I landed in the East Village by accident. I had about two weeks to move here before starting a new job and the last apartment I looked at was in the East Village. It called my name with all it’s exposed brick and shoe box charm.
While I had explored the city quite a bit before I moved here, I always loved the East Village and gravitated towards it by habit. I came to find that it’s still one of the best neighborhoods in the city retaining it’s charm, newness, oldness, and grunge at the same time.
A self proclaimed “Lower East Side Greaser” (a name courtesy of my lovely BFF Julia, of HauteAndSoul), I have put together a list of places I like to frequent and maybe you will too.
So take a look, and let me know of anywhere else you guys like to hang!
Image courtesy of The Smith
The Smith became my first go-to place anytime I had visitors— especially if they were picky eaters. With an extensive menu and friendly service, everything there is delicious. Great vibe too; it’s open and bright for Brunch, moody and sexy for Dinner. Drinks are a little on the expensive side, but everything there is quality so I tend not to mind. With a few locations in the city, if you’re in need of somewhere to eat you’ve found it.
TNYN Recommendation: The Steak Salad or Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese. They also make a killer Burger and have great Oyster specials.
Image courtesy of NYC CBS
Another go-to: Gemma, part of the Bowery Hotel— plenty of Celeb sightings with your Pasta, never fails. Classic and tasty Italian that is reasonably priced and an overall great vibe. Legit, cannot ask for anything better. I will say, they have much better Lunch and Dinner than they do Brunch. The pancakes are killer though (especially if you’re hung over). Pretty good Wine selection and signature drinks.
TNYN Recommendation: Any of the Antipasti and Truffle Polenta Fries to start, finish with the Veal Cutlet. SO GOOD. The Bowery Hotel also has a great lobby with a great big fireplace and excellent Whiskey.
Image courtesy of DBGB Kitchen
Chef Daniel Boulud’s downtown local DBGB Kitchen (not to be confused with BCBG…) is pretty chic. Super industrial and well lit, this Bowery joint has huge mirrors throughout with menus written on them and a fantastic bar. A little on the expensive side, it’s a fun night out for sure.
TNYN Recommendation: Their Amish Half Chicken is kind of to die for…
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Part of B Bar (see below), Taco Box is a great (and cheap!) place to grab a quick bite. I am a huge fan of Mexican and with this so close to my apartment, it’s been getting a lot of my attention as of late. The food is fresh and qualitative and the staff is super nice; if there is no space outside or if it’s freezing like now you can eat inside at B Bar. I dare you to only order one taco…
TNYN Recommendation: Chicken or Steak Taco’s and any of the Quesadillas.
Image courtesy of Travel Addict
We’ve all gotten the chain E-Mail, Facebook Invite, or group text: “BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH!” It usually ends with mediocre food (no matter where you go) and two Bloody Mary’s in the end because everyone on this Island decided to go the same Brunch spot. Poco is pretty good; it doesn’t have the most amazing food in the world but I’ve gotten several different things there and have never been disappointed. The bottomless thing isn’t a joke either: it’s small so they pay attention to you. Word to the wise, don’t wear layers— it gets so hot in there, especially in the basement.
TNYN Recommendation: $28 Legendary Brunch— you’ll walk out way buzzed and over heated. But it’ll have been worth it.
Image courtesy of Off The Grid
Big Gay Ice Cream, 125 E.7th St.
This Summer was hot. I mean, it’s was hot. Not that I am complaining, I’ll take it over what Elsa from “Frozen” is currently doing to our city. Other than AC, I indulged in a lot of Big Gay Ice Cream this Summer. Besides the fact it’s delicious and they have killer names for their treats (Salty Pimp, American Globs, BEA ARTHUR), it’s pretty light and you don’t feel like lard afterwards. Plus, fun name, hello…
TNYN Recommendation: Get the Bea Arthur if just to say that glorious Dame’s name aloud. RIP, Bea…
Image courtesy of S’MAC
If you love Mac ‘n Cheese as much as me, go here. That’s really all I have to say. They’ve got a few locations as well and a good take-out service.
TNYN Recommendation: Cheeseburger Nosh. You. Won’t. Be. Sorry.
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Most people think if you want great Pizza in NYC you need to go to Little Italy. Yeah, they’re wrong: go to Artichoke. While all New Yorkers, unfortunately, frequent the Dollar Pizza game (it’s a super sober decision, for sure…) skip that and head here. You’ll thank me. Again, they have a few different locations and the option of a whole pie or slices at all locations.
TNYN Recommendation: Margarita, Artichoke, or Vodka Pizza. Whatever you get you’ll be happy and full. The Box Salad is also incredible.
“Don’t talk to me until I’ve had Coffee…”
Image courtesy of Trotter Magazine
I love my Coffee, ask anyone. I tend to make Coffee and Espresso at home, but if I don’t I’m going right to La Colombe. With locations in SoHo and TriBeca, their open and airy East Village location is the newest. There’s no wifi, but if you just want to go chill out, catch up, or read it’s a great place to cozy up.
TNYN Recommendation: Their coffee is so good, you can do a simple drip or a delicious latte. Either is going to leave you very happy.
Image courtesy of Goodbye New York
Porto Rico Importing Co., 40 St. Marks
Small and unassuming, Porto Rico Importing Co. is old school New York to me. It’s on the not so busy part of St. Marks and has so many bins of Coffee beans you leave with a contact high. It’s also relatively cheap and a great place to get Coffee for home as well.
TNYN Recommendation: Great drip coffee.
Image courtesy of Espresso Adventures
9th St. Espresso, 341 E.10th St.
Living between 2nd and 3rd Ave. I generally don’t go past 1st. Ave.— especially if it’s freezing out. It’s a bad habit all New Yorkers have, not going too far out of their neighborhood. If I decide to Indiana Jone’s it and take an adventure into Alphabet City I usually stop in here for a coffee. Great Espresso.
TNYN Recommendation: Espresso, duh.
Image courtesy of Restaurants in NYC
It’s tiny, always packed, and you’ll wait for a good 5-10 minutes for your Coffee. But it’s worth it. I usually go here on the weekends if I want to take it slow and am not in a rush. Their Mud Truck parked at Astor Place is also good and a bit quicker. They have Brunch all day, Beer, and Wine; none of which I have tried but anytime I go in and see someone with a Beer and an Oatmeal it does make me want it…
TNYN Recommendation: Their Red Eye will assist in getting all your weekend errands and activities done.
“Ugh, today sucked. Let’s get a drink…”
Image courtesy of Trip Advisor
Divey, grungy, fun, and you’re guaranteed to make friends in a minute. Boiler Room is a staple for me. It’s probably my favorite bar in my neighborhood, and one of my favorite Gay Bars in the city. It’s also super cheap; there’s either always a Happy Hour or a two for one. Many “My day sucked!” has ended here…
*Fun Fact: They redecorated it as a Karaoke club and shot that ridiculous Hilary Swank movie “P.S. I love You” there…I can tell you with certainty: any night I have spent there was more fun than that movie…
TNYN Recommendation: Try to get my buddy Wayne to pour your a drink. He’s the nicest and has the heaviest hand.
Image courtesy of New Next Now Magazine
Divier and dirtier than Boiler, Eastern Bloc is also a great time. One of three bars Benjamin Maisani (Anderson Cooper’s honey) owns (he also has Bedlam and Atlas Social Club— both awesome), you end your night at this always fun Gay Bar and likely be dancing next to Alan Cumming.
TNYN Recommendation: Check out the bathroom here, it’s hysterical.
Image courtesy of Phoenix Bar
Need to meet with friends for a post work drink where there’s good tunes but you can still hear each other? How about a super fun Friday or Saturday night with great drinks, pool, and sometimes Twister? Enter Phoenix; always a good time and a good crowd. It’s also super close to Union Square which means lots of Subway options.
TNYN Recommendation: Get here a little on the later side come Weekend— way more fun.
Image courtesy of Time Out
They have ski-ball, video games, darts, and Beer. Ace Bar is quirky and fun and a great place for groups. Plus it’s near 100+ other places so you have plenty to chose from for the next spot of the evening.
TNYN Recommendation: Great for Birthdays.
Image courtesy of Chatterbox New York
The Wren is on the classier side of my list. They have a great drink selection and the interiors are pretty gorgeous. It’s also across from Gemma and a great post-dinner drink spot.
TNYN Recommendation: Go with friends, stake out a spot, and hunker down.
Image courtesy of Nine Tables
End your night here. With cheap-ish drinks, amazing music (guest DJ’s include Drag Queens and Real Housewives), and a very good crowd you’ll end the night on a high note. I mean, they have taxidermy and vintage newspapers on the wall. How could you not go…
TNYN Recommendation: Do not hang off the moose on the wall. You will get a flashlight shined in your face and a lecture…not that I would know…
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Joe’s Pub is really cool. It’s super old school and old New York; they have a cool loungy area and a really gorgeous theater inside (where I checked out Hamilton). It’s also a public theater so donations are welcome and they always have lotteries for tickets to upcoming shows.
TNYN Recommendation: Check their site daily, always have new things going on.
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Sometimes, you really need to do Karaoke. It’s just been one of those weeks. Sometimes you have had 5 Vodka Tonics at Boiler Room and think you need to do Karaoke. Either way, Sing Sing is where it’s at. They have a great selection of Beers and pretty reasonable rates for private rooms to sing in or free in the little bar area. I have gone hoarse here one too many times here…
TNYN Recommendation: Get a private room with friends and go nuts.
Image courtesy of NYMarket
Inchochine is chic, old school, cool kid NYC. It had it’s heyday in the late 80’s, early 90’s but is still a total reference and completely relevant. Anytime I go here it’s a to-do; you don’t just go for the hell of it, you go for a really fun night out. The food is to die for and so are the drinks and decor. So much fun.
TNYN Recommendation: Look cool when you go, no sweatpants…
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Like Indochine, you can make a night out of B Bar. I personally prefer going here during the warmer months because they have a gorgeous patio and a large open back area in addition to a cool bar. Or if you want to go during the day, do Brunch. It’s a great Brunch Spot.
TNYN Recommendation: It’s kinda not cheap, but it’s fun.
Image courtesy of NYC Gov Parks
Tompkins Square Park, 500 E.9th St.
Sometimes Central Park is a little too far if I am in need of a park, so I head to Tompkins Square (though, I frequent the West Side Highway more than both). It’s super gorgeous right after it rains and there’s a ton to do around it. They also have a cute dog park.
TNYN Recommendation: Get outside and to a park more.
Image courtesy of Blink Fitness
There’s a ton of Gym’s in my neighborhood. Whenever I am bored I try to work out over eating chips and Netflix-ing it. Pick one and go.
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I love this post! This should be a tourist guide. For me, interested in NYC, but never having been there really, it’s a walk around the city. I’m saving these suggestions for the day I make it there. THANK you, dahlin’. xoxoxxo A.Lena
I’ll make a 2nd recommendation for 9th St. Espresso: Check out the current work in the space by Photographer Joe Leonard!
OMG!! Christian…I have been to many of these places with you!!!! Lol. And we did have fun!!! Can’t wait for the nice weather!!! Great job!!! 😘
THEY JUST KEEP GETTING BETTER AND BETTER.
reminds me of all the galavanting we’ve done throughout the years in your hood.
love you! mean it!