5 Cheap Bars in NYC For Friendly, Frugal Travelers

While some people move to to New York City for the fancy, glamorous parties where they do nothing but mingle with celebrities and pop champagne all night, some people enjoy getting rowdy with the locals and popping the top of a cold PBR or a shot of cheap whiskey.

Both groups have a lot of fun in their preferred territory, but the later group ends up spending a lot less on their stay. Or at least they end up spending a lot less at the bar and then have a lot more money to spend on drunk munchies. Either way, when you’re looking for a cheap bar with a great atmosphere to have a good time every night in NYC, there are a few dive bars that gladly welcome travelers into their mix of locals.

Jimmy's Corner Chicago
Jimmy’s Corner, Chicago

International Bar

As the name suggests, you’ll find travelers of all kinds in this East Village dive bar. People come for the cheap drinks and stay for the good times. Talk about NYC’s hidden gems, International Bar is small, dark and cozy, but still has room for a back patio. They have a beer and shot special that people looking for a good time finds hard to resist, especially at these prices. The bartenders and (most of) the people are friendly, making it a great place to spend an evening and get to know some locals.

Jimmy’s Corner

When you’re looking for a cheap place to drink in Times Square, definitely avoid the tourist traps and head here. Despite being in Times Square, there are surprisingly few tourists hanging out at Jimmy’s Corner. Most of them head over to Tonic or the Living Room, which are both good places for happy hour, but when you want cheap drinks and a fun atmosphere, you’re going to want to hit up the former boxing corner guy, Jimmy.

Rudy’s Bar and Grill

If Jimmy’s is packed, and it often is, try Rudy’s Bar and Grill, located nearby in the Theater District. On top of their $7 pitchers, stiff drinks and $5 whiskey shot and beer special, they serve free hot dogs. Need we say more? Unlike some dive bars, they’ve got plenty of bathrooms, and an outdoor patio, so the good times keep rollin’ here. This is one of the best places to meet people from all over in NYC, and lots of them. The bar gets packed, but they usually always make room for one more.

Johnny’s Bar

The neon signs outside will catch your attention, and the tunes on the jukebox definitely aren’t going to drive you away. Expect strong drinks and attentive bartenders, no matter how many people are in West Village that night.

The Levee

If you’re young and traveling on a budget, staying in Williamsburg isn’t a bad idea, and while you’re in Williamsburg, heading to the Levee is one of the best ideas you’ll have. They’ve got lots and lots of games to keep you entertained all night long, from a pool table and pinball machine to Big Buck Hunter and board games. While the beers are cheap, the whiskey is strong and the booze is flowing generously all night long, you’ll never run the chance of drinking on an empty stomach, because they keep cheese balls out at all times to prevent any such thing. Drink orders like ‘The Fratboy’ and ‘The Sportsman’ keep things interesting every time you come back.

It’s not hard to have a great time and meet a lot of people on your trip to NYC. There are bars in every neighborhood that make you feel welcome, and don’t overcharge you to feel that way either. Save on everything else by snagging from attraction discounts to NYC hotel deals, but for strong drinks and good times prices that are always right, these are your best bets.

This article was written by Lizz Riggs, editor of NYCTourist.com.

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