The Lower East Side & East Village
(Between Houston and Canal streets east of the Bowery)
Known for Galleries, dining, bars, innovative theaters, local shops
The East Village has somehow escaped a lot of the glossifying that other Downtown neighborhoods have experienced over the years. The Lower East Side never fails to excite, with such a lively neighborhood. For millions, these areas were once the portal to America; masses of immigrants flooded into NY in 1840-1930. It was New York's most densly populated area; that gritty, urban feeling has attracted a host of cool (hip) bars and restaurants. It’s in these two neighborhoods that you’re most likely to find young designers opening their own tiny stores and protégés of the town’s great chefs trying out their own first restaurants. Making this arguably the city’s best choice for a long night out.
Places to Eat
The Metrograph Commissary is inspired by the studio eateries from Hollywood’s golden age, with a theater right downstairs. Designed to welcome New York’s thriving community of filmmakers and moviegoers. The Metrograph Commissary is comprised of a lobby bar, restaurant and restaurant bar.
WHAT I LOVED: Apple salad, avocado toast, and a side of thin french fries.
Cheeky, a New Orleans–flavored snack shop has a few inspired sandwiches. This little hidden gem has limited seating, consists of literally one bench and a dozen or so painter’s stools, and doesn't have regular hours - but the sandwiches are delicious.
WHAT I LOVED: Fried chicken buttermilk biscuit sandwich
New York's young chefs are doing things differently at Contra. They serve a set menu described as ambitious and incredible. It's a mixture of modern Thai, Roman, and French. The food is prepared artfully. Each dish is aesthetically pleasing and the flavors are subtle.
WHAT I LOVED: Scallops with fennel and celeriac.
*No substitutions allowed **Seasonal Menu
You want real authentic Mexican food this is your spot! Making Mexican fusion that's not gimmicky is no easy feat Mission Cantina has done by adding unlikely ingredients like ricotta, pastrami, kale, and quinoa to their tacos. Serviced with beans and rice makes for a great meal.
WHAT I LOVED: Carne asada tacos (2 per order), tortilla soup with chicken.
*No reservations, walk-ins only
Beauty and Essex
Beauty & Essex, a restaurant, bar, & lounge that sits hidden behind a working pawn shop. A very cool experience, walking through the pawn shop and coming through to the reception. Each room has its own unique elements that celebrate timeless jewelry designs and upscale jewelry stores.
WHAT I LOVED: Tuna wonton tacos, crab rangoon and cheese
THINGs TO DO
The Tenement Museum preserves and interprets the history of immigration through the personal experiences. The generation who settled into Manhattan's Lower East Side, America's iconic immigrant neighborhood. The museum creates an emotional connection between visitors and immigrants past and present.
103 Orchard St, tenement.org
Marc Straus Gallery
A former oncologist who co-founded of The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY along with his wife, Livia, Marc Straus opened this contemporary art gallery on the Lower East Side in 2011 after spending 40 years as an art collector.
299 Grand St. | 212.510.7646
Miguel Abreu Gallery
Miguel Abreu ventured into art dealing in 2006. Hosting a highly intellectual series of performances, art-theory seminars and film screenings as well as exhibitions, the gallery represents conceptually inspired artists and is among the Lower East Side's top venues.
36 Orchard St., Lower East Side
Castle Fitzjohn's Gallery
Castle Fitzjohn's Gallery supports and promotes mid career artists and is a platform which focuses on nurturing and guiding emerging artists.
98 Orchard St. | 917.244.4868
Ideally located where NoHo, the East Village, and Nolita meet, The Bowery Hotel lobby bar is a cavernous space that attracts the rockstar setting. The bar on the second floor is often rented out for events. The bars are usually only available for hotel guests, but it's always worth asking.
335 Bowery, East Village | 212.505.9100
It's one of the best bars in the city, that's hidden within a hot dog joint. Here you find fantastic good, old fashioned cocktails. Plus, deluxe hot dogs to accompany your drinks. It's a tiny, dark space, giving a very speakeasy vibe. The setting is intimate on purpose, so it can be hard to get a seat.
113 St. Marks Place, East Village | 212.614.0386
This Vienna-inspired cocktail bar—named after the classic 1949 British noir film—is a hip spot for craft cocktails. Sip with friends in the candlelit, exposed brick & iron beam bar or on the outdoor patio. Here you'll find well-mixed cocktails and Austrian small plates.
116 Avenue C, East Village | 212.598.1040