The best nightlife in New York

New York nightlife
The city that never sleeps (unsurprisingly) has plenty of nightlife - Mlenny/Mlenny

New York City is still waking up from the pandemic, and the nightlife scene is finally beginning to stretch deeper into the night, reclaiming the moniker, “the city that never sleeps.” Whatever your post-sunset, pre-sunrise interests are, there’s something for everyone in the Big Apple. Discover the next Alicia Keys at Joe's Pub while sipping on frozen sangria, dress to the nines for an evening performance of The Metropolitan Opera, or indulge your inner cinephile at the city's only non-profit cinema.

Below our expert gives the low-down on the very best night-time venues the Big Apple has to offer. And for further inspiration, see our guides to the city's best hotels, restaurants, barsshoppingattractions and free things to do, plus how to spend a weekend in New York.

Find nightlife by area

Manhattan: Lower East Side


Brought to you by the people from Maison Premiere, the popular oysters-and-absinthe-themed bar in Williamsburg, Tigre opened up in late 2023 in an unmarked space on the Lower East Side. Make a reservation and then look for a large bouncer-like man standing not so conspicuously in front of a door. Give your name and the door opens to a raucous party inside that has some serious 1970s vibes. The crescent-shaped bar is the place to plant yourself for the evening while sipping on bespoke martini (you can call the ratio of gin to vermouth) or the better-than-you-think ‘70s classic screwdriver.

Price: ££
Getting in: Reservations essential
Nearest metro: Delancey St.-Essex St.


Midnight Plus One

Chef Ryan Hardy, who runs the show at restaurants Legacy Records, Charlie Bird, and Pasquale Jones opened this subterranean club-like lounge in Summer 2023. The main room, scattered with old hardcover books and other nicknacks, feels like someone's living room. Except in this living room there’s often live jazz and soul and a menu of Italian-accented cocktails and snacks.

Price: ££
Getting in: Reservations essential
Nearest metro: Broadway-Lafayette


Film Forum

In an age of IMAX theatres and blockbuster premieres, Film Forum might be considered 'retro' by some. But to others – let’s say real film buffs – it’s more of a glance back to the golden age of cinema. The only non-profit cinema in New York, it originally opened on the SoHo/Greenwich Village border with 50 folding chairs and a single projector. Today, it features three screens showcasing new, independent American releases, foreign art films, and American classics. Expect anything from Goddard to Fellini, and Howard Hawks to Wes Anderson.

Price: £
Getting in: Reservations essential
Nearest metro: Houston St

Film Forum, New York
Film Forum is the only non-profit cinema in New York

West Village


Greenwich Village is the place to listen to jazz. Legendary local clubs like the Village Vanguard and Blue Note are known throughout the world and listed in every guide book. But this basement jazz club, named after musician Milton 'Mezz' Mezzrow and owned by the folks who run Smalls jazz club at 183 W. 10th St., is frequented by real jazz lovers who come to hear up-and-coming (as well as established) musicians while sipping Manhattans and snacking on charcuterie and cheese. Walk-ins are welcome, but to ensure a seat make a reservation. 

Price: ££
Getting in: Reservations recommended
Nearest metro: Christopher St

Le Poisson Rouge

Located smack in the center of Greenwich Village, this subterranean music venue and night club has a strong pedigree: it was the space that housed the historic Village Gate, founded and run by the late nightlife impresario Art D’Lugoff, where 'unknown' musicians such as John Coltrane and Aretha Franklin, started out. Le Poisson Rouge keeps in the spirit of its predecessor by hosting promising new bands as well as doubling as an art exhibition space. Cocktails and snacks are served but the real lure is the music and historic ambience. The cover price varies from free to $25 (£21).

Price: ££
Getting in: Reservations recommended
Nearest metro: W. 4th St 

Le Poisson Rouge, New York
Le Poisson Rouge is where Aretha Franklin started out - Copyright Julia Drummond,2017.All rights reserved./Julia Drummond

Katana Kitten

Japanese cocktail pro Masahiro Urushido is the man behind the bar at this two-level vaguely retro bar on Hudson Street. Expect classic cocktails with a Japanese twist. Gin and tonics are laced with shiso and there’s a nice riff on the Negroni using aged umeshu instead of Campari. The bar bites are excellent too: miso-spiked deviled eggs and a grilled cheese layered with nori and yuzu kosho are a few of the edible standouts.

Prices: £
Getting in: Reservations not necessary
Nearest metro: Eighth Ave

Katana Kitten, New York
Katana Kitten serves classic cocktails with a Japanese twist - NOAH FECKS

East Village

Joe's Pub

Perhaps something of a misnomer, Joe’s isn’t actually a pub for pints. Instead, it’s one of the city’s great small music and performance venues. Leonard Cohen, David Byrne, Alicia Keyes… the list of marquee names who’ve performed at the swanky bar-meets-cabaret lounge of The Public Theatre, is long and storied. The space is intimate, with red-cushioned seating, snug booths and small tables. Tasty cocktails include the frozen white sangria (made with rum, white wine, peach and strawberry), and there’s good food too, running from salads to steak frites. It gets crowded, so arrive half-an-hour before the music starts.

Price: ££
Getting in: Reservations essential
Nearest metro: Astor Pl./8th St-NYU

Joe's Public, New York
Joe's Pub is one of the city's great small music and performance venues


The only spying that may be going on at this well-known literary bar might be to see what you’re reading. Clad in all shades of red, this first-floor bar is a fun place to nurse a pint of beer, not only for the faux Soviet propaganda but also because of the nightly readings that start at 7pm and last for 60-90 minutes. Some speakers are literary stars, and the space was once the home of a Ukrainian socialists club – so saying na zdravje and toasting to your favorite Ukrainian writer should probably be an obligatory gesture before every drink.

Price: £
Nearest metro: Astor Pl


Somewhere Nowhere

Billed as a “lounge, club, rooftop pool,” it’s better to think of Somewhere Nowhere as an all-seasons rooftop refuge to sip a classic New York cocktail—let’s say a martini or a Manhattan—and take in the starry twinkling lights of the legion of skyscrapers surrounding this 39th-floor rooftop spot. There are DJs a few times per week and when the stomach rumbles, the nostalgic menu of buffalo chicken lollipops, tuna tartare, and edamame hummus is satisfying enough to prolong a few more hours of cocktails.

Price: ££
Nearest metro: 23rd St



An offshoot of the original Chinatown quasi-speakeasy cocktail bar, the NoMad location of Apotheke can be equally discrete from the outside. (Hint: when you see a solemn-looking person, maybe holding an iPad, in front of an unmarked door on W. 26th St., you’ve found it) Once inside, descend the steps into a dimly lit sunken main room where bartenders mix up cocktails using “healthy” ingredients, like dandelion root and spirulina. You can also take a lift to the bar’s rooftop lounge for excellent cityscape vistas with your gin, roasted seaweed, cucumber, and squid ink cocktail.

Price: ££
Nearest metro: 23rd St.

Midtown West

Jimmy’s Corner

Not actually on a corner, this narrow boxing-themed dive bar is a relic from pre-Disney-fied Times Square when the area was filled with dodgy characters and institutions. Not that Jimmy’s Corner is dangerous. It’s just not flashy in the way Times Square has evolved. Here you can cosy up to the bar and sip an extra-strong vodka and soda water next to the guy who just got off duty entertaining tourists as Spiderman or Elmo.

Website: 212-221-9510;
Price: £
Nearest metro: Times Sq.-42nd St.

Upper West Side

Lincoln Center for Performing Arts

Comprising nearly 30 distinct performance spaces, Lincoln Center hosts a mishmash of high-brow entertainment. It’s the home of The Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York Ballet. It also hosts film premieres, charity galas, and even Mercedes Benz Fashion Week – all in the same iconic complex. There are numerous cafés and restaurants within, including chef Marcus Samuelsson's American Table Cafe and Bar connected to Alice Tully Hall. If all that performing arts viewing builds up an appetite, plant yourself there and tuck into a maple bacon grilled cheese sandwich or jumbo lump crab cakes.

Price: £££
Getting in: Reservations are essential
Nearest metro: 66th St-Lincoln Center/59th St-Columbus Circle

Lincoln Centre, New York
Lincoln Center comprises around 30 distinct performance spaces - Iñaki Vinaixa

Brooklyn: Park Slope

Union Hall

Brooklyn’s attractive and leafy Park Slope neighbourhood is one of the most eye-pleasing swaths of the city. Known for the ubiquity of prams, 'The Slope', as locals call it, is also home to a playground for adult hipsters – the quirky Union Hall. In the basement is a performance venue for stand-up comedy, literary readings, and musical performances. The ground floor boasts a library, a couple of bocce ball courts and a long bar for beer, wine and cocktails. Mixing booze and heavy bocce balls. What could possibly go wrong?

Price: £
Nearest metro: Bergen St

Union Hall, New York
Union Hall is a playground for adult hipsters


Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club

Bringing some geriatric Florida fun to Brooklyn, owners Ashley Albert and Jonathan Schnap have succeeded in getting the young and the hip into shuffleboard. This palace of fun boasts several lanes to keep even non-experienced shufflers entertained for an evening. A few bars sprinkled throughout the large room serve up cocktails and beer. There are a handful of house cocktails but first timers should opt for the gin-and-coconut-juice-laden Shuffleboard Bob. Ballers can rent cabanas for the evening – think unlimited booze by the hour – to get the full-on Royal Palms experience.

Price: £
Nearest metro: Union St 

Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, New York
Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club has several lanes for expert and beginner shufflers - chris mosier

Fort Greene

Brooklyn Academy of Music

For the last 120 years, this popular performing arts venue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, has been hosting cutting-edge performances by artists and musicians. Known by locals as BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music has played an integral part in the Brooklyn renaissance by bringing big-name theatre, opera and dance productions to the borough. On any given night, you might find essayist David Sedaris reading his humorous stories or artist Laurie Anderson performing. After a show or movie, head across the road for dinner at brilliant German restaurant and beer garden Der Schwarze Kölner.

Price: ££
Getting in: Reservations essential
Nearest metro: Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center

How we choose

Every bar, venue or experience in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, who has visited to provide you with their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets and styles, from casual pubs to exquisite cocktail bars – to best suit every type of traveller – and consider the service, drinks, atmosphere and price in our recommendations. We update this list regularly to keep up with the latest openings and provide up to date recommendations.