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.
You can find more than an extensive list of single-malt scotches and bar peanuts inside the warmly lit Dive 75. Meatless munchies include southern fried pickles and spicy-sweet sweet potato chips tossed with black pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar. Still hungry? The main menu includes veggie dogs, burgers, and even a vegetarian reuben.
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.
Some people come to Pine Tree to enjoy its woodsy, far-from-the-city feel: exposed wood beams evoke weekends at a cozy cabin as taxidermied animals keep watch over the scene from their perches on high. Still others come for the Caribbean food that delivers its own type of cozy feeling—the kind that comes from rib-sticking bites of jerk chicken, curried goat, and escovitch snapper. On some evenings, live music adds to the spot’s relaxed vibe and groups are always welcome to watch games on TV screens or test the coziness of the bar’s leather banquettes until 4 a.m. every day of the week.