The food world is quick to throw around buzzwords like “party spot” and “buzzy scene” when anointing the latest $75-a-head downtown hot spot. But too often, these restaurants and bars are a huge letdown for people who believe that real partying involves conga lines, booze luges, and sing-a-longs, not just a generic ’90s hip-hop soundtrack and cocktails with cheeky names.

If you really want to get it popping, you need to delve deeper into the fabric of New York—the Russian vodka palaces of Brighton Beach, the Brazilian joints that channel the energy of the favela, the Peruvian party spots, and the uptown joints where you might literally hear someone yell, “Turn down for what!” These are places to escape into a scene that simply can’t be faked by pretenders to the party throne.

Visit any one of these 12 NYC restaurants, and you’re guaranteed to get real loose by the time the evening’s over.