1. Upper West Side
- Emerald Inn
205 Columbus Ave. , 212-874-8840
This contagiously friendly Irish pub is a neighborhood hangout in a neighborhood where people don’t really “hang out.” People know each other by name, but they’re always willing to learn a new one.
2. Hell's Kitchen
- Bellevue Bar
538 Ninth Ave.
A true-blue dive bar. Old Bettie Page photos line the walls, the draft is served in plastic cups, and the clientele is strictly local. The jukebox has great drinking music—Ramones, Dean Martin, and Beastie Boys.
3. Flatiron District
- Flatiron Lounge
37 W. 19th St., 212-727-7741
The perfect combination of neighborhood bar and fashionable throwback cocktail haven. There’s usually room on one of the plush banquettes, and the fastidiously re-created twenties-style drinks are divine.
4. West Village
- Little Branch
20 Seventh Ave. S., 212-929-4360
If you don’t have the number for Milk & Honey (home of our best martini, page 78), come here: The cocktails at Sasha Petraske’s other bar, hidden belowground behind an unassuming brown door, are nearly as good.
5. Financial District
- John Street Bar & Grill
17 John St., 212-349-4659
With a biker barkeep, a seventies-style make-out nook, and a whisky list that’ll have you throwing darts crooked, this spacious rec room is a subterranean hideout from the overcrowded pubs nearby.
6. Lower East Side
105 Eldridge St., 212-334-6740
It’s not the friendly bar staff, the lofty, tri-level layout, or the always-packed Love Parade party on Fridays. It’s the fact that the Ludlow Street crowds stay away—which means that you, your friends, and Interpol’s Carlos D. can party in peace.
7. Upper East Side
- Session 73
1359 First Ave., 212-517-4445
Upper East Side bars that have live music. It’s rarer still to come by one that’s not dominated by twenty televisions.
8. East Midtown
- BUtterfield 8
5 E. 38th St., 212-679-0646
Straddling that line between unassuming after-work pub and thoughtfully accessible lounge isn’t easy, but this newbie does so nimbly. Ahi-tuna salad and a cranberry Cosmo, anyone? Or a cold Bud?
9. Murray Hill
- Pinetree Lodge
326 E. 35th St., 212-481-5490
This escape from the Third Avenue post-frat zoo—it’s all alone on a block of dark slab towers and a U.N. mission—is more East Village than east midtown. The pleasingly grungy garden helps.
- Turkey’s Nest Tavern
94 Bedford Ave., 718-384-9774
At this proudly low-rent sports dive, lingering blue-collar locals watch Yankees games and play Big Buck Hunter II with the vinyl-loving upstarts who’ve been pricing them out. And a 32-ounce Bud is just $3.50.
11. Park Slope
376 9th St., 718-965-9177
Like the African marketplace in its namesake Paris neighborhood, this intimate, red-lit back room has a funky patchwork of offerings: world music, retro sounds, film screenings, and readings from neighborhood literati.
Bars in the Hood
The best local watering hole for wherever you live.
From the 2006 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).