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Otto's Shrunken Head, New York (Manhattan), NY (bar)

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Name:Otto's Shrunken Head
Street:538 E. 14th St. (Bet. Ave's A & B)
City:New York (Manhattan)
Phone:(212) 228-2240

You can feel Otto's good vibes lingering in the air as soon as you round the corner onto 14th street. Perhaps it's the green and yellow neon sign that creates a glowing halo around its foggy glass windows, or the alluring trio of giant tikis that huddle in the faux-beach windowfront, beckoning you to come in for a cold drink. Or maybe it's the beautiful exotic sounds that you hear in the distance as you approach the door, or the smiles that you see on the faces of everyone inside. You're not sure what it is, but something tells you that this is a special place before you've even entered.
Upon entering you notice a raised DJ booth in the right corner, and a fully stocked bar along the right wall, complete with bamboo trim, jungle print stools, multi-colored blowfish lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and a menu of some of their original and traditional concoctions painted on the wall, which resembles an ancient driftwood carving. While their list of cold and frozen drinks (most of which come in their own special glass) is staggering, Otto's also specializes in several hot drinks to help you survive New York's winter tundra. The floor is covered in the original mid-century tile dating back to when the space was used as a pharmacy. Note the Rx tile relief in the entrance way. On your left are 4 1950's lounge-style booths covered in comfy red vinyl/leather, and the walls above the booths are adorned with framed tiki-themed fabric print. After you order yourself a 'Shrunken Skirt' (an original Otto's mixture of mango rum and secret flavors created by Nell, one of Otto's bartenders) you make your way towards Otto's rear lounge. On your left, past the booths, are a classic pinball machine and other forms of appropriate video game entertainment, as well as a photo booth for capturing moments from your special night. Across from them are the bathrooms; the doors painted with different exotic patterns. Every inch of available wall space is covered with classic exotica album covers, postcards, memorabilia, photographs, paintings-- one of Otto's strengths is its attention to detail. Owner Steve Pang is constantly adding to his bar's alluring charm and atmosphere. You continue into the back lounge and begin questioning your latitude as you take a sip of cold 'Shrunken Skirt'. All of the walls are covered in bamboo, there are several tables in an L shape along 2 walls, and a cozy stage in the opposite corner with an exotic-print drumset and a sound system whose speakers are made out of Crazy Al's own handcarved tikis. Otto's features a complete backline. (guitar & bass amps, drums, PA) There is typically live music 7 nights a week, and Otto's has a pretty regular built-in crowd. Catch The Fisherman's Vibraphonic Exotica Trio every Monday night featuring DJ Philthy Phil, or Frank Wood Presents every Sunday. Otto's offers a wide variety of genres; from exotica, surf, and lounge to punk, garage, rockabilly, and psychodelic rock & roll. Behind the tables, classic portraits of beautiful, exotic women drape one wall; it's adjacent wall features a blue light projecting onto a long silver sheet gently moved by a fan, creating the illusion of oceanfront waves. Otto's has a total of 7 handcarved tikis, one of which expels smoke through its nose on command. All of Otto's fixtures and glasses are in beautiful condition, and never for a second do you doubt the bars authenticity. The only thing you doubt is what time zone you're in!


Trip report!
A recent trip to New York took me to Otto's Shrunken Head where I hardly spent enough time. In town for business, my days were hectic and nights exhausting, but I had to stop in for at least one drink and I'm very glad I did. The drinks were spendy but worthwhile and, yes, I did buy the tiki mug my drink came in. I don't find a $5 deposit on the tiki mug to be a bad thing, especially when it's a $5 dollar bargain and I wind up taking the mug home with me.

The crowd was friendly and the music fantastic. I was so glad to see The Outpatients in person as their music carries a smooth surf vibe no matter the tune. I wish I could have spent a little more time there, but I had to head back to the hotel and rest up for another big day. Thankfully, the rum helped ease that pain.

Enjoy the pics!

[ Edited by: lynxwiler 2008-01-18 22:48 ]

Aw, sweet! Unsteady Freddie was there! His surf shows are the best. Plus, with a name like "Otto's Shrunken Head", one would have to ckeck it out!

Was in NYC last week and Otto's was on my list! Despite some locals trying to discourage me, I had to see for myself. I was kinda surprised at how few Tiki Bars (two) there are in the "BIG" Apple.

Because of our schedule, we wound up stopping in just as they opened at 2:00. We had the advantage of being the only customers, so we got the grand tour and I really liked what I saw. This place is just plain FUN! What Otto's may lack in refined mixology, it more than makes up for in escapist atmosphere. Bottom line, no matter your mood upon entering, you'll find a smile on your face inside.

Me enjoying the signature drink.

My traveling partner, business client, friend and drink model, Silver Fox.

If Otto's was in MY town, I'd be a regular!

On 2010-10-25 12:34, Kita St Cyr wrote:
So~ apparently there was a fire at Otto's this weekend?


Hope they keep us updated :o

i hope everyone and everything is alright.
i love otto's!

I'll let Steve and or Nell comment. But no one hurt the back room is in a bit of disrepair. The front or main part of the part was to be reopened tomorrow (Tuesday 10.26.10). There are a few pics on facebook of the damage. But no one was hurt and I'll let the people closest/owners to the bar report officially.

different thread from Nell -

better answers


I've been hoping to go to Ottomans in my visit to New York. Does anyone know if the
Park Central Hotel NYC is close? or are there better New York Hotels to stay at?
Im stoked to hear some good music and dance!

On 2011-04-20 12:34, tcrush wrote:
I've been hoping to go to Ottomans in my visit to New York. Does anyone know if the
Park Central Hotel NYC is close? or are there better New York Hotels to stay at?
Im stoked to hear some good music and dance!

the 'W'

The Park Central Hotel isn't really close, but it has the distinct advantage of being literally on the N. I mean, walk outside and there's the station. Take that to the 14th St. / Union Square, switch to the Brooklyn bound L and get out at 1st Ave. From there it's another long block or so east. Very easy.

Be sure to make the trip further downtown into the East Village and check out Painkiller and Death and Co. which are two of the best bars I've ever been to. And since you're taking the L line anyway, it might make since to head over to Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and stop in at Dram. Depends on how much bar-hopping you wanna do.

I live in NJ and want to go to Otto's and Painkiller but can't get any of my friends to go with me. Does anyone want to meet up? NJ sucks for Tiki bars.

Thought I'd give Otto's thread a little bump. My husband and I went to Otto's Shrunken Head last Saturday night. We arrived at 6pm and it was snowing, which may have worked to our advantage. Plenty of street parking.

Otto's is definitely "dive bar meets tiki." But since we're severely lacking in all things tiki in the area, it was worth the trip. Came home with 4 tiki mugs, which makes it a good day in my book. Other than Otto's custom mug and their anniversary mug, the rest of the mugs are made in China generic variety. But since I didn't have a suffering bastard I got one of those. For $5 for the generic mugs it couldn't be beat.

There are a bunch of pufferfish lamps hanging over the bar and cozy leatherette booths across. There's a vintage photobooth and for $5 you can buy a token for a strip of 4 B&W pictures. There's some big tikis in the front window but the bar area doesn't have a ton of tiki elements. Over the bar itself is a thatched canopy. By the time I went to the ladies room and peeked into the back room a band was playing and the place was packed so I didn't see much.

The drinks are strong. I had an Otto's Shrunken Head which I found tasty and a mai tai which wasn't good on first sip but grew on me as the alcohol hit. (LOL)

The color on the 1st picture is a better representation of the color of the Otto's mug.

For those who don't know.
New York resident Unsteady Freddie does a once a month
Surf Rock Shindig at Ottos Shrunken Head on the first Sat.
Of each month.
Usually at least 4 surf bands.
Check it out, if yer in the area.

Tell Freddie, bigtikidude sent ya,
He'll get a kick outta that.

Jeff btd


I'll be out in Long Island the last week of this month for work and plan on checking out Otto's. Does anyone know if it is realistic expect to find parking there or should I stick to public transportation?

I'll be flying home one day before unsteady Freddie's shindig :(

absolutely no love from the reverb gods this year!

On 2014-02-10 21:04, Sofa King wrote:
I'll be out in Long Island the last week of this month for work and plan on checking out Otto's. Does anyone know if it is realistic expect to find parking there or should I stick to public transportation?

I'll be flying home one day before unsteady Freddie's shindig :(

absolutely no love from the reverb gods this year!

Hey Sofa,

It depends on what time of day you will be there. Evenings during the week shouldn't be too bad. Daytime will be tough. Weekends are less tough and doable with some conviction. I almost always drive. Have fun!

If you're into cocktails beyond tiki - you might want to try Pouring Ribbons; it's pretty close by and has won multiple awards for their drinks.


Thanks Destro. I appreciate the info.


While in NYC last weekend I had a chance (sans kid) to drop by Otto's Shrunken Head. It was late afternoon, so I nearly had the place to myself. Nell the bartender was gracious and knowledgeable of Tiki culture, chatting easily about her visits to my hometown (Bay Area) bars (Forbidden Island, the Tonga Room, Smuggler's Cove). And what a great little dive/oasis. Like a plumeria flower that somehow sprouted up out of asphalt. Traveling to New York, of course, I longed to have visited the Tiki palaces of yore like the Hawaii Kai, but alas, cool little dive tiki bars are what we have, and the brave proprietors who give them to us should be thanked. Mahalo Otto's!

Enjoying a nice 'Wicked Willie'! Also purchased their 10th anniversary mug for a friend! Nice relaxed place on this Sunday afternoon.

[ Edited by: Bora Boris 2016-05-08 11:33 ]

Pages: 1 19 replies