One of Harlem’s favorite dive bars, Paris Blues Bar combines good music, cheap drinks and simple food inside a predictably rough-around-the-edges interior. The bar occupies the ground floor of a tenement building on the corner of West 121st Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.. Thankfully, the owner Samuel Hargiss Jr., has done much to maintain Paris Blues Bar’s old school, no fuss atmosphere, meaning regulars have the option to get down on a small dance floor or belly up to the long bar. Music pulses from one of the best jukeboxes in New York, pushing out classic blues, jazz and soul riffs; on other nights, the bar hosts live bands.
Drinks come cheap, fast and often at Ding Dong Lounge, a Manhattan Valley dive spot that’s home to many regulars as well as Columbia University students. A good chunk of the barstools are occupied by in-the-know locals from the Upper West Side and Harlem, while some cheeky drinkers swing through for the obscenely cheap $6 beer-and-a-shot happy hour deal. After more than a decade in the beer-serving business, Ding Dong is still going strong, thanks to its comfortingly dark walls, guitar neck beer taps, heavy metal pinball machines and a pool table. There’s live music on the weekends and a hook near the door that holds a small collection of hula hoops for anyone looking to show off their skills. Otherwise, this is a drinker’s heaven – particularly during happy hour – and one of Manhattan’s truly unspoiled dives.
A testament to the lasting union of food and drink, The Mad Donkey sates appetites with an eclectic menu of munchables and a smorgasbord of brews to match. Dive into a flock of their Monster wings, which, like parade floats and large-print nursery rhymes, are pleasantly over-sized ($8.95). Next, tackle one of their 10 signature sandwiches ($5.95–$13.95) or a customizable burger, a half-pound patty ($10) that arrives with your choice of two toppings ($1 for each additional topping). Bold bar-goers may brave the one-of-a-kind Donkey Mess, a layer of fries bedecked with a 6-ounce cheeseburger, topped with mash potatoes, squashed with a 1/4-pound chili dog, seasoned with the adventurous spirit of Davey Crockett, and garnished with a chicken finger and onion rings ($18). Wash down demonstratively massive meals with their signature Fishbowls, 64 ounces of three different rums, juices, soda, and swedish fish ($20). The bar also offers a rotating selection of beers on draft, recently featuring the Beer Advocate-approved Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Ommegang Hennepin ($6 each) to quench hop-happy thirsts.
Though its name implies a worn out, old hole-in-the-wall-style bar, Dive 75 defies expectations. Here, warm lighting casts over a gleaming wooden bar that supports elbows as guests dig into expansive upscale menu and sip single-malt scotches and choose from a lengthy list of bourbons, tequilas, and wines. The chefs whip up more than just bar peanuts and popcorn, instead fashioning plates brimming with seafood, a range of vegetarian burgers and sandwiches, and a bountiful array of breakfast meals. They further dazzle taste buds with options such as Quebecois poutine and buffalo-met hot dogs, all cooked in trans-fat-free oil, which patrons sample amid views of the expansive built-in aquarium.
A night at McFadden's Restaurant & Saloon might convince you that the East Coast has reached across the sea to kiss Ireland. The restaurant combines New York and Irish influences willy-nilly, mixing its love for the Buffalo Bills with its knack for cooking shepherd's pie and fish and chips. If you're in the mood for some Americana, however, the menu also offers slow-roasted ribs, strip steak, and chicken wings slathered in homemade sauce. Drink specials incentivize guests to pair their food with beer and other beverages?drafts are only $1 on Tuesday evenings, and Sundays mean unlimited Bloody Mary cocktails until 5 p.m., or whenever the mayor declares brunch officially over.
Your chances of catching the perfect wave in Manhattan may be slim, but at Point Break NYC you can celebrate like you did. The self-described surf bar lauds the laid back lifestyle, even adding a coastal flare to its menu of pub food favorites. Fish tacos are served up with spicy avocado salsa, while BLTs gain an extra consonant with the addition of tilapia and a side of Dirty South fries. The festive vibe continues at the bar, where servers pour out PB Bombs and inventive mixed drinks. The boldest guests can drink their drafts out of the 96-ounce Das Boot, a giant boot-shaped glass that was modeled after Paul Bunyan's baby shoes.