A world of inexpensive luxury exists beneath the surface of New York City, which is frequently praised for its glitzy skyline and luxurious lifestyle. Beneath the city’s soaring skyscrapers and busy avenues is a hidden gem of inexpensive bars that provide both tourists and residents on a tight budget with a way to enjoy the lively social scene of the city without going over budget. This list of the best inexpensive bars in the city can be used as a guide to discover hidden dive bars in the East Village and historic watering holes in the Bronx. Tastefully priced cocktails, delicious bites, and a genuine New York experience await you here, demonstrating that luxury need not always be expensive. Take a journey with us through some of the most affordable bars in New York City and experience the allure of frugal fun in the never-sleeping city.
Rudy’s Bar and Grill is a longstanding neighborhood dive bar in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, a quick walk from both Times Square and Hudson Yards. Rudy’s Bar has been an institution for cheap beer and free hot dogs since it opened in 1933. They have 14 domestic and artisanal beers on tap. It’s hard to beat a three-dollar pint and a free hot dog.
Located on the Lower East Side, 169 Bar is an even older New York institution than Rudy’s, established in 1916. 169 Bar boasts that it’s the last of the original old New York bars, offering booze, fresh oysters, and billiards. A trip to 169 Bar feels like a trip back in time. The prices have certainly remained as cheap as they were in the past!
A popular spot to enjoy a brew or cocktail amid sight-seeing, Jimmy’s Corner is a dive bar in the middle of Times Square. It has a lively yet cozy atmosphere, its walls lined with old pictures and framed newspaper clippings, antique chandeliers, and a jukebox providing an eclectic soundtrack.
Jeremy’s Ale House is a divey pub and tavern in the financial district with an over-the-top American pub fare menu and cheap alcohol to pair it with. Thrillist and Time Out rate Jeremy’s Ale House as one of the best bars for an authentic New York experience. I loved the wallpapered walls and scribbled ceilings from which old ratty bras hung like mobiles.
New York’s oldest Irish pub, McSorley’s Old Ale House has been serving cold Irish pints and plates of cheese and crackers since 1854. It’s been a treasured East Village institution ever since, featured in centerpieces from The New Yorker, New York Times, and more. Its preserved, cluttered interior feels like a time capsule. I couldn’t think of a better place to order a cheap pint of Guinness.
Located in Brooklyn’s Bedstuy neighborhood, Do or Dive is a fun, kitschy dive bar cluttered with random nick-knacks, old-school beer logo signs, and mismatched glass light fixtures. They offer a full menu for dinner and weekend brunch, plus 17 independent brewery beers on tap, domestic cans and bottles, and a cocktail menu.
Johnny’s Bar is a West Village dive bar that’s been a neighborhood jewel since 1990. Its narrow, shot-gun bar space is illuminated by Christmas lights hanging from the exposed brick walls, with every barstool taken by a diverse array of local neighborhood personalities. A trip to Johnny’s Bar is like an anthropology class on New York culture, with cheap beer and well-drinks to aid in the study.
Clockwork Bar is a funky, neon-lit, graffiti-walled dive bar in the Lowe East Side with friendly staff and a hipster vibe. Walls, ceilings, and even toilettes are covered in graffiti, stickers, and marker scribbles. They have one of the cheapest happy hours in town and an all-day shot and a beer special for six dollars.
The Commodore is a southern comfort kitchen and bar in Williamsburg Brooklyn with a cozy and lively atmosphere, serving award-winning fried chicken sandwiches till 2 am. There’s a cute, covered patio in the back, replete with old-school lawn chairs and hanging plants. I went for a boozy brunch of fish n grits with a spicy Bloody Mary.
Another Williamsburg haunt, Rocka Rolla is a spacious dive bar with a hipster feel. It has a great jukebox, velvet lounge area, old-school neon signs, and unique craft cocktails that honor New York. Take, for instance, their signature spiked creamy coffee drink is served in the classic NYC coffee stand cups you always see in TV shows.
True to its name, The Library is a bookshelf-lined dive bar with funky statues in the windows and red walls. You can grab a book, a beer, or both at this beloved East Village institution. They offer spirits, cocktails, and a well-rounded list of beers and ciders that range between five and eight dollars.
Botanica Bar is a quaint and colorful bar and kitchen in the NoLita neighborhood with individual outdoor booths that are heated for year-round outdoor dining and drinking. They have one of the best happy hours you’ll find from open through 7 p.m., with discounted beer, well drinks, wine, and frozen cocktails. I loved the dirty Shirley frozen vodka cocktail.
Alphaville is a dingy bar and music venue with major hipster appeal in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. There’s always a show playing at Alphaville, with something for every musical taste. They even have standup comedy. Drink prices are cheap, and they also serve no-frills burgers and thick-cut fries for late-night munchies.
Located across from Seward Park in the Lower East Side, Clandestino is a charming neighborhood bar with a cozy and friendly atmosphere. They have great prices on drinks and offer an impressive selection of high-quality beer, wine, and craft cocktails. They have seasonal events like New Years’ and Halloween parties, but they’re also the best option for a low-key date night.
Named for the famed area of the West Village in which it lies, Greenwich Treehouse is a quirky yet cool outdoor and indoor bar, decked out in Star Wars paraphernalia, Christmas lights, and an old treehouse. There’s a dance floor, a jukebox, and a cozy lounge to suit both alcohol-fueled dance parties, or a relaxing happy hour. I went for the cheap happy hour jello shots!
Sly Fox is a brewery out of Pennsylvania opened by the Giannopoulos family in 1995. Its popularity has spread to New York and beyond, with Sly Fox brewpubs in various cities, including New York’s East Village. Sly Fox offers over 100 types of beer including regular signature beers, seasonals, and specialty beers.
Lucky is a fun and quirky East Village Dive bar with random figurines, art, and checkered tablecloths, plus an awesome bright-red pagoda out front. Lucky has both cheap and pricey options, offering cheap cans and bottled beer along with a high-end cocktail list. I went in the summer and loved their frozen pink lemonade and vodka margarita.
Why should you trust us?
We use our own local experience and contacts in the city to know which places to include in our lists. We also researched the web and read 4 reputable blogs and websites, including timeout.com, travelforyourlife.com, tripsavvy.com, and theculturetrip.com. So that you can be sure you’re receiving the best of the best. We compiled all the results in one spot and ranked them according to how frequently they were referenced.