This neighborhood has a lot of great bars and many of them are open early. I still haven’t really started my evening crawls but probably will next week. There are just too many places that I pass by that don’t open until 5:00 P.M., or even a bit later. However, there are still some in this neighborhood to hit during the day.
This bar, on the corner of 4th Street and Bowery, has been around since the 60’s, although it has gone through a few changes. The most ill-advised was when it tried to switch from being a regular old hangout bar to a lounge with the name of Fuel at Phebe’s. It is back to Phebe’s now and has recaptured some of its original style, but upgraded significantly. It has large windows on both of the sides that face the streets. Adjacent to the windows are tables and chairs so that you have a sidewalk dining experience without actually being outside. In New York I like my sidewalk dining to be indoors.
There is a nice old bar, probably the original, with an ornate front and a brass rail. The wooden bar chairs have oxblood vinyl seats. Columned wooden cabinetry behind the bar has three deep set mirrors with paneled side lighting. There are three sets of two level shelves with glasses below and liquor above. Two smaller shelves are between the mirrors and hold beer bottles, deer antlers, Scotch, a small keg, and other paraphernalia. They did have a bottle of Johnny Walker Green Label, quite unusual. The bartender, Wendy (a very pleasant young lady) said they had just sold the last of the Johnny Walker Blue Label. The cupboards and coolers below the shelves had wooden doors. Very nice stained glass lights hang over the bar. The floor immediately in front of the bar is white and black tile while the rest of the flooring is wooden planks. The ceiling is wooden beamed. There is a small side room that also has a bar. A small raised dining area backed by a mirror is behind the far end of the bar. There are several televisions, sport’s related pictures, and old signs hanging on the walls.
I had a draft Phebe’s Ale.
508) B. Bar & Grill
Sometimes known as the Bowery Bar, it is right across the street from Phebe’s. There is a large patio garden full of happy people enjoying drinks and lunch in the warm sunshine that you must pass to enter the darker, deserted bar. This is, of course, the home to the Bar Man. The bar is rather small and dark wood with a brass rail. A fairly plain wood and metal back to the bar with see-through shelves allowing you to see the patio from between the bottles and glasses. Above that are narrow panels of mirrors that have the names of the draft beers that they supposedly serve and their specialty cocktails written in white. Two stainless steel looking tubes sport six spigots with unmarked black handles. I tried to order two of the beers they claim to have on tap but they were out of both of them.
On the wall behind the bar metal tube barstools with black seats are two sepia shaded pictures of dump-trucks. I am not sure what they were supposed to represent. There is also a large mirror with the appetizer menu written on it and a panel of a beach scene that looks like it could have been lifted from a 1950’s Florida postcard. Below it all is a light wood paneling topped with light bulbs. In front are 50’s styled booths with dark orange Formica topped tables and black and white cushioned seating. The adjacent wall has a much larger version extension of the same beach scene. This is topped by shelves displaying inaccessible liquor and wine bottles. There is a small metal staircase in the corner that leads to what must be a space behind the liquor and wine display.
Giving up on the beer I had a bloody Mary. It was small, stiff, and expensive, $7.00.
509) Bleeker Street Bar
An older looking place at 58 Bleeker Street it has a decent sized wooden bar with a brass rail and bar chairs with dark green vinyl seats. Three pool tables dominate the back room that also has three dartboards. A lot of trophies sit on a shelf and numerous plaques are mounted under the dartboards so I assume the must sponsor some teams. Industrial like lights with white enameled metal shades hang over the bar. Behind the bar are nice old looking shelves and coolers that have wooden doors, some with little cut glass windows. Above these are three large arched mirrors with the tiered shades for liquor.
The same type of lights that hang over the bar hang from the ceiling elsewhere along with overhead fans that are also somewhat industrial looking. The wooden floors are nicely finished. The windows in front and to the side let in a lot of light on this sunny early afternoon. Booths line the wall behind the bar chairs and high round tables mounted on columns and surrounded by the same type of chairs as the ones at the bar fill out most of the rest of the space. A Silverstreak Bowling video game sits by the door and a couple of old looking coin operated machines dispensing who knows how old nuts and candies sit towards the back next to the juke box.
I ordered a Magic Hat #9 from Jennifer, the bartender from Chicago, and we had a pleasant chat about the joys of moving to New York from the Midwest.
Another pleasant day with three bars hit making 509 for the year and 491 left to go.