Text by Brian Poirot
Images by hobokenvie, Nev Brown, Garrett Ziegler, , jabbex
– Guess what? It seems that Brooklyn went so mainstream that the East Village is cool again.
– You mean the Lower East Side, right?
– No, dude, the East Village.
– The East Village? The one with Coyote Ugly and NYU dorms?
– Yeah, whatever, but there’s been a whole parallel renaissance of destinations and brand new breed of Downtown Hipster Elite.
– The East Village is dauntingly vast. Can you be more specific?
– “Dauntingly Vast,” you say. Ok, pretty much Avenue A.
Elvis Guest House
The most obvious sign that the East Village is back in a spicy hot way is Elvis Guest House on Avenue A. I’ve heard it called the heir to The Beatrice Inn, although design-wise the two could not be more dissimilar. EGH is way more stripped down and conducive to live music. The vibe is 100% not Elvis; the DJs are tippity toppity; and you can finally shut the mouths of the “There’s nowhere dance in Manhattan” whiners. Plus it’s down a flight of stairs, making it technically “underground.”
Although St. Dymphna’s has been around forever, it still makes the list because it’s still cool; quite a feat considering it’s plopped right on St. Mark’s place, a mere stone’s throw from the wacky socks shop and bong emporiums. Located right off Avenue A, it boasts a great pub atmosphere with zero “Fuck You You Fucking Fuck” T-shirts.
Also around forever, it was one of the burning embers that allowed Avenue A to reignite. A totally small place to get great pizza and the attendant other Italian food. It’s beloved, it delivers the quality; if you’re having a birthday dinner for your 30th, have it there.
Heather’s was an around-the-way coke den on a side street right off Avenue A with a prominently featured bear-with-a-vagina poster. It’s probably what kicked off the whole East Village resurgence in the first place, but went down fighting the good fight against transplants who moved to the East Village looking for a little peace and quiet. Despite being closed, it’s included on this list just to let you know that like most cool things, the East Village used to be cooler a few years ago.
This vowel disdaining burger, cocktail, and oyster joint was named after the black clothing worn favored by the Downtown Hipster Elite. Just kidding. Or maybe not. Only the DHE can say for certain.
You can be sure it’s cool, though, because there are legions of dorks going on Yelp to low-star it due to the rude service they received. Ravelin readers never have that problem.
Great for Ray-Ban brunches.
Really? Are you sure? Yeah, it’s back. It had devolved into a East Village parody of itself, and with it’s finest days behind it, one could forgive the owners if they cashed in by selling shot-and-beer specials to tourists and posers. You can definitely experience that vibe during their rap-rocking happy hour. But the late night crew is so on top of their rocker debauchery game, you’d almost think rock n’ roll was still alive.
A little culture break after all that cocaine and oysters? Head to Mast Books. All the passion for literature and art books that you’d expect from a dusty old book cavern set in a clean, modern space. Knowledgeable staff, fantastically curated.
– Cool man, I’m sold. We should go check out some of those spots.
– You go ahead. I’ve got other plans.
– But don’t you want experience this renaissance you were telling me about?
– I would, but I’m actually more into hanging out on East Canal Street.
– Wha!? What’s there?
– I’ll tell you, but you’ll have to wait for the next installment of BRIAN POIROT’S SPICY HOT NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE.