Press and Reviews
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From Zagat: “Undiscovered”, “down-home” LES joint with a something-for-everyone philosophy set in a “huge” tri-level space equipped with three bars, a pool table, a movie screen and a downstairs performance area; the crowd may be “hit-or-miss” but regulars say it’s a “hidden treasure.”
At a glance: rock n roll  music venue  performance space  drink specials  local bands

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Lonely Planet homeKitschy posters on teal-colored walls, and red booths in front of the bar give Fontana's a faded, 1960s appeal that seems to have hit a chord with neighborhood drinkers. The three-level bar packs in the best live bands (in the basement) and the spinning-est DJs (main floor), and a knowledgeable and friendly crowd unassumingly nods along to the beats.

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Scene spotlight: Nacotheque Five-Year Anniversary Party
Check out the scene at this underground Spanish-music party in New York City.

Layana Aguilar, 26; fashion designer; Astoria, Queens (center) "My friend first brought me last year and I've been coming since. I love the music. It's mostly the music that brings me back every time. A lot of my friends are here, and Marcelo's a great DJ. This party is one I come to knowing I'm going to sweat, have fun and dance. It's what the party's about."

The scene: Lower East Side/Chinatown joint Fontana's may seem "American" to the average outsider, but worldly party people cram into its basement for underground Spanish-music party Nacotheque. With a small, bustling bar, I-can't-hear-you speakers, spinning lights and an elevated platform, the renowned shindig is all about dancing. At this anniversary event, DJs Amylu and Marcelo offset Spanish hits with '80s backbeats, an audience sing-along to "Under Pressure" and a Frida Kahlo--inspired burlesque show that stripped the party down to its Latino roots. 

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Frommers.comRoomy and welcoming, Fontana’s seems simultaneously appropriate for and out of place in upper Chinatown. But no matter—it’s a great place to grab a cocktail in a old-school round booth and watch the hipsters flow by. And they will, after about 9 or 10pm, despite its good happy hour from opening (usually at 2pm, or whenever the bartender shows up) ‘til 8pm. Also check out the live music downstairs, pool table in back, and punky jukebox. 

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Three-part bar with a rockabilly vibe gives Lower East Siders some room to breathe. 

In Short
Tall red booths set in storefront windows seem to cater to the see-and-be-seen crowd, but this oddly mixed, three-tier bar on a less-traveled stretch of Eldridge Street feels relatively removed from hipster hoopla. The rockabilly front room fades into a dolled-up rear with zebra-print furniture and a purply pool table. Just to keep weekend crowds guessing, the subterranean performance space, brightened up with tropical palm tree wallpaper and a third drink station, books local bands.

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Typical LES fare: a very casual bar and concert venue with an outstanding beer selection (He'Brew, anyone?). 

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We've already confessed to liking Manchester quite a bit, so it comes as no surprise that we're pumped for this party, a 2nd anniversary bash for the popular London club Feeling Gloomy, which regularly takes over this LES spot. Expect to get your fill of The Smiths, The Cure, Pulp, and more.  (On Feeling Gloomy)

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Where do SoHo’s fashionistas and punks of the Lower East Side go for cheep booze, live music, and retro flicks? Those daring enough to beat the Chinatown crowd will easily discover an Eldridge Street gem. Fontana’s may appear like a typical downtown bar, but curious patrons will actually be overwhelmed by its monstrous size. Featuring multiple levels for dancing or canoodling with a sexy stranger, as well as three bars to order all the Tecates and house vodkas you desire, Fontana’s is a welcoming surprise for those in need of no-frills entertainment on any night. Enter past Fontana’s giant doors without paying a cover charge and you’ll be greeted by bikini babes and hot rods. Maybe the artwork won’t impress every guest, but Fontana’s candlelit interior and crimson leather booths are enough to get anyone in the mood. If $5 cocktails aren’t enough to keep you satisfied, head to the Chandelier Room and shoot some pool or sit back and watch 70’s heartthrobs go at it on a giant flat screen.

Once the DJ cranks up The Ramones or Iron Maiden, you know it’s time for 
Fontana’s to transform from a seductive lounge to local concert dive. Need some of DJ's Gin & Tonic's club anthems to make you hit the floor? Want to take a trip back to 1991? Sneak your way downstairs to Fontana’s basement where artists from around the world come for one sole purpose: to play it loud! On all seven days, Fontana’s has an unusually eclectic lineup of bands playing everything from electronica to Icelandic rock. Fontana’s is also famous for their parties, ranging from a Latin skafest to an 80’s Soviet pop bash. No matter how bizarre your musical tastes may be, Fontana’s is certain to have it for 10 bucks or less. Being seen at an A-list club in Manhattan is an undeniable thrill, but partying with indie rockers at Fontana's without going broke is priceless.

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maxim.png Maxim LogoCrazy-Oke!

unk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke Fontana’s, New York City Scene: Plaid-shirted hipsters and American Apparel–bedecked Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke Fontana’s, New York

City Scene: Plaid-shirted hipsters and American Apparel–bedecked hotties semi-ironically kick out the jams in front of a live band that has seen a million faces and rocked 'em all since 1999.

Playlist: “The Number of the Beast,” Iron Maiden; “Where Eagles Dare,” Misfits; “Jailbreak,” Thin Lizzy 

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One of the main things I have noticed about Fontana's over the last year and a half or so is this: the owner/manager always watches the bands. Having been a part of the live show scene in NYC for years now...this is telling. Fontana's actually does take pride in having good, or at least interesting, live music. And they make a point to make their shows under $10. The drinks aren't really any cheaper than you'll find anywhere else in NYC; but the atmosphere definitely is.

Located on line between Chinatown and The Lower East Side, the 'downtown' vibe surely flourishes in this place-but without all of the pretentious mumbo jumbo. The art on the walls is breath taking. The place itself, architecture wise, is breath taking, as well. A giant chandelier decorates the lower level of the main floor and behind it hangs a huge projection screen which constantly displays artistic images for the wandering eye. Equipped with a pool table, three separate bars, and amazing music-Fontana's has really hit every bird there is to hit with one single stone. They throw amazing parties, provide big, cushioned VIP-type booths on the upper level of the main floor, and get this...(drum roll)...THE PEOPLE ON STAFF ARE FRIENDLY! If you're looking for a low key, yet AWESOME place to get crunk in NYC-go here. And yes, I said 'get crunk'.

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Cavernous Eldridge Street newcomer Fontana's looks like it might be more at home a few blocks east. But don't let its dingy locale or enormity intimidate you. Two of the owners are behind the nearby drinks den Route 85A, and the lack of pretense carries over here. On a recent night, I attempted to have a conversation with a friend, but every time I looked up from my beer, I noticed his gaze was fixed on the muted James Bond flick illuminating the flat-screen TV. That was the perfect choice to complement the curvy red-leather booths and pulp paintings of hot rods and busty babes on the walls.

Happy hour starts here when most New Yorkers are finishing up the last of their paninis: 2 p.m. The attractive happy-hour prices on beer ($3-$4) make it a good time to sample the dozen different ones on tap, from Old Speckled Hen to Hofbrau. Even if you're not craving a game of pool, make sure you wander into the back room for a dose of old rock glam. Despite the proliferation of swank spots on the LES, thankfully the neighborhood can't shed its reputation as a rocker haven. In the basement bar, DJs and bands create a late-night, low-key rock-club vibe.

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New York MagazineThis surprisingly enormous bar and music venue just south of Delancey Street is owned by the ladies behind Route 85a. If that charming dive is a snappy hot dog, Fontana's is an enormous, delicious triple-decker sandwich with the works, boasting a bar up front, another in the cavernous, balconied back room, and a third in the basement area where bands play.

The wall paintings define the campy, comfortable mood: In a shiny palette of primaries, they depict bikini babes, muscle cars, and portraits of '70s rock and movie icons. Tallbacked red patent leather booths are more than big enough to accommodate the large, loud groups that begin to fill up the space at around 10 p.m. Extra-sweet and solicitous bartenders guide patrons through the extensive and ever-changing roster of tap and bottled beers, including hard-to-find favorites like He'Brew. Despite the neighborhood's reputation as a haven for music snobs, the only Arrogant Bastard here is the ale of the same name: The clientele at
Fontana's is refreshingly relaxed and attitude-free.

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Fontana's will have something for everyone, with a neighborhood joint up front sporting plush booths, barstools, and charmingly toothless regulars; and a slick two-level back lounge where DJs will spin rock and Britpop.

There's also a subterranean grotto the owners say was once a precinct jail, but will now host live bands, acclimatizing budding rockstars to crowds, and to a prison setting -- both of which they'll be seeing a lot more of should they enjoy any real success.

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On a relatively bar-less stretch of Eldridge lies new bar Fontana's, an unassuming, surprisingly spacious bar that we hope will survive if only because downtown could use a few less gimmicks and a few more pool tables.

Spread out not unlike a split-level home, the front part is given over to Fontana's extensive bar, while the back room houses a pool table and a large screen that satisfies the 20-plus year old kiddies with regular installments of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." The basement features bands and the occasional special event, like Mustaches for Kids' Stache Bash.

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Fontana's isn't just a venue, it's more of an activty center. With 3 levels of filled with bars, dance floors, TV screens and a pool table, it is a great place to spend a weekend night with friends. The venue, located on the bottom level, attracts an eclectic crowd of anyone from hipsters to hard rockers. 

Fontana's New YorkThis spot may not be the best place for the local music enthusiast to find their new favorite band, but it is a great place for a low-key night of fun. And with friendly staff, it's a neighborhood bar that will keep you coming back for more.

[Booker comment: Maybe not the best but surely Top 3?!]

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A big, band-playing, art-hanging LES slice in borderline Chinatown.

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© 2014 Fontana's Bar, NYC