The Union Square neighborhood of New York City is known for the crowds of shopping tourists or busy farmers’ market regulars looking for the freshest groceries. But once the sun sets, a staggering number of bars pop up around this area. They range from trendy hotel lobby lounge settings to speakeasies so secret you must walk down an unmarked staircase and ring a doorbell. Here are the 10 best bars in the Union Square area.
Singl Bar and Lounge | Courtesy of Alexandra Brown
This trendy lounge on the corner of 4th Avenue and 13th Street is part of the Hyatt at Union Square hotel. Singl offers a wide range of cocktails and spirits in a comfortable, spacious area filled with plush couches and lounge chairs. It is a great spot to stop by before heading out for a night on the town with friends, as it is slightly quieter and calmer than other bars and lounges in the Union Square area, actually allowing for regular conversation. In addition to drinks, there is also a small appetizer section on the menu.
Located just a couple of blocks west of Union Square is the Raines Law Room, a quintessential speakeasy-style underground bar. With the nondescript black awning and no sign, it is easy to walk right by the Raines Law Room without a clue as to what is going on below. A small gilded plaque announces that you have reached the Raines Law Room, with instructions saying to ring the doorbell. The interior of this hidden gem is a throwback to the bootlegging Gatsby days of underground speakeasies with the plush couches, thick curtains and vintage drinks. Coming to the Raines Law Room is a classic New York experience that should not be missed.
For those looking for a place to feel transported back in time, look no further than Dear Irving, located on 17th Street and Irving Place. The bar has an intimate, old school ambiance inside and exotic and sophisticated drinks. The theme of Dear Irving is time travel and has four different rooms: the Marie Antoinette room with ornate gilded detail, the Roaring 20s room with flashy details, an Abraham Lincoln-themed bar, and a 1960s JFK room. By moving between rooms you can be transported back and forth through different eras.
Just a couple blocks up from the Raines Law Room is the Flatiron Lounge, a historic New York cocktail establishment that was constructed in 1927. The feel of this bar is the Art Deco era, which can be seen in the blue and white stained glass lights that hang over the bar, the vintage blue glass tiles covering a wall, and the red leather lounge booths. Since the space is so limited here, it is better to come early before the crowds to have a chance at getting a table, otherwise there is just standing room.
In keeping with the time traveling bar theme, Lillie’s Victorian Bar & Restaurant pays tribute to the classic Victorian age of England. Walking into this bar feels like walking into an elaborate Victorian parlor, with its stained glass windows, oil paintings, large fireplace, and gilded column capitals. This establishment honors British actress and socialite Lillie Langtry, who moved to New York in 1882 to pursue her acting dreams. Located just half a block east of Union Square, this vintage-style bar serves both delicious food and classic cocktails.
Also located just half a block off Union Square West is Park Bar, a cozy, intimate bar that that attracts young locals and the after work crowd. The music is loud and this bar is often packed, but drinks are reasonably priced and well made. The walls are outfitted in dark walnut, and an oak bar spreads across the room, giving Park Bar a classic New York ambiance. The numerous drink options scrawled on a large mirror behind the bar make up for the cramped space, making Park Bar an enjoyable experience if you’re up for braving the crowd.
The Rooftop deck at Bar 13 | Courtesy of Alexandra Brown
Directly across the street from Singl is The Royal, an upscale sports bar that boasts over 40 televisions so that no sports fan will ever miss a moment from the game. There is a full bar in addition to a reasonably sized menu as well as a dance floor. The Royal can get very crowded, so it is recommend to make reservations if coming with a large group. During popular games, The Royal also gets very crowded, but they sometimes have drink specials or trivia nights as well.
Bar 13 is located just a block below Union Square and is spread out between three floors. The second and third floors have a traditional lounge bar scene, while the rooftop deck is slightly quieter. Unfortunately since this building is only four floors, the views from the rooftop deck are not amazing, but it does offer a refreshing breath of air. The vibe is slightly grungier than previous bars mentioned, but is still worth a trip if you are looking for a classic New York club/lounge experience.
Bar 13, 35 East 13th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 979 6677
The view from 230 Fifth | Courtesy of Alexandra Brown
Sitting on the northeast corner of Union Square is the posh W Hotel, whose lobby also plays host to Irvington, an upscale restaurant and lounge area where drinks can be enjoyed. Chic couches and velvet benches covered in plush pillows fill the modern sitting room of this lounge. This setting is also fairly quieter than other NYC bars, so it is a good spot for conversation. The lounge area of Irvington has a large drink menu as well as a fine selection of appetizers, but for a full meal, guests will have to sit in the restaurant area of the lobby.
Slightly farther up from Union Square towards the Flatiron district is a lounge that offers possibly the best rooftop views of any NYC bar. Guests enter on the Fifth Avenue entrance and then take an elevator up to the 20th floor penthouse. This indoor level has floor-to-ceiling windows that boast amazing views of the city, but just one flight of stairs up is the incredible rooftop deck. Spanning the entire roof of this building, the expansive lounge has multiple bars and plenty of tables and benches. Palm trees fill the planters, giving this lounge a more tropical vibe than most NYC counterparts. The view is the crowning jewel, however, as it looks straight up Fifth Avenue towards the famous Empire State Building; this is definitely a spot that cannot be missed.