Spreading The News: Our Favorite Wine Bars in New York City (and a Fantastic Beer Bar)

8th Street Wine Cellar

8th Street Wine Cellar

Let’s face it – there are plenty of Wine Bars in New York City.  Some are intimate venues with carefully crafted lists of wines available by the glass and/or bottle, some establishments are full bars which also have a great selection of wines by the glass, and then there are Wine Bars which are essentially restaurants that added “and Wine Bar” to their names after tossing a few so-so wines by the glass onto their menus.

After trying a lot of the Wine Bars in Manhattan, both genuine and pretender, we wanted to share our favorite destinations we’ve experienced so far.  Here’s where we consistently found a broad selection of delicious wines by the glass, on a wine menu that was extensive and creative, administered by staff who were friendly and knowledgeable in a pleasurable atmosphere. These may not be the trendiest or the busiest Wine Bars, but this is where we have had the most fun and will definitely return.

Favorite Wine Bars in New York City (Manhattan)

Barcibo Enoteca (Upper West Side) is a split-level Italian Wine Bar with plenty of white marble to set the mood and an impressive selection of Italian varietals (over 40 wines by the glass, over 100 by the bottle).  Located right on Broadway, they set out tables at night when the weather is nice so you can sit outside.   The kitchen has a wide range of Italian Salame (Culatello, Bresaoloa, Proscuitto di Parma, Speck, etc.) and Formaggi (Pecorino Oro Antico, Sottocenere al Tartufo, Gorgonzola Dolce, Piave, etc.), or you can select from various Crostini, Panini, or Risotti.  Grilled Prawns, Grilled Calamari, and Salad options (Caesar, Arugula, or Beet) are also available. In addition to wine, Barcibo Enoteca also offers rare Scotches, Bourbons and other spirits, plus craft beers.  We were also pleasantly impressed by the range of Grappas offered here.   2020 Broadway near West 69th Street (212-595-2805).   

Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar (West Village) feels like a popular neighborhood bar offering  wines by the glass or even by the taste if you’re in the mood to try a little of everything.  Adding to your choices is a diverse selection of 375 ml bottles of wine.  It can get crowded in here, but there’s a difference between “crowded” and “uncomfortably packed,” and the friendly and helpful staff here do a good job at maneuvering guests around to seat people based on when they arrived.  Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar also pours Sakes, Cordials and Cognacs in addition to their broad cocktail menu.  If you want something to eat, the menu here includes a wide range of interesting Toasts topped with Beet & Goat Cheese, Roasted Tomato & Arugula, Manchego & Mexican Honey, or Rillette & Whole Grain Mustard.  Or, try one of their Cheese Plates, Salads, or Main Courses (including Barbeque Ribs or Smoked Salmon Sliders).  34 Downing Street near Bedford Street (212-691-0404)

Asparagus Bruschetta at 8th Street Wine Cellar

Asparagus Bruschetta at 8th Street Wine Cellar

8th Street Wine Cellar (West Village) is the creation of two former bartenders from Union Square Café, and this friendly and comfortable Wine Bar is located semi-underground.  The wine selections (over 20 by the glass) are impressive and comprehensive.  Happy Hour specials (4:00 to 7:00 p.m., daily) are a major attraction with selected glasses of white or red wine costing only $5 and about ten bottles are available for $18 each.  You can easily put those wine bargains together with tasty and affordable menu items to assemble a dinner for 2 sharing three dishes and a bottle of wine for only about $45.  The menu contains four Salads (Shrimp, Beet, Caesar, or Mixed Green) and four Panini (Jam and Cheese, Italian ‘Super Hero’, Portabello Mushroom, or Tuscan Grilled Cheese).  Heartier options include  Yellowfin Tuna Sliders, Sirloin Sliders, or Roast Pork Tacos.  8th Street Wine Cellar also offers about 12 beers in cask if someone in your group is interested.  28 West 8th Street near MacDougal Street (212-260-9463). 

Flûte Bar and Lounge (Two Locations, Midtown and Gramercy) is better described as a Champagne Bar, offering about 20 different Champagnes by the flute or bottle and then another half-dozen or so Sparkling Wines from California, Italy, and Spain on top of that.  Champagne Cocktails?  Flûte Bar and Lounge has a wide range of those as well.    The Midtown location is below street level in a former speakeasy and has live Jazz on the last Saturday of each month.  The Gramercy location was completely remodeled in 2012 and offers an open floor plan with a double-height ceiling.  Both locations have Happy Hour two-for-one drink specials on Tuesdays between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m.   205 West 54th Street near 7th Avenue (Midtown, 212-265-5169) and 40 East 20th Street near Broadway (Gramercy, 212-529-7870). 

'inoteca Cucina

‘inoteca Cucina

′inoteca Cucina (Lower East Side) has a warm and welcoming feel just like the neighborhood Italian joint down the block where you take your friends when they visit.  Come here for an extensive selection of Italian wines and a menu full of classic Italian wine bar cuisine to pair it with.  The wine list has over 600 selections by the bottle and 25 by the glass or half carafe representing every wine-making region in Italy.  Like bruschette?  Choose between toppings such as Pesto, Tapenade, Fagioli, Pepperonatta, or Gorgonzola & Fig among others.  Looking for something heartier?  Select one of their salads or pick a panino, such as their Quattro Formaggi, Thyme, and Caramelized Onion.  One of our favorites is the one with Smoked Mozzarella, Grilled Zucchini, and Peperonatta.    98 Rivington Street near Ludlow Street (212-614-0473).   If you enjoy ′inoteca Cucina, you may also want to check out inoteca Liquori, a sister restaurant with a full bar/cocktail menu in addition to the same wine options available at ‘inoteca Cucina and an expanded food menu with dishes such as Cavatelli with Fennel Sausage, Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu, and Braised Oxtail over Creamy Polenta.  323 3rd Avenue near East 24th Street (212-683-3035).

Vin Sur Vingt (West Village) is where to head when you want excellent French wine in an intimate setting.  The wine list has over 50 wines by the glass, carefully selected from such regions as Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Alsace, Bourgogne, and Corsica and is conveniently open in the middle of the day, at least on weekends when they open at 11:00 a.m..  This quaint French Country establishment offers wines by the glass or in flights of 3 or 5 wines.  If you’re hungry, you purchase Hors d’Oeuvres such as Pate de Campagne, Escargot de Bourgogne, Tartare de Saumon, and Terrine de Foie Gras in addition to Charcuterie et Fromage.  At Vin Sur Vingt, the brunch menu provides the chance to have Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame, Croque Saumon, Quiche Lorraine, and Pain Perdu.  Dinner selections include the Croques, a Quiche du Jour, and Steak Tartare au Couteau.  201 West 11th Street near 7th Avenue (212-924-4442). 

Wined Up (Flatiron District) is a fun and welcoming Wine Bar located above Punch Restaurant.  Behind the bar you can gaze at a wall of wine over 100 feet long and visualize how it would fit at home.  There are wines from around the world to choose from here including about 30 wines by the glass sourced from California, Washington, Germany, France, Austria, and Italy.  The “Tapas” menu here offers everything from Shrimp Dumplings to Tempura String Beans to Papardelle Bolognese to a Turkey Burger to Fish n Chips to a Grilled NY Strip Steak.   As far as the atmosphere, if you’ve ever been to Gran Bar Danzon in Buenos Aires, we felt Wined Up reminded us of that.  913 Broadway near East 21st Street  (212-673-6333).

Of the many places we’ve been to so far, these are our favorite Wine Bars in Manhattan.  Please let us know if you have a favorite we’ve missed.  We’d also appreciate hearing any thoughts you have on The Goodwin at 430 Hudson Street near Morton Street (212-929-6181), a brand new place that looked promising but didn’t open to the public until after our last visit to Manhattan.

And, Our Favorite Beer Bar in Manhattan

When you’re ready for a beer, we recommend you head directly to Blind Tiger (West Village).  This dark wood bar has 28 draught beers, both domestic and international and if you need guidance the knowledgeable and helpful staff can help.  Come here for a beer, a small snack, or a full meal.  Bar snacks include Deviled Eggs, Chicken Wings, and Pigs in a Blanket.  Then, the menu expands to include Salads, Sliders, and Sandwiches.  Check the chalkboard for daily specials along the lines of a Ham, Blue Cheese and Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich or Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, Red Pepper, and a Cheddar Cheese Sauce.  The Happy Hour special here runs from 11:30 to 8:00 each weekday and offers a $1 discount on draught beer, cask ale, wine, prosecco and mead.  281 Bleecker Street near Jones Street (212-462-4682). 

We love New York, New York, and hope our suggestions help the next time you find yourself in the city that never sleeps.

Barcibo Enoteca on UrbanspoonBlue Ribbon Downing Street Bar on Urbanspoon8th Street Wine Cellar on UrbanspoonFlute Midtown on Urbanspoon
'Inoteca on UrbanspoonVin Sur Vingt on UrbanspoonWined Up on UrbanspoonBlind Tiger Ale House on Urbanspoon


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