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18 NYC Bars Perfect for Throwing a Casual Party

Places that will host large groups at low costs

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Few things prompt anxiety among New Yorkers like choosing a venue for a birthday party. Or any party, really, that isn’t funded by a corporate credit card. While large spaces are scarce in the city, there are still trusted spots catering to people looking to celebrate without spending a lot, or anything, on a private room or space — and they’ll match the festive vibes with music, flowing booze, and small bites. These are the best bars and restaurants across the city for holding a casual, come-and-go get-together.

Note: This is an updated version of a map originally published in 2018.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Harlem Tavern

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Locals pack Harlem Tavern’s huge front patio as well as its indoor sports-centric bar showing games on TVs. Superior cafe fare includes a flavor-loaded burger topped with crispy onions, cheddar, mozzarella, bacon, avocado, and truffle aioli. Groups can freely and easily grab outdoor tables, plus the restaurant has extensive more formal options for up to 400.

Harlem Tavern
Harlem Tavern
Harlem Tavern [Official Photo]

Boat Basin Cafe

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This open-air cafe within the 79th Street Boat Basin brings New York history, a view of the Hudson River, and dramatically arched ceilings. Food and drinks are unexceptional but satisfying, particularly on a pleasantly thirst-quenching day. Reservations aren’t accepted, but the large circular area with a bar works well for parties. Just be prepared to stand.

Boat Basin Cafe
Boat Basin Cafe
Boat Basin Cafe [Official Photo]

Diamond Dogs

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Bring your own food — cake! — to Diamond Dogs in Astoria, a casual neighborhood bar with above-average cocktails and beer. Beer fans will geek out over the rotating can selection, preferably on a sunny day in the picnic table-filled backyard. There are no reservations, so arrive early to stake some space.

The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites

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The Upper East Side could use more joints like the Jeffrey, an all-day craft beer and coffee bar under the Queensboro Bridge from the same team behind Fools Gold NYC in the Lower East Side. Friendly regulars come in for the geeky rotating list of 30 tap beers, but wines, cocktails, and food varying from raw oysters to sandwiches shouldn’t be overlooked. There are no reservations, making it relatively easy to find room and seating for even a large group in the space combining two storefronts and a back patio.

A dining room
The Jeffrey
The Jeffrey [Official Photo]

Porchlight

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Danny Meyer’s cocktail bar requires a trek out to 11th Avenue, but that’s part of what keeps it low-key. The woody, low-lit interior is sophisticated without trying too hard. Knowledgeable bartenders can make any classic cocktail, and the seasonally changing drink menu is always a safe bet, as is the Southern-style food. Private events can get pricey, but if a group isn’t massive and doesn’t mind standing, the first-come-first-served bar area is suitable.

Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor

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Arts and Crafts aims to be a much cooler living room. The craft refers not just to the 24 rotating tap beers, but also to the creativity the bar fosters with regular art exhibitions, lectures on numerous topics, and tastings. The East Village location’s short food menu includes pizza and hot dogs, while the Morningside Heights outpost has a wider selection of bar bites. There’s no charge for occupying one of the large tables, and the bars accept requests for private events.

Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor [Official Photo]

The Greenpoint sister bar to Elsa is furnished with a glam look courtesy of Home Studios, which also had a hand in Sisters and nearby high-end beer bar Torst. Serious cocktails are the focus at the marble bar decorated with tasteful drawings of women’s bodies. There’s no fee for reserving the upstairs balcony, which can accommodate up to 30 people.

Ramona
Ramona
Ramona

Kingston Hall

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This bar takes inspiration from old-timey Caribbean mansions. The outré decor — complete with lion statues — and a pool table encourage an entertaining night out. Tiki-ish cocktails like the drunken coconut (rum, coconut water, and pineapple juice served in a coconut) are decently priced (for the East Village) at under $14, and island-influenced small bites range from coconut shrimp to jerk chicken wings. Reservations are accepted for groups of six or more, and the bar has a front room that can be reserved for a group to gather.

Kingston Hall
Kingston Hall
Kingston Hall [Official Photo]

The straightforward burger at this East Village mainstay is continually underrated. Little else has changed since it opened in 2006, including the sports fans fixated on games at the bar inside and the rustic patio area, which can be easily and freely reserved.

Royale
Royale
Keith Kin Yan

Spritzenhaus33

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Spritzenhaus has become Greenpoint’s go-to party locale. The vast room of communal tables, with several bars, means easy access to space, and the expansive beer list, cocktails, and German-style dishes are easy party fare. The bar opens up to the outdoors in nicer months, and in winter, wood fires make things cozy. Large groups can freely reserve space, but last-minute partiers can also hover for communal seating in a pinch.

Spritzenhaus33
Spritzenhaus33
Spritzenhaus33 [Official Photo]

Loreley Beer Garden

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Discovering Loreley, a large beer garden in the typically crammed Lower East Side, is a revelation. The beer hall and heated outdoor space lined with picnic tables are well-suited to day-drinking around the year. Beer and food veer toward traditional German brews and sausages and pretzels. Free reservations are accepted in the hall for groups of up to 25. (The garden can also be reserved for large parties that pay a $55-per-person minimum.)

Loreley
Loreley
Loreley [Official Photo]

The Delancey

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The three-floor club right off the Williamsburg Bridge is much more casual than that label implies. The main bar, basement performance space, and especially the covered rooftop filled with couches and plants are popular for birthday parties that put an emphasis on dancing and all-around raging. Many sections can be reserved at no cost.

The Delancey
The Delancey
The Delancey [Official Photo]

Roberta's

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The pizzeria that helped put Bushwick on the map keeps expanding its footprint while giving loyalists new reasons to linger. Large groups should skip the restaurant proper for the outdoor, beer garden-style space, which has picnic tables, a dedicated bar, and a limited menu of popular appetizers and pies. DJed events on the weekend are usually raucous affairs. The garden, like the rest of Roberta’s, doesn’t take reservations unless it’s a private booking, so it’s best to simply show up early.

A group of people sit outside at Roberta’s, where there is a green industrial backdrop and a sign that says “Much Fun.”
Roberta’s
Roberta’s [Official Photo]

Nowadays

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The coolness quotient of Ridgewood has increased again with Nowadays, a giant outdoor destination for drink, play, and vegetarian-friendly food. Opened by the founders of the Mister Sunday dance party, it also has a thoughtfully designed indoor area called “Indoors” featuring rotating DJs and a dance floor with a ban on phone use. Up to three eight-person tables at Nowadays can be reserved with a $150 no-show fee.

Nowadays
Nowadays
Nowadays

Sisters

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Sisters is mostly a restaurant in the skylit front, but an expansive back room is a common meeting spot for Clinton Hill residents looking to let loose with friends over inventive $13 house cocktails and excellent American food — especially the fried chicken sandwich and a surprisingly decadent veggie burger. The modern design, dotted with plants, is warm and inviting. The back also sometimes has DJs and live music. Contact the restaurant for free large-party reservations.

sisters
Sisters
Sisters/Yelp

A Southwest-themed, San Antonio Spurs-endorsing bar might seem like an odd fit for Bed-Stuy, but that’s part of Doris’s charm. The white-hued decor provides a soothing backdrop for late-night hangouts, while eclectic DJ playlists range from Steely Dan to old-school hip-hip. Friendly, unpretentious bartenders make affordable cocktails, and the kitchen slings comforting grilled cheeses late into rowdy nights. A backyard and ping-pong table keep things interesting even when the conversation lulls. There are no reservations, but call ahead to block off a table.

Lavender Lake Bar

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The view of Gowanus Canal may be less than romantic, but Lavender Lake is a dreamy-looking oasis in this stretch of Brooklyn. The cavernous bar leads to an outdoor wood deck, including a fire pit used during colder months. In addition to a curated list of beer, wine, and cocktails, a robust dinner menu is available until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, the bar takes free reservations for large groups and offers optional pre-ordered selections of food and drinks.

Lavender Lake
Lavender Lake
Lavender Lake

Greenwood Park

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There’s no group size that can’t find a way to squeeze into South Slope’s Greenwood Park, a 13,000-square-foot former gas station that gets it name from nearby Green-Wood Cemetery but does indeed feel like a park unto itself. Picnic tables and bars are available indoors and out, along with a fire, pub food, an impressive draft beer list, frozen drinks, and games. Free reservations as well as private events are welcome.

Greenwood Park
Greenwood Park
Greenwood Park

Harlem Tavern

Harlem Tavern
Harlem Tavern
Harlem Tavern [Official Photo]

Locals pack Harlem Tavern’s huge front patio as well as its indoor sports-centric bar showing games on TVs. Superior cafe fare includes a flavor-loaded burger topped with crispy onions, cheddar, mozzarella, bacon, avocado, and truffle aioli. Groups can freely and easily grab outdoor tables, plus the restaurant has extensive more formal options for up to 400.

Harlem Tavern
Harlem Tavern
Harlem Tavern [Official Photo]

Boat Basin Cafe

Boat Basin Cafe
Boat Basin Cafe
Boat Basin Cafe [Official Photo]

This open-air cafe within the 79th Street Boat Basin brings New York history, a view of the Hudson River, and dramatically arched ceilings. Food and drinks are unexceptional but satisfying, particularly on a pleasantly thirst-quenching day. Reservations aren’t accepted, but the large circular area with a bar works well for parties. Just be prepared to stand.

Boat Basin Cafe
Boat Basin Cafe
Boat Basin Cafe [Official Photo]

Diamond Dogs

Bring your own food — cake! — to Diamond Dogs in Astoria, a casual neighborhood bar with above-average cocktails and beer. Beer fans will geek out over the rotating can selection, preferably on a sunny day in the picnic table-filled backyard. There are no reservations, so arrive early to stake some space.

The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites

A dining room
The Jeffrey
The Jeffrey [Official Photo]

The Upper East Side could use more joints like the Jeffrey, an all-day craft beer and coffee bar under the Queensboro Bridge from the same team behind Fools Gold NYC in the Lower East Side. Friendly regulars come in for the geeky rotating list of 30 tap beers, but wines, cocktails, and food varying from raw oysters to sandwiches shouldn’t be overlooked. There are no reservations, making it relatively easy to find room and seating for even a large group in the space combining two storefronts and a back patio.

A dining room
The Jeffrey
The Jeffrey [Official Photo]

Porchlight

Danny Meyer’s cocktail bar requires a trek out to 11th Avenue, but that’s part of what keeps it low-key. The woody, low-lit interior is sophisticated without trying too hard. Knowledgeable bartenders can make any classic cocktail, and the seasonally changing drink menu is always a safe bet, as is the Southern-style food. Private events can get pricey, but if a group isn’t massive and doesn’t mind standing, the first-come-first-served bar area is suitable.

Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor

Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor [Official Photo]

Arts and Crafts aims to be a much cooler living room. The craft refers not just to the 24 rotating tap beers, but also to the creativity the bar fosters with regular art exhibitions, lectures on numerous topics, and tastings. The East Village location’s short food menu includes pizza and hot dogs, while the Morningside Heights outpost has a wider selection of bar bites. There’s no charge for occupying one of the large tables, and the bars accept requests for private events.

Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor [Official Photo]

Ramona

Ramona
Ramona
Ramona

The Greenpoint sister bar to Elsa is furnished with a glam look courtesy of Home Studios, which also had a hand in Sisters and nearby high-end beer bar Torst. Serious cocktails are the focus at the marble bar decorated with tasteful drawings of women’s bodies. There’s no fee for reserving the upstairs balcony, which can accommodate up to 30 people.

Ramona
Ramona
Ramona

Kingston Hall

Kingston Hall
Kingston Hall
Kingston Hall [Official Photo]

This bar takes inspiration from old-timey Caribbean mansions. The outré decor — complete with lion statues — and a pool table encourage an entertaining night out. Tiki-ish cocktails like the drunken coconut (rum, coconut water, and pineapple juice served in a coconut) are decently priced (for the East Village) at under $14, and island-influenced small bites range from coconut shrimp to jerk chicken wings. Reservations are accepted for groups of six or more, and the bar has a front room that can be reserved for a group to gather.

Kingston Hall
Kingston Hall
Kingston Hall [Official Photo]

Royale

Royale
Royale
Keith Kin Yan

The straightforward burger at this East Village mainstay is continually underrated. Little else has changed since it opened in 2006, including the sports fans fixated on games at the bar inside and the rustic patio area, which can be easily and freely reserved.

Royale
Royale
Keith Kin Yan

Spritzenhaus33

Spritzenhaus33
Spritzenhaus33
Spritzenhaus33 [Official Photo]

Spritzenhaus has become Greenpoint’s go-to party locale. The vast room of communal tables, with several bars, means easy access to space, and the expansive beer list, cocktails, and German-style dishes are easy party fare. The bar opens up to the outdoors in nicer months, and in winter, wood fires make things cozy. Large groups can freely reserve space, but last-minute partiers can also hover for communal seating in a pinch.

Spritzenhaus33
Spritzenhaus33
Spritzenhaus33 [Official Photo]

Loreley Beer Garden

Loreley
Loreley
Loreley [Official Photo]

Discovering Loreley, a large beer garden in the typically crammed Lower East Side, is a revelation. The beer hall and heated outdoor space lined with picnic tables are well-suited to day-drinking around the year. Beer and food veer toward traditional German brews and sausages and pretzels. Free reservations are accepted in the hall for groups of up to 25. (The garden can also be reserved for large parties that pay a $55-per-person minimum.)

Loreley
Loreley
Loreley [Official Photo]

The Delancey

The Delancey
The Delancey
The Delancey [Official Photo]

The three-floor club right off the Williamsburg Bridge is much more casual than that label implies. The main bar, basement performance space, and especially the covered rooftop filled with couches and plants are popular for birthday parties that put an emphasis on dancing and all-around raging. Many sections can be reserved at no cost.

The Delancey
The Delancey
The Delancey [Official Photo]

Roberta's

A group of people sit outside at Roberta’s, where there is a green industrial backdrop and a sign that says “Much Fun.”
Roberta’s
Roberta’s [Official Photo]

The pizzeria that helped put Bushwick on the map keeps expanding its footprint while giving loyalists new reasons to linger. Large groups should skip the restaurant proper for the outdoor, beer garden-style space, which has picnic tables, a dedicated bar, and a limited menu of popular appetizers and pies. DJed events on the weekend are usually raucous affairs. The garden, like the rest of Roberta’s, doesn’t take reservations unless it’s a private booking, so it’s best to simply show up early.

A group of people sit outside at Roberta’s, where there is a green industrial backdrop and a sign that says “Much Fun.”
Roberta’s
Roberta’s [Official Photo]

Nowadays

Nowadays
Nowadays
Nowadays

The coolness quotient of Ridgewood has increased again with Nowadays, a giant outdoor destination for drink, play, and vegetarian-friendly food. Opened by the founders of the Mister Sunday dance party, it also has a thoughtfully designed indoor area called “Indoors” featuring rotating DJs and a dance floor with a ban on phone use. Up to three eight-person tables at Nowadays can be reserved with a $150 no-show fee.