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Hell’s Kitchen is right at the center of New York’s Gay scene, and its community makes sure that PRIDE is way more than just a passing holiday. But after two years of lockdowns, masks, Zoom calls, and COVID, it’s time to support queer-owned and LGBTQIA+-focused bars and restaurants in the neighborhood in person! Here are some W42ST-recommended spots to visit this June (and July, August, September, October…)
9th Avenue Saloon — 656 9th Avenue — corner of W46th Street
Shuttered by the pandemic, the venerable 9th Avenue Saloon is preparing for a comeback, reopening under new management just in time for PRIDE — iconic popcorn machine included!
Reader Alex chooses “9th avenue saloon for a low-key, dive bar vibe.” Another fan of the popcorn machine, reader Doug added: “The mix of people who gather there has always been a microcosm of gays and allies. It’s the least judgmental spot in HK, and of course, the popcorn!”
Atlas Social Club — 753 9th Avenue — corner of W51st Street
Designed to look like a glammed-up salon-meets-athletic-club, Atlas Social is a place where you can lift delicious cocktails in good company. Open for nearly a decade, ASC has opened its doors to stars like Anderson Cooper, Whoopi Goldberg, and Andy Cohen, and remains a favorite among locals and visitors alike!
Bar Nine — 807 9th Avenue — between W53rd and W54th Street
W42ST reader Neil recommends Bar Nine “for the dueling pianos and incredibly talented performers,” and we’d have to agree! Featuring a nightly lineup of musical artists across genres and frequent karaoke nights, Bar Nine is the place to check out some of the West Side’s most up-and-coming vocalists and entertainers — as well as try your out your own at their open mic!
Boxers — 735 9th Avenue — between W49th and W50th Street
In another pandemic comeback, the second coming of Boxers (roof deck included!) returns to Hell’s Kitchen this PRIDE! Enjoy a brand-new space with four floors of dance floors and bar space.
DBL — 667 10th Avenue — corner of W47th Street
Another relative newcomer to the block, DBL is the perfect place to enjoy a happy hour margarita in their patio seating. For the sporty types, DBL is also a favorite hangout spot for some of the New York Gay Football League players!
Fairytail Lounge — 500 W 48th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue
Nestled on a quiet block between 10th and 11th avenue, Fairytail Lounge is known for its saucy go-go dancer parties and barely-there burlesque shows!
Flaming Saddles Saloon — 793 9th Avenue — between W52nd and W53rd Street
Come for the beautiful dancing bartenders, stay for the world-famous Frito Pie! Says reader Joseph: “Who doesn’t like shirtless cowboys intentionally dancing for the gay clientele!? Las Vegas could NEVER!!!”
A neighborhood institution for over 20 years, Jacqui Squatriglia and the team at Flaming Saddles have built their modest gay country western bar into a Hell’s Kitchen landmark. Look out for the crew at the yearly 9th Avenue Food Festival and the NYC PRIDE Parade! Reader Stephen says: “Where else can we play country music on the jukebox and see line dancing on the bar top?”
Adds reader Kristina: “FSS is absolutely the most fun and most inclusive Gay Bar in HK. As a gay woman, I feel the love and pride every time I walk in. There is always a diverse group of people — straight, gay, trans, etc. The music is fantastic, while it largely plays country music, there is also a Juke Box which allows for customers to play some of their favorite beats. The drinks are great and always have a heavy pour. My favorite place!”
Reader Anthony threw down the gauntlet to declare Flaming Saddles the best bar in HK, adding: “Flaming Saddles is a fun loving, all inclusive, entertainment hub. You can go there to dance, you can go to introduce your family to the queer world, you can go there for a casual drink. It’s just amazing and it has something special in one room that these multi-level, rooftop, dark room bars CAN’T compete with.”
Hardware Bar — 697 10th Avenue — between W47th and W48th Street
Talk about handy — this former hardware store is now a happening gay bar, glammed up but designed to evoke the industrial remnants of its former tenant and full of “great vibes and drinks” per reader Mitchell. Enjoy their six-hour-long happy hour (!) every day from 2pm-8pm and a weekly lineup of performances, contests, and Super Size Queen Fridays!
Reader Brian “always loves the atmosphere,” at Hardware, adding that the “energy of the bar, and the industrial look of its design are enjoyable for a relaxing drink early evening, or dancing later at night.”
Hush Bar — 348 W52nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue
A lively dance floor (taking the place of previous tenant Therapy) that’s open seven days a week, Hush features a rotating program of exclusive guest DJ sets, weekly drag performances, and the neighborhood’s sexiest bartenders — proven by their recent appearance as Patricia Arquette’s birthday-streakers on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live! A tip from reader Cal: “Hush has the best parties and hidden spaces.”
Industry Bar — 355 W 52nd St between 8th and 9th Avenue
Voted “New York’s Best Gay Bar” by New York Magazine and the Village Voice, this disco ball-laden venue is a long standing favorite for its nightly happy hour and wide variety of drag performers, including a raucous, interactive weekly viewing party of RuPaul’s Drag Race and a decades-long drag revue, Queen!
Mickey Spillane’s — 350 W49th Street — corner of 9th Avenue
Mickey Spillane’s is well-known as a popular PRIDE hangout, specializing in $4 frozen margarita specials and alcoholic popsicles. Beat the heat with an ice-cold cocktail and belly up to the bar before weekend drag brunch or a RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party! As reader grace puts it, “Mickey Spillane’s is an oldie but goodie. Cheap drinks and pretty decent food!”
And for the pet owners out there, Mickey Spillane’s is the place to be. Says reader Nadia: “Such a fun vibe and I can bring my puppy — who has separation anxiety. It’s been really hard for me to go out and have fun since getting my puppy, and Mickey’s has provided an outlet where I get to enjoy myself with my pup.”
Mr Biggs Bar and Grill — 596 10th Avenue — corner of W43rd Street
Perfect your Texas Hold ‘Em at Mr Biggs, where you can join a weekly “Hell’s Poker” night, or keep it slightly lower stakes with regular drag bingo games while sipping on a spiked popsicle cocktail at their sidewalk cafe. Said reader Andres: “Mr. Biggs is always open, close by, has a happy hour 24/7, food, and good vibes.”
The Q — 795 8th Avenue between W48th and W49th Street
Multiple floors of fun are to be had at The Q, a year-old drag, cabaret, comedy venue in Hell’s Kitchen! Don’t miss their Broadway drag tributes (recent homages include SIX) and their weekly musical theater trivia — as reader Zoe says, “As much as I love just hanging out with friends, I am a sucker for talent, and I love to watch people perform. It’s also such a fun atmosphere, and it’s exciting to have something on 8th avenue, something about that feels very out and proud!”
Rise Bar — 859 9th Avenue — corner of W56th Street
Known for their weekly drag brunches, piano bar nights, and discotheque dance floor, Rise Bar are also great community fundraisers, frequently throwing fetes for causes like Broadway Bares and Aid for Ukraine. Don’t forget to swing by for their wild karaoke nights either! Said reader Raphael of the convivial atmosphere: “Just like the show Cheers, everyone knows my name. My friends are always there, and if not — the crowd is friendly enough where I make new ones. The bartenders are fun and always look out for their patrons.”
Another fan of the staff at Rise, reader Stefan says: “I always have a great time here, because they play good pop music, the drinks are strong and the bartenders are hot — especially when they are shirtless and in undies.”
Looking for a place to show off the best of HK gay bars? Reader Joshua recommends Rise, adding: “It’s where I take all of my friends from out of time for a good, safe time.”
Adds reader Nick of Rise Bar and its sister bar The Spot: “I love the drink prices, and they always play all the hottest bops! The drag performances are incredible!”
Ritz Bar and Lounge — 369 W 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue
Easily spotted during Pride by its well-known rainbow awning, the Ritz is a much-loved bar and dance hall featuring weekly drag performances, DJ sets, and a lively yearly PRIDE weekend party!
The Spot — 599 10th Avenue between W43rd and W44th Street
Taking over from the COVID shuttered Lansdowne Road sports bar, The Spot successfully opened, quickly becoming a reader favorite. It should be your 10th Avenue go-to for drag bingo, DJ nights, and Spot Light Idol contests! Says reader Tyler: “This bar just has such an eclectic feel and offers something for everyone, whether you’re 21 or 51. Overall great vibe, and the drag shows / continuous events are fabulous! (Bingo with Paige on Tuesday, weekend brunches, etc).” Adds Robert: “Great drag brunch — love the staff, and happy hour is always fun.”
Thirst Bar — 692 10th Avenue — between W48th and W49th Street
The only bar that can rightfully claim the name Thirst Trap Thursdays, Thirst Bar swept in to take over the space that once occupied famed neighborhood joint Perdition. Featuring funky murals, florals climbing up the walls and a neon sign asking “anyone thirsty?”, it’s the best place to stay hydrated all summer long.
VERS — 714 9th Avenue — between W48th and W49th Streets
Seen it all? Why not stop by brand-new VERS, opening early next week for cocktails and clubbing. Swing by and check out a new joint that’s “Vers from top to bottom: from food to drink, stage to scene, glance to dance, we switch it up seven days a week”!
Restaurants with Drag Brunch of After Hours Clubbing
42 D’Or — 512 W42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue
An all-in-one, one-stop-shop for dinner, drinks, and dancing, the 15,000-square foot (!), glammed-out, 42 D’Or (taking over what once was the Playboy Club) plans to open in Hell’s Kitchen this summer. As a special preview, check out a PRIDE party in the space on Friday June 24, hosted by Hot Rabbit and featuring multiple mini soirees filled with guest DJ sets, burlesque performances, vendor giveaways, and of course, plenty of room to dance!
La Pulperia 44 — 623 9th Avenue — corner of 9th Avenue
A neighborhood staple for their lively weekend drag brunch, La Pulperia serves up unlimited mimosas, dulce de leche toast, and top-notch empanadas every weekend. Looking for a nightcap? Head around the corner to NxtRoom, Daniel Villanueva’s whiskey and mezcal tasting room specializing in bespoke, intricately designed cocktails like the “Jersey Boy”.
The Laurie Beechman at the West Bank Cafe — 407 W42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue
Hungry? Head to the Laurie Beechman Theatre where you can catch shows like the long-running Distorted Diznee drag show while dining on pan seared salmon or steak frites from the upstairs West Bank Cafe!
Ñaño Ecuadorian — 691 10th Avenue — corner of W47th Street
Ecuadorian home cooking meets drag karaoke at Ñaño, where you can catch PRIDE brunches all month hosted by lady-about-town Lala Wiggy!
Did we miss your favorite place? Let us know where you like to celebrate and why, and enter to win a $100 Gift Card for Kashkaval Garden.
This article should also include a blurb about being safe in light of what happened to Julio…
Amen to that. Hope there is justice for Julio.
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