Posted by: Josey | March 22, 2009

Ask Josey: Best Dive Bars in NYC, Best Jazz Brunch in NYC


We’re going to be in New York City next weekend. We need a good dive bar with a blues band, or actually any kind of band, or any kind of bar, or maybe just a liquor store. Also, we need a place for a Sunday brunch. Can you help a brother out? Get back to me… and stay even!


Dear DKNJ,

You bring the party wherever you go, so there isn’t too much pressure on my recommendations. But I do have some good ones! New York City dive bars:

  • Rudy’s Bar in Hell’s Kitchen: When you see a giant pig statue and James, the burly teddy bear of a bouncer, you’re in the right place. Where else can you down $7 pitchers, not to mention free hot dogs? The juke box offerings are impressive, and you have to appreciate a place that duct tapes its torn booth cushions.
  • Bleecker Street between Sullivan Street and LaGuardia Place is another reliable spot for dive bars. The Back Fence features live music, blues and otherwise, and Kenny’s Castaways even offers “Live Band Karaoke” on Sunday Nights.
  • Whether it’s this weekend or another weekend, do not miss Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street at the corner of Minetta Lane. It’s been around for decades, and—thanks to the talented bluesy house band—it’s Greenwich Village’s staple for a high-energy, dancing-in-the-aisles atmosphere. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance.
  • Finally, there’s no live music at Bleecker Street Bar, but you can play pool and darts. Same goes for Ace Bar on E. 5th—and they have skee ball (yes, skee ball) to boot.


(If you were serious about a liquor store—and, well, one just never knows with you!—you’ll find the best deals and selection at Warehouse Wines & Spirits on Broadway.)

As for a solid NYC jazz brunch, I have a new favorite place: North Square Lounge on Washington Square Park. It may technically be underground, but sun pours in through the street-level windows. Between the warm light and the timeless music, there just isn’t a more uplifting way to start your Sunday. Omelet with ratatouille filling? Challah French toast? Lentil and vegetable burger? It’s hard to choose just one item off their reasonably priced menu.


You also might enjoy the jazz brunch at Blue Water Grill in Union Square. It’s very similar, but a bit more upscale and in a much bigger—more exciting, but less intimate—space.

Have fun (I know you will),

To check out my last “Ask Josey” feature about NYC bachelorette party ideas, click here now. Please keep your questions coming, everyone!



  1. Do’s and Dont’s in bachelorette party planning :

    Don’t wait till the last minute to make your plans.
    Do plan your event 2 months in advance.

    Don’t drink heavily at the beginning of the night.
    Do instruct your group to pace their drinking.

    Don’t over indulge at dinner.
    Do have a sensible meal.

    Don’t be late for your plans.
    Do set your start time an hour ahead of schedule.

    Don’t allow your guests too much say in your plans.
    Do instruct your guests that “this is what the bride wants”

    Don’t assume planning a bachelorette party is like any other girls night out.
    Do take into account that you are taking a large group around with you where ever you go.

  2. There are a lot of great lounges, clubs and live music venues on Bleeker. I live a few blocks away and the place is jumping seven days a week.

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