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6 Best Bars in the West Village, NYC: The Locals’ Pick

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2 months ago

West Village is the place to go for a guaranteed good bar in the heart of Manhattan. There’s a reason everybody flocks to the bars in West Village, but there’s so many of them that it can be difficult to choose where to spend your afternoon or evening. And sometimes the vibe can be completely different based on the time you go.

We’ve surveyed locals and visited these bars in West Village to create this definitive list of the best bars in the area, and we realized that the best way to categorize them is by level of fanciness so you can decide based on the mood of the night. But West Village’s charm doesn’t just stop at bars. Make sure you leave some extra time to enjoy the best restaurants in West Village as well.

View of West Village from Christopher Street

Fanciest

LB

LB is the thoughtful-sips-not-casual-gulps kind of bar set in an underground speakeasy that is a relative newcomer on the West Village bar scene, and yet LB is resoundingly considered the coolest bar in the West Village right now. If you plan to go without a reservation, you’ll want to go early and hope you can land a stool or two near the door.

One thing that we loved about LB is the bartenders’ ability to create deeply complex cocktails for large groups in record time. There’s a very good chance that you’ll walk away thinking that LB’s house twist on the classic cocktail of your choosing is better than the classic recipe. Put your faith in the bartenders and let them do what they do best: mix unique cocktails tailored to your chosen flavor profile.

And don’t get put off by the entrance. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised by the cozy and intimate interior once you descend into the den. And if you’re at LB during the week, there’s usually a jazz band playing just to add to the already lovely ambience.

The locals’ recommendation

LB serves one of the better dirty martinis that you can find in the city.

Best for

Go to LB for dimly lit, speakeasy vibes with a small group. And in case you were wondering, LB doesn’t serve food. It’s pure cocktail craftsmanship here.

Booking tip

We suggest you book LB well in advance. If you don’t, you may get very lucky (read: the front of house staff like you (or pity you, either work)) and get a table. But otherwise, if you don’t book ahead, you could be waiting for over an hour.

Orient Express

Sometimes a cocktail is better simply because of where you drink it. The team at Orient Express has created a wholistic experience; the stunning décor which fosters a warm and intimate ambience complements the exceptional cocktails on offer. Every member of the team has clearly contributed their best, and it shows in the quality of the venue and the cocktails they serve.

And what’s more is that the team is proud of what they’ve created and are more than willing to share how they do it. They move at your pace and are happy to accommodate your requests. And on top of the excellent service, your drinks will be served in the railway-themed interior (hence the name).

If you’re having trouble choosing, Orient Express provides a taste and palate chart of their cocktails. Ultimately, if you’re going to spend upwards of US$15 on a cocktail, you want to make sure you’re getting the right cocktail. The chart means that Orient Express is guaranteeing you that your cocktail it’s floral, bitter, textured or otherwise, which we think is a bold move and keeps them in check. But don’t worry, they deliver.

The locals’ recommendation

Ask for the St Germain Spritz. It’s not on the menu, but it will leave you very impressed if a spritz is your kind of drink.

Best for

As one local put it (speaking from experience), “great for a date that you haven’t planned“. Orient Express is a smaller space so this is ideal for a couple or a trio but probably no more if you want to get seated.

Booking tip

It’s a simple reality here: book in advance. wish we had more for you on this one.

Fancy

Bandits

OK, so Bandits is first and foremost a restaurant, but locals know that the bar at Bandits turns into a place to go in and of itself in the later evening. The team at Bandits serves great drinks in a great space, and it’s quite established in the area so make sure to go early to secure a table.

Bandits is from the same team behind other New York institutions like Make Believe, Kind Regards, Creatures of All Kind and The Garret. All of that is to say that you’re in a safe pair of hands if you’re looking for a great drink.

Best for

Don’t expect the level of craftsmanship that you’ll get at a fancy cocktail bar. Bandits serves great classic drinks, but they’re not trying to blow you away. This would be your regular if you were a West Village local.

The Spaniard

Unlike Bandits which is a restaurant that also serves drinks, The Spaniard is a bar that also serves food – and the food is surprisingly good. But don’t lost sight of what you really want to go to The Spaniard for, and that’s their excellent cocktails list and extensive bourbon menu.

This next point shouldn’t necessarily move the needle on your decision to go, but The Spaniard has also garnered a reputation for itself as one of the best bars in West Village because the crowd is usually well-dressed and good-looking. It can get a little crowded, so don’t expect the same ambience that you’ll get from a fancy cocktail bar like LB and Orient Express, but The Spaniard is a great vibe at all hours.

Best for

The Spaniard has recently expanded by taking over the space next door so it’s become one of the best bars in the West Village for a larger group.

The Spaniard is perfect for when your group of friends asks where to go after dinner in West Village.

Least fancy

TALEA

TALEA is a gorgeous female-founded brewery which launched its second tap room in West Village. What they do at TALEA, they do the best; and that’s incredible beers that go far beyond the standard IPA. Think pear beer flavor. And yes, it’s actually good.

The environment feels purposely hospitable and welcoming. Long has beer been the staple of the masculine; TALEA takes all the best parts of beer drinking and opens it up to everyone of all shapes, sizes and, most importantly, flavor profile.

Despite being a brewery, TALEA also serves great cocktails, but if you’re trying to drink less, then carve out your alcohol budget for their amazing beers.

Best for

One of the reasons we love Talea is that they have a deal with the restaurants in the immediate vicinity. You can get a slice of pizza at L’industrie or at Mama’s Too which just opened in March 2024 and then take it to Talea to eat with your beer. Or you can get Talea’s house pretzel for a little snack – it’s so tasty.

WXOU Radio Bar

If WXOU were in the UK, it would be firmly in the category of a neighborhood boozer. This isn’t a place for fancy cocktails like LB and Orient Express. This is the place you come for a casual drink with a group of friends without all of the bell and whistle. But it is nominally a radio-themed bar which is pretty fun.

Local tip: WXOU is cash only, but don’t worry because there’s an ATM in the back.

The reason WXOU Radio makes the list is because of the impeccable service from the bartending team. This is the type of place that people go to have a good time, and it still has an inkling of the spirit of old New York within its walls.

Best for

WXOU is perfect for that afternoon beer with a group of friends. It’s probably the most affordable of the bars in West Village as well.

Booking tip

WXOU is walk-in only so make sure to go early if you want to get one of the prime front tables near the windows.


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