Fridays are gay night, which is probably their best and least cheesy nite. The bar has a sister bar in the Hamptons with the same name. It was once hard to get into, but now the scene is pretty lame. However if you want to get on the list here is the trick as my treat to you: call them a day before and say you are getting a bottle, that will get your name on the list. The thing is that once you get in, no one checks to see if you actually go to your table. Anyways, what makes the Star Lounge blogworthy, especially around the Halloween season is their VIP, called room 101, which is supposedly directly under the original room 101 of the legendary Chelsea Hotel. So what happened in that hotel room ? Well, that is where Nancy Spungen was found stabbed to death October 12, 1978. Yes Nancy, as in Sid and Nancy. And for those born in the late 80’s or 90’s that is Sid as in John Simon Ritchie aka Sid Vicious, the Sex Pistols’ pretty-bad-boy bassist and “singer”. Ritchie was arrested in connection with the murder, but was later released on bail. To this day it is still not clear who killed Nancy. Sid himself died of a drug overdose on February 2, 1979. R.I.P. Sid & Nancy
Hours: Daily, 11pm-4am
222 W. 23rd St. nr. Seventh Ave.NY 10011 212-255-4646
This bar was opened in 1939 and originally named Park Gate (it does face Tyron Park). Barbara, the current owner, bought the bar 28 years ago and later renamed it the Irish Brigade (after an infantry brigade, consisting of mostly Irish immigrants, that served in the Union Army in the Civil War.) She explained that it was in honor of the Irish hunger strike of 1981, in which ten paramilitary prisoners had starved themselves to death. There is a lot of history in this bar with nicknacks everywhere: one of them being a piece of the USS enterprise, which rests over the door. This bar is a true classic and Barbara is an amazing lady, one of the few bartenders with who you can sit back and talk to like an old friend, after just meeting her for the first time.
Hours: daily 12 pm to 4 am
4716 Broadway, nr. Arden St, NY 10040
This place was opened in 1932 and was originally called Bar Central, prior to that it was a speakeasy. Then owners Jack and George took it over in 1972 and it quickly became a preppy mecca. Soon the parents of these prepsters started going too, on account of the bar’s quirky decor (everywhere you look there is a painting of a melon.) Then it got to the point that the Kennedys were coming and then, none other that Grace Kelly ended up kicking back a Heineken at the bar, while waiting an hour for a table. To this day, although less, celebrities like Seinfeld keep on coming for the famed burgers and Bloody Marys. So if you hear someone say “look at those melons” you can be sure it’s a preppy’s sad attempt to be funny.
Hours: Daily, 11:30am-2:30am
1291 Third Ave., at 74th St., NY 10021 212-744-0585
Leon Trotsky lived in the building next door (#77) circa 1917. I am not sure what one of the fathers of the Russian Communist Revolution would think of $4 beers. (he probably would reluctantly approve, after all he knew what rents are like in the EV) And who can resist a real working man’s dive bar, which also happened to start out as a Prohibition-era speakeasy? Coincidentally owner/bartender and local character, Stefan Lutak (pictured uptop) was born in Ukraine in 1920. During World War II, he fought with the Soviet Army in Stalingrad and as he recalled to the NY Press, “The winter was terrible. The ice came from your mouth. We were sleeping in the snow, nothing to eat. Two, three, four days, a whole week with empty stomach.” Stefan came to New York in 1949 and opened the bar in 1965. It was soon a hit with the bohemians in the hood, or as Stefan called them: “bullshitters and faggots.” Allen Ginsberg and W.H. Auden were regulars. Regrettably, Stefan passed away this year. Maybe he and Trotsky can share a beer and bitch about the world economy, wherever they are now.
75 St. Marks Pl., nr. First Ave., NY 10003 212-777-9637
Named after the Minetta Brook, which ran southwest from 23rd Street to the Hudson River, this tavern was opened in 1937. It was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Eugene O’Neill, E. E. Cummings, Dylan Thomas, and Joe Gould among other lesser known writers and poets as well as boxers. It has recently become a hot spot because it was bought and reopened by Keith McNally, Lee Hanson, and Riad Nasr, the masterminds behind other once must-be-seen-in restaurants: Balthazar, Pastis, the Odeon and Schiller’s. The burger is pretty good and inexpensive ($16) considering that this is THE hot restaurant of the moment. The problem isn’t the bill, but scoring a reservation between 7pm and 10pm. Good luck! May your efforts seem worth it!
Dinner: 5:30pm—12am (Mon—Sun)
Supper: 12am—2am (Mon—Sun)
113 MacDougal St., at Minetta Ln, NY 10012 212-475-3850
This 138-year-old Boerum Hill tavern has a impressive hand-carved wooden bar that was transplanted piece by piece from Germany in the 1870s. The crowd is almost as eclectic as the jukebox (expect anything from hip hop to obscure folk). There is a pool table in the back room. If you want some food, you can order from their thick stack of takeout menus and wash it down with a wide array of fancy brews. Those who have read Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, will probably find this bar strangely familiar, after all he does live down the block.
Hours: Mon-Thu, 4pm-4am; Fri, 3pm-4am; Sat-Sun, 2pm-4am
148 Hoyt St., at Bergen St. Brooklyn, NY 11217 718-625-9741
Gene’s opened in Greenwich Village in 1919 and, other than moving next door in the 1930’s, not much has changed since then. It is rumored that Gene´s was a speakeasy (most places that were opened before or during prohibition were) Danny the manger makes an effort to know his clientele, which is mostly local and long time patrons. You can enjoy good prix fixe dinner daily from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. for $29.95. You can also just sit at the bar and stop time for a while.
Hours: Daily, noon-11pm
73 W. 11th St. , nr. Sixth Ave, NY 10011 212-675-2048