Not counting the bars found in your standard full service restaurants or hotels, there are nearly 3000 bars and nightclubs in New York City. That’s a huge number and it should make picking a favorite very hard. For me it was very easy and without a doubt it’s Rudy’s Bar and Grill.
Rudy’s is located in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan on 9th Ave between 44th and 45th St. You can spot it pretty easily from the bright red neon above the door and the giant 6 foot plaster statue of a pig wearing a tuxedo. Once you are past the bouncer and in the front door, you become immediately aware of one of the reasons I love this place. It’s a total dive and I mean that in best way possible. A good dive bar, like Rudy’s, is clean but it still shows its age. The paint might not be as bright as it once was, the upholstery may have been replaced with duct tape years ago, and the bar may be scratched with patron’s names, but it’s that way because it has a history and regulars and changing to look like some modern day club would ruin its charm. It’s the kind of place that still manages to look lived in and down to earth in a world where everything has to be shiny and new, which can be hard to find anywhere much less New York City.
After you pony up to the bar you learn the next great thing about Rudy’s: its drink prices. It’s incredibly cheap to drink at Rudy’s, not just by New York standards but anywhere. A pint of draft beer and a shot of Irish whiskey will only run you about 5 bucks any night of the week. A pitcher of domestic beer will only set you back 10. If you are looking for super frou-frou-tinis, small batch organic micro-brews, or an exotic high-end wine selection then move on. This is not the place for you. This is the kind of place that sells regular guy drinks at regular guy prices and they are awesome at it. Just know they operate on a cash only basis, so leave the credit card at home and swing by an ATM.
Rudy’s even serves food, but to be honest I should say “a” food. The only thing they serve is hotdogs and believe it or not they are free. They come included when you purchase a drink and are served hot off of one of those little hotdog cookers like you see in convenience stores. By this point you are probably having terrible flashbacks of those sad 7-11 wieners left on the cooker for hours, all dried up and nasty, but at Rudy’s your hotdog is sure to be fresh, thanks mostly to the sheer volume they go through in a week. It’s a ridiculous number but in a 7 day week between 2000 and 4000 hotdogs will be handed across the bar to patrons.
The crowd in Rudy’s is pretty eclectic by all standards. It’s usually a pretty solid mix of Hell’s Kitchen locals, tourists, struggling Broadway actors, and sometimes a celebrity or two. Rudy’s has been around since the early 1900’s and has been known to be a low key hang out for everyone from Frank Sinatra and Norman Mailer to Tom Hanks and Paul McCartney. All together the crowd is a pretty relaxed and friendly one which is good considering it can get pretty busy and the building’s narrow build can cause it to get a little cramped.
To sum everything up, you can’t hate a bar in the heart of New York City with 3 dollar beers and free hot dogs. Yes, it is a dive. Yes it looks a little worn and dirty. And yes their booths are upholstered with red duct tape. So what? That’s what makes it fun. Where else can you have a great time for super cheap in the middle of Manhattan? Next time you are that way you should check it out.
If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard , don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.