Rudy’s

New York, New York

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

Armed with an industrial-grade hot dog roller stocked with free food for its patrons, Rudy’s is the dive bar savior of the border zone between Hell’s Kitchen & Midtown NYC, offering shockingly reasonable prices and a chance to snap a picture with a gigantic porcelain pig.

Field Rating

10

out of 10

Did we mention the hot dogs?

Field Note

The slow and steady gentrification of New York City is a largely welcome trend, but a handful of dive bars strewn about the city have fallen victim to redevelopment. Thankfully, the sheer density and volume of able-bodied dive bar addicts across the five boroughs keeps places like Rudy’s alive, a Midtown staple and contrast to Times Square price gouging just a couple of blocks away. In fact, the location is so close in proximity to the moneygasm taking place a few feet away at places like the world’s most expensive Olive Garden, Rudy’s feels like it’s not supposed to be here.

And that notion that this is all a dream is underscored by the unmistakable, gargantuan porcelain pig perched beside the front door. Upon entering, the “Free Hot Dogs” sign feels like a ruse of some kind but is in fact Rudy’s trademark, sourced from a gas station-grade hot dog roller behind the bar topped with a year’s supply of tubed, gently rotating mystery meat. Stained-glass chandeliers provide the warm glow these hot dogs thrive under.

Along the opposite wall of the long, narrow space rests a series of booths that at first glance may seem like a bold color choice and nothing more but are in fact red duct tape-laden contraptions.

Along the opposite wall of the long, narrow space rests a series of booths that at first glance may seem like a bold color choice and nothing more but are in fact red duct tape-laden contraptions. Layered so many times by patchwork duct tape, it’s imaginable that the cushion covers themselves in fact no longer exist, long disintegrated and mummified by layer after layer of tape. And though what feels like a bargain can vary based on location, the Rudy’s beer menu features objectively reasonable pricing, a miracle for the Times Square-adjacent location. Domestic cans are complemented by a few exotic options and even Rudy’s-branded beer on tap, a pint going for $3 at last visit – easy to find thanks to the waving pig on the tap handle.

A small porch can be found out back, in the sense that any area outside can be referred to as a porch.

A small porch can be found out back, in the sense that any area outside can be referred to as a porch. The space is blocked in by its neighbors, offering an intensely vertical view of the night’s sky under a handful of external heaters. The boxed-in layout has been put to resourceful use, however, with sports shown on a white screen against one wall of the cage.

There are times when New York can feel inaccessible, with parts of the city turned over to elaborate money vacuuming bug zappers called Bubba Gump Shrimp or the M&M Store aimed at the overwhelming tourist contingent that wanders around Manhattan. But Rudy’s is the type of place that restores a sense of neighborhood and humanity. Like all great dive bars, it is fiercely unique and wholly welcoming at the same time, a combination of the new and the reassurance of the familiar. My advice would be to steer away from the quite literal capitalist glow that saturates Midtown and head for the waving porcelain pig just a couple of blocks away. And hey, free hot dogs.

Photos

The Basics

627 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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