HAPPY TIME! packs a lot of flavor into a small space, serving popular Asian bites along with beer, wine, and a taste of local culture. Black counters flank the narrow white-walled eatery, where bottles of American microbrews such as Flying Dog and Victory, and imports such as Tsingtao mingle with fried or steamed pork buns and vegetable egg rolls. Aside from lending the space a casual vibe, the minimalist aesthetic has a greater purpose: to draw eyes toward the stunning visual artwork from Reaves Gallery on the walls and ears toward open-mic nights, comedy shows hosted by Derik Boik, and performances by local artists, poets, independent musicians, and bands from space. Patrons can also commandeer HAPPY TIME! for private events ranging from film screenings and "breakup" parties, with custom menus and beverage selections available on request.
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.
1 Republik Lounge whisks patrons into a low-lit series of rooms decorated to evoke classic Hollywood, Rat Pack glamour, and the Land of Oz. Nine flavors of tobacco-free hookah add an aromatic complement to meals in the beer garden, where red tables polka-dot the patio like the spots on a zebra's back. NCAA season sends cheers coursing past tables along with Italian-tinged entrees such as shrimp scampi and pub snacks including bruschetta and meatballs. Meanwhile, versatile, outgoing bartenders tap beer, pour wine, and mix cocktails while adding to the conviviality of the dive-inspired lounge whose "hospitality is second to none," according to Shecky's NYC Nightlife.
Down the Hatch supplies a sports fan's subterranean sanctuary with burgers, wings, and more. The Atomic Wings promise an Oppenheimer-approved assault on gastronomic Geiger counters—get the six-wing combo with fries or onion rings ($7.99) or brave a bucket of 50 burning wings ($34.99). Wing sauce flavors range from "mild" and "hot" to "suicidal" and "bite me." Burgerwise, Down the Hatch slings bun-bookended bites in beef, turkey, or veggie variations ($8.25, with fries, onion rings, or tater tots), and competitive eaters can keep stomachs stretched for Fourth of July festivities with a classic hot dog ($2). Numerous starters are available, including sweet-corn fritters ($4.99) and jalapeño poppers ($6.99), but as a bonus for Groupon buyers, Down the Hatch is including a free combination basket of its famous wafer fries and onion rings with this deal ($5.99 value).
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.