Sometimes, in spite of (or despite) the multitude of trendy bistros, stylish cafés, and ethnic eateries that are the bounty of Westchester, your cravings lean towards classic, no-frills cozy. Think a booth, a beer, a burger, and an inviting atmosphere that evokes your friend’s living room—albeit with a few extra flat-screen TVs, a pool table, and no pressure to take your plate into the kitchen when you’re finished eating. At the following hangouts, pints of Guinness, crispy fries, and a friendly vibe—whether it’s your first time or your 50th—make for welcoming, homey destinations.
Casual to the extreme, B&B’s Fifth Avenue Pub (531 Fifth Ave, Pelham 914-738-8750) hums with activity. It’s the kind of place you could easily pass by and never notice. And therein lies its charm: a simple interior, a surprisingly creative kitchen (try the signature B&B’s Salad: maple-glazed chicken over a bed of mixed greens and nuts), and, in the warmer months, an open front deck where you can sip a pint and take in the view.
Any place with a crackling fire qualifies as cozy to me, which is one reason Bridgeview Tavern (226 Beekman Ave, Sleepy Hollow 914-332-0078), the year-old, no-frills bar and grill, with its stone fireplace and entrées that are heavy on the fries and slaw, makes the list. The other? Its 18 craft beers on tap (e.g., Six Point Righteous Ale, Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, Allagash White, Dogfish Head, Brooklyn Brown); homestyle comfort food, like 10-ounce burgers and thick tomato-vegetable soup; and the hearty, sincere welcome of father-son team Stephen and Chris Maceyak.
The Pub at Doral Arrowwood (975 Anderson Hill Rd, Rye Brook 914-939-5500) is a hidden gem many locals don’t think about driving to unless they have out-of-town guests staying here or are hungry after a less-than-stellar bar mitzvah meal. Designed like an old English pub with a handsome wrap-around bar, rustic living-room area, and oversized fireplace, it gives you that staycation ambience of feeling far away, when you’re really just a stone’s throw from home. Sports lovers—or those with kids who get bored while their parents are still working their way through a mound of wings—will enjoy the 14 high-def, flat-screen televisions, pool tables, and dart boards.
All the standard trappings of a homey bar are happily intact at the Garth Road Inn (96 Garth Rd, Scarsdale 914-722-9472), from the ample quantities of booze to sports-drenched TVs to solid Irish fare, all presided over by owner (and Irishman) Leslie Potter. Granted, it might not be the kind of place you’d drive clear across the county to visit, but, if you’re a local, it’s a solidly democratic place with a combination of working stiffs, Gen-Yers, and grandfatherly types.
Katie’s Cottage (521 Central Ave, Yonkers 914-965-0422) bills itself as “the friendliest and liveliest Irish bar-restaurant in Yonkers” and, as cliché as it sounds, it’s true. For one, the setting is cute: wooden tables, Tiffany-style lamps, white cloth napkins, and waitresses with those gorgeous Irish lilts. Of course, you’ll also find flat-screen TVs (often broadcasting soccer and rugby matches) and, for something different, tea-leaf readings on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and psychic readings on Monday and Wednesday as well as the first Friday of every month.
The well-worn room and beat-up bar are what makes Kelly’s Sea Level (413 Midland Ave, Rye 914-967-0868), the off-the-beaten-track pub tucked in a residential section of Midland Avenue, so authentic. As for the cozy factor, that comes from homey atmosphere as well as the cast of characters downing frosty pints at the bar. They are as interesting (and atypical Rye) as the place itself. Many locals say going to Kelly’s is like going home again. We love it for its time warp, not to mention its jukebox (just bring quarters).
Every town should have a Larchmont Tavern (104 Chatsworth Ave, Larchmont 914-834-9821), known to locals as “The LT.” This family-friendly eatery changes moods as the night progresses. In the early evening, its booths are filled with high chairs and booster seats, but later, the room fills with investment bankers, firemen, and soccer moms. We love that there are two separate sides: the bar and the restaurant. We also love that it’s where people feel comfortable, no matter what their income bracket. Plus, there’s the tavern’s homage to its past with old black-and-whites of the town at the turn of the century. If this doesn’t qualify as homey, we don’t know what does.
The low-lit Ron Blacks (181 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-358 5811), with its long and beautifully polished bar, brass light fixtures, and dark burgundy chairs, is the perfect escape after a hard day—or week—at the office (or home with the kids). Among its standouts: an amazing double-copper draught beer tower with 40 draught brews from around the world, including some home-grown ones (the beer menu is mammoth). In between drinks, munch on char-grilled pita bread, shrimp nachos, or pulled-pork sliders. Or simply hang out and enjoy the fall breezes from the stone bar and deck on the back patio.
Widely considered one of the best deals around when it comes to wings and a beer, the dimly lit Tavern at Croton Landing (41 N Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson 914-271-8020) features traditional Buffalo wings for 35 cents on Thursdays and Sundays (60 cents for specialty wings), meaning that, if you’re not texting your buddy to meet you right now, then something is seriously wrong with you. Looking for cozy? No worries. This unpretentious place has the serious musty feel of a well-patronized neighborhood joint.
The Cabin, just off the Sprain Parkway in Greenburgh (1172 Knollwood Rd, White Plains 914-592-6682) isn’t exactly a pub, but its rustic, woodsy interior is so warm and comfy that we had to include it. Plus, we’re big fans of its weekday events, including Tuesday night trivia with Cat and Brittany, during which the whole place gets involved with a round of interesting questions (and fun prizes). Upcoming (but call first): Girls’ Night Out manicure and martinis for $20 on Thursdays.
Larchmont resident Jeanne Muchnick, author of Dinner for Busy Moms (thedinnermom.com) and frequent Westchester Magazine contributor, admits she’s a sucker for atmosphere. Add a glass of Merlot, a heaping Caesar salad, a friendly waitstaff, and an accommodating kids’ menu, and she’s in pub heaven.