8 NYC Bars With The Most Incredible Views Of The City

Photo: Courtesy of Pod 39 Hotel.
New York is home to some of the most beautifully designed drinking and eating establishments in the world, so why do we end up wasting so much time clinking glasses in the hazy shadows of dive bars? Well, stop that. Instead of that tattered pool table, you could be marveling at architectural and artistic wonders most people who are stuck in the suburbs can only dream of.
Ahead, modern and classic places to enjoy your happy-hour pints or late-night cocktails — all with an unmissable view.
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Photo: Courtesy of Wythe Hotel.
The Ides Bar at the Wythe Hotel
Sure, you’ll most likely have to negotiate with a bouncer just to wait in an obnoxious line to take the elevator up to the Ides’ sixth-floor location. Then you’ll have to fight your way to the bar (past some of the best looking people you’ve ever seen in your life) and rack up a drink tab that will do absolutely nothing for your retirement fund. But that view? Of the Manhattan skyline? Holy crap. It’s worth it.

The Ides at the Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Avenue (between North 11th and 12th streets); 718-460-8004.
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Photo: Courtesy of Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C.
Michael Jordan's The Steak House in Grand Central
Maybe you don’t like steak; maybe you loathe public transportation. Nevertheless, if you get a spot in the elegant bar area of the erstwhile NBA player’s restaurant, located on the west balcony of the main concourse of Grand Central Station, you’ll also have prime seating for one of NYC’s most spectacular works of public art: the 102-year-old constellation mural on the massive arched ceiling. But, warns a resident bartender: Avoid coming by on Tuesdays through Thursday evenings between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., when it’s packed to its marble gills with Midtown after-work drinkers.

The Bar at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C., 23 Vanderbilt Avenue (in Grand Central); 212-655-2300.
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Photo: Courtesy of Robin Caiola.
Tavern on the Green
The magic of Tavern on the Green, which exists in a space in Central Park that once housed sheep, appears after sundown, when you look up from the patio at the oh-so-charming string lights adorning the canopy of elm trees. It will sweep you into a dreamy New York state of mind that will have you singing to yourself, “If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere…” And, don’t be intimidated by the 144-year-old restaurant’s reputation of hosting guests of the black-tie set now that it’s been newly renovated. No, you head straight into its iconic opulence and order yourself one of them PBRs ($6) from the surprisingly ample selection of canned beers.

Tavern on the Green, West 67th Street (at Central Park West); 212-877-8684.
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La Marina
NYC isn’t known for its beaches, but we make do with beer gardens, rooftops, and a little thing called Central Park. Thanks to La Marina — a sprawling venue on the Hudson River with an open-air restaurant, three bars, a lounge, a concert stage, and (soon) boat slips — the city's outdoor game has reached a whole new level. Built at the former Dyckman Marina in Upper Manhattan, La Marina is home to arguably the best view of the George Washington Bridge, and the people-watching is just as good: Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Leonardo DiCaprio have all been spotted there. You may not be able to afford a yacht to dock (yet), but you can cut out early come your next summer Friday and hop the A-train uptown. Just ask for a glass of crisp Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial (best served at 45 degrees, with three ice cubes, and six ounces of Ice Impérial) and prepare to rub elbows with your next celeb crush.

La Marina , 348 Dyckman Street, New York, NY; 212-567-6300. Advertisement
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Photo: Courtesy of Pod 39 Hotel.
Pod 39 Rooftop Bar
There are plenty of rooftop bars in New York to gaze at the cityscape and put you in an empire state of mind. But, how many of them are housed on the 17th floor of a Northern Italian Renaissance-style landmark building where you can get a peek at both the actual Empire State and Chrysler buildings through gorgeous archways and terra-cotta columns accented with ivy-covered brickwork? Plus, you can order Chiapas-style tamales and Mexican sticky rice from chef April Bloomfield’s (Spotted Pig and the Breslin) Salvation Taco on the ground floor to go with the margarita, one of the best in the city.

Pod 39 Rooftop, 145 East 39th Street (between Third and Lexington avenues); 212-865-5700.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Modern.
The Modern’s Bar Room at the MoMA
Van Gogh had a penchant for absinthe and rumor has it, self-mutilation. And, you — you like your ears where they are. But, that shouldn’t stop you from stopping by MoMA to soak in his brilliant Starry Night painting before relaxing at the Bar Room inside The Modern. Here you can enjoy a cocktail — with or without the alcohol, and both a view of a giant, luminous forest-scene photograph by contemporary artist Thomas Demand, as well as a peek of the museum's sculpture garden (the vantage point is better in the adjacent dining room). And, perhaps the Still Life (gin, Benedictine, ginger, and honey; $14) or, at nearly half the price, the zero-proof Salty Hound (grapefruit, lime, chamomile, salt; $8) will be a more suitable beverage for you.

The Modern at the MoMA, 9 West 53rd Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues); 212-333-1220.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Loeb Central Park Boathouse.
The Loeb Central Park Boathouse Lakeside Restaurant
We may be living in a city of 8.3 million (and, geezus, over 52 million tourists each year), but when you plant yourself in one of the leather easy chairs in the lounge at the Central Park Boathouse, order a Scotch on the rocks (or neat), and watch as the gondolas and rowboats float along the lake, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Nothing except the taste of that single malt on your lips, the open breeze passing across the restaurant, and the soft light reflecting off the surface of the water.

Lakeside Restaurant at the Loeb Central Park Boathouse, East 72nd Street (at Fifth Avenue); 212-517-2233.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bryant Park Grill.
Bryant Park Grill
You know how you convince your unemployed friend(s) to head to Bryant Park early on a Monday afternoon to wage hand-to-hand combat for a blanket’s worth of grassy real estate for the free HBO film later that night? Well, next time, persuade them to get a spot at the rooftop of the Bryant Park Grill, and save a seat for us. Because we’ve always wanted to check out National Lampoon’s Vacation (7/21), The Karate Kid (8/4), or The Shining (8/18) high above the masses, Champagne glass in hand. Like civilized people.

Bryant Park Grill, 25 West 40th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues); 212-840-6500.
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Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
Nelson Blue
It’s been almost two years since Hurricane Sandy and most of the restaurants in South Street Seaport are finally back in working order, including this Maori-themed bar and grill. Named after the hometown of Kiwi-owner Pauli Morgan, it sits on a corner of the cobblestoned neighborhood, offering an impressive perspective of the Brooklyn Bridge, whether you take a seat inside near a window or out on the sidewalk café. We recommend the latter, as well as ordering a glass — heck, why not make it a bottle — from the wall of New Zealand-focused wine.

Nelson Blue, 233 Front Street (at Peck Slip); 212-346-9090.