Delux Cafe

By Eric Twardzik   South End · Dive Bar · $

We can’t say a bad word about the South End’s dining scene. But we sometimes wonder what was there before all the slick, chef-driven restaurants and trendy cocktail bars.

Delux Cafe was there—and it still is.

This last-dive-bar-standing has been around for decades, and almost nothing inside has changed. The walls are covered with old album covers and the type of miscellany that accrues over a half-century, like a retired funhouse mirror and a shrine to Elvis. Owing to the lack of cable, a delightfully anachronistic TV mounted in a corner plays cartoons and movies from yesteryear.

That’s not to say Delux is a cobwebbed relic. To the contrary, it’s attracted a new generation of drinkers looking to catch a slice of Old Dirty Boston while they still can, even if that means standing elbow-to-elbow on a weekend night. Fortunately, the friendly staff are happy to serve a crowd, distributing frosty $4 High-Lifes and comforting takes on Grilled Cheese with grace and skill.

In a city where construction cranes sit on every block and bars and restaurants open and close with frenzied frequency, Delux sits happily in the past. And you can, too—at least for a few drinks.

Delux remains cash only, but there’s an ATM on site.

This spot may be old school, but it’s not sleepy. Expect a good crowd and long wait times for a table on Friday and Saturday nights.

Like amari? Delux stocks a surprisingly robust selection, including Fernet Branca, Cynar, and Montenegro.

Must Haves

  • The fillings change from time to time, but the sandwich’s near-perfect composition doesn’t. Expect just the right amount of gooey cheese and rotating accompaniments pressed between two crispy, buttery slices of sourdough.

  • Other than a rotating special, there are no cocktails on the drink menu, but the bar turns out well-made (and inexpensive) classics on request, including a mean Manhattan. To experience a house special, order the spicy-yet-balanced Arugula Martini.

  • Sure, there are a few local craft brews on tap, but this is the sort of place where a Narragansett or a Miller High Life just feels right.

Fun Fact

Delux is one building that Elvis never quite left. In addition to a kitschy, Elvis-shaped lamp at the bar, there are album covers, photos, and even a white mini-bust bearing The King’s likeness.

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