The Best Karaoke Bars in NYC
Karaoke may or may not be my love language...and it gives everyone a thrill, whether it's fear or excitement. Like most things in New York City, though, there’s a little something out there for everyone's musical appetites. Whether you want to belt out your favorite Boy Band's tunes under neon lights to a crowd of stunned strangers, or get super emotional singin' a lesser-known indie hit with your closest confidants, there's an NYC karaoke joint to cover that.
Located (literally) up a set of stairs in a Chinatown apartment building, this karaoke bar is the ideal locale for busting out classic oldies and/or heart-wrenching pop ballads — so, climb the stairs and take your pick. (You'll know you've found the right place when you spot the Hello Kitty-clad door.)
Up Stairs, 59 Canal Street, Floor 2; 646-559-0098.
The formula at Alligator Lounge is already so solid—you get a free personal pizza with every drink purchase—that it seems blasphemous to even mess with it. But add two karaoke nights a week and well, there’s not much else you can ask from a humble bar.
Alligator Lounge, 600 Metropolitan Avenue (between Lorimer and Leonard streets), Williamsburg; 718-599-4440
The only thing more fun than karaoke? Karaoke with the option to nosh on Peruvian-Southeast Asian food after belting “Sweet Child O’Mine.” The street-level restaurant Tacu Tacu conceals the raucous subterranean party at Lulu Lounge. Get ready to make some new friends and enjoy some delicious food.
Lulu Lounge, 134 N 6th Street (between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue); 718-218-7889
If a friend suggests karaoke and you instantly break out in a sweaty panic, then Karaoke Boho might be the place for you. Their two locations boast some of the nicest, most spacious private rooms in NYC, and a lot of them at that: they have 35 in total. Sing away from judgmental ears… well, aside from those of your friends.
Karaoke Boho, 186 West 4th Street (between Barrow and Jones streets); 212-255-0011; and 152 Orchard Street (between Stanton and Rivington streets); 212-777-0102
This spot calls itself “the first and only boutique karaoke bar” in New York, which may suggest that the term, like ‘artisanal,’ is losing all meaning—but darn if it’s not a sleekly adorable space. The owners make up for the lack of space by hosting fun themed nights, like singing with a live band or playing Fortune Cookie-oke (like Russian Roulette with popular karaoke songs).
Baby Grand, 161 Lafayette Street (at Grand Street); 212-219-8110
Most karaoke joints are pretty old-school—broken cushions, sticky floors, a complicated Japanese remote—which makes Shout in Astoria feel like a breath of fresh air. The private rooms lit into glowing orbs of colorful light, plus the personal tablets for song selection, may have you believing their slogan: “Singing heals the world!”
Karaoke Shout, 32-46 Steinway Street (between Broadway and 34th Avenue), Astoria; 718-569-0080.
At first glance, we were tempted to write off this Upper East Side watering hole as just another divey, post-collegiate hangout. However, devoted regulars convinced us to take a second look; Behind the ubiquitous trappings of Irish pub décor, this place is truly committed to providing its patrons with a good time. Good-natured bartenders joke with the admittedly frat-tastic crowd, coaxing performers onto a low platform stage where they rock out to selections from an extensive songbook. Iggy’s even hosts Rockband Contests on Wednesday and Sunday evenings with a $50 bar tab going to the winners. Keg stand anyone? Go here for a sure-to-be-fun evening of songs with an unapologetically undergrad-style crowd and a friendly staff dedicated to getting as many partiers as possible up on stage.
Iggy's, 1452 2nd Avenue (between 75th and 76th streets); 212-327-3043.
As opposed to some of the the other dingy karaoke joints in K-town, Gagopa is sleek, with bold red couches and graphic art splashed on the walls. But the best part? It’s B.Y.O.B! Basically, this is the '80s lounge of your dreams.
Gagopa, 28 West 32nd Street (between Broadway and Fifth Avenue), 3rd Floor; 212-967-5353.
Karaoke St. Marks
Located on one of the city’s most vibrant blocks (come on, head shops and schwag stands can be vibrant), Karaoke St. Marks used to be known as U2, after the band. Accordingly, we expected to find a pretty extreme situation inside. And we were not disappointed. For guests looking to rock in seclusion, private booths are available complete with deep couches and even deeper songbooks. Songs are selected from a console that looks like something out of 2001 A Space Odyssey with lyrics displayed on individual HDTV screens. And for those who prefer to put their talents on display, the front lounge offers the same massive selection of discography paired with an intense sound system blasting away as your public watches.
Karaoke St. Marks, 6 St. Marks Place (between Second and Third avenues); 212-228-6250.
The name stands for Best In New York, and the menu may help convince you. There are drink combos like the Across the Border, which gives you 12 Coronas and six shots of tequila for $100, and tons of great drunk Asian food, like spring rolls and teriyaki chicken wings.
BINY, 8 Thompson Street (at Grand Street); 212-334-5490.
Sing Sing Karaoke
A New York institution, Sing Sing should be on your city bucket list, even if karaoke isn’t really your thing. It's the end-all, be-all of karaoke bars, where you can sing all night in private rooms or in the big open bar area. Lean toward the latter, since you’ll make more friends that way.
Sing Sing Karaoke, Multiple locations.
Dilapidated is a kind term for how this place looks from the outside, and the wood-paneled interior is also a far cry from the glaring lights of typical K-town karaoke bars. But, singing in the land that time seemingly forgot is just one of those totally weird, totally wonderful New York City experiences that you’ll just have to try to fully understand.
Winnie’s, 104 Bayard Street (between Mulberry and Baxter streets); 212-732-2384.
If you’re trying to figure out where to have your next birthday party, you might want to consider this K-town spot, which features several levels of party packages. They’ll let you take advantage of the place’s full menu, filled of sushi and ramen and curries. For a midweek fix, we suggest stopping by on Wednesday for ladies’ night.
Japas 38, 9 East 38th Street (between Fifth and Madison avenues); 212-679-4040.
This former bodega is now an icon of the Lower East Side, and it features live bands every night of the week — except Monday nights, when it hosts its “World Famous Rock and Roll Karaoke.” Pick the tune and you get to sing with a live band backing you. Yep, you can finally be a rockstar outside of your dreams, or your shower.
Arlene’s Grocery, 95 Stanton Street (at Orchard Street); 212-358-1633.
If you can get past the fact that it’s located in Times Square, you’ll be rewarded with glowing space-age decor. The all-white furniture with hot pink and blue lights gives off the feel of some bumping Euro club. The VIP packages are perfect if you’re arranging an outing for your office, as they deliver unlimited premium drinks, bottle of Champagne, and appetizer platters.
Pulse Karaoke, 135 West 41st Street (between Broadway and Sixth Avenue); 212-278-0090.
This chain has three locations, all named for the streets they’re on (35th, 48th, and 53rd) — and they all show that it is possible to have an affordably raucous night in this city. The private rooms have amazing rates, the drinks are cheap, and they allow you to bring in your own food or order takeout. Basically, you should park it here for a while.
Karaoke Duet, Multiple Locations.
Radio Star Karaoke
Serious pop stars only may apply at Radio Star, where the front stage lets you tear it up with a whole crowd of adoring spectators. If you need some encouragement, there are multiple open-bar packages, including one that goes all night long. Gulp.
Radio Star Karaoke, 3 West 35th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues); 212-564-2520.