If the East Village has an all-around, much-loved, go-to gay bar, it's the Phoenix
(447 E. 13th St.
, 212-477-9979), which opened a few years back and takes its name from the long-ago Phoenix gay bar that used to be a few blocks away and was never anywhere near as popular. Part of the bar's lure is that it's relatively large as EV gay bars go, with a main bar area (pictured here, late on a midweek-night, hence the uncrowded appearance), a pool table with small seating area in back
, decent-size bathrooms down a flight of stairs, and a small conversation nook around the corner from the main bar. The bartenders are efficient and friendly here, the bar typically packed with pretty good-looking guys of all ages (the median age skews slightly older here than elsewhere in the East Village).
Some say that as Phoenix has gained in popularity over the years, it's become the one gay hangout in the East Village that feels a bit more like the meat-market-y and rather preppier haunts of Chelsea, but this is still very much a down-home, low-attitude hangout where the guys (it's mostly a male crowd, but very female-friendly) dress chiefly in jeans, black shoes, and T-shirts. There's still nothing at all fancy or upscale about Phoenix - it's just an inviting gay bar with excellent music (from the juke) and plenty of fellow queer-scenesters to gab with and gawk at.
It's around the corner from some other gay bars of note, including Nowhere, The Hose, and Section 8.