In Korean culture, drinking and eating are linked together in a way unlike in the western world and they are an indispensable part of Korean daily life. Whenever you’re hanging out with friends or colleagues at bars, Korean people do not just drink. They need to eat food along with drinks. That’s why Korean anju (안주, food that you eat when you drink alcohol) is so well developed and there are so many variations of them.
The mainstream Korean alcohol prior to the 1960s was makgeolli (막걸리, Korean rice wine), and the best anju (안주) for makgeolli were dishes such as Korean potato pancakes or Kimchi pancake. Then, Pojangmacha (포장마차, a bar that is a small tent or street stall found in South Korea) came along in the early 1960s and the country’s most popular native alcohol became soju in the 1960s. The best anju (안주) for soju are sturdier companions like stews or meat dishes such as Korean BBQ.
In the 1980s, beer became a popular drinking choice for Koreans, and beer’s best friend, Korean fried chicken became the headlining anju (안주) in the 1990s. Chimaek (치맥, the abbreviation for chicken and maekju, the Korean word for beer) became a global phenomenon in the 2010s due to the worldwide popularity of the K-drama, My Love From The Star. With that, the Korean bars in New York City carried over the Korean drinking culture and flourished along the way.
There are many different kinds of Korean bars and gastropubs in New York City and a great many of them are outstanding. It was a hard job to choose the best among them. But we’ve done our (quite enjoyable) due diligence and here are what we consider to be the top 19 Korean bars in New York City.
Ninano NYC is one of the newest Korean bars in New York City and the hottest bar in the West Village. Ninano (니나노) is a traditional Korean folk song lyric that Korean people sing as they beat chopsticks in rhythm on tabletops while drinking and enjoying a great time together. What a fitting name it is for the Korean bar!
One of the most pivotal emotions that describes Koreans is heung (흥, excitement, the positive energy, and joy that drive Koreans to celebrate and unify with one another). This emotion heung (흥) is so powerful that it can even overcome han (한, an internalized feeling of deep sorrow, resentment, grief, regret, and anger over generations in Korean culture).
I daresay that heung (흥) is the most essential emotion in Korean culture and has been the driving force for Korean to overcome difficult times with hope from generation to generation. In addition, because of heung (흥), Korean pop culture and entertainment have overtaken the world like a storm nowadays and will continue to do so. Korean people just know how to have fun! The bar name, Ninano (니나노) perfectly defines this wonderful Korean emotion.
Ninano’s main cocktails are made from the Korean premium soju, Hwayo, which will surprise you with how smooth it is. Their So-Tteok (쏘떡쏘떡), the Korean skewer with mini sausage and rice cake is so delicious and goes so well with beer that I dare you to stop ordering them. This little cute bar with a neon sign in West Village will soon become your favorite hangout place with friends, if it isn’t already.
Tues – Sun: 4:00pm to 12:00am
Tues – Thurs: 4:00pm to 6:00pm
This hidden gem in the East Village is one of the most unique Korean bars in New York City. Gomi is a Korean wine bar with a touch of Brazil. The chef/owner, Rafael, was born in Korea but raised in Brazil (half of that time spent in São Paolo’s Japan Town), his international background comes across in his food, music, and wines. For Rafael, it’s not unusual to have a Picanha steak, bibimbap, and a Portuguese red wine come together fabulously. The restaurant is named after Rafael’s dog, Gommy which was changed to “G-O-M-I” as it was easier to remember.
If you want wonderful Korean food made with fresh, local, and organic ingredients paired with organic, sustainable, or bio-dynamic certified/practicing wine from Portugal, Spain, and France, this is the place to be.
Sun – Mon: Closed
Tues – Thurs: 5:00pm to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 12:00am
Tues – Sat: 5:00pm to 7:00pm
木hursday Kitchen and Mokyo by Owner Chef Kyungmin Kay Hyun, who previously worked at ABC Kitchen and Jean-Georges, are the “New Korean” restaurants/bars in the East Village. With her French cooking background, Chef Hyun creates upscale and beautifully displayed Korean anju (안주) with French techniques and Spanish and Korean ingredients. Why did Chef Hyun name her restaurants 木hursday and Mokyo (Thursday in Korean)? Because the weekend starts on Thursday in NYC!
Chef Hyun presents fantastic small tapas with Korean flare like Kimchi Paella, Gnocchi Covered in a Korean chili pepper sauce, Soft Shell Crabs with a wasabi dipping sauce, and Steak with the cheesy grits (the best $16 steak in NYC) that you find yourself eating first with your eyes even before the first scrumptious bite touches your lips. Chef Hyun’s amazing signature drinks are Soju cocktails called Capri-Thursday and come in plastic packages accentuated with a glowing LED ice cube. These bars will definitely give you the most unforgettable and unusual dining/bar experience among Korean bars in New York City.
Sunday: 5:00pm to 10:30pm
Mon – Thurs: 6:00pm to 10:30pm
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 11:30pm
MONO+MONO is a treasured East Village Korean bar with Korean fusion anju (안주) meets flower-garnished soju cocktails, accompanied by unique music playing every day. This rustic dark wood Korean bar with 15,000 vinyl records encased along its walls and full of beautiful flowers and plants will make you wonder whether you’re still in the middle of NYC. The decor is the rarest among Korean bars in New York. Their anju (안주) and drinks look so stunning that you will hesitate to consume them. However, you will taste heaven once you take the courage to take the first sip/bite of their beautifully decorated food and drinks.
Sun – Sat: 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Sun, Tues – Thurs: 3:00pm to 6:00pm
Fri – Sat: 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Reception Bar in the Lower East Side offers the best soju cocktails in New York City. All of the cocktails here are soju-based cocktails and this bar is a marvelous place for people who love classic American drinks but want to venture out to something new. Those who love martinis should definitely try Martini 100 which is made with Baekseju, Korean ginseng soju. Old Fashion lovers should try Smokes which is made with pine-smoked lapsang soju. Ginger Gobline with Hwayo soju (premium soju) is a delightful Korean counterpart to a Mezcal Mule. They also have the rarest flavor soju among Korean bars in New York City; osmanthus, which features Korean green pepper, white lotus, and artemisia.
Sunday: 2:00pm to 11:00pm
Mon – Wed: 5:00pm to 12:00am
Thurs – Fri: 5:00pm to 2:00am
Sat: 2:00pm to 2:00am
Esther Choi, the owner of Mŏkbar opened Ms Yoo, a New Korean American bi-level gastropub in the Lower East Side and it has become one of the hottest Korean bars in New York City. Their anju (안주) is presented stylishly just like their cocktails. Ms Yoo’s Tteok N’Cheese is the one anju (안주) to try here. It is their Korean interpretation of mac and cheese and exceeds its predecessor in both heartiness and tastiness. Another favorite is Spam Grilled Cheese which is the owner’s Korean spin on a grilled cheese. This sleek gorgeous gastropub is a perfect place for birthdays and celebrations.
Sun – Wed: Closed
Thurs – Sat: 5:00pm to 2:00am
Thurs – Sat: 5:00pm to 7:00pm
If you wonder why it is called Osamil, here is the explanation. The name, Osamil is the number 5, 3, and 1 in Korean and is derived from its address, 5 west 31st street (5- Oh, 3- Sam, 1-il). Osamil is one of the leading Korean bars in New York City with an open kitchen showcasing Ko-chi (꼬치, Korean style skewers) grill which is one of the most well-known anju (안주). Osamil’s must-try dishes are Korean-style skewers, Beef Tartar, and Korean Market Fried Chicken. With its lively ambiance and delicious Korean food/drinks, you will fully experience the Korean nightlife in the heart of K-town New York.
Following Osamil’s tremendous success, Osamil Upstairs opened on the second floor right above. This hidden high-end speakeasy has a 12-seat reservations-only bar with innovative cocktails created by mixologist, Gelo Honrade and the tables behind the sheer curtain where you can have drinks and small bites. Make sure you make a reservation and find the secret entrance to Osamil Upstairs for the unique and wonderful drinking experience.
Sunday: 5:00pm to 11:00pm
Tues – Wed: 5:00pm to 11:00pm
Thurs – Sat: 5:00pm to 12:00am
Tues – Thurs: 5:00pm to 7:00pm
With an impressive collection of vintage records and players on the wall and the rustic interior, Turntable LP’s chill vibe is hard to beat as the place to hang out and drink late into the night and wee hours with friends. Their main dish is Korean fried chicken and it is sublime. The extraordinarily crispy exterior crunches with full flavor as you bite into the chicken’s tender, juicy interior. It is the perfect place to enjoy Chimaek (치맥, chicken and beer). Don’t forget, this restaurant is also a Karaoke bar which means you can sing while you enjoy great food and drink. They even have a Beatles karaoke room which is decorated with the Beatles’ albums and an extensive music collection from 1964 to 1970.
Sun – Wed: 12:00pm to 12:00am
Thursday: 12:00pm to 1:00am
Fri – Sat: 12:00pm to 2:00am
Karaoke Happy Hour: 12:00pm to 5:00pm (50% Off)
Banjia (banjiha, 반지하) in Korean means a semi-basement space and there are a lot of semi-basement bars in Korea. Do you remember the Korean movie, Parasite? The main character’s family in the movie lives in a banjiha (반지하), a semi-basement home. Banjiha in Korea represents more than just the vertical levels of homes. It also represents homes for lower-income people who couldn’t afford highrise apartments or single homes. Korea now is an economic powerhouse. However, Korea wasn’t one until the 2000s and most of the pubs in Korea back in the day were banjiha (반지하, semi-basement) selling inexpensive food and alcohol since most Korean people were underprivileged people then.
Banjia is one of the older Korean bars in New York City and has been the perfect late-night hangout spot in K-town NYC after midnight when you crave great Korean comfort food after a night on the town. Of course, you can’t help but find yourself drinking again, however much you’ve imbibed before, since their menu features items like Truffle Oil Chapaguri with Beef Brisket and Budae Jjigae, which are the perfect anju (안주) for drinking.
Tues – Sun: 5:00pm to 12:00am
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 3:00am
Happy Hour Menu served
Tues – Sun: 5:00pm to 12:00am
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 3:00am
Itaewon Gastropub is another great late-night spot after midnight in K-town NYC. This gastropub with an energetic atmosphere and colorful lights on the ceiling is the perfect replica of lively Korean pubs in Itaewon, Korea like the popular K-drama, Itaewon Class. It offers inventive Korean fusion dishes like Shrimp Bacon Shrimp Topokki, Bulgogi Kimchi Fries, and various Soju selections that you will find yourself enjoying every sip and bite.
Sunday: 2:00pm to 2:00am
Mon – Thurs: 5:00pm to 2:00am
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 4:00am
Happy Hour: 5:00pm to 7:00pm (20% off from food menu)
Soju is a clear, distilled, rice alcoholic drink from Korea and has been Korea’s favorite drink and a global leader in liquor sales and consumption. Soju Haus in K-town specializes in traditional Korean food like Slow-Cooked Porkbelly and Spicy Boneless Chicken Stew that goes well with soju and other traditional Korean liquors. Soju Haus’ mission is to touch people in NYC in the same way that Soju has played a significant role in Korea’s cultural landscape.
Sun – Wed: 4:00pm to 1:00am
Thursday: 4:00pm to 2:00am
Fri – Sat: 4:00pm to 3:00am
Anytime Kitchen in K-town offers mouthwatering Americanized Korean anju (안주) with favorite Korean spirits like soju or makgeolli. This eclectic bar is one of the coolest Korean bars in New York City. Bulgogi Burger, Nacho Chicken, and Cod Roe Cream Ramyun with Salmon Caviar will satisfy your late-night cravings, while Anytime Makgeolli Slushies and Anytime Soju Cocktails will quench your thirst on a hot summer night. Anytime Kitchen has three other sister locations; Anytime Karaoke, Anytime Bar & Billards, and The Spot Lounge & Karaoke which means you can sing your heart out at the Korean Karaoke bar afterward. There also is a fun perk of a one-time 10% discount if you bring a receipt from an Anytime sister location.
Sun – Thurs: 4:00pm to 1:00am
Fri – Sat: 4:00pm to 3:30am
Sun – Thurs except on Holidays: 4:00pm to 8:00pm
Mui in K-town is one of the hippest Korean bars in New York City. With purple fluorescent lighting at the bar, K-Pop playing and a modern interior, you will enjoy Mui’s favorite dishes like Fish Cake Soup and Snowing Cheese Potato Pancake along with Flavored Soju Cocktails made with real fruit that comes in a carafe to share with friends. This is another great place for late-night bites and drinks!
Sun – Wed: 5:00pm to 2:00am
Thursday: 5:00pm to 3:00am
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 4:00am
Take 31 in K-town is the go-to place to drink makgeolli among Korean bars in New York City. Their signature homemade ice shaved flavored makgeolli is the best in Korean bars in New York for sure, especially on a hot summer day. The food is wonderful there as well with prime examples being: Crispy Corn Pancake, Wasabi Cream Chicken, Rolled-up Cod Roe Omelette, and Pork Belly Rice Crepe Wraps that will melt in your mouth on a first bite and make you feel that exquisite guilty pleasure when you know you should not eat so much late at night; But you don’t regret that you did.
Sun – Thurs: 5:30pm to 1:00am
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 3:00am
Barn Joo has three locations (K-town, Nomad, and Union Square) in Manhattan and they are among the most popular Korean bars in New York City. Barn Joo (banjoo, 반주) in Korea means taking one or two drinks with meals and Korean people believe that banjoo (반주) makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.
As you can tell from its name, they are known for great anju (안주) and Korean spirits and cocktails. Their BJ Open Rolls (10 different rolls), served with a house-made bone marrow soup sauce, a special soy sauce, and pickled ginger chayote sauce, are so flavorful. The cherry on top is that each roll costs $8 which is very affordable. Or you can order as a trio set which is $22. With an interior inspired by an American Speakeasy in the prohibition time period and farm-to-table ingredients serving Korean comfort foods, Barn Joo surely is the perfect place to eat and drink with your friends in NYC.
Thurs – Sat: 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Sun – Wed: 12:00pm to 10:00pm
Mon – Fri: 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm to 9:00pm
Mon – Tues: 12:00pm to 10:00pm
Wed – Thurs: 12:00pm to 9:00pm
Fri – Sat: 12:00pm to 12:00am
Mon – Fri: 4:00pm to 7:00pm