Best Gay Bars in NYC: The Ultimate Guide
Discover the best gay bars in NYC with local advice you can only find on wolfyy.
Best Gay Bars in NYC: 2022 Top Picks
Planning your night out in New York will be super easy with my picks of the top NYC gay bars. After, I’ll mention some cozier gay bars as well as which ones you should probably skip. If your time in New York is limited, you’ve got to prioritize only the best of the best!
REBAR Chelsea: #1 NYC Gay Bar Pick
I’ve ranked REBAR number 1 of the best NYC gay bars! The crowd tends to be between 25 and 45 years old, with the majority in their 30’s. Most men here are on the muscled & hairier side.
In my opinion, if there isn’t a big gay circuit party happening in New York, the macho dudes are here.
REBAR certainly has a sexually charged atmosphere, especially on weekends. They frequently host a Latin music party called Pégate, as well as others called CALIBR and Treta (the same Treta party as in Rio de Janeiro).
Overall, REBAR is pretty large in size. There are tables in the front area of the bar and a second bar near the dance floor. Toward the back is a separate lounge room behind the dance floor. The most popular night to visit REBAR is usually Saturday. Expect lots of dancing.
The party at REBAR gets going around midnight and doesn’t stop until 4 AM. Sometimes the lounge room turns into a cruising/darkroom. However, this really depends on the day and the type of party. Don’t forget to wear your sexiest underwear!
REBAR Chelsea charges a cover fee on weekends, which has recently been increased to $20 post-pandemic.
Playhouse: Best New York City Gay Bar for Dancing
I absolutely love a night out at Playhouse. they always have top-notch performers. Bartenders are friendly and the space is well-kept.
Playhouse is one of the best NYC gay bars for dancing that isn’t a circuit party. They play upbeat pop music and other LGBT favorites. It’s also one of the best spots for large groups.
Expect a bit of a line to get in. Sometimes it can be long, but it moves relatively quickly. During the colder months, they offer a coat check, so bring cash.
Rise Bar: Best Modern NYC Gay Bar
Rise Bar is Hell’s Kitchen’s most popular gay bar, no matter what. day of the week it is. It’s popular for having a clean, modern space for the LGBT crowd to mingle. Rise Bar also recently expanded, effectively doubling in size!
The crowd at Rise is quite diverse. You’ll find daddies here, maybe a group or two of gay Jewish men, twinks, or even straight girls with their gay best friends.
You can head to Rise Bar NYC on any night of the week and plan on a good time. They have a ton of events during the workweek including hilarious drag performances and RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing nights.
On the weekend, Rise is busiest on Saturday night. Between 11:30 PM and 1 AM, Rise Bar can sometimes even be a little too crowded. If you don’t like packed-in bars, get there a bit later on Saturday night. Otherwise, go on a Friday instead.
Rise Bar offers a coat check during the winter months and there is never a cover charge to get in (although the drinks here aren’t the cheapest).
They tend to be strict about not letting anyone in who is too intoxicated. Rise Bar bouncers will deny anyone entry if they appear too drunk.
The Spot Bar: New & Modern
The Spot is a relatively new NYC gay bar! They have the same management as Rise Bar, mentioned above, and the bar is just as flashy!
If you’ve been to or heard of Rise, then you can count on having a similar experience here at The Spot. Located in southern Hell’s Kitchen, expect lots of drag shows, colorful lighting, and pop music.
Pieces: The West Village Gay Favorite
The West Village could never be the same without our dear gay bar, Pieces. I have very fond memories of past underwear parties here! Pieces is popular for elegant drag shows with funny queens.
Pieces is one of a few New York gay bars that has a cruising room in the back. They do not advertise this darkroom and it is not always open. But, when it gets busy on a weekend, they open up the curtain to those curious enough to enter.
The crowd at Pieces is mixed. I haven’t ever noticed a specific gay “type” dominating the rest. Young, old, lean and large were all present!
Check out their fantastic happy hour too. They offer $5 beer and well drinks, as well as $7 Ketel One Vodka drinks. On Saturdays and Sundays, they host their “Liquid Brunch,” a great event to attend with some friends.
Hardware Bar: Dancing in Hell's Kitchen
Another local NYC gay favorite is Hardware. Every guy in the neighborhood stops by Hardware at some point.
I love this Hell’s Kitchen gay bar for its classic gay pop songs, fun lighting, and a constantly pumping fog machine. Hardware is definitely among the top five best NYC gay bars, so don’t miss it.
The Hardware crowd leans heavily toward younger, clean-cut guys. It’s rare to find the gruff, bearded crowd here. Although, on occasion, you’ll see a few.
Hardware gets its name in a literal sense. The space used to be a hardware store! The space has a long, narrow bar area in the front half, with a medium-sized dance floor in the rear. There is always a live DJ mixing up the most popular classics and new hits.
Just about every night is a busy night at Hardware. Tuesday and Wednesday can be slow, but every other day there is usually something going on.
Hardware does not have a coat check, so if you are staying nearby, I recommend leaving the jacket at home. If you’re going from door to door in a taxi, you probably won’t need it.
EAGLE NYC: NYC's Top Fetish & Gay Cruising Bar
Eagle NYC is New York’s most popular leather and gay cruising bar. Anyone part of the gay fetish/kink will easily make friends in this infamous grungy spot.
Eagle NYC recently expanded and now has a sizable dance floor space on the first floor! On the second level, there’s even more room to socialize, cruise or just lurk.
What night is best to go to Eagle NYC? Many guys will say Wednesday night. Each Wednesday is Jockstrap Night at the Eagle and the men come in droves!
Sunday nights are also a great time to go to Eagle NYC. Expect a smaller yet energetic dance party. It’s typically busiest around 8 PM to 11 PM, but guys will show up as early as 5 PM. Earlier in the evening, only the first floor is open. As the crowd grows, you’ll be able to head upstairs. For special events, check the Eagle NYC Facebook Page.
During the warmer months, Eagle NYC opens their fantastic rooftop. It’s a great place to socialize and make new friends. Any tourists that fit in with the daddy or leather crowds will certainly be popular here.
Eagle NYC is cash only, with an ATM available inside. On the first level, there’s a full-clothing check where you can strip down to your jockstrap in a jiffy.
Another awesome thing about Eagle NYC is their tiny shopping where they sell caps, buckles/hardware, and other gay party gear. If you need any last-minute sexy accessories, you can buy them inside.
The Q: New Multi-Level Gay Club
The first floor of The Q is pretty casual, with a medium-sized bar and coat check in the rear. The second level has two separate rooms to dance and socialize in, one with a sexy vibe and go-go dancers. The third level is a massive open space with lots of room to dance, a live DJ and talented dancers.
You’ll need to buy tickets for many of the events hosted at The Q, even on weeknights. They’re pretty affordable as long as you don’t wait until the last minute. If you wait too long, tickets often sell out and they stop letting people in! The venue can get quite crowded.
The Q has become quite a popular NYC gay bar on Thursday nights for their special Qruisers event. Here you can cruise and play in the club’s darkroom area, typically from 10 PM until 4 AM.
Note that The Q tends to stop allowing entry to anyone without a ticket roughly an hour before the bar closes. The security is also quite strict and often will fully pat down everyone upon entry.
Industry: Top NYC Gay Bar for Guys in Their 20's
Industry has some unbeatable drag talent, with a performance just about every single evening. No matter whether you’re starting or ending your night out, Industry is worth a visit.
The crowd at Industry tends to be a mix of different types of younger gay guys. It is rare to find mature men here. The majority are in their twenties and early thirties, usually quite stylish gay men. I personally have always thought the guys at Industry were cuter than most!
Although Industry has a large dance floor area, I do not prefer this bar for dancing. The bar is quite large, so this Hell’s Kitchen gay bar is good for larger groups. Make sure to bring cash since they’re also cash-only.
ICON Astoria: Known for Drag Talent
Many of the world’s finest and most talented drag queens perform here. They’re located just a couple blocks away from the Broadway N/W subway station.
HUSH: A New NYC Gay Bar
The owners of Hush have removed the internal staircase that many of us remember from nights at Therapy NYC. The bar hosts drag shows and aims for a little more of a risqué vibe.
Boxers HK: An All-New Location
Boxers HK just re-opened at an all-new location. There’s no doubt that everyone will be spending a lot of time in this new 4-level modern gay sports bar, especially on their fantastic rooftop.
The first level of Boxers has an open floor plan with a spacious dance floor. The second level overlooks the dance floor area with a spacious balcony. I also love the full-height glass windows on both levels—a modern touch that most NYC gay bars don’t have!
Head up another flight of steps to the gorgeous rooftop terrace, which has an additional bar, plenty of space to socialize, and a great view of the streets of Hell’s Kitchen below. It’s the perfect warm-weather hangout.
Note that only the Hell’s Kitchen Boxers location has a roof terrace. There is another location downtown at Boxers Chelsea.
Barracuda Lounge: Local NYC Gay Bar in Chelsea
Chelsea gays love Barracuda Lounge. Both Fridays and Saturdays are busiest, but you can find a decent crowd at this popular NYC gay bar any day of the week.
The front room of Barracuda has the main bar, which is cash-only. The back room is a mix of seating areas, a small dance floor, and a pool table. On weekends there will definitely be some dancing!
Keep in mind that in the summer, Barracuda can get very hot, so keep the clothing light. You’ll just have to keep cool with a few cold drinks.
Phoenix Bar: Best East Village Gay Bar
Branding themselves as the premier gay bar of Manhattan’s East Village, Phoenix has always been a fun spot for Friday and Saturday nights. Even guys from Hell’s Kitchen would trek all the way to the East Village for some fun.
On Saturday nights, check out the drag shows. The Phoenix Bar NYC Instagram page is super useful to see which night will best suit you. Their story highlights show the different nightly events and parties.
Bring cash just in case there is a cover charge for Phoenix. Usually, the cover is only a suggested payment, but it is best to be prepared in case they decide to change this. They have a coat check downstairs, which charged a few dollars last time I was there.
Nowhere Bar: Best NYC Gay Bar on a Monday Night
Looking for a place to go on a Monday? Check out Nowhere Bar down in the East Village. There is always a fun party in the works at Nowhere. Macho Mondays are currently a popular event.
Starting at 10 PM you can drool over go-go dancers while you sip $3 draft beers. Also, Nowhere usually doesn’t charge any cover fee!
In past years I’ve had some stellar nights at the old “Fire in the Hole” gay ginger-themed party. Nowhere Bar is definitely great at getting local gays to come out during the week! On the weekend, Fridays are the popular night at our beloved Nowhere gay bar.
Rockbar: A West Village Classic
It’s also a popular hangout for local gay sports teams grabbing a drink after practice. If you want to meet an athletic gay local, Rockbar is the spot!
VERS: The Newest Gay Bar in Hell's Kitchen
VERS is now the newest gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen, another one to pop up amid NYC’s gay nightlife renaissance post-covid. They serve craft cocktails and chic bar snacks in a fantastically central location. So far, the locals have really enjoyed hanging out in a gay bar with a different style.
Looking for gay parties in NYC? See wolfyy’s New York Gay Guide for local gay events you can’t miss!
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Cozy NYC Gay Bars
For those of you who prefer a calmer vibe, perhaps with less dancing, check out these smaller NYC gay bars.
Pocket Bar: Tiny NYC Gay Friendly Bar
Pocket Bar is a cozy NYC gay bar perfect for an intimate winter night or summer sangria with a friend. Don’t be deceived, though. Just because Pocket Bar is small, that doesn’t mean it’s quiet! I’ve seen some fun and rowdy groups pack in on weeknights.
Over on 10th Avenue and 48th Street, Pocket Bar has both table seating as well as wraparound bar seating. Everyone gets free popcorn and a chance to order the famous Sharknado Sangria.
Cubbyhole: Famous NYC Lesbian Bar
If you’re a member of the queer or lesbian communities, you can’t miss Cubbyhole.
Macri Park: Brooklyn’s Gay Hangout
Macri Park is right around the corner from the Metropolitan gay bar. They’re always keeping Brooklyn fun with tons of weekly shows and Ru Paul Drag Race viewings.
Many of my friends that lived in Brooklyn always spent time at Macri Park, both for happy hours after work and while letting loose on the weekends.
The Stonewall Inn: A NYC Gay Landmark
A famous landmark of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the famous Stonewall Inn gay bar is popular mainly with tourists or locals that live nearby. If you have never been to NYC’s Stonewall gay bar, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Everyone should see this important LGBT landmark in New York and grab a drink inside. The ambiance is great and the bartenders are notoriously friendly.
Booking a NYC LGBTQ+ walking tour is a great way to explore Stonewall and the surrounding gay culture of Manhattan’s West Village.
Albatross Bar: The Oldest Gay Bar in Queens
Albatross Bar is a small local gay bar in New York City’s Astoria neighborhood. It’s often overlooked by tourists, but is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re staying in Astoria.
The oldest and one of the best gay bars in Queens, Albatross hosts plenty of fun events with sexy DJs and live drag performances, like trivia nights, karaoke nights, and even fetish parties. During the summertime, enjoy drinks in the bar’s cozy outdoor seating area.
More NYC Gay Bar Options
If you didn’t find your spot of choice above, then perhaps the NYC gay bars below will suit you better. These bars are also popular with locals and are each great in their own way. I list these spots last because in general, they are not as raved about as the bars mentioned above.
If these NYC gay bars are closest to you or your best friend’s favorite spot, then by all means, please check them out!
Dive Bar Lounge (DBL), Micky Spillane’s & Mr. Biggs
Both are cheap, friendly, and great for medium-sized groups. They’re among the cheapest gay bars in Manhattan, too.
If you’re looking for a place to sit down with friends, I suggest Micky Spillane’s since they have more overall seating. Micky Spillane’s is directly in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen on 49th Street and 9th Avenue.
DBL only has outdoor seating along the street, aside from a few seats along the back wall. DBL gay bar is a bit farther south on 47th and 10th Avenue.
Metropolitan: Top Brooklyn Gay Bar in Williamsburg
If you’re staying in Williamsburg, definitely check out Metropolitan Bar. Grungy yet popular, I have spent so many nights here over the years.
Locals flock to Metropolitan for the huge outdoor seating area in the back (only open in the warmer half of the year). The relaxed hangout area in the back definitely makes Metropolitan a favorite Brooklyn gay bar.
Metropolitan attracts both locals and non-locals. I’ve run into Scott Hoying from Pentatonix here as well as some gay travelers from New Zealand.
The music at Metropolitan is upbeat and people are friendly. See more on Metropolitan Bar’s Facebook.
The Cock: NYC Gay Bar with a Dark Room Basement
Mention “The Cock” gay bar to any gay New Yorker, and you’ll surely be met with a chuckle. The Cock is famous for being a NYC gay bar with an underground dark room where no rules apply.
While the upstairs is a gay bar, the basement is a dim, sweaty sex club. Fridays and Tuesdays are most popular at The Cock.
Prepare yourself though because The Cock is not for the faint of heart! If you are interested in joining the party downstairs, always protect yourself.
Fast and affordable STD testing in New York City is also available. If you think it’s time to get tested, make an appointment!
The Ritz Bar & Lounge: The Latino Favorite
I used to frequent The Ritz Bar & Lounge every weekend with old friends. The Ritz attracts primarily Latino gay men as well as some of the local gays who love to dance! There usually aren’t any older/mature gay men here. The crowd is on the younger side.
The Ritz has two levels with two dance floors. The ground level has a small bar in the front room and a dancing room in the rear that usually plays house/circuit style music and remixed top hits.
Upstairs, there is another bar and dancing room that plays Latin and popular hip-hop.
On special occasions, The Ritz will open up their secret third level. They typically open this space for special parties or busy weekends.
The Monster: West Village History
One of the historically oldest in New York City gay bars is The Monster. They’ve been open down in the West Village since 1970 with quite a rich history. Downstairs you’ll find an upbeat nightclub that gets rowdiest on weekends.
Stop by on a late Sunday afternoon between 5 and 9 PM for some stellar piano action. The Monster is well known for talented piano players as well as surprise appearances by local celebrities.
Aside from the weekend parties, The Monster West Village gay bar attractions mostly an older crowd.
XOXO NYC Bar: Casual Comedy Club
XOXO originally opened as a gay bar in 2019. And while it’s still gay-owned and welcoming, XOXO has transitioned into a comedy club with a gay flare.
Located on Restaurant Row in south Hell’s Kitchen, XOXO has a fun outdoor space where you can enjoy cocktails while experiencing the buzz of the street.
While I wouldn’t prioritize XOXO over the other NYC gay bars on this list, it’s a fun local spot to try while hopping around midtown.
Skip These NYC Gay Bars
As a first-time visitor trying to choose a NYC gay bar to visit, there are probably a few you should skip or save for next time. While in NYC, I want you to have the best nightlife experience possible.
THIRST HK: New & Not Worth It
While their pink interior is cute, the space lacks ventilation and the music wasn’t anything special. They also charge a $10 cover some parts of the night and sloppily write on your wrist with a permanent marker.
POSH Bar & Lounge
Be cautious hanging around outside of Posh Bar late into the night. I’ve witnessed frequent commotion and a couple of fights while passing the bar. I can’t neglect to tell you to skip this NYC gay bar.
I have never really been a fan of the Boiler Room gay bar because of the overall run-down vibe. I don’t think I have ever had a good-tasting drink, either.
Most disappointing though is the electronic song-selection screen installed near the entrance that never actually plays the songs that you pay for.
Boiler Room may be dirt cheap, but I recommend that you skip this one. If you have a differing opinion, or Boiler room is your go-to spot, let me know!
Flaming Saddles: Hell’s Kitchen Tourist Bar
I’m a huge advocate for experiencing the local gay favorite hangouts, which is why I recommend skipping this gay bar.
Maybe now I’ve made you curious. If you decide to stop into Flaming Saddles NYC, then make it part of your route up 9th Avenue toward Rise Bar!
There is usually a large number of straight women here, sort of overtaking this gay space. They even have this hilarious sign that says “no woo-hoo-ing.”
By the way, I support straight women accompanying their gay friends to bars. In this space, however, I don’t sense that. It seems that there are just too many tourists.
NYC Gay Bar Ultimate Guide: Tips
For foreigners who may not be familiar, you must bring your official government ID or passport to prove you are aged 21 years or older. I know it is annoying to carry such documents out to bars, but NYC is quite strict about this.
If you’ve had a little too much to drink and you’re trying to get into another bar, don’t be so obvious to the bouncer. If you approach a bouncer to present your ID while visibly intoxicated, expect to be refused entry.
Short-term luggage storage in New York is widely available. It’s an ideal option if you’re not staying the night or your hotel isn’t close to your departure spot. By stashing your bags somewhere safe, you can avoid worrying about them while enjoying the bars.
Being nice to bartenders can really pay off. Tipping is expected in every NYC bar. The standard is usually $1 per drink. Those who can afford more usually give more.
Opinions vary about whether we should tip rude bartenders. Gay bars will certainly have some rude staff. NYC gay nightlife is so hectic that it’s unavoidable. The decision is yours.
Most New York City gay bars are open until 4 AM, even on weeknights. New York is the gay party capital of North America, after all! Keep in mind that bars don’t serve alcohol past 4 AM per NYC law, even if they do remain open later. On Sundays, many bars will close at 2 AM.
Overall, New York City is a safe place, especially in areas with gay bars. However, petty crime still occurs. Always keep track of your coat and other belongings.
Lastly, don’t forget to carry some cash in case you end up in one of New York’s cash-only gay bars. Have fun!
Planning on going to a darkroom? Don’t forget to bring some good condoms! ONE Condoms offers Free US Shipping on orders over $30
Looking specifically for circuit parties? Check out these circuit party events to see if any of the US productions will be hosting a party in New York.