By Justin Williams
For newcomers and people born and raised here alike, Newark’s nightlife scene(s) is a little less well-known than in neighboring cities for a few reasons:
- Newark’s bars and clubs aren’t centralized in one place like Grove Street in Jersey City or Washington Street in Hoboken.
- Many of Newark’s bars don’t maintain websites, which means you need to be social media savvy (particularly Instagram) to follow their hours and event schedules.
- Our city’s residential segregation by Ward means neighborhood bars are often targeted towards a single ethnicity/nationality. When we see other parts of the city in terms of “them” or “over there,” we miss out on what they have to offer and severely narrow our choices.
- The city’s nightlife can be very mobile and event oriented, which makes being “in the know” more important than other places.
- Newark’s location inevitably invites comparison to New York City, one of the most fun places on earth.
These factors combined with much of Downtown closing as commuters leave, gives people the false impression that Newark’s nightlife either doesn’t exist or consists solely of the Ferry Street corridor. The truth is, Newark has a lot of places to go out, it just takes a little bit of effort and exploration to find some of them. Here’s my breakdown of some favorite places for food, drinks and fun across the city:
Irish Pubs and Public Houses
When you want a cool beer in a classic setting, Kilkenny Alehouse, McGovern’s Tavern, Bello’s Pub and Grill, Pour Abbey’s and Redd’s Biergarten are the mainstays. Dominate that jukebox!
For a no frills atmosphere and drinks at midwestern prices, check out The Deep Inn, Krug’s Tavern, People’s Choice Lounge, or El Ejecutivo Bar And Grill.
Want to impress your Tinder date or re-kindle romance with your significant other with a drink? Check out Jimenez Tobacco, Newark Local Beer, All Points West Distillery (Saturday tours only), Burke’s Tavern, Marcus B&P, Bar Vanquish, and Dutch’s Lounge in the Tryp Wyndam Hotel. It’s technically a liquor store, but Cool Vines has seating and serves drinks until 9-10 PM in the atrium of the Hahne building. If you’re looking for a cheap date, Clement’s Place has free Jazz and wine (tip the bartender)!
Restaurants That Turn Into Clubs, Have Shows, or Events
You’ll need to follow these on social media to have a sense of their event schedules, but Newark has a great range of places that serve one purpose during the day and another a night. Some examples are The Yard, Divino Tasting Room, Vivo Tapas Kitchen, Mompou (Flamenco Room), Neptunes Bar & Grill, Rosie’s Sports Bar, Castle Sports Bar & Grill, La Rouge, El Merengue, Rincon Centro Americano, CityRub Smokehouse, St. Joseph Plaza (formerly the priory Jazz Club) and Blueprint Cafe (BYOB).
Al Fresco Favorites
For the best outdoor café feel, I like Sagres, Manu’s Kitchen Bar & Sushi Lounge, Adega Grill, Iberia, Casa D’ Paco and Sihana (BYOB).
Do you want to dance or stay out until 2-3 AM? QXT’s, Lit 21, Marbella Lounge, Allure Lounge, Three Levels Lounge, Little Tijuana, Club Eclipse, The City Lounge, and Taylour Peighton (BYOB) are nightclubs for people looking to turn up. A more low-key option Downtown is Swahili Village, which is open late every night of the week.
Cigar Bars and Hookah Lounges
If you want to lounge with a nice stogie, check out Rail Road Cigars, Torch Lounge, Jimenez Tabaco, Casa del Tabaco, The Cave Cigar Lounge, Status Cigar and Hookah Lounge and The Green Room Cigar Lounge. There’s hookah all over the city, but Taylour Peighton, Nujoom Hookah Lounge and Skyfall V.I.P Lounge are good BYOB places that specialize in it.
This is an underrated part of Newark’s offerings. Art galleries have receptions and events that extend beyond their normal hours. Follow the Newark Museum of Art, Gallery Aferro, Project for Empty Space, Akwaaba Gallery, RyArMo Photography Studio and ArtFront Galleries to make sure you don’t miss the next chance to mingle with our great arts community.
Adult skating nights at the Branch Brook Park Roller Skate Center are legendary.
Event and Meetup Groups
Looking to meet likeminded people? Check out groups like Newark First Fridays, Passaic River Fishing Club, Newark Arts, Brown Girls Bar Crawl, Newark LGBTQ Community Center, Akin, Vibes After Dark and Dear Blackman.
Justin Williams is a Newark resident, comedian and producer of the Brick City Comedy Revue.
Featured image by Pexels