New York City has some of the most unique and colorful spots in its eclectic nightlife culture.
This is no truer than with the NYC gay bar scene, which attracts locals, soon-to-be honorary New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Just recently, I wrote an article highlighting 10 overrated gay bars in NYC, which received a lot of attention and feedback from New Yorkers-- some good, some bad. So it's only right that I now follow that up with this.
From glittering drag shows to the neighborhood’s best happy hours, these are the 10 best spots in NYC to go and let your Pride flag fly.
1. Therapy (348 West 52nd Street)
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Past an impressive wooden door and through a glass hallway lies the lofting two-level Therapy, a stylish spot that attracts a mixed Midtown crowd.
An intimate front lounge accommodates groups looking to do more than just drink, as do the sprawling setups of tables and high-tops on the upper level.
As far as bar food goes, Therapy takes the cake. With an assortment of finger-licking bar classics like burgers, fries and wings, you can also get a more unusual choice like a quesadilla or a hummus plate.
Nightly shows are headlines by some of the city’s most prominent drag queens, such as showbiz spitfire Paige Turner’s weekly Werk Wednesdays show at 10:30 p.m.
2. LoveGun (617 Grand Street – Brooklyn)
bradyraybk #Bushwig #Lovegun #Brooklyn #Drag with @daveidey and @kristinwedel
Although still relatively new to the gay scene, LoveGun has become one of the top spots for Top 40 hits and throwback dance tracks.
A neon-themed entryway places you right in the middle of all the action when you first walk in, a sea of hip grooving Williamsburg locals and colorful out-of-borough guests.
The drink list may be a tad limited but make no mistake. When you go to LoveGun, you’re going to dance the night away. And when you’re ready to catch your breath, hunker down in the back’s sunken lounge and order a crisp libation.
3. Flaming Saddles Saloon (793 Ninth Avenue)
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Who says New York doesn’t know how to get a little country? Step into the knee-slappin’ Flaming Saddles and find out! A posh, Southern décor highlights a high-tech jukebox so that patrons can choose the tunes they drink to, which is usually playing the likes of Reba, Dolly Parton or Brad Paisley.
Be sure to also try their signature Frito Pie, Frito Corn Chips topped with their own homemade all-beef Texas Chili, cheese, sour cream, jalapeño, chopped white onions and spicy brown mustard.
The cowboy boots that the strapping bartenders wear aren’t just for show, as they sporadically jump up on the wooden bar and do a choreographed number to a beloved country song. One of their favorites? "Wild, Wild West."
4. The West End Lounge (955 West End Avenue)
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A chic and modern speakeasy is turning the city’s Upper West Side into the newest hotspot in the “gayborhood.” Although the venue hosts mainly gay-oriented events, the bar pulls in a heterogenous crowd spilling over from its neighborhood’s college residents.
The drinks here, especially their famous fishbowls and $5 margaritas, are equally matched with their exceptional kitchen food, which is served all the way till 4 a.m.
Various musical and talent shows are given in the bar’s back cabaret room, as well as a slew of drag shows such as the party cannon of a night that Brita Filter and Terra Grenade’s C’Mon Wednesdays is.
5. The Eagle (554 West 28th Street)
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Feeling kinky? Then the Eagle is the place to be. One of NYC’s longest-standing gay bars, New York Magazine also named it the best leather bar in the city.
Though this fetish-friendly bar satisfies an array of interests, from leather nights to foot fêtes, it also welcomes an eclectic crowd of backgrounds and ages.
Regular beer blasts and pool-playing nights give this multi-level spot a chill vibe and the sprawling roof deck is an ideal place to find a relaxing spot with your evening’s crew.,
6. Icon Bar (31-84 33rd Street – Queens)
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Astoria has its own rainbow-bannered feel good spot at Icon, and it’s not the hole-in-the-wall spot most people think and outer-borough gay bar will be. Welcoming bartenders and a plush interior give the aura of a Manhattan bar without the usual drink prices that come along with that.
The venue also boasts a rotating repertoire of live drag shows and special DJ nights, as this is another spot where dancing is more than encouraged. Icon proves to be a festive night out.
7. Hardware (697 10th Avenue)
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What merely looks like a dingy dive bar with a garage door front is actually a lively and eventful space that stands out in the NYC gay bar scene. Multiple themed nights command attendance from almost all of the neighborhood locals at one time or another.
Plus, the back performance stage is just enough out of earshot to still carry conversation in the front bar if you’re just there for convo and a cocktail.
Among the most vibrant nights is their musical Broadway Mondays nights hosted by the illustrious Sutton Lee Seymour, which features weekly special concerts by solidified and rising singing stars from the stages of Broadway Row.
8. XES (157 West 24th Street)
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What is often regarded as the “quintessential neighborhood gay bar,” XES is a place that has just the right amount of it all. Chiseled bartenders serve above average cocktails as guests make their way to one of the lounge couches that line the back room.
A spacious outdoor back patio provides an overflow and relief for both heat as well as the people, since this spot can get crowded on some nights, especially for the golden-voiced Kelly King on Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. or Frostie Flakes’ Sunday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. happy hour and Truth or Dare Karaoke.
9. Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher Street)
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It’s impossible to make a list of go-to gay bars without noting the historic Stonewall Inn. As it’s now officially a NYC landmark, this is where the 1969 gay pride movement began after the relentless raids and harassment from the police in that time.
Now almost fifty years later, Stonewall continues to be a gay bar staple, not just for the neighborhood, but for the city.
Their weekly Friday night Divas show pulls some of the best drag queens in the city to come have their own special night, such as the sensational Marti Gould Cummings and soulful songstress Jacque Dupree.
10. The Boiler Room (86 East 4th Street)
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As far as neighborhood bars go, The Boiler Room is among the top that spring to mind. A totally laid-back atmosphere combined with a diversified crowd make this a great place to swing by, grab a cheap drink and enjoy an authentic and well-executed dive bar.
A traditional yet working jukebox helps set a classic East Village feel and after 10 p.m., pop in for their $4 well drink special. Random fun fact, the karaoke scene in the 2007 rom-com Abigail Rowe was filmed here. They also have their throwback Old Skool House Party come Monday nights.
Check out 10 Overrated Gay Bars in NYC.