Post overview: Roundup of the best Upper West Side bars
The Upper West Side (UWS) is often glossed over when talking about the best neighborhoods for drinks in New York City, but I think that’s a mistake. As a local of more than 10 years I’m here to tell you there are hidden gems galore.
The best bars in the Upper West Side have been the site of some of my fondest memories. Whether it’s to watch a sporting event, make new friends or have a romantic date-night there isn’t a need to leave the UWS.
So if you’re looking for the best bars in the Upper West Side but don’t know where to start, I’m here to help. I’m going to share the insider’s guide to the best spots to stop by for a a drink in the neighborhood.
I know I’m excited, what do you say we dive right in?
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best Bars Upper West Side
#13. Thyme & Tonic
It’s hard to miss Thyme and Tonic when walking up Columbus Ave. The entire outdoor seating area is painted pink, with flowers and greenery trickling down from above.
And if you happen to swing by after sunset the outdoor lights guide you to the Upper West Side bar like a north star. Ambience alone is not the only reason this place makes the list of the best bars in the Upper West Side.
The menu at Thyme and Tonic is mostly vegan and gluten-free, thus making it one of the best bars in the Upper West Side for health-conscious New Yorkers.
The drinks are simple but consistently delicious. In fact – I don’t think I’ve had a cocktail at Thyme & Tonic I didn’t love. If I had to choose a favorite I’d have to reach for the Mockingbird, made with gin, mure, blackberries and lemon juice (refreshing!).
You’ll find delightful shareable bites like zucchini fries and homemade vegetable dumplings, which makes Thyme and Tonic one of the best Upper West Side bars for get-togethers with friends.
The bartenders are also incredibly friendly. So friendly in fact that they gave us complimentary “welcome to the neighborhood” shots when I mentioned I had just moved in nearby.
Address: 474 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024
#12. Bodega 88
David Arias is an Upper West Side native who’s family owned a Bodega on Columbus Avenue for more than 50 years. Over the years the neighborhood’s property values rose and forced small businesses to close, unable to keep up.
Arias knew his bodega wouldn’t be able to survive the neighborhood’s transformation, so he turned it into one of the best bars in the Upper West Side.
At its core Bodega 88 is one of the best Upper West Side sports bars, but the food and drinks are a little fancier than what you’d expect. Thanks to a menu full of Latin favorites, you’re able to enjoy tacos, empanadas, and mofonguitos while watching the game.
There’s also traditional bar food like burgers and wings if you like keeping traditions. You’ll find eager bartenders making tasty cocktails and pouring cold beer at Bodega 88, which is really all you need, right?
If you visit Bodega 88 on Monday through Friday from 3 – 7PM you’ll also see why it’s one of the best bars in the Upper West Side for happy hour. $5 beer might seem steep elsewhere in the country, but in NYC that’s a steal baby.
Something to know: Bodega 88 has booths with TV’s built into them available for rent. If you’re with a group of sports fans, consider booking a booth for $55 a person and enjoying the game at one of the best UWS bars.
Address: 573 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024
Tessa is one of the most charming bars in the Upper West Side and you can tell from the second you arrive. String lights adorn the outside and once inside, the dim lit, brick walled bar is romantic as can be.
The leather booths are cozy enough to make you lose track of time and the staff is attentive, kind and friendly. That’s why Tessa is one of my favorite Upper West Side bars for a casual date-night.
What’s more, Tessa has an incredible happy hour Tuesday to Friday from 11AM-6PM for drinks and 3:30PM-5PM for snacks. On their happy hour menu signature cocktails are half price, which just means you can have twice as much!
I’m partial to the Strawberry Fields cocktail, inspired by John Lennon. In fact Lennon lived at the Dakota Building which is only a 10 minute walk from Tessa. I wonder if he too would’ve thought this was one of the best bars in the Upper West Side?
Locals Tip: If Tessa is full, go across the block to Columbus Avenue and visit Asset, their sister restaurant.
Address: 349 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
#10. The Dead Poet
The Dead Poet was founded by Drew Dvorkin, a former high school English teacher with an affinity for Irish pubs.
Sociable and inviting, The Dead Poet is one of the most laid-back bars in the Upper West Side. The theme of literature is visible throughout the bar thanks to framed portraits of famous authors and memorable quotes.
If you get hungry you’ll have the options of popcorn or a hot dog, but if neither of those sound appetizing you’re allowed to bring food from neighboring restaurants. It should go without saying the reason The Dead Poet is one of the best Upper West Side bars is thanks to the booze.
There’s an ample selection of beer available on draft, as well as canned options. Plus, The Dead Poet has an ingenious knack for naming cocktails after classic books. I never know whether to order a drink based off its name or what’s in it!
“What care I how time advances? I am drinking ale today.”Edgar Allan Poe
Address: 450 Amsterdam Ave #2, New York, NY 10024
#9. Tiki Chick
Tiki Chick is brought by way of John Pickle Hospitality, AKA the folks responsible for Maison & Jacob Pickle. It’s one of the most unique bars in the Upper West Side thanks to staff in beachwear serving fun and fruity drinks.
Most of the cocktails stay true to the tropical vibe, with margaritas, piña coladas and mai tais all being fan favorites. Where the UWS bar really shines though is in their unique and memorable original cocktails.
If you take a look at the menu you’ll notice every drink has a drawing accompanying it – that’s what the drink will look like. The whale tale is in a whale cup, the zombie is in a tiki cup, the shark snacks is in a shark cup etc.
That’s why I think Tiki Chick is one of the best bars in the Upper West Side for those who like to keep their Instagram flashy. Without fail, whenever I post a drink from Tiki Chick I get a million questions about where I’m at.
Also, if there are any rum-lovers reading this you won’t want to skip-out on Tiki Chick. It’s one of the only bars in the Upper West Side to specialize in rum, breaking their selection into categories based off country. There are rums from Guyana, Haiti, Barbados, Jamaica and more!
Address: 517 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
#8. Maison Pickle
Maison Pickle is best known for their brunch (some of the best in the UWS) but I’ve learned it’s secretly one of the best cocktail bars in the Upper West Side.
Boasting a liquor cabinet of more than 200 spirits the bartenders are able to make all your long-time favorites. The menu also has a few original craft cocktails, most notably the Maison Martini that is made with pickle brine.
My suggestion is to partake in some of Maison Pickle’s delicious food while enjoying your adult beverage. I find the restaurant’s French dips to be absolutely mouthwatering, especially with a light buzz.
And if you’re looking for the best Upper West Side bars to visit for brunch, there is no place better than Maison Pickle. There’s judgement here folks, brunch classics like mimosas, bellinis and aperol spritzes are all available.
Address: 732 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025
#7. Da Capo
Da Capo is an unassuming, tucked away bar on Columbus and 75th St. At first glance you wouldn’t assume it’s one of the most popular bars in the Upper West Side, and to be frank I didn’t either.
It wasn’t until I was having a drink elsewhere in the neighborhood and our server recommended it that I finally decided to stop by. The small storefront gives way to a narrow bar with a surprisingly buzzing atmosphere.
The cocktails are innovative, tasty and worthy of a spot among the best cocktail bars in the UWS. My favorite is called Caribbean Roast, made with dark rum and muddled coffee beans that I crave at least bi-weekly.
Later on in the summer I came back for a second visit and saw the outdoor seating area was open. It seemed everyone and their mothers were there! Both the inside and outside had lively crowds enjoying their drinks.
Even more surprising, they had managed to squeeze in a DJ! I had plans to bar-hop that night, but my friends and I ended up just staying at Da Capo the whole night. We had so much fun we all agreed it’s one of the best bars in the Upper West Side.
Address: 322 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023
#6. Amsterdam Ale House
The corner of Amsterdam and W. 76th Street has been the site of numerous popular restaurants since the late 1930’s. Heck, from 1977 to 1993 it was a JG Melon location (one of the most iconic restaurants in NYC) but today it’s home to one of the best bars in the Upper West Side.
The Amsterdam Ale House follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by being a no-frills neighborhood staple. The casual atmosphere attracts locals like moths to a flame and no matter the time it never seems to be empty.
Whether you’re looking to watch a game, get together with old buddies or have an impromptu date night, the Amsterdam Ale House is one of the most versatile Upper West Side bars.
The pub has an extensive food menu so there’s no excuse to put up with an empty stomach. I suggest trying the perfectly cooked bison burger and sweet potato fries, they single-handedly make the Amsterdam Ale House one of the best bars in the UWS.
Address: 340 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
#5. Arthouse Bar
If you haven’t been to the Arthouse Bar you’re missing out. The UWS watering-hole oozes a sophisticated charm but manages to have an unpretentious, laid-back atmosphere.
Perfect for a date night it’s one of the most romantic bars in the Upper West Side. The Arthouse Bar is cozy, offering plenty of dim-lit nooks ideal for deep talks. Plus the decor is vintage and elegant so you can’t help but feel like you’re part of an exclusive social club.
The Arthouse Bar also recently opened their kitchen, so your date now comes with dinner. A step up from other bars in the Upper West Side you’ll find a refined menu of small bites as well as fresh pizzas.
Not to mention, the Arthouse Bar is one of the best bars in the Upper West Side for fans of live music. You’ll frequently find a jazz band adding a subtle charm to your evening.
Address: 2178 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
#4. Vin Sur Vingt
Vin sur Vingt translates to “wine in twenty” and everything about this authentic Parisian wine bar oozes with French charm. It’s one of my favorite Upper West Side bars, perfect for parking myself at an outdoor table.
Offering an impressive rotating menu of 50 wines by the glass, you’re sure to find something that suits your Francophile fancy. Pair your wine with French-inspired appetizers and you’ll be reminiscing about Paris in no time.
Make sure to have a good friend in tow because the hours slip by when the cold rosé hits the table. The charm and easygoing nature makes this one of the best wine bars in the Upper West Side for a girls night.
But bear in mind, this UWS wine bar has no reservations — it’s first come, first served only. Show up early and try to get an outdoor table, especially in the spring!
Address: 66 W 84th St, New York, NY 10024
#3. The Owl’s Tail
Power couple Lawrence and Stephanie Bondulich really knew what they were doing when they decided to open The Owl’s Tail in 2018. Locals can’t seem to get enough, its quickly become one of the best bars in the Upper West Side!
In the winter months the velevet booths and floor to ceiling windows make The Owl’s Tail one of the coziest UWS bars. In the summer the outdoor seating is warm and bright, only made better with a refreshing cocktail.
I love the strawberry rum spritz because let me tell you, that drink is dangerous. It goes down so smooth you run the risk of having more than you should and not realizing it until your wobbling home!
Since The Owl’s Tail makes flavorsome food it’s one of the best bars in the Upper West Side for dinner and drinks. Admittedly the menu is a bit small, but it makes up for it with top-notch flavors (the steam dumplings are divine).
Address: 215 W 75th St, New York, NY 10023
#2. e’s Bar
I have a dilemma. I love casual, easygoing nights where my friends come over, have drinks. and we play board games but my apartment is the size of a shoe box! I’ve concluded that hosting isn’t an option for me, but I have a solution.
When I’m in the mood for an easy-going get together I tell my friends to meet me at e’s Bar, one of the best bars in the Upper West Side. Offering plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, the whole gang is able to join in one the fun.
There’s traditional bar food available so nobody is going hungry. Wings, burgers and fries are par for the course but in my opinion the must try item is the nachos.
Even better, e’s Bar is one of the best Upper West Side bars because the drink options are endless! My friends each get what they’re feeling that day, whether it be beer, wine, cocktails or even party-starting shots.
And remember how I mentioned wanting to play board games? e’s Bar has that covered too. There are more than 200 board games available so entertainment is never an issue, no wonder it’s one of the best Upper West Side bars.
Address: 511 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
#1. Nobody Told Me
I wish I could say that nobody told me that Nobody Told Me is one of the best bars in the Upper West Side, but that would be a lie. In actuality – Nobody Told Me is one of my most highly-recommended bars in the UWS.
I’ve had countless friends tell me that I was missing out, but it wasn’t until one of them invited me that I was able to see what all the hype was about. All you need to know is that I don’t know how I made it home. 😉
The main attraction of course are the drinks. I think Nobody Told Me is not only one of the best craft-cocktail bars in the Upper West Side, but in New York City as a whole. It’s hard for me to crown one cocktail as my favorite, but if I had to choose I’d reach for the Copy of a Copy (mezcal, hibiscus, herbal bitters, lemon & mint).
In a lot of ways Nobody Told Me is exactly what the best neighborhood joints should be – small, under the radar, with friendly service and mouthwatering drinks. I suggest visiting before 6PM, because the bar is relatively empty and the sun is still soaking the bar with summery rays.
I’d be a bad friend if I sent you to the best bars in the Upper West Side and didn’t give you food recommendations. The spicy chicken sandiwch at Nobody Told Me is *chef’s kiss* and is a generous enough size to satisfy even the emptiest of bellies.
Address: 951 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025
Best Bars in the Upper West Side (Post Summary)
- Nobody Told Me
- E’s Bar
- The Owl’s Tail
- Vin Sur Vingt
- Arthouse Bar
- Amsterdam Ale House
- Da Capo
- Maison Pickle
- The Dead Poet
- Tiki Chick
- Bodega 88
- Thyme & Tonic
Best Upper West Side Bars (Map)
And there you have it my friends, hope you enjoyed the article.
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