Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Daphne Thompson.
59 Grove St.; open M-Th 4:30pm-3am, F-Sa 4:30pm-4am, Su 4:30pm-3am
If you’ve never quite seen eye-to-eye with your father over your knowing all the lyrics to Les Misérables, have we got a tiny gay piano bar for you: Marie’s Crisis, a hole-in-the-basement dive in Greenwich Village, holds boozy Broadway singalongs every night of the week. Strung with rainbow lights and marinated in cheap, strong mixed drinks, you can belt out Hamilton to your heart’s content for hours here—just know you won’t be as good as the singing waitress, who does a better Angelica in “Satisfied” than the CD. An effervescent mix of NYU musical theatre students, fifty-somethings on date night, and gay guys with insane range cram the mostly standing-room space. If you need more convincing, it’s also the spot where Thomas Paine (the Revolutionary War patriot of Common Sense fame) died; the bar still bears the rallying call “liberté, égalité, fraternité” in his honor.
Drinks from $7, no wheelchair accessibility
61 Wythe Ave.; (718) 963-3369; brooklynbowl.com; open M-F 6pm-midnight, Sa-Su noon-2am
Brooklyn Bowl is the rare venue that’s appropriate both for a kindergartener’s birthday and a bachelor party, depending on the hour of the day. On one side of the exposed-brick Williamsburg spot, you’ll find the titular 16-lane bowling alley—it’s not cheap, at $25 per lane per half hour, but can be split up to eight ways (and is half-off on Sundays after 8pm). On the other side is one of the borough’s best live music venues, offering an eclectic array of shows to a mostly laid-back crowd of Brooklynites. Like almost everywhere else in this darn city, food and drinks won’t come cheap, but at least they’re higher-quality than your standard bar fare: slushy margaritas and Brooklyn beers go nicely with a menu that ranges from fried chicken to quinoa salads.
Cover from $10; drinks from $8, wheelchair accessible
222 W Houston St.; (212) 675-9323; houstonhallny.com; open M-Tu noon-1am, W-Th noon-2am, F-Sa noon-3am, Su noon-1am
Want to relive that high school thing where you drank bad, sudsy beer in a parking garage with your friends? The Houston Hall (rhymes with cow-stun, not like the city) offers a moderately grown-up version of that, slinging unobjectionable brews to a twenty-something crowd in a renovated cavernous West Village ex-garage. Beers come in three sizes—12 ounces, half-liter, and full liter (for dudes with something to prove)—and around a dozen drafts, from the saccharine raspberry cider to the molasses-y honey porter. The combined din of the pulsing music, projected sports game, and ocean of drinkers makes holding a conversation difficult, and picnic-style tables are largely taken over by the after-work crowd, so prepare to do your mingling at the bar if you’re alone.
Beers from $7, cocktails from $15; wheelchair accessible
McSorley’s Old Ale House
15 E 7th St.; (212) 473-9148; mcsorleysoldalehouse.nyc; open M-Sa 11am-1am, Su 1pm-1am
As recently as 50 years ago, the motto of McSorley’s Old Ale House was “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies,” and if that doesn’t sound like a good time, we’re not sure what does. A Civil War-era relic in the East Village, McSorley’s is the kind of place your great-great-grandfather probably visited when he wanted to get away from your great-great grandmother—the place didn’t allow women in until 1970, and even then it wasn’t exactly by choice. Inside, it seems like not much has changed since the 1800s: the floors are covered in sawdust, the walls in yellowing newspaper articles, and all the bartenders are aggressively Irish. There’s only two drinks on the menu, so you’ll choose between light and dark ale and watch in awe as a giant-handed waiter slams down a dozen or more foamy beers for the table.
Beers from $5.50; wheelchair accessible
74 Wythe Ave.; outputclub.com; open W-Th 10pm-4am, F-Sa 10am-5pm, Su 10pm-4am
Input: a writhing crowd of young professionals, the nonstop pulse of top-shelf electroncia, more flashing lights and fog machines than a laser tag arena, overpriced (but standard for New York) drinks. Output: Output, a vaguely industrial Berlin-esque Brooklyn nightclub that discourages “egocentricity, excess, distraction, cell phones, glow sticks, and suits.” Techno fans should pony up the steep cover for access to some of the dopest DJs working, playing to a cavernous space with a surprisingly pristine sound system. There’s a strict no-photos policy, so don’t worry about that wild gyration you call dancing being caught on camera. You won’t find bottle service or a VIP lounge here, but the rooftop terrace is a fine spot for a pricy pregame (a smart move to avoid the lines later in the evening).
Cover from $20; drinks from $12; wheelchair accessible
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre East
153 E 3rd St.; (212) 366-9231; east.ucbtheatre.com; check website for show hours
Despite the Upright Citizens Brigade’s status as a star-making factory of the comedy world, its East Village outpost still feels appropriately improvisational. The decor is zany-mismatched and the cheap bar up front feels more like a waiting room, but that adds to the comedy club’s scrappy appeal. You’ll pay around $10 for entry to the long, narrow theatre, where tomorrow’s comedy stars and today’s waitstaff put on energetic improv shows every night of the week. Scout the next Amy Poehler or Matt Walsh (both UCB alums) as you crack a Narragansett or split a pitcher. If you’re looking to drop a little more money for a deep dive into comedy, the yearly Del Close marathon (named for the theatre’s beloved “father of improv”) is a deliriously fun weekend-long improv binge.
Admission from $7; drinks from $5, wheelchair accessible
Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, Daphne took the mid-morning train goin’ to the East Coast of the United States and Canada (fine, plus Chicago). She graduated Harvard in 2018 with a degree in Government, a law school acceptance letter, and an overwhelming sense of dread re: her all-too-fleeting youth, so she took off to the party capital of the Western hemisphere: Quebec City. The race against the cold, unfeeling march of time continued in Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Miami, a wildly diverse array of cities united by not-boring weather and stupid-high rents. Along the way, Daphne sampled legit Canadian poutine (squeaky), smuggled her notebook into nightclubs (sneaky), and lived on cheap falafel pitas (tzatziki). The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native finished her spirit quest back in the Midwest, where the Windy City welcomed her nasally accent back with open arms. When she’s not writing aggressively alliterative articles for Let’s Go, Daphne probably can’t be found. Don’t even try it, Internet creeps!