way across New York.