One August morning in 1977, an aging, bloated rock icon pulled on a blond wig and bought a one-way ticket from Memphis to Istanbul, where he hitchhiked the hippie trail and stealthily bunked in guesthouses until opening a small bar in Kathmandu. Or so goes the fictional legend behind this raucous East Village basement boîte from Baby’s All Right honchos Billy Jones and Zachary Mexico. Tucked in the team’s former punky Arrow space, the indie-rocking dive is neither all-out music venue nor dance club but a hybrid of the two, rigged with a steady stream of avant-garde DJs (Chances with Wolves, Tennessee Thomas), no-frills drinks and a “selfie corner.” Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like. (Sorry.)
ORDER THIS: Fancy cocktails these ain’t. Drinks may be of the dive variety, but the bartenders definitely know how to navigate the bottles, pouring generous standards ($12)—we’re talking two parts alcohol to every one-part mixer—like vodka-sodas jolted with turmeric and whiskey-spiked iced tea, and offering a handful of beers on tap, including Busch ($5), Spaten ($7) and Pacifico ($6). The bar’s also in the process of brewing its own house ale, dubbed Concierge.
GOOD FOR: Aficionados of camp. Elvis fanatics might despair at the lack of Graceland paraphernalia, but there are Kama Sutra–wallpapered bathrooms, shower-curtained bathhouse alcoves and a rose-covered corner fixed with Instagram-ready lighting. (Hey, what more do you want?) It’s a space befitting the diverse crowd: ball-capped hipsters interspersed with in-the-know tourists and off-duty models.
THE CLINCHER: In a city inundated with places to booze, it’s hard—hell, damn near impossible—to stand out. With faux-Neolithic hieroglyphs tattooed on the walls and incense fumes snaking through the air, this fun-loving bar harks back to the neighborhood’s gritty, gonzo past, a time when the beer was cheap, the music was loud and, yep, Elvis was king.
|Venue name:||Elvis Guesthouse|
85 Ave A
|Cross street:||between 5th and 6th Sts|
|Opening hours:||Daily 9pm–4am|
|Transport:||Subway: F to Lower East Side–Second Ave|
|Price:||Average beer: $7. AmEx, MC, V|
|Do you own this business?|