Best Gay Bars in NYC: The Ultimate Guide
What are the best gay bars in NYC? With detailed info you can’t find anywhere else, discover the best gay bars in New York City in wolfyy’s ultimate guide.
Best Gay Bars in NYC: 2020 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.
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 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 4AM. Sometimes the lounge room turns into a cruising/dark room. However, this really depends on the day and the type of party.
REBAR Chelsea charges a cover fee of either $5 or $10 on weekend evenings. It seems to change every now and then, though. Bring $10 per person to be safe.
Rise Bar: Best Modern NYC Gay Bar
No matter if you’re a jock, bear, daddy or lesbian, Rise Bar in Hell’s Kitchen will welcome you. Rise Bar is popular for having a diverse crowd and being a clean, modern space for the LGBT crowd to relax.
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 Ru Paul’s Drag Race viewing nights. If you’re not in town on the weekend, Rise is a top Hell’s Kitchen gay bar to visit.
On the weekend, Rise is busiest on Saturday night. Between 11:30PM and 1AM, 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.
Pieces: The West Village Gay Favorite
The West Village would 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 NYC gay bars that has a cruising room in the back. They do not advertise this dark room 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: Best NYC Gay Bar for Dancing
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 their 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 with a taxi, you probably won’t need it.
EAGLE NYC: New York's Best Fetish & Gay Cruising Bar
New York’s popular most popular leather and gay cruising bar is Eagle NYC. Anyone who is into gay fetish/kink will easily make friends in this infamous grungy spot. The lighting is dim, the rooms are narrow and men are mature.
Eagle NYC doesn’t have much of a dance floor, since it is not a club. But, there is plenty of room to socialize, cruise or just lurk.
Other events include Monday foot fetish night and beer-blast Sundays. Browse their website’s event calendar, or check the Eagle NYC Facebook Page for the latest events and a ton of photos.
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 opens every day at 5:00 PM except for Sundays when they open at 10PM. They’re also 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.
Industry: The Hell’s Kitchen Gay Staple
One of the best drag performances I’ve ever seen was at Industry. The talent here is unmatched. They have a drag performance just about every single evening.
Industry is a great gay bar to start your night. 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.
Therapy NYC: Top Drag Shows & Asian Favorite
Therapy is famous for consistently having the best drag shows of any New York City gay bar. This gay hotspot definitely competes with its neighbor, Industry. But, they are right across the street from one another. You can easily try both.
Keep in mind that the bar layout isn’t very conducive to a large standing audience (the room is long and stairs are in the middle). If you want a closer view, then get there early. The immediate area in front of the stage is tables available by RSVP only.
Recently, we learned Therapy NYC is not planning to re-open after the city has controlled COVID-19. Chelsea News covers the story on Therapy.
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 NYC Gay Bar of the East Village
Branding themselves as the premiere 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.
Nowhere Bar: Best NYC Gay Bar on Monday Night
Looking for the best NYC gay bar for a Monday night? That would be at 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. Nowhere charges a cover of $5 for the Monday parties.
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.
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: The Smallest NYC Gay 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.
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 Bar 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.
More NYC Gay Bar Options
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: Hell's Kitchen Local Hangouts
I’ve spent many nights at both of these NYC gay bars. I mention Dive Bar Lounge (known as DBL) and Micky Spillane’s together because they have similar lounge-type vibes and have the same owner. Both are cheap, friendly and great for medium-sized groups. They’re among the cheapest gay bars in Manhattan, too.
Metropolitan: Top Brooklyn Gay Bar in Williamsburg
If you’re staying in Williamsburg, then you’ve definitely got to check out Metropolitan Bar. This place is quite grungy, but very popular. I have spent many nights here, often the last one to walk out the door.
Metropolitan attracts both locals and non-locals. I’ve run into Scott Hoying from Pentatonix here as well as some New Zealand gay travelers. The music at Metropolitan is upbeat and people are friendly. See more on the Metropolitan Bar Facebook Page.
Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up: Inexpensive and Unique
A bit farther south than the rest of Hell’s Kitchen’s gay bars, Vodka Soda/Bottoms Up is a fun two-level hangout. The layout is certainly one of the most unique of any NYC gay bar. Enter at street level and then take one of the staircases up to the second floor for more seating, another bar and a great view of the street.
Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up is a great place to hang out on Thursdays, as well as the weekends of course. It’s also a very inexpensive bar by NYC standards. The weekends, however can get a bit overcrowded to the point that it is difficult to order a drink.
Boxers HK: A Popular NYC Gay Bar Rooftop
If you’re visiting New York in the summer, I recommend happy hour at Boxers HK! I like the Boxers Sports Bar Hell’s Kitchen location for their awesome roof terrace. There is plenty of seating and space overall. It never feels too crowded.
Note that only the Hell’s Kitchen Boxers location has a roof terrace. There is another location downtown at Boxers Chelsea.
The Cock: NYC Gay Bar & Basement Sex Club
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 n 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. The Cock is not for the faint of heart. If you are interested in joining the party downstairs, always protect yourself and never take any unnecessary risks.
The Ritz Bar & Lounge: Gay NYC 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 and older/mature gay men here. The crowd is on the younger side.
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.
Barrage: Relaxed Hell’s Kitchen Gay Bar
Although I personally do not frequent Barrage Bar, I have several friends who like this bar because it’s a calm place to hang out.
I would describe it as a local gay bar that usually is not too crowded where you can have a conversation without having to yell. Since Barrage is tucked away off the main Avenue, it tends to be quieter. Check out the Barrage Bar Instagram for more photos and stories.
Don’t forget to check out wolfyy’s New York City Gay Travel Guide for more tips for your visit to this fantastic international gay destination.
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.
POSH Bar & Lounge
Posh Bar is definitely on the list of dive gay bars in New York City. Some locals prefer to hang out at Posh, but it’s not my personal favorite. The crowd here can tend to be a little on the predatory side, but then again I have never had too big of an issue at this bar.
Be cautious hanging around outside of Posh Bar late into the night. I’ve witnessed frequent commotion and a couple 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 wolfyy know!
Flaming Saddles: Hell’s Kitchen Tourist Bar
Flaming Saddles is probably the top tourist gay bar in New York. Yes, it is fun to watch the dancers in their skin-tight jeans, but you’re not going to find any local gay guys here. All the locals will be at the other bars mentioned above.
There is usually a large number of straight women here, sort of 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, 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.
Most New York City gay bars are open until 4AM, 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 2AM per NYC law, even though they may remain open later. On Sundays, many bars will close at 2AM.
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. If you don’t want to worry about this, then don’t wear an expensive jacket somewhere you’re going to end up taking it off.