by Patrick Heig - 324 Reviews - 95 List
Dive bars have always provided sustenance for their pickled patrons, from the salty popcorn that keeps them drinking to the beer nuts whose few nutrients keep them from dying. How thoughtful. But a few New York dive bars are putting out food that would stand out even at a proper restaurant--though thankfully without sacrificing the sketchy ambiance, cheap hooch and enabling bartenders that make them so appealing in the first place; here are our top five New York dive bars with good food. (Photo: The near-perfect burger at Commodore)
Updated: July 07, 2010
From the street, this Williamsburg bar looks like a hangout for deadbeat dads and toothless grifters, but the kitchen turns out an absurdly good burger and fried chicken that compares with Pies 'n' Thighs, both best enjoyed in the backyard patio with a cheap cocktail.
There's no one sleeping face-down on the bar or anything, but it's dark enough to drink like no one's watching, you can get a shot and a beer for $5--with tip--and the pulled pork sandwiches (two for $5!) are worth the trip to Red Hook by themselves.
Once a contender for filthiest bathroom in New York, this anything-but-a-yacht club is a favorite outdoor drinking spot, and it doesn't do bad with food, either, serving Brooklyn-made kielbasa, knackwurst, swojska sausages and grass-fed dogs. Best of all, the staff won't give you a hard time about being fall-down drunk at 2pm.
Dram Shop's a bar--and a great place to get wasted--but its food is as top shelf as its selection of Scotch. The double-patty cheeseburger has all the perfectly balanced goodness of a Big Mac and none of the I-can't-believe-I'm-eating-this, while the snappy nuggets of deep-fried mac ?n? cheese, dipped into a spicy ketchup sauce and washed down with a frosty beer, will make you forgive anyone who ever hurt you.
Never mind that this East Village looker, with its stained glass, ornate woodwork and brass finishings, would only feel like a dive if you owned the color blue; it's dark enough to feel creepy, quality pints are $5 and the chef makes candied-bacon deviled eggs and Gruyere grilled-cheeses.