5 funky bars on the Lower East Side in New York

1) Mehanata Bulgarian Bar

Gypsy music rules! Anything goes here, including the wildly popular ice cage, a refrigerated space where you put on Soviet military gear and fur hats and have two minutes to drink shots of vodka. A place to truly unwind and dance to music from the Balkans – and beyond – in a no frills setting with Bulgarians and locals.

people in Mehanata Bulgarian bar

113 Ludlow Street (between Delancey and Rivington Street)

+1 212 625 0981


2) Max Fish

The illustrious red-and-blue polka dotted LES establishment bar/art gallery moved to a new location in 2014, bringing along its famous cigarette-shaped light fixture. They still show artists work and act as a haven for downtown artists, skaters, and neighbors. Follow them on Instagram.

basement interior at Max Fish bar

120 Orchard Street (between Delancey and Rivington Street)

+1 212 529 3959


More hidden secrets of New York?

This guide, written by a true local, takes you to 500 wonderful places to eat, drink, sleep, discover and enjoy in New York. Available in our bookshop now.

Buy the book

3) Home Sweet Home

Taxidermy enthusiasts will get their fill here in this space outfitted almost like a curiosity shop. If you like to dance, you’ve come to the right dive bar. They’ve got a lounge with a dance floor and the DJs play a quirky mix of 50s-90s-swing. Dancing usually starts after 10 pm.

interior of Home Sweet Home bar

131 Chrystie Street (between Broome and Delancey Street)

+1 212 226 5709


4) Marshall Stack

A true LES gem that has an extra long bar with a great selection of decently-priced bottled beers. A mishmash interior of painted white brick mixes with exposed plaster and painted tin ceilings, with a 1950s-style jukebox (!) full of righteous rock tunes. Bar food, like Sliders and Tilapia Po’ Boys can be had too.

beer taps at Marshall Stack

66 Rivington Street (at Allen Street)

+1 212 228 4667


5) Welcome to the Johnson's

A dive in every sense of the word, from its sticker-covered old brown refrigerator holding 2-dollar Pabst Blue Ribbons and plastic-covered sofas. Imagine the 1970s basement of heroin addicts, complete with layers of graffiti covering every inch of the bathroom walls. They boast killer Bloody Marys and a pool table too.

image of a alcoholic beverage

123 Rivington Street (between Norfolk and Essex Street)

+1 212 420 9911

Join the community

Sign up for free to gain unlimited access to the website. Plus, you'll receive a 10% discount in our online bookshop.

Sign up