I know I’ve said this before, but there aren’t many neighborhoods in New York where you can rub elbows with VIPs at one bar and turn the corner and drink $2 cans of PBR at another. On New York’s Lower East Side, however, that is the nature of the game.

Fortunately I have a slew of friends who can fit in at either of these locations so last night we made it a ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ meets dive bar’ kind of evening.

The night started at The Stanton Social, a sexy little hotspot perfect for star-gazing and small plates. Let me paint you a picture: Two of us arrived at 5:45 on a Tuesday. The dining room was empty, yet they wouldn’t seat us until our entire party arrived. Posh, much? The decor was New York chic at its best (I’m talking votives, Asian twisty branch things and a bar stocked with what looked like only top shelf liquor).

We ordered about five small plates, a couple cocktails and a bottle of wine and the bill came to about $120. I highly recommend the Old School Meatballs, French Onion Soup Dumplings, and Spicy Lamb Souvlakis. The Red Snapper Tacos and Butternut Squash Ravioli I could have done without.

On to…Welcome to the Johnson’s, the epitome of dive bars. It’s designed to look like your grandmother’s 1970s basement gone horribly awry. Faux-wood paneling, a banged up pool table, couches with plastic covering…oh and did I mention the $2 PBRs? Don’t get me wrong, though. This place still reminds you that it’s NYC (I’m thinking of you $20-minimum for credit card charges). Still, it’s a perfect place for some PBRs and pool on a Tuesday night. Fun fact: The NYPD shut down the bar in June for serving alcohol to minors. It’s up and running again for sure, but THAT is a dive bar, my friends.

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