Hoboken’s Drunken Polar Bear give his take on a classic bar in Hoboken, the Elysian Cafe…
Elysian Cafe Hoboken
Address: 1001 Washington Street Hoboken, NJ 07030
Phone: (201) 798-5898
1. Elysian – relating to the Elysian Fields.
2. Elysian – being of such surpassing excellence as to suggest inspiration by the gods; “her pies were simply divine”; “the divine Shakespeare”; “an elysian meal”; “an inspired performance”.
Elysian The Word
If you’ve lived in Hoboken for a little bit it’s a word that appears in all manner of places. There are a few apartment buildings named the Elysian. Elysian Field was the site of the first organized baseball game (monument at 11th & Washington). And then there is the Elysian Café. But before we get to the review of the Elysian, this is one of the rare times I get to put my mostly useless Masters degree in history to use…Elysian/Elysium refers to the afterlife concept from Greek times. Elysium was a mythically locale reserved for Gods and heroes where they would live an awesome post-death existence. Think of it like the VIP room for the studs of Greek times. But I digress…
I always struggle with this aspect of describing bars because let’s face it, my design skills are supremely limited. I am lucky my living room furniture matches. However, I can say the inside of the Elysian is cool and very old school. The feel and decoration incorporates a lot of original Hoboken architecture, molding, tile floor, wall murals and stained glass. The current owners have done a great job at restoring the bar to the original look and feel. How original? The Elysian is Hoboken’s oldest continually operated bar and restaurant, dating back to 1895!
Elysian Café has a solid set of beers on tap and bottles. What I really loved about the bar from my 3 visits (thus far) was their cocktail menu. About 10 or so custom cocktails, they are all made from scratch and in a departure from many bars won’t cost you an arm and a leg. I tried a few, but head and shoulders above them all was a drink called the Divine Guinness. As simple as it is (2 shots of vanilla vodka and Guinness in a pint glass), this concoction surely embodies the bar’s name and tastes like the heavenly afterlife. And for $8, you really can’t find a better value or taste.
I haven’t eaten at the Elysian Café yet, but have heard good things from others. As for the bar service, it’s solid. All 3 times I have visited, we have gotten the same bearded, slightly accented bartender [aka "Slow James"] who makes excellent drinks and cracks a good joke or two with you. He even chuckled when Sprinkles the gf (girl friend), struggled to finish a super alcoholic drink one evening. I laughed myself until I actually tried the drink…
Overall, I had walked pasted Elysian Café for years, in search of other bars much to my mistake. Situated very much in the bar “dead zone” of Washington (7th – 11th on Washington) I always wrote it off as note for me. Elysian has the atmosphere, design and service of a bar from the early 20th century and I mean that in a good way. The crowd trends a bit older, but fits perfectly. Elysian is definitely a unique locale in Hoboken and makes the Drunken Polar Bear Top 10 (published soon!).
Any suggestions for the next bar review?
- The Drunken Polar Bear