Otto’s Shrunken Head – kitschy tattooed tiki fun in NYC!

Photo credit - Otto's Shrunken Head
Photo credit – Otto’s Shrunken Head

Punk rockabilly surfer tiki bar. So much kitsch. So much fun. So many tattoos!

I started off another of my epic bar crawls at Otto’s Shrunken Head for happy hour. It’s kind of fitting that they have $3 pints of PBR of which I downed a few along with a shot of Jameson while listing to the DJ play an eclectic mix of punk, surfer, goth, and rock tunes. Since it was early still I had a chance to chill out as the crowd was sparse save for a sexy tattooed bartender who dug my Star Wars dancing Stormtrooper t-shirt, and the two tattooed ladies in cool throwback Bettie Page styled outfits that asked me to turn around and model for them. The crowd that was in there ranged from older sexy tattooed cougars, to younger hipsters, to fun music types, to punks, to rockers, and other kinds all mixed into one giant flaming tiki bowl of personalities. Half the crowd looks like they want to kick your ass, including the bartender if you piss her off, and the other half looks like they would be fun to get drunk with as they are all here for that one sole purpose. It’s a fun diverse crowd in a fun eccentric retro tiki themed bar!

Photo credit - Otto's Shrunken Head
Photo credit – Otto’s Shrunken Head

Zebra striped barstools, colorful blowfish lights, tiki heads, photo booth, colorful walls, and a back room where bands play sometimes. It’s a non-pretentious place where all are welcome. Yeah, it’s a bit grimy, dark, and can use a power washing. Character and ambiance, baby. Of course they serve up mixed drinks in tiki glasses and have the eponymous flaming tiki punch bowls for group imbibing. A few standard beers on tap such as Yuengling and PBR. They even have comedy shows here to go along with nights when live bands are performing. Cash only but not to fear as it’s pretty cheap overall. Drink specials on beers and frozen concoctions during the week. Can’t help myself as I love these kinds of bars. Kitschy craziness!

Photo credit - Otto's Shrunken Head
Photo credit – Otto’s Shrunken Head

Some people would say that it’s divey and dirty, not their type of music, and with a crowd that might not be attractive enough for them. That’s ok. Let those people hang out with the beautiful bridge & tunnel folks in the LES or Meatpacking District overcrowded and overhyped club scene. No velvet rope here. All are welcome. It’s an unusual spot to go have some drinks and listen to a live band. I’ll sip my frozen tiki drink with an umbrella in it while catching a wave to cool rockabilly tunes. Divey, dirty, and cheap suits me just fine.

Photo credit - Otto's Shrunken Head
Photo credit – Otto’s Shrunken Head


Otto’s Shrunken Head –

Otto's Shrunken Head on Urbanspoon

43 thoughts on “Otto’s Shrunken Head – kitschy tattooed tiki fun in NYC!”

  1. I’m with ya! This is a good one. I have even been known to grab some of their crazy island mixed drinks – but don’t tell anyone!

  2. I’ve never thought to myself that a crowd might not be attractive enough, interesting, but strangely, probably well put, as I’m not a huge fan of widespread tattoos. One word I did like, Jameson. Yes. But served in a Waterford Crystal Glass filled with ice and perhaps a small piece of lemon. I’ll save the tiki stuff for the islands or Florida.

    1. Hey Peggy!

      Nothing like a good nip of Jamesons on a cold winter day I might add. This place is for those that just want to have fun, but I’m sure there are those who feel it’t too lowbrow. I like it!

  3. While I doubt it’s a place I’d go to more than once (unless I really fell in love) it does seem like a spot that would grab my attention!

    1. Hey Barb!

      I tattoo on my spare time. Come over one day and I’ll hook you up. I can’t draw even a stick figure but that never stopped me!

  4. “Divey, dirty, and cheap.” Is that what your on-line dating profile says? “Loves tiki bars, shrunken heads and rockabilly music.” Hey, I’m not judging. Whatever works.

    Fun stuff 24/7 there in NYC.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. Phil! Who goes out more than you? Nobody I know. Thanks for continuing to take us out on dates every week from the comfort of our Lazyboys! (I’m not really in a Lazyboy … seriously … it just kind of sounded right!)

    Rock on, Phil, as only you can! Keep making us laugh out loud!

    1. Hey Patricia!

      I do go out a lot, and perhaps too much, but NYC keeps me going! Actually, I would love a Lazyboy but would never leave it!

      Again, I bow down to you and all my readers for following me. Glad to make you all laugh.

  6. I love how it looks. A sort of latin influence there maybe?… It seems like a good place to drink something, even more considering it is so cold there in NY; right Phil?.
    Take care, cheers Aquileana 😉

  7. Phil – you find the best places to hang out and have fun! Looks like a great place to think of warmer days with the ocean crashing along the shore.

    1. Hey Clay!

      It does make me think of being on a warm island right now. Plenty of fun spots like this here, but dang, getting sick of staying inside all winter!

  8. Sounds an interesting place, full of real people with depth and character (and tattoos!).
    You paint the picture very well. Despite living across the pond – and only having visited New York once in my life – I kind of sense that I’ve been there (or lat least to places like it).

  9. This looks like a really fun place! There is a restaurant here in SoFlo that has been around since the early 50’s. It’s called The Mai Kai, and it is a polynesian restaurant with all the trimmings—many similar things as I see here at Otto’s. I love the exotic rum drinks and the crab rangoons are to die for. If you’re ever down this way, you HAVE to visit this place!! And if I’m ever up your way, I’m heading over to Otto’s!

    1. Hey Mother!

      I would love to check that place out next time in SF! Otto’s has no food and is a down and dirty divey kind of bar, but a fun spot nonetheless.

  10. I actually remember this kind of place, it was the favorite right after I turned 18 (the drinking age at the time). Drinking is one thing, but the ambiance, that makes the whole experience. How many “normal” places do I remember? Almost none. But this kind of a place, yup, those memories stick with you.

  11. Whoa! I think this is the tika-bar my friend Tina has been talking about!! This sounds like serious fun! I mean, just the name of that place….Love it!

  12. Phil, I normally go for classy dives but I don’t mind getting down and dirty every now and then. In fact, it makes me feel alive, and with a shrunken head in The equation, you can’t get more divey than that. Let the Games begin!

  13. You mentioned Happy Hour on Friday. Any idea what time that starts and runs until? Looking to take my wife there on her birthday to meet up with some friends and then head somewhere else as I think it might be too small for many people to gather on a Friday. No idea where that will be (we don’t really do the bar scene in NYC) but this definitely sounds like a great place to start!

    1. Hi Jim!

      Thanks for dropping by. Happy hour runs from 2-8pm Monday-Friday!

      Check out their website under “drinks” and it lists all the specials.

      Also, check out spots like Death & Company along with Cienfuegos. Great spots for drinks, but being it’s a Friday try to get in early or get reservations. I’ve covered both here in this blog. Death & Company is a great cocktail bar but get there when it opens, but I think you can get reservations at Cienfuegos. Have fun!

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