Brandy’s Piano Bar
235 E. 84th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-650-1944
Around since the seventies, Brandy’s has the kind of unpretentious neighborhood feel that might have inspired Billy Joel's "Piano Man": The drinks are cheap, and everybody sings along.
Bill's Gay Nineties
57 E. 54th St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-355-0243
Three house pianists gently play Billie Holliday tunes suitable for slow-dancing, while the space itself—a former speakeasy—provides a miniature time warp back to an era when the staff could pull a lever to drop bottles into a sandpit should a cop come strolling in.
61 Christopher St., at Seventh Ave.; 212-255-5438
Although the Duplex looks like a quiet West Village corner home, there’s a raucous world of great cabaret behind its French doors. Enjoy an entire evening of Broadway-quality entertainment without the long lines or overpriced tickets.
Don't Tell Mama
343 W. 46th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-757-0788
What makes Don't Tell Mama such a showstopper is the way Sidney Myer, its longtime booking agent, varies the diet. An American Songbook diehard, Myer also showcases rock and roll vocalists, comedy groups, new musicals, and highly respected impressionists.
Marie's Crisis Cafe
59 Grove St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-243-9323
A former prostitutes' den that lasted through Prohibition, Marie’s is now an unruly piano joint where neighborhood gay men and musical-theater performers gather round the keys nightly, creating a decidedly giddy mood.