ML Happy Hour: I Finally Get To Write About Live Bait!

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, our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” will 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.

I’ve been pushing Zach to let me do an out of bounds happy hour at one of my favorite bars, Live Bait, for months now. Yeah, I know it’s all the way over on 23rd Street, but the N,R trains are practically next door and some things like great food deals and a lively, fun atmosphere are worth going out of your way for. Its reputation as an excellent neighborhood bar has recently infected the forums and LB has started to come up as a possible commenter happy hour location. With this as my leverage I asked again this week if I could do a review and finally broke the poor man down (women have a way of doing that.) With the green light to go forth and imbibe I grabbed my date and headed over to take advantage of their sweet down-south happy hour.

Live bait is easy to spot. It’s right across from the park and flanked by a boring Quiznos and a nail salon. The sign is hand painted and below it, in neon, reads two words: “Bar Restaurant” –need we say more? Yes, actually we should, because Live Bait brings more to the table then just food and drink. There’s always a crowd in there at any point in the day and the sound of lubricated laughter can be heard from outside inviting people in.

The patrons vary from 20 something’s in their flannels and Converse to more mature folks in strictly business attire. I’ve noticed a propensity for young, hip, pierced and tattooed female bartenders.

“Put that camera away!”

My first time at LB I was standing outside reading over their menu when a regular approached me and insisted I come in with the guarantee I’d love it. Patrons are very inviting in this way and the kitschy vintage décor all around makes for good conversation starters. There are stuffed alligators, vintage baseball cards, boat propellers, mardi gras beads, tin signs, and the 50’s back dinning area, complete with an impressive mounted sword fish distinguishes it from the usual carbon copy bar.

There’s are some shot specials for $3 that I would suggest you avoid, they’re mostly mixed sweet liqueurs. Focus on the great selection of drafts and if you are a cocktail drinker they have you covered with a full stock of spirits.

Happy hour (4:30-6:30pm) includes $5 draft beers and a satisfying selection of $5 meals including peel and eat shrimp, jalapeno rings, ½ dozen clams or oysters, and buffalo/BBQ/honey wings. Also on the list were chili cheese fries and fried calamari, which we couldn’t resist.

The calamari was very tender yet with a golden crispy coating. It was almost better then the plate I got at City Lobster yet it oddly came with a chunky tomato soup that had a slight clammy undertone. I wasn’t sure if it was meant as a dip for the calamari as there wasn’t any of the usual cocktail sauce or tarter on the side?

Both my date and I have been disappointed in our attempts to find good chili cheese fries so we were eager to test out Live Bait’s rendition. The chili on the fries seemed homemade with abundant beef, beans and crushed tomatoes but slightly sweet for my taste. The cheese sauce was a bit on the “Kraft singles” side where as I would have preferred real cheddar. Regardless, the vast array of hot sauces available made this girl a happy camper and turned a good meal into a delicious one.


  • Though out of bounds, the jovial atmosphere and happy hour deals of Live Bait surpass many local ML joints
  • Dinning area in the back with table service for lunch or dinner if saddling up to a bar is not your style
  • I was too full to order them on this visit, but the under a buck fresh blue point oysters are a bargain during happy hour


  • Because the bar is so popular, even in the early afternoon, you might have to opt for the back table service section to get a seat
  • Too far and too short a happy hour
  • I’m really not into the whole Louisiana and down south theme or food

Live Bait, 14 E. 23rd St., near Madison Ave., 212-353-2400


  • wow, they are still around?
    I miss living in a single. sighhh…

  • I feel your pain, kimmie. But foodie accountants today are not in big demand (as mates, that is), and I think that trend is REALLY distressing.

    Hopefully, as soon as the economy turns around over there on Wall Street, things will get better for you.

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    Seriously, Live Bait? I used to work next door, around 12 years ago. It was B&T then, and I suspect it still is now.

  • HH here is 3 weeks!

  • Yeah, this place has some history, love it!


  • The place looks exactly the same, 10 years later.

    That was taken 1/17/00

  • wouldn’t you expect a dive bar to be the same forever?

  • +10 points for those that name every hot sauce in the background

  • Mama – uhm, ketchup isn’t a hotsauce, tabasco (jalapeno or regular?), cholula, el yucateco habanero, chipotle tabasco, regular tabasco?

  • HUH???

    As soon as you finish your joint, could you kindly explain to the rest of us what the fuck you are talking about?

    ‘Zach is stirring the pot …’

    REALLY? You got hold of some seriously BAD weed there, lady!

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    umm… fried kalamari, ive never had it with cocktail sauce or tarter sauce, only the marinara sauce like you got. every restaurant i have gone to if you don’t request anything specific gives you some tomato sauce… i thought that was normal?

    • This wasn’t marinara sauce… closest I can determine is that it was some sort of tomato soup? It had a little onion and herbs, not thick in consistancy… very soup like

  • LB does look to be the next ML Happy Hour location…unless drastic voting takes place with he poll. Hope to see some of you there on 3/23!

    I just passed by it today going to SS.
    Cool, their fried calamari looks appetizing!

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    I’ve never been to Live Bait for happy hour, but judging from other visits, I can’t imagine that it deserves particular attention from this blog (or any other). That said, it’s not unacceptable.

  • Good location and food, but I really don’t think $5 drafts are much of a HH ‘special.’

  • I want calamari!

  • This review disturbs me. I have had consistently awful food and consistently watered down drafts here, every time I’ve made the mistake of giving them another chance.

    They only get repeat business out of me because it’s a convenient place to knock back a (bottled!) beer or two while waiting for friends to show up and hit Shake Shack.

    NB: Stay away from the raw clams at all costs. In a pinch, tho, the peel and eat shrimp are edible.

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