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The Boat Basin Cafe Is The Best Upper West Side Bar

If only there was a laid-back but fun bar with great waterfront views and delicious cocktails that didn’t cost the earth on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Boat Basin Cafe is the answer to your summer drinking spot dilemma. 

Right on the water in the picturesque Riverside Park at West 79th, this gem of a bar is tucked away in a historic rotunda which was originally used to store boats during the winter. String lighting and parasols have replaced the boats in a spacious courtyard at the back with an open terrace overlooking the Hudson River at the front. 

The vibe is very relaxed and the atmosphere is refreshing. The whole place is pretty rough and ready. But the peeling paint and plastic tables merely adds to its charm. 

Open from March to October, this is the perfect venue for summer drinks

A Laidback Vibe

This is not your showy, Manhattan rooftop crowd jostling for a place to take sunset selfies. The Boat Basin Cafe attracts everyone from locals and families to large groups of college kids ordering pitcher after pitcher of frozen margaritas.

The food is great too. The Boat Basin Cafe serves fresh salads, lobster rolls and burgers on no-frills platters but taste as good as any Smorgasburg pop-up. 

As darkness falls, this place really comes into its own. Most weekends, a live band help to transform the courtyard into an open-air dance floor. Soon the whole bar resembles some sort of bohemian Roman plaza. 

But it’s the views over the Hudson River and The George Washington Bridge that make this place so special.

Enjoy a pina colada and a big basket of nachos as you sit back and watch the boats bobbing in the harbor. Cyclists and rollerbladers cruise along the waterfront as the sun sets behind New Jersey. Heaven.

Helen Tarver
Helen Tarver

Helen is a writer originally from London who now lives in NYC on the incomparable Upper West (Best) Side. She loves everything about New York but especially bagels, autumn in Central Park and Joe's Pizza. Helen spends her free time walking, travelling, exploring and eating.

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