Sure, we're in the middle of an amazing craft cocktail boom, and you can sip some of the best drinks in America at the Dead Rabbit in Manhattan, Dutch Kills in Queens, and the Long Island Bar in Brooklyn, but sometimes you don't want to shell out 14 or 15 bucks for a drink. Sometimes you want a dark corner where you can tip back a shot or a beer—or both. Thank goodness for New York City's dive bars. No matter your borough, there are some damn fine dives in this town. Here are eight great ones.
Jimmy's Corner in Times Square, Manhattan
Young people who came to New York to launch publishing careers quickly learned about Jimmy's, which was until recently a short hop from the 4 Times Square Condé Nast complex, and a smart place to schmooze with media types. That a boxing-themed dive bar has survived in the heart of Times Square is nothing short of a miracle. We'll drink to that.
Cozy Corner Tavern in Ridgewood, Queens
Called "The Cozy" by locals, this place has it all: a sturdy dark wooden bar, a pool table, Bowie on the jukebox, and chatty strangers determined to make small talk.
Montero Bar & Grill in Brooklyn Heights
The Internet was a-howl last summer at the news that this rapidly gentrifying section of Brooklyn might lose its best dive. If you're partial to nautical bars, this is your spot: What Montero's lacks in a waterfront view it compensates for in ubiquitous orange lifesavers, seafaring knickknacks, and stout pours. (Pro tip: Superbly raucous karaoke occurs several nights a week.)
The Staten Island Ferry
Sure, you could shell out a bunch of clams to take a boat around the island—or you could just hop on the Staten Island ferry. For free. Immortalized in the classic '80s film Working Girl, the ferry has a concessions stand hawking snacks and canned beer for only a few bucks apiece. Stay to the right and go up the stairs as you board the boat in Manhattan and you'll have a heck of a view of Lady Liberty. The bar doesn't offer hard alcohol—but that's probably for the best.
Jimmie Steiny's Pub on Staten Island
Make it off the ferry in fighting form? Good work. There's a cheap pub two blocks from you and they have hot food, which you probably need about now. It's bright and unpredictable at Jimmie Steiny's, where they've got nachos, burgers, and wings, and sometimes karaoke. What more do you need?
Tip-Top Bar & Grill in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
If you're staying near Bed-Stuy, good work; it's got great doughnuts, eclectic restaurants, and fun times aplenty including the Tip-Top Bar & Grill, where dedicated drinkers of all ages tip back cheap beers and well drinks. Ask the bartender if dancing might happen on the late end. Here, it often does.
Grassroots Tavern in the East Village, Manhattan
St. Marks is a popular stop for those curious about New York's punk history, but these days, it's a lot of sunglasses and sock vendors, and the sidewalks feel mighty claustrophobic after about two minutes of walking. So duck into this subterranean bar for a breather. It's a mix of musicians and NYU students, all there for the cheap pints and lack of attitude.
Ruby’s Bar & Grill in Coney Island, Brooklyn
It can be easy to forget you’re on an island here. Not at Ruby’s. The beachfront bar has seen it all—including a total transformation of the Coney Island boardwalk it’s called home since 1934—but you can still expect some extremely tanned (and, OK, burned) gents and ladies sitting in fold-out chairs, a few bedraggled beach bum types at the bar, and a general joie de vivre.