Midtown Happy Hour: Smith’s Bar

If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week we’ll post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap. This week Mamacita goes to an ancient Midtown bar that has seen better days…

Smith's Bar

A look into the history of Smith’s Bar shows it has been in business for over 6 decades. That’s 11 presidencies. The historic façade has the rich neon beauty of New York in the 50s. Glowing vibrantly, its florescent sign dominates the corner of 8th Avenue and W. 44th Street. Alas the Dubya years were not kind to this bar and it changed ownership to a company that also owns the upscale lounges: Social, Social@Dunwoodie, Kanvas and Latitude. Smith’s new website informs us, “You haven’t been to New York until you’ve been to Smith’s.” As you know the Internet never lies. So as I’ve been living here for a while now it’s apparently time for me to stop in to confirm my residency!

Smith's Bar

Once inside there’s a long mahogany bar that splits in half two spacious eating areas. I chose to sit at one of the rustic benches to the left of the bar. If you rather eat more privately, there is waitress service located in the back booths and a more traditional diner section on the other side of the bar. Happy Hour is 12 to 7pm and offers $3.50 Buds and Coors, $4 Amstel and Sam Adams, and $4 well drinks.

Smith's Bar

I found a look around to be rather disappointing. These days the bar is basically a sports bar, which means it’s festooned with TV screens and team jerseys. Patrons at the bar were mostly tourists, a few frat boys and some working types. Time Out magazine had reviewed Smith’s and claimed, “The barstools tend to be filled with grouchy old men hunched over cheap beer. As a history lesson, Smith’s is unsurpassed.” Someone should drop them a note that things have changed.

I ordered at the bar and tried a vodka soda and it was Ok, but I was ready to move on to some beer and food. Next up was a pint of Kelso of Brooklyn and a Sam Adams Lager for my friend that tallied up to $11. The menu is standard pub grub with a fair amount of items under $10.

Smith's Bar

We decided to share a plate of sliders with fries. The four little burgers came out perfectly medium rare and were topped with cheese, a bit of caramelized onion and a slice of pickle. A mountain of golden fries filled the plate and I must add that the secret to these wonderfully crispy spuds is that they are lightly coated with a little seasoned flour before being dunked in the fryer. The end result is a starchy splendor.

After some beef and beer my take on Smith’s had grown brighter. The bar does have live music most nights and some karaoke for the drunken tourists. The music is mainstream radio singles brought to you by the bar’s iTunes library. The floor space is big so it lends itself perfectly for after work gatherings. It’s also conveniently located next to the “Girls, Girls, Girls” gentleman’s club. (Yes, I’m looking at you commenter Wayne.)

Lots of the history of the bar is gone along with the career-bartenders and the tale telling drunks, but the food and location can still bring in the crowds and maybe in another few decades it will yield a new generation of story telling locals hunched over their beers. One can only hope, right?

Now to kick it +/- style…

THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say)

  • Happy hour on local beers and well drinks
  • Tasty pub fare to provide booze ballast (try the fries!)
  • The historic building is something worth visiting
  • Sports bar: enthusiastic/intoxicated crowds etc…

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • All in all the happy hour is nothing exceptional
  • Atmosphere a bit lacking
  • While food is good it’s pretty standard and not an exceptional deal
  • Sports bar: enthusiastic/intoxicated crowds etc…

Smith’s Bar, 701 8th Avenue (on 44th), 212-246-3268

Post and Photos by Mamacita


  • Wow, I’ve never seen that place in the daylight. I used to work on Broadway (get yer minds out of the gutters, I did wigs for the shows) and we’d often go there after work. It looks much much much better after dark, and after a few drinks.

  • Looks a Dump….but ina nice way……those sliders and fries look bloody marvelous though.

  • I’m hesitant to share one of my favorite places, but if you’re really looking for a place with a great “old New York” vibe, the bar to hit is Hickey’s, 139 W. 33rd.

    Walk past Stout and the rest of 33rd Street’s pop-irish places. My only caveat is to avoid the entire block in the hour or two before a big MSG sports event.

  • Oh, it would be perfect for one of these ML reviews…

  • Thanks for the tip JM, I’ll definitely review it!

  • 12-7! That’s a happy hour!!!

  • Theres a Pub in Nottingham, built into the cliffs under the Castle: Ye olde Jouney to Jerusalem, built in 1190 after the 2nd Crussade. No sports shirts, but they have suits of armour.

    I shall review it.

    It will include Black Pudding.

  • Have a nice weekend very nearly everyone!

  • I’m off on vacation and I’ll be gone for a while. So all the vegans and profiled lunchers can rest easy. You’ll only have Rudy’s foul mouth to contend with. Happy Halloween!!!

  • “commenter” wayne? How… pedestrian…

    I would actually prefer cheesy meat on buns over cheesy buns on my meat any day of the week….

  • Aww where’s the love wayne… here I am thinking of you while I booze up, isn’t that enough? ;-)

  • Ooooohh good point M

    Think about me while you are away, and when you return I shall be ready for you

    Have a nice vacation

  • WOW!! Smith’s!! Years ago I used to work on an early morning show in Times Square. The crew used to go here after our show was off the air. This thing was, as I said, it was a morning show…..so we used to go at 8am. HAHA!!! You have not lived until you sucked down beers at 8am at Smith’s, as you laugh at all the suckers running to work in a grand hurry.
    Ahh, the good old days.

  • As a younger man, newly enlisted in the Navy, I was stationed in Bayonne, New Jersey and spent most of my leave in New York City. I did, in fact, waste away many hours at Smith’s Bar. While I liked Smiths, my time in New York City afforded me a glimpse at a kind of filth and depravity that I had not (and never would) encounter in Texas, where I grew up. I vowed never to return. And if I must, never to eat in restaurants, shake hands or travel without a mask covering my nose and mouth.

    I rarely respond to the scores of “comments” and often incoherent mail that I receive on a daily basis.

    But a recent post and comments brought an unusually large volume of ignorant and misinformed email to my blog. That subject was my comment that over 25-percent of New York City adult residents are infected with the Infectious Herpes Virus.

    Well folks, sorry your drawers got in a wad, but I would suggest that you visit this URL:


    According to a New York City Director of Surveillance for the Health Department’s Bureau of STD Prevention and Control, Dr. Julia Schillinger, 26 percent of New Yorkers have the Herpes Virus. They ALSO HAVE Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Infectious Syphilis at significantly higher rates than any other areas of the country.

    Thus, my prescient fears as a young man have been proven true. By New York’s own health officials!

  • Speaking of infectious diseases. My next review is sure to get Doc’s undies and hamster in a bunch… stay tuned

  • I am feverishly awaiting your clodheaded (and no doubt puerile) offering!!

  • Chucky, if you were in Smiths in Navy whites, I’d wager it was because you were there with a cop, a cowboy, a construction dude, a biker and an indian.

  • My dearest Wayne:

    It is my fondest wish that your next order of fish and chips be made — unbenownst to you — with Escolar.

    Cheers, Chuck


  • Chucky, you and your equally Obese pip of a wife could do with a good case of diarrhea.

    You uneducated inbred yokel dipshit peasant.

  • DocChuck was asking me to check in with *TWITCH* you folks to find out what the best telephoto lens is for photographing young boys at a distance of *TWITCH* 1000 yards….court-mandated. Isn’t that Daniel fellow a phoographer?

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