In the storied tradition of dive bars, Long Island has seen more than its fair share. But apart from a few legendary local spots, the majority of our watering holes aren’t particularly noteworthy. And though they all hit the mandatory notes, like flat screen TVs, maybe a pool table, dart boards and plenty of booze—along with a baseline food menu—few establishments that one would label as a true-blue bar stand out for any particular reason.
And if that’s your hot take, then you haven’t yet stepped into Elsie Lane, a bar that opened its doors a few months back on Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park. Taking over the spot of a seemingly endless list of no-name bars, Elsie Lane is the brainchild of Bill Oxios, Sal Mignano and Ryan Sipp, all of whom possess stellar experience in the Long Island dining and bar scene. And all that time and effort in the business coalesces in a saloon that delivers all the comforts of a low brow bar with key elements elevated to polished heights.
Upon entering Elsie Lane, you’re immediately greeted by a long copper-topped bar to your left. The bar itself offers an eclectic selection of inebriaters, proudly serving bottles of Bud Light, while delving deep into the world of microbrews with a dozen taps that pour forth the likes of Barrage Brewing Company, Greenport Harbor Brewery, 21st Amendment Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery, and more on a rotating basis. There are also plenty of ice-cold cans for patrons, with a collection that includes Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai, Delirium Tremens from Belgium’s Huyghe Brewery, and Souther Tier’s downright reckless 2XIPA, along with $4 cans of Tecate.
If you’re not here for beer, Elsie Lane’s creative cocktails—served in proper glassware—are also worth more than a few sips. The cocktails include the Spicy Smoke Margarita, with Tanteo jalapeño tequila, mescal, simply syrup, and fresh lime juice in a salt-rimmed highball; You’re The Bees Knees, featuring Fords gin, fresh lemon juice and honey simple syrup served in a coupe; Tangerine And Thyme; with Stolichnaya Ohranj vodka, fresh tangerine juice, and honey thyme simple syrup in a highball; The Mary Pickford, with Bacardi rum, pineapple grenadine, and maraschino liquer in a coupe; and finally, the highly recommended Bronx Side Car, a not-so-typical sidecar with 914 Bourbon, Cointreau, and fresh lemon juice served in a sugar-rimmed coupe.
There’s also wine, and Instagram-worthy shakes that can be served with or without alcohol.
Now, onto the food. The menu at Elsie Lane is simple and straightforward, with more than a few surprising twists. The Starters and Shares portion delivers a giant pretzel served with Brooklyn Lager beer cheese and white wine mustard. There’s also deviled eggs, chicken “nugs” and hummus dip. But large groups of hungry patrons should order the Live Fry Or Die, a metal platter of fries, topped to overflowing proportions with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, pickled jalapeños, green onions, cognac onions, and roasted garlic sour cream and the bar’s coveted “Elsie sauce,” which conveys the now-classic “fry sauce.”
That Elsie sauce makes another appearance, among a choice of five other sauces, as dipping fodder for Elsie Lane’s wings, which the owners take a well-earned amount of pride in. These wings are brined for an entire day, baked, then fried to order. The entire process leaves the wings with a shiny brown exterior, reminiscent of a perfectly cooked Thanksgiving turkey. But unlike that sometimes dry bird, these wings are packed with juiciness that squirts forth at your first bite. The owners—along with chef Charlie Keller—decided to serve these beauties with the sauce on the side in an effort not to hide that luscious exterior. And while all the sauces are great—including the local Wenzel buffalo sauce—these wings are strong enough to stand on their own merit.
Elsie Lane’s burgers are another source of pride, and are available in six varieties, from the simple construct of the Bob Kelly with mayo and American cheese, to the roundhouse punch of the Big Rich, which features applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, pickles, buttermilk slaw and barbecue sauce. Others include the Uncle D, with pepper jack cheese, triple chili pepper ranch sauce, and more of that smoky bacon and a house-made black bean burger. The burgers here are legit, heavy creations that are guaranteed to soak up the booze but also taste great in the process.
An array of chicken sandwiches and salads round out the menu, with different preparations like a spicy offering and one that features a house-made herb buttermilk dressing.
Of course, part of the fun of Elsie Lane is all of the aforementioned elements of that prototypical bar—these include those dart boards, a billiards table, oversized Jenga, a Ghostbusters pinball machine, and a handful of big-screen TVs with local sports teams inspiring everyone to drink more whether in celebration or mired in defeat. And on Wednesday nights, the karaoke microphone works overtime, with future stars and barroom Sinatras belting out songs starting at 9 p.m.
Whether your tastes exist in the low or high brow world of bars, Elsie Lane is raising the bar.