Yes, the West Village is beautiful, full of cobblestoned boulevards you can stroll down if you’re in the mood to blithely window-shop. But let’s be honest: Everything in this gorgeous neighborhood is just way too expensive. If you’re looking for an overwrought craft cocktail that’ll ultimately make you wince (or at least grimace) when the bill shows up, you’ll find no shortage of spots south of 14th Street to get the job done.
However, if you’re looking for a place that’s as friendly as it is reasonably priced, Art Bar—a true neighborhood classic—is for you. And don’t worry, they have specialty cocktails too.
Art Bar’s primo location is one key reason it’s often so packed. The roomy yet inconspicuous watering hole can be found on the intersection of Horatio Street and 8th Avenue, just steps away from Jackson Square. Plus, the fabulous Whitney Museum of American Art is a seven-minute walk away; it’s open until 10 p.m. on Fridays, and during that time patrons are invited to pay what they wish for admission. You’ll find few experiences more satisfying than downing a couple of glasses of rosé and setting off for some art-ogling with friends on a summer Friday. Contemporary art just hits you a little bit differently when you’re cheerfully buzzed and your crush is tagging along, you know?
But back to Art Bar, which, like the Whitney, is home to a rotating gallery of work—a mix of offerings from local artists that covers nearly every square inch of the place. There are impressionistic splatter-paint canvases rendered in pastel hues, abstract portraits and a huge triptych that features pop culture icons like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Jim Morrison reenacting The Last Supper.
The brick walls in the more spacious back room are homey and painted black, and the seating for larger parties is made up of comfortably squishy green or black leather couches that sink to accommodate bottoms that’ve been worn out by unforgiving desk chairs.
As for the food and drinks? Listen: One of the world’s best feelings is splitting an order of greasy curly fries with your pal while the two of you sip happy hour specials and commiserate over just how weird your jobs are. You can’t go wrong with the chicken fingers or the famous Art Bar nachos, either.
Also, if anyone spots a pair of AirPods in their case lying on the floor by one of those back room couches, could you please let me know? My friend Daniel lost his there last week.