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Best New York Dive Bars

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by Jessica Mousseau (subscribe)
Jessica Mousseau is a copywriter & copy editor from the United States. Her work can be viewed at:
Published June 3rd 2011
The word "dive" conjures up a bar that is so dimly lit you practically have to feel your way around, with enough cigarette smoke hanging in the air to almost create two separate atmospheres above and below it and not a few shady characters. If this sounds like your idea of fun, then you should know that such places do exist. There are several New York City bars that call themselves "dive" bars, but most of them just wish they were. The ones listed below truly fit the description of a "dive" bar, so get ready to go "diving."

Dive Bar, 96th Street, 75th Street, and 101st Street

There are three dive bars operated by the same organization in New York City, so take your pick. All of them are going to give you an authentic "dive bar" experience, especially when they're celebrating a special event such as the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl, or other event.

If you're having a party, bring your own "growlers" (quart to gallon containers) and let the Dive Bar staff fill them with beer from the microbrew selections or fresh tap beer. If you don't have your own "growler" yet, the Dive Bar will furnish you one. It's certain you'll be the life of the party with fresh, cold beer from any one of these establishments.

Mudville 9 Saloon, 126 Chambers Street

Mighty Casey (of "Casey at the Bat") fame may have struck out in Mudville, but you won't at this family-owned bar. The bar opened in 1977, but changed its entire concept in 1991, paying special attention to the food items. You can now choose from a number of dishes at Mudville 9 Saloon. The restaurant has also been redecorated recently. It's setting is now more rustic, which makes for a more relaxing atmosphere. You can enjoy dinner and drinks inside the bar or order food for take-out.

Kenn's Broome Street Bar, 363 West Broadway

Keep your eyes open for a celebrity when you come to this popular SoHo bar. Which one you see will depend on what's showing on one of the many flat screen TVs that are mounted on the wall. (Gotcha!) You'll still have a good time at this particular "dive bar" because the atmosphere is designed just so you will. You can order food (you have a lot of menu choices) and pair it with a domestic or imported beer for a delightful visit to Kenn's Broome Street Bar.

The Alibi, 116 Macdougal Street

This truly is a "dive bar", complete with grimy surfaces and bar stools held together with duct tape and a lot of prayer. But that, along with the drinks that are not watered down and won't set you back a ton of money is what makes this bar so attractive.

You'll enjoy your visit here if you're not a stickler for general cleanliness (they still have to meet Health Department regulations, of course) and don't expect to be treated like a prince or princess. Another thing, if you do visit here, you may find yourself needing an alibi, but, hey, that's the price you pay for going to a "dive bar".

Holland Cocktail Lounge, 532 9th Avenue

Hell's Kitchen is the location for this little hole-in-the-wall. Squeeze your way in and enjoy a drink (expect "bottom-shelf" liquor, though) while you listen to the regulars tell about the "good old days" in Hell's Kitchen. You'll soon learn how the neighborhood got its reputation.

As long as you're listening to their stories, you might as well buy them a drink. Do this, and you'll probably have friends for life. One thing's for sure, you'll have some stories of your own after you've visited Holland Cocktail Lounge.
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Why? Because dive bars are rampant in NYC
When: Whenever you want
Where: New York City
Cost: Depends on bar
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