BOTTLE SERVICE AT a fancy club might be nice, but only when someone else is picking up the tab. Honestly, I’d prefer a shot of jack in a dirty glass any day. I don’t mind carrying my own toilet paper and I’ve read some pretty decent haikus on a few bathroom stalls.
Whether you’re hipster-identified or hipster-hating, a good dive bar is precious indeed. In fact, you should check out these incredible GAY dive bars! They’re more fun than their heterosexual counterparts, and have been only mildly infiltrated by the hipster crowd.
These are my favorite five in NYC below 14th St.
This bar is so much more than a crafty name—although I do love telling people that I’m going “nowhere” or that they should meet me at “nowhere.” It’s always dark inside, in a friendly way, and the after-work crowd consists of mostly gay men and trans people hanging out by the pool table.
If you’re hungry, grab a slice of Artichoke pizza next door and bring it on over. It’s always fun to hang with the bartenders and pick out songs for the jukebox. It’s a rarely crowded place and loads of fun (just don’t do anything crazy like lick the floor).
Happy hour is Monday-Thursday + Sunday, 3-9PM: $3 well, $2 domestic drafts
Friday-Saturday, 3-8PM: $3 well, $2 domestic drafts
322 E. 14th St.
Lesbian bar alert! This is a haven for girls who kiss girls and the gay men who appreciate it. The jukebox is near the restroom, and I’ve realized this sort of configuration serves as a prime pick-up spot. I don’t know how many times I’ve overheard, “Oh my God, I love that song! I’m Natalie by the way…” Trust, it works every time.
The bar itself is long and narrow with an assortment of interesting things hanging from the ceiling like Chinese lanterns and model airplanes, which is charming. In the back there’s a small dance floor that comes alive after midnight. At Cubbyhole everyone might not know your name, but they’re always glad you came.
Cash only. Tuesdays feature $2 margaritas and Fridays offer $4 sweet tea till 9PM
281 W. 12th St.
Boiler RoomThis neighborhood bar is a favorite and it tends to pack in homos like sardines. Of course there’s a jukebox (be advised: song choice is at the bartender’s discretion), but there’s also a pool table frequently occupied by hipsters. During holiday weekends (think gay Christmas) Boiler Room’s generally standing room only.
What’s enjoyable about this place is just how low-key and unpretentious the crowd is, which is nice given what you often encounter in Chelsea. Check out Alec’s Pizza Night each Wednesday around 8:00 PM and enjoy a free pizza, complements of Boiler Room!
Happy Hour is daily from 4-8PM: two-for-one drinks
Daily from 10PM-4AM: $3.75 well drinks
86 E. 4th St.
Here the walls are entirely black, aside from words and phrases stenciled in bold, white letters, like ONE GAY AT A TIME, SWEET JESUS, which is featured on the bathroom door.
Eastern Bloc is especially fun on weekends because that’s when the gays tend to bring out their straight girlfriends (who generally get very inebriated and dance on a table with or near a pole to Lady Gaga). It’s a fun crowd and very straight-girl friendly.
Of course, if you’re having trouble making friends, there’s ample taxidermy to admire along the walls, or you can just fixate on one of several television sets (all featuring, yes, you guessed it—gay porn!).
Happy Hour is daily from 7-10PM: $4 beer and well drinks
505 E. 6th St.
This place might have ‘Inn’ in its title, but don’t get confused and think you have the option of boarding for the night. Stonewall is just a regular dive bar, except that it was scene to the legendary 1969 Stonewall Riots, which incited the gay rights movement. Fun Fact: It also used to be owned by the mafia.
Play pool with your friends and embrace the classic wood paneling coupled with the atrocious mirrored walls. Upstairs there’s a smaller room that sometimes plays host to speakers or book readings, and comes complete with leopard-print seating and a legit disco ball. Stonewall is a great spot to pre-game before a night out, or for simply meeting up with a friend after work.
Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 2:00-8:00 PM; two-for-one, wine and beer
Sunday, 2-8PM: free hot dogs, $3 bottled beers, $5 Svedka martinis
53 Christopher St.