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The worst bars in New York
March 12, 2007 7:15 PM   Subscribe

What are the worst bars in New York?

This is for a little feature I'm collaborating on with a friend.

What are the dirtiest, smelliest, fakest, dullest, most overpriced, most violent, least interesting, gayest, straightest bars in New York? In other words, interpret worst anyway you like, but let us have your best suggestions for places we should ordinarily never consider drinking in.

Thanks!
posted by godawful to Food & Drink (55 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nevada Smith's, 3rd Ave b/t 11th and 12th in the heart of NYU. I don't know how all of the 60 frat guys at NYU know to go there, but they do. Must be pheromones.
posted by The Michael The at 7:48 PM on March 12, 2007


Coyote Ugly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:48 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


And yes, Nevada Smith's is awful, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:49 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


B-Bar. Lame clientele and $12 french fries.

Haven't been there in a few years, though.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:49 PM on March 12, 2007


No mention of Nevada Smith's is complete without Finnerty's or Bar None. The trek! The NYU trek! Get your frat on.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:53 PM on March 12, 2007


One place I've always avoided on general principle is Dorian's Red Hand, which has a rep for being toxic preppy UES snotville. But I haven't actually been inside, so who knows?
posted by poxuppit at 7:56 PM on March 12, 2007


Joshua Tree. Mercury Bar. Town Tavern.
posted by lalex at 8:06 PM on March 12, 2007


Nevada Smith's is nasty and full of Manchester United fans.
The Mars Bar is filthy and they have always been cleaning up after a fight any time I've been in there.
Coyote Ugly / Hogs and Heifers are just disgusting.
Anywhere on the Upper East Side is full of boring people.
Peculier Pub is full of fratholes and sororitards, and has a really low ceiling so their hollering and whooping and shrieking is absolutely deafening.
Anywhere in the Meatpacking district is full of douchebags.
The Bellevue is CLOSED!
Telephone Bar smells of vinegar.
Dick's is very gay indeed, but that doesn't make it a bad place unless you rush in there with your elderly parents in tow to get out of the cold and didn't really check the place out because your eyes were almost frozen shut and it seemed like it would be OK for just one drink but then they turn on all the video screens OMG.
On the Coyote Ugly / Hogs & Heifers front, Red Rock has just opened an Upper East Side branch which combines the tackiness of hot firebreathing hula-hooping bartenders with the UES crowd of princesses and overgrown fratboys for the worst of all possible worlds.

Remind me why I live here, again?
posted by nowonmai at 8:08 PM on March 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Mars Bar. Yeah, I guess it's supposed to be the last of the gritty punk rock dives. But it's nasty beyond belief- both the toilets, and the clientèle.
posted by kimdog at 8:10 PM on March 12, 2007


Babar et le père Noël
posted by growabrain at 8:18 PM on March 12, 2007


The Soho House bar is easily one of the worst I've ever been in (at least it was three years ago). In London, the Soho House is a habitable alternative to Groucho's and has real books on the shelves and nice leather armchairs. The New York version has books PAINTED onto the walls. Gimmeafrigginbreak.
posted by unSane at 8:21 PM on March 12, 2007


"Telephone Bar smells of vinegar."

Great food though. I love that place!
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:21 PM on March 12, 2007


Most bars in Park Slope.
posted by Kirklander at 8:24 PM on March 12, 2007


The Mars Bar on East 1st Street. Scuzziest bar on the planet. I know people who've returned from the restrooms (restrooms one can imagine Johnny Thunders* dying in) to find cockroaches floating in their drinks. Good jukebox though.

*most of the staff and clientele resembel Johnny Thunders as well, including the women.
posted by jonmc at 8:38 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've only been to Mars Bar once, but I actually had a bit of fun. Talked to a crusty old cab driver for a bit. Didn't seem much dirtier than any other dive. But I may have been just very, very lucky.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:51 PM on March 12, 2007


A friend witnessed the bartender in Mars Bar advise a customer who opened the door to the broom closet instead of the restroom to "just do it in there, it won't make any difference".
posted by nowonmai at 8:58 PM on March 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


On the scary/scuzzy front, The Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge has been getting written up a lot lately.
posted by sad_otter at 9:00 PM on March 12, 2007


I came in here to suggest mars bar, but I they've beaten me to it.
posted by milarepa at 9:08 PM on March 12, 2007


The Continental has the shittiest bathrooms I've ever seen, or at least it did this past weekend.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:11 PM on March 12, 2007


I occurred to me as I was laughing, is that this would be a phenomenal list for any city. Not a list of places to go, put places NOT to go. A sort of Fodors of Snark or somesuch. As a Chicagoan, I would list anywhere in the Viagra Triangle, for example.

Please tell us more about this feature you're collaborating on!
posted by mjbraun at 9:12 PM on March 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Can't say that I've experienced this particular fresh hell, but Googling "tavern" and "Port Authority" led me to Leisure Time Bowling Alley ("Bowling in the Center of the Earth"):
Leisure Time is installed in the back of a real shit hole building no one goes to.... There isn't even a ceiling (see above), most of the patrons don't have hair (see above) and the drinks are shockingly cheap (see profusion of martini glasses above).... Of course we recommend going before 5pm, ... because there's nothing quite as depressing/uplifting as bowling in the back of a bus terminal during the day.
posted by rob511 at 9:59 PM on March 12, 2007


When I lived in NYC about a decade ago, Psycho Mongo's House of Sublimation (on Ave A, near Houston) was definitely nastier than the Mars Bar. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised if it's not around anymore.
posted by Loudmax at 10:30 PM on March 12, 2007


kirklander, freddy's, flatbush farm, buttermilk, and the gate do not suck.

just so i answer the question, and not only idiotic non-answer from someone else, i'd say the very worst bars are those with "amusing" names that reference alcohol. total amateur hour.

if it's scuzz you want, don't forget siberia, where the downstairs bathroom had a good standing 2 inches of water last time I was there. was just at rufus on 10th btw 45th & 46th a bit back where there was steam coming out of an electrical socket and mold growing around it. kept the place warm & cozy.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 11:10 PM on March 12, 2007


I second Bar None as well as nice guy eddie's. I went to a friend's birthday party at Fat Black Pussycat Bar and wasn't allowed in because our group didn't have enough girls (a 3 to 4 ratio isn't that bad). To be honest, I don't know if that place was a bar or not, but they did have pitchers of beer so, I guess, bar.
posted by marxfriedrice at 11:24 PM on March 12, 2007


I occurred to me as I was laughing, is that this would be a phenomenal list for any city. Not a list of places to go, put places NOT to go. A sort of Fodors of Snark or somesuch. As a Chicagoan, I would list anywhere in the Viagra Triangle, for example.

Two problems with that idea.. 1) It'd possibly be open to litigation in a way a general chat / forum site isn't, and 2) Sometimes people LIKE the crumminess of a place. For example, I love the Power House in Hollywood, even though it's undoubtedly it'd make the list of 'worst' bars.
posted by wackybrit at 3:50 AM on March 13, 2007


"The Bellevue is CLOSED!"

I moved out of Hells Kitchen over a year ago and it had already been "remodeled" as yet another lounge.

The last time I stopped in for a beer, all the signs and posters were stripped from the ceiling, the horror memorabilia was missing from the bar and there was something other than bad 80s hair-band music playing on the juke box.

And it doesn't belong on any list of the worst bars! How could you not like a place where Planet of the Apes is almost always playing on one TV and some grainy soft porn on the other?
posted by JaredSeth at 6:13 AM on March 13, 2007


McGees is two stories of overcrowded frat boy hell. I personally hate McSorleys, but other folks enjoy it.
posted by dame at 6:16 AM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


55 Christopher used to be pretty scuzzy, but I hear they've cleaned the place up in the last decade or two.
Continental is another awful place: sticky puddles of old drinks everywhere and just terrible bathrooms.
posted by bink at 6:19 AM on March 13, 2007


Is anyone going to call eponysterical on this one? :)
posted by orangemiles at 6:30 AM on March 13, 2007


Any bars within two blocks of Penn Station or Port Authority (such as the Blarney Stone on 8th Ave).
posted by rottytooth at 6:35 AM on March 13, 2007


Gatsby's on Spring Street, for lamest. Considering the real estate and the exterior, you'd think it was a gem. Instead it's where the most boring New Yorkers go to have boring drinks and watch commercials on wide-screen television. Which the owners will not turn off, even if you have reserved the bar for a party.
posted by hermitosis at 6:40 AM on March 13, 2007


Olive Garden, Time's Square.
posted by one_bean at 6:53 AM on March 13, 2007


Pretty much any bar on the Upper East Side, from what I vaguely remember from my days of hanging out there.

Not on topic, but I have to let it out: I mourn the great bars that used to be in the vicinity of Grand Central twenty years ago. Real old-line commuter bars, where the white-haired barkeeps had seen it all and they had great free food during happy hour and.... oh, fuck it. They're gone now. And so is Tin Pan Alley, and...

*goes off to get drunk*

posted by languagehat at 7:07 AM on March 13, 2007


Coyote Ugly : Country music. A lack of female clientele. An abundance of slutty female bartenders dancing on tables. Hooting. Hollering. Did I mention the country music?

Any number of faux irish bars on the upper east side.

Anywhere in TriBeCa.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:26 AM on March 13, 2007


JaredSeth: The memorabilia from Bellevue is now crammed into Duff's smaller space in Wiliamsburg, where the same videos are still playing. But the fact that the original Bellevue closed/got gentrified is pretty much the worst thing about NYC bars, IMO.
posted by nowonmai at 7:37 AM on March 13, 2007


Oh, that reminds me. Duff's is totally amazingly awful.
posted by dame at 7:44 AM on March 13, 2007


Can't say that I've experienced this particular fresh hell, but Googling "tavern" and "Port Authority" led me to Leisure Time Bowling Alley ("Bowling in the Center of the Earth")

Don't knock it till you try it. I bowl there once a week with my company league, and it's a surprisingly nice bowling alley. Clean bathrooms, mediocre food, decently priced drinks (for NYC), etc. They also just recently renovated, so there are huge widescreen tvs above every lane, and nice cushy seats.

My only complaint is that they oil the lanes inconsistently, leading to inconsistent scores.
posted by bshort at 7:56 AM on March 13, 2007


There is only one really truly dreadful bar in New York. However, although It's in New York, it's on an island in the middle of the East River between Queens and the UES. It's called Trellis Bar, and it deservedly owns the title of New York's most boring bar. I lived on Roosevelt Island for less than a year, but man, Trellis was so boring. Go there, be bored.
posted by parmanparman at 8:10 AM on March 13, 2007


There's a problem with country music in bars? Since when?

I'm sure it's long gone, but in the 80s there was a place called, I think, the Zinc Bar somewhere in the Village or Soho that prided itself on being the most uncomfortable place to have a drink in the world. It had a massive concrete bar that rose up from the basement through a hole in the floor, and the barstools were set back just far enough from the edge of the hole (which was open for about 6 inches around the bar itself) that looking down made you feel like you were going to fall in and you had to reach an uncomfortably long way to pick up or set down your drink. There were strange wiremetal high tables and chairs that were sort of Iron Maiden-esque. Awful, loud disco in a glass and metal space that reverberated like a motherfucker so you couldn't hear or think.

Once I called information to get the address of the place, and the operator recognized the name and opined "you don't want to go there." She was right, but we were tripping so who cares and anyway maybe I imagined the whole thing.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:30 AM on March 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Despite the fact that this link goes to "nycbestbars", I can't stand Mo's Caribbean.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:37 AM on March 13, 2007


Any dive bar in the East Village that you need to wait on line to get in for.

Don Hill's - Asshole staff treat you like crap, same music played over and over throughout night, drinks are awful and overpriced. Crowd is young and obnoxious.

Off the wagon, Jake's Dilemma, or any bar affiliated with them is an overcrowded frat party with underage idiots drinking themselves into comas. Smells like vomit and rank ass.
posted by zackola at 9:08 AM on March 13, 2007


Heh. I was waiting for Don Hill's to come up. I actually had fun because I was there to see friends play, but Jesus, does it suck. Asshole staff, yes. No atmosphere. It was pouring rain outside, which wasn't their fault--but it was also pouring rain on the stage (um, hi, electrical equipment in puddles?). The women's bathroom was hands-down the worst I've ever been in. The ceiling was just leaking, it was actively raining--every surface was wet, floor had an inch of water, toilet paper was a soggy pile, whole thing was filthy...and the stalls have these bizarre heavy slab doors that stop about an inch above toilet-seat-level, exposing your tush to anyone who walks in.
posted by hippugeek at 9:45 AM on March 13, 2007


Jonmc, any idea what happened to Felix, the deaf-mute artist fellow who would hold court at Marz Bar?

True story: The day of the Madrid train bombings in '03 (no connection, just remembered it was that day), I was meeting friends at Marz Bar on a Thursday night before heading across the street to Anthology for the Underground Film Festival. While waiting, I noticed a guy passed out at the bar (it was about 6 p.m.). The next day, Friday, a friend met me for lunch and we were passing by the bar around 1 p.m. and I was telling her how scummy it was and we looked in the window. The same guy was there, passed out... IN DIFFERENT CLOTHES! The next day, I'm walking by Marz Bar again, around 2 p.m., with another friend, telling him about the past two days and we look inside the window and sure enough, there he is again, passed out, in a third set of clothes...

Now, that's class.

I used to like going there on Christmas Eve.
posted by AJaffe at 10:16 AM on March 13, 2007


Any dive bar in the East Village that you need to wait on line to get in for.

Seriously, I hate places that make you play that game.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:44 AM on March 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


This thread done got Gawkered. My vote is for the bar at the bowling alley at Port Authority -- I am convinced that someone in that bar is two degrees of separation from a homicide each and every day.
posted by sonofslim at 11:22 AM on March 13, 2007


Gatsby's on Spring Street, for lamest.

Oh God. I forgot about this place. It truly is dreadful. I once got dragged there for a friend's birthday and it was punishingly awkward. Very B&T.

Also? Porky's NYC. It's like a theme park designed to look like a frat guy's anus.

Don't knock McSorley's, though! It was a great bar to hit up for lunch during an all-day class.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:23 AM on March 13, 2007


This Internerd would like to speak up for The Mars Bar, which, I think, is a unfairly maligned drinking establishment. It has ridiculously cheap drinks, a . . . colorful crowd and the bathroom isn't much worse than the one in my apartment. Any place where I can have a rambling psychotic Englishman threaten to slit my throat for me AND get propositioned by a homeless woman IN THE SAME NIGHT is a definite keeper in my book.

Now, as for the worst bars . . I would nominate:

Ginger Man, because it is boring and they water the drinks.

The Cortelyou Lounge, down in Kensington. Lame. Lame. Lame. The epitome of the old-man bar minus the charm.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:27 PM on March 13, 2007


There's also this place on the northeastern corner of 18th Avenue and McDonald Ave, just outside the train station with possibly the least inspired jukebox in the city. Everything, but EVERYTHING, on the jukebox is, like, "Best Rock N' Roll Hits of 1978" or something like that. So characterless I forgot the name.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:30 PM on March 13, 2007


There used to be a place on 11th Ave. and 43rd St. that was so generic-looking I don't think it had a name. It's a pretty standard-issue Irish bar now, and when I was in there after going to Daisy May's for barbeque last year, someone told me it used to be called Stinky's. I don't think that was the real name, though.

Jason's Planet, the British guy you mention in Marz Bar might be the thrice-passed-out guy I was talking about!
posted by AJaffe at 2:10 PM on March 13, 2007


$2 Buds at Bar None after work are a sweet way to save money before seeing a show at Webster Hall [$7+ drinks with TERRIBLE bar service]. I've never been in Bar None past 8PM however.
posted by yeti at 2:52 PM on March 13, 2007


Cheap Shots. It's the worst.
posted by Freen at 3:01 PM on March 13, 2007


as i recall, the robert chambers/jennifer levin murder started off at dorrian's red hand.

and i believe the bar mentioned upthread was named le zinc. was it on wast bway?
posted by sdn at 4:15 PM on March 13, 2007


Now I am desperately trying to remember the name of the bar my sister worked at. Apparently it was extremely popular with the steelworkers union, and they would come in and drink in the morning, go weld some stuff, drink at noon, go weld some more stuff, then come back and drink more.
posted by nekton at 5:17 PM on March 13, 2007


Seconding Bar None and Off the Wagon for awful walk-in-see-fratboys-walk-out moments.

For worst pretension (as in, bartender won't look at you if you aren't cool enough) I nominate Black and White.
posted by rmless at 9:15 PM on March 13, 2007


There is only one really truly dreadful bar in New York. However, although It's in New York, it's on an island in the middle of the East River between Queens and the UES. It's called Trellis Bar, and it deservedly owns the title of New York's most boring bar. I lived on Roosevelt Island for less than a year, but man, Trellis was so boring. Go there, be bored.

Trellis isn't a bar, it's a diner. (It's not even called "Trellis Bar.") If you went there to drink, I'm not surprised you found the scene somewhat lacking.
posted by emmastory at 3:46 AM on March 14, 2007


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