"The street has provided generation after generation with a mystical sense of belonging," writes Ada Calhooun in St. Mark's is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street. St. Mark's is not dead at all. The three-block stretch of East 8th St., spanning from Third Avenue to Avenue A and Tomkins Square Park, is consistently abuzz with students, young professionals, new New Yorkers and just a handful of tourists, easily weeded out when visiting a local bar. Calhoun reports that of the hundreds of people she interviewed for her book, many described their time living on St. Mark's as the "best time of their lives."
So get out and live your best booze life on St. Mark's Place. No NYU ID required.
ST. MARK'S ALE HOUSE At the gateway to the St. Mark's drinking scene sits St. Marks Ale House, welcoming patrons at pretty much every hour of the day with its open-air front seating. Happy Hour from 5 - 7 p.m. includes $4 drafts and well drinks, which is pretty much as cheap as it gets in the East Village these days. Other bar specials include $3 Kamikaze, SoCoLime and Sauze tequila shots. Update: Since publication of this guide, St. Mark's Ale House has closed. RIP.
2 St. Mark's Place, (212) 260-9762
BARCADE An offshoot of the Williamsburg original, this hybrid arcarde-bar is the perfect venue for when you just don't want to talk to anyone, drink a lot and zone out with PacMan. Over twenty taps pour out a daily rotating selection of beer and cider. Fries, tots, sliders and wings are available to fuel you as you game and guzzle and attempt to break a high score record.
6 St. Mark's Place, 212-388-0522; website
BULL MCCABE'S This divey pub claims to be the "greatest" on St. Mark's and if you're into no frills, semi-sticky floors and jukebox-music fueled drinking, you may just agree. A spacious sidewalk cafe is a serious perk on nice days—the people watching on Western St. Mark's is incomparable to anywhere in the city. A useful warning on the bar's website: "If you don't play pool, love rock-n-roll, drink too much and love to engage in conversation with anybody this is not the place for you." Duly noted.
29 St. Mark's Place, (212) 982-9895; website
DALLAS BBQ Yes, there's a Times Square location and yes, the bright red awnings of this corner bar and restaurant may make it easy to dismiss, and yes, its address is technically 2nd Avenue, but don't underestimate the wide span of outdoor space and almost as large margaritas. A Texas-sized frozen drink (available in pretty much every color and flavor of the rainbow) runs at $10, with the option to add an upside down Corona for $4, a shot for $2 or sparkling wine for $5. Add them all, because everything is bigger in Texas, you're nowhere near Texas and may as well compensate.
132 2nd Avenue at St. Mark's Place, (212) 777-5574; website
WILLIAM BARNACLE TAVERN This former Prohibition speakeasy has found new life as an absinthe bar (with a Northern French Crepe window, praise France and Nutella) that may just be cooler than an illegal watering hole. William Barnacle's absinthe, for the record, is totally legal. The bar shares an address with Theatre 80 St. Mark's, so expect an artsy crowd after events including readings, Shakespearean plays and more.
80 St. Mark's Place, (212) 388-0388
GOOD NIGHT SONNY Formerly home to St. Mark's mainstay Simone Martini Bar, this trendy corner spot screams Nouveau East Village, from the clean white tile floor to the books artistically lining the walls to the cocktail ingredients placed just so in glass jars and, oh yeah, the raw bar. An extensive cocktail list appealing to pretty much every type of drinker and a menu of small bites is available from 4 p.m. - 4 a.m. daily and it's not a bad spot for a post-midnight oyster, either.
134 First Avenue at St. Mark's Place, (646) 692-3254; website
HOLIDAY COCKTAIL LOUNGE This old school dive reopened last spring as a trendy cocktail bar with $14 creations edging on hip renditions of classics with some tiki flair. Expect umbrellas, flags and small toys to top your drink because you're an adult, dammit. Saddle up in a booth with friends and go for a large-format punch bowl or enjoy the classic U-shaped, rainbow-lit bar where the mixology nerds will shake up pretty much anything you desire. Hungry drinkers should order a Cubano, a spectacularly meaty, cheesey sandwich served on a glazed Dough doughnut. Don't forget to grab a packet of free branded matches on your way out, because those are hard to find nowadays.
75 St. Mark's Place, (212) 777-9637; website
PROLETARIAT Beer enthusiasts will enjoy the "rare, new and unusual beers" found here. Kegs and bottles change regularly, with uncommon imported beers often being an expensive highlight to any visit here. Don't visit if you're just trying to get drunk, or already drunk, but stop by to explore a new beer and nerd out, if that's your thing.
102 St Mark's Place, (212) 777-6707; website
PLEASE DON'T TELL Often referred to as PDT, this "super secret speakeasy" (which also has its own website, social media pages and takes strongly-recommended reservations) is accessed via a phone booth in Crif Dogs. Of course, you could always settle for a bacon-wrapped hot dog and a can of beer at Crif Dogs, or wait your turn for some fancy mixology at this always crowded bar. Drinks don't come cheap, but for a special night out or your final sip of the night, it's worth the splurge.
113 St. Mark's Place, (212) 614-0386; website
ST. DYMPHNA'S Patron saint of the mentally ill and pretty much every drunken night I had between the ages of 21- 24, this pub is the epicenter of every St. Mark's bar crawl. Happy hour from noon until 8 p.m. offers $4 draughts and plenty of time to enjoy them. If you're in it for cheap drinking, spring for a bottle of wine just slightly higher than bodega prices and sit by the open windows to catch a breeze off St. Mark's as you sip your $16 bottle of Vinho Verde. Atmosphere here varies from night to night: there may be an impassioned crowd watching a football (read: soccer) game on TV, a tipsy dance party spilling out onto the sidewalk, or a quiet 2 a.m. last call for the lonely few whose Tinder dates just didn't work out.
118 St. Mark's Place, (212) 254-6636; website
10 DEGREES 2-for-1 Happy Hour is served daily from 12 p.m. - 8 p.m., which is really a trick to get you to continue drinking whenever you decide to start. Wine dominates the menu here and the calmer atmosphere could almost place this bar in, say, Cobble Hill rather than on busy St. Mark's Place. Bring a date, a friend, or your parents, but maybe keep walking if you're really out to party.
121 St. Mark's Place, (212) 254-6636; website
BUA Part of the same bar group that owns the West Village's Wilfie & Nell and Astoria's Sweet Afton, this bar has your mainstay crowd of beards, vintage clothing and big groups of friends that you think only exist in cute movies about New York City. Prime real estate on the outdoor patio is hard to snatch up and worth holding on to when you snag a seat. Happy hour, including $4 drafts and $15 wine carafes, runs weekdays from 3 - 8 p.m. and weekends from 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. To eat, order a Bua Burger or choose from four varieties of grilled cheese. Or don't choose, you deserve them all, followed by another cocktail, of course.
122 St. Mark's Place, (212) 979-6276; website
EAST VILLAGE SOCIAL EVS, as the coolest kids call it, is pitch black even when it opens midday, and those trying to drink away a hangover will appreciate that shadowy ambiance. Speaking of hangovers, the kitchen (open 'til 4 a.m.) served a bucket o' bacon ($8), which may be the most fantastic drinking snack on all of St. Mark's. Visit Tuesday nights for trivia and pretty much every other night for live music.
126 St. Mark's Place, (646) 755-8662; website
EMPELLON AL PASTOR Come for the legendary pineapple-laced al pastor tacos by Mexican food royalty Alex Stupak, stay for the Micheladas, loaded Micheladas and cheap beer cans that keep this taqueria packed into the early hours of the morning. A bar and counter service area keep a constant rotation of edibles and beverages easy and you'll definitely want seconds of cheeseburger tacos after a few shots of mezcal. A bouncer outside keeps the bar-restaurant 21+ after dark.
132 St. Mark's Place, (646) 833-7039; website
Melissa Kravitz moved to New York City in 2009 and has been writing about food ever since. Her work can be seen on Thrillist, Mashable, Elite Daily, First We Feast and more. She eats mostly noodles and is working on a novel.