The question to ask is, “Should an authentic dive bar get zero stars or five stars?”
You can go to ‘Dive Bar’ on 75th at Columbus—the Disneyland version: safe, clean, looks like a real dive bar. Is that a New York dive bar experience? Well, it is in NYC, but I think not. More of an Orlando experience.
So, do a tour with friends.
First stop, The Duck, way up in East Harlem.
Second stop, A Touch of Dee, not far from The Duck.
Third stop: Paris Blues, not far away either. It’s crowded, famous, offers free food and Sam Hargress (pictured) is a well known Harlem personality. A legit joint to really carouse. Always a live band.
You’re not clearing brush here, these bars are already ‘discovered’, so there’s that. Visitors are unlikely to discover something more earthy/dangerous anyway. Consider hiring a car service to take you around.
Random Yelp reviews (The Duck): “It’s cool because it’s a mess/it sucks because it’s a mess.” & “If I ever return it’s because I’ve hit the lowest of the low”.
Of the three, I favour Paris Blues, sort of a more divey, unkempt version of Shrine, nearby. Totally legit and very popular. Loud. Around since 1969. Pack a handkerchief so you can wipe off the funk afterward.
The Duck: 2171 Second Ave (111th Street), (212) 831-3464, 12:00 – 04:00 daily
A Touch of Dee: 657 Malcom X Blvd (143rd Street), (212) 694-9530, 22:00 – 04:00 daily
Paris Blues: 2021 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (121st Street), (917) 257-7831, 12:00 – 03:00 am.
Samuel Hargress Jr (owner, pictured) died 10 April, 2020 of Covid-19 complications.