I know that most New Yorkers view Times Square as one of the worst areas in the city: a place dominated by tourists, flashing lights and overcrowded restaurants, bars and shops. I thought the same thing for a long while, believing that all the relics from its debaucherous past were destroyed with Giuliani’s plan to reinvent the NYC image. But if one journeys right outside the Times Square borders there are plenty of spots that still capture the essence of the good ol’ days. My favorite of these gems is a little dive called Port 41.
I had noticed this bar every time I took a Greyhound out of Port Authority, but one day, when I was coming back from a job interviewing Bridge-dwelling hobos in Bethlehem, PA, I decided to finally check it out. The sign in front read, “$3 beers / $6 PBR and shot.” I nodded my head in approval as I opened up the door, and walked into its strange orifice. Since I had no idea that this was a bikini bar, I was baffled when I saw the bar tender wearing a neon green two piece and chit-chatting with a few blue collar regulars about ex-regulars who had been 86’d for this, that and the other reason. No one was listening to a word she said though, they were just looking at her as she crossed her legs and giggled at her own anecdotes. ‘Thank God,’ I thought, ‘a bar with regular people.’ There were no snotty-nosed hipsters or picture-snapping tourists in sight.
I took a stool and ordered the PBR and shot combo, and was pleasantly surprised when I received a 16oz can instead of the typical 12oz that you get at most bars. Plus, she offered me a hot dog, which I was informed came with every drink. I don’t care what anyone says, lunch and a buzz for six bucks is a damn good deal!
Other than the combo, Port 41 has other good deals. Their beer selection ranges from $3 to $5 during the 5pm-7pm happy hour (add $1 during off hours). Cocktails and mixed drinks range from $6 to $8 (add $2 during off hours). Yes, every drink comes with a complimentary hot dog, and you can have as much popcorn as your drunken heart desires. The bar tenders are friendly, attractive and they always wear bikinis. The day crowd is mellow but weird, and the night crowd is crazy but still really weird. The regulars are either hustlers from Times Square, or they have been living in the neighborhood their entire life. Watch yo’self! They also have burlesque and rock shows either in the back-room or in the basement. And if none of that tickles your fancy, there is a mounted hippo head on the wall.
So next time you find yourself in the commercial cesspool of Times Square and need an escape, or you’re getting off a bus or train at Port Authority and need a quick fix, stop into Port 41, it’s right around the corner and cannot disappoint if you’re looking for a wild time.
355 W 41st St.
New York, NY 10036
Between 8th and 9th Ave. [Hell's Kitchen]