Best Places to Eat at the Bar

Michaela Atiae, Staff Writer

Balthazar Bar

Where you eat in a restaurant can completely transform your experience. When you grab a seat at the bar, the possibilities become endless. Especially in NYC, you never know who you’ll meet or where that conversation with a stranger will take you. These are the best places to eat at the bar in NYC. So, take a chance, whether solo or with your single friend, and pull up a seat.

Gallaghers Steakhouse

The Neighborhood: Theater District

Gallaghers is where you come to not be part of the scene, but have a top scene to kick back with a big martini. This is a classic NYC steakhouse that is as unpretentious as it gets. The bar stays true to its prohibition roots with minimal modern tweaks despite being open for 97 years.  Behind the bar, you’ll find career bartenders who have worked there forever, and know how to make a real drink. Show up more than twice and you’ll likely be treated as a regular. The food is also more than pub grub, where you can dig into a steak or seafood tower, accompanied by a signature old fashioned. 


The Neighborhood: Midtown

We don’t even think these are fighting words, that Marea’s bar is better than sitting in the dining room for a formal dinner. Most regulars would agree, too. In fact, people line up at 5 p.m. just for bar seating which is full until the last call of the night. While most people do order food, you can just drop by for cocktails, and no one who works at Marea will ever rush you out. Quite the opposite, where the friendly bartenders have supersonic hearing, even if you’re musing between the clams spaghetti and the risotto. Our advice: the clams. 


The Neighborhood: Upper East Side

This is the upscale neighborhood option, where you can drop in almost any evening for a dinner in the dimly lit bar.  While you can walk in with jeans, it’s one of the best places to eat at the bar in NYC that may just inspire you to dress up a bit. Sistina is an old school Italian spot that has more specials almost than the huge menu of Southern Italian dishes. Wherever you sit, you will be impressed that the waiters seem to rattle it all off with ease.  


The Neighborhood: Soho

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist or a long-time NYC resident, at some point, all roads lead to Balthazar. Balthazar is an institution where the food, service and people watching scene are consistently good. That’s why they probably have as much repeat clientele as the Hotel du Cap in Antibes. They certainly have the celebrity regulars including Michael Jordan, Anna Wintour, Meryl Streep, Beyonce, the Beckhams, and the list goes on.

But take away all the celebrities, solid food, good service and lively atmosphere, and it’s also one of the best places to eat at the bar in NYC where people actually talk to each other. So while Anna may hold court at her regular table, you’ll want to pull up a seat at the bar and take it all in.


Q: Does Balthazar take reservations for the bar?

A: Balthazar’s bar seats are first come, first-served, but they do take reservations for the cafe tables in the bar area.

Q: Does Marea take reservations for the bar?

A: Marea takes reservations at 2-5 special bar seats for regular VIPs. The rest of us have to queue up for one of the best places to eat at the bar in NYC.

Q: Does Gallaghers take reservations for the bar?

A: Gallagher’s doesn’t take reservations for the bar, but if you’re a regular, the bartenders will work it out for you. One of the many reasons Gallagher’s is one of the best places to eat at the bar in NYC.

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