The 31 Best Bars in Westchester County
A look at the county's top places to grab a drink.
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Compiling a list of the area’s best bars is no easy task. There’s the ambience to consider. The clientele to scrutinize. The bar bites to sample. And, of course, the cocktails. Be it pubs in White Plains, martinis in Ossining, music in Pleasantville, beer in Peekskill, or wine in New Rochelle, Westchester has what you’re looking for, at a watering hole with your name on it—from sedate after-work lounges to rollicking singles scenes to time-worn dives and stylish bistros. Here, our treasure trove of toast-worthy bars, where you can chat, nosh, sing, sulk, dance, play, flirt, and, of course, sip every last drop.
bartaco, Port Chester
1 Willett Ave, (914) 937-8226; bartaco.com
There’s a lively, beachy vibe to bartaco. The restaurant—with a U-shaped bar as its centerpiece—is bathed in nautical blue and white with rustic baskets for light fixtures that look like they were plucked from a thatched hut in the Caribbean. The mood is high-energy, the music loud (DJs Thursday through Sunday), and the drinks potent. There are more than 25 varieties of tequilas and classic margaritas, all made with fresh-pressed juices and no mixers, making it a tough choice between those or the just-as-decadent mojitos and caipirinhas. The bar itself, with not a TV in sight draws a cross-section of patrons from various demographics, including a large contingency of Beautiful People from Greenwich, Connecticut. Come warm weather, the place is simply divine, with doors that open from the dining room to the outdoor patio, where there’s a second bar and a large loung-y area meant for kicking back and ordering the house-made guacamole along with another round.
Birdsall House, Peekskill
970 Main St
(914) 930-1880; birdsallhouse.net
It’s all about the beer at Birdsall House, where folks go to soak up the down-home atmosphere, savor a few brewskis, and discover a new favorite one. The casual beer joint—which won this magazine’s 2010 Best of Westchester Award for New Beer Bar—offers a convivial drinking experience in a traditional tavern setting featuring the bar’s original, 1940 wooden booths. And, though there’s been buzz of late about the turnover of the chef (Matt Hutchins was long praised for his beer-inspired cuisine), it’s the unassuming atmosphere, emphasis on local craft
selections, abundance of half-drafts, and exotic rarities that have us returning time and again. And, oh yeah, there’s also the picnic-tabled beer garden; the ambitious bourbon, whiskey, and scotch list; and the always-happening Happy Hour (4 to 7 pm, Monday to Friday), when all drafts and well drinks are $5. Those who don’t have to drive will also enjoy the $3 Late Night Pints from 10 pm to midnight every evening.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills
630 Bedford Rd, (914) 366-9600; bluehillfarm.com
Blue Hill’s bar is one of Westchester’s best-kept secrets. You can enjoy the same sophisticated ambience as in the restaurant; the same super-attentive service; the same artful, seasonal food; and the same thoughtful wine and local beer lists. Plus, you can’t beat the grandeur: a bucolic farmhouse complete with a roaring fireplace. Choose to sit at the bar, or, opt for the appealing sitting-room area by the fire, where you can choose from among the 25 wines-by-the-glass or warm up with the Blue Hill Winter Gin, which features aromatics of fresh juniper, pine, sumac, and Hawaiian ginger from the greenhouse. There’s no Happy Hour, but who cares when the atmosphere is so gloriously gracious and the bar bites are like nothing you’ve ever tasted before?
Set Back Inn, Tarrytown
The Set Back Inn may be one of the oldest bars in the county.
33 Main St, (914) 631-9740; setbackinn.com
There’s a humble, “take me as I am” vibe to the Set Back Inn, an institution on Main Street since 1959 that is so authentic, it feels ready for its close-up. And yes, the grande dame, reputed to be among the oldest bars in Westchester, has had a few Hollywood moments, including in Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts and Henry’s Crime with Keanu Reeves. But who really cares about the name-dropping? We love the Set Back because, despite its special pedigree, it could fit into any town in the country. There’s a pool table in the back, a dart board, a jukebox, and lots of dark wood, all of which give it a decidedly no-frills, blue-collar feel. Don’t expect any food, though you can bring in your own slice. And come with cash—no credit cards are accepted. Set Back stays open at the management’s discretion, meaning closing time can be 4 am or 11 pm. There’s live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (no cover) and drink specials during the week.
226 Beekman Ave
(914) 332-0078; bridgeviewtavern.com
Sleepy Hollow has been kind of sleepy when it comes to the bar scene, which is why we lift our glass to Bridgeview, not only for opening in this neck of the woods in 2009, but for doing so with a dose of low-key neighborhood charm and an impressive beer list. We don’t need trendy to be happy; nor do we need rowdy. We simply want the basics: drinks on tap (think Allagash, Green Flash, and Smuttynose); solid comfort food (such as chili, burgers, and brisket); and an egalitarian atmosphere where everyone co-exists in harmony. The tavern, which delivers on all counts, is tucked at the end of the town’s main street. Bonus points for its rotating selection of 18 beers, ales, and stouts as well as house-made sangria and seasonal drinks—like the fireside martini and warm spiced cider—sure to thaw you from the inside out. Check its Facebook page for numerous deals and “special” nights, including 50-Cent Wing Night on Mondays, $4 Pint Day on Tuesdays, and occasional live music.
Burke’s Restaurant and Bar, Yonkers
645 Bronx River Rd, (914) 237-5137; burkesbar.com
If you like a celebratory atmosphere, you’ll like Burke’s, a combination party central/neighborhood joint/Irish crony bar/restaurant with 11 flat-screen TVs and two widescreen projectors. Though there’s a large menu with good choices, the food tends to be an afterthought. Instead, this is where to come after work—or after 9 pm—for boisterous, vibrant entertainment, where booze is the main attraction. With all those TVs, sports tends to be the big draw, as are the promotions, including Happy Hour (every weekday from 3 to 6 pm); Sunday football specials ($15 beer towers, $7.50 pitchers, $3 drafts, and free halftime buffet for all Giants and Jets games); trivia night Wednesdays (starting at 9 pm); discounted teacher Happy Hour on Fridays (3 to 6 pm); and live bands on Saturdays (starting at 10 pm).
The Duck Inn Bar & Grill is a classic Irish pub.
Duck Inn Bar & Grill, Mamaroneck
128 W Boston Post Rd, (914) 835-8791
If there’s such a thing as an Everyman’s Bar, the Duck Inn is it. The draw of the place—known as a hangout among area cops and firemen—is that it’s a bar’s bar where the beer’s cold, the dartboard well-worn, and the brown tables on the sticky side. Newcomers are eyed a bit warily—but then warmly. After all, this is a classic Irish bar where everyone’s a friend. Ignore the rough-around-the-edges exterior: this neighborhood institution, with its wooden duck collection and shamrock décor, is meant to make you smile, forget your worries, and hang with your chums. (We love the sign near the bar that reads “Quack House.”) The food menu’s limited, though occasionally “Jack,” as the owner is known, will whip up some “Duck wings.”
Chat 19, Larchmont
19 Chatsworth Ave, (914) 833-8871; chat19.net
Sure, Chat 19 has good food, but the menu’s not the main draw here. So, why the crowds? Perhaps it’s the subdued lighting and Old Hollywood theme that has everyone from Bogie to Monroe peering down at you, practically encouraging you to enjoy the evening with a Chat pizza and a glass of Merlot. Or maybe it’s the sleek bar, dimly lit dining room. Despite all the suburban families at dinner, there’s always a group sidled up to the bar sipping martinis (such as the Lemon-Ginger Drop and Cappuccino Martini). Happy Hour specials (4 to 6:30 pm) and recession-busting deals—such as $3 drafts and half-price wings on Monday nights and all day on football Sundays—certainly draw folks in, as do the live music acts and DJs that keep the place hopping on weekends.
Cellar Bar, Larchmont
8 Railroad Way, (914) 834-8723
You gotta love a place that stays open until 4 am every night of the year. You also have to love a place with the name “cellar,” implying going down to someone’s basement to drink in a clandestine setting—sort of like you did in high school. Plus, let’s face it, Cellar Bar is a Larchmont legacy that’s been catering to generations of Sound Shore residents for close to 30 years. It’s nothing fancy—in fact, it’s reminiscent of the bars you frequented back in your college days. You’ll find the same simple décor of a classic Irish bar (dartboard included), plus a three-flag display showcasing the colors of the U.S., Ireland, and Dominica, the last of which features a parrot that Cellar co-owner (and Jimmy Buffet fan) Dennis Gallagher thought was cool. Everyone comes here—be it for the complimentary kick-off buffet on Mondays, chili-dog and darts night on Thursdays, or the
occasional live music. And you know how you find out about it all? The good, old-fashioned way: by reading the board posted outside the bar. The rest of Larchmont may have gentrified, but not this place…which only adds to its magic. The less it changes, the more we love it.
Growlers Beer Bistro
25 Main St, (914) 793-0608
There’s no hard liquor sold at Growlers—only beer and wine—and that’s the way we like it. For, oh, what a selection there is, all in a lofty industrial setting (a former turn-of-the-century power station) complete with brick walls, an uneven concrete floor, and a narrow communal dining table. Sure, we want good food to go with our brown ale (try the Ithaca Nut), but we also want solid drinks that are so pure and wholesomely good, they can speak for themselves. Ask Gene Ciriello, the affable head bartender, for a sample before deciding on what you really want (New York State is well represented); half pints also are available. There are more than 20 bottled beers, as well as cans from Oskar Blues, 21st Amendment, Butternuts, and Sixpoint. The stars of the show—which give the bar its moniker—are the growlers. Sold to go, they also help decorate the place, with jugs ready and waiting near the bar. And though there’s plenty of cushiony space along the back wall to sit and nosh, we like securing a spot at the bar, where you can see the blackboard list of what’s on tap and where it’s easier to get Ciriello’s attention to ask for another. Happy Hour every weekday from 4 to 7 pm means $1 off everything on tap. Tuesday night is trivia night, and there’s live music on Wednesdays. Check Growler’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date happenings.