Back to NYC Eats… and Drinks!
Barrio Chino, 253 Broome St [MEXICAN]
– Their busiest nights are earlier in the week; it can be a pain getting a spot here, and the interiors are dark and cramped! But once inside, it all seems worthwhile! Their food is great -at least the Guacamole, Lamb dish, Steak and Mole sauce that we tried – they make a good Mojito, and despite all the chaos inside, their service is quick and courteous.
Beauty & Essex, 146 Essex St [LOUNGE]
– The unsuspecting entrance is through a pawn shop, which still serves as a bit of a flea! Behind the door lies a beautiful interior, complete with oversized chandeliers, an opulent bar and a grand dining room in the back. Grab a spot on the loungers across from the main bar, order an overpriced cocktail, and people watch to your hearts desire!
Bluebird Coffee, 72E 1st St [CAFE]
– A tiny intimate space, just off the hustle of Houston, serving some good coffee and baked treats. Cool artwork on the walls, great music, and friendly service to boot.
Brooklyn Taco, Essex Street Market, 120 Essex St [MEXICAN]
– This tiny Taco counter, tucked in amongst various vendors at Essex Street Market, serves up some well priced and filling Tacos, with innovative toppings. I got the Kale and Potato, which was good, but the one that stole the show for me was the Cola-braised Pork Taco – one of the better ones I’ve had for that protein!
Clinton Street Baking Company, 4 Clinton St [BAKERY / BRUNCH]
Finally scored a table here, after waiting for over 45-minutes on a cold rainy weekday morning!! Blame it on Pancake Month! The verdict – worth the wait! The Pancakes were excellent, with some very innovative toppings but what stole the show for me was their Buttermilk Biscuit paired with a house jam – easily the best I’ve had in the city! They serve a good cup of Coffee too.
Fig 19, 131 Chrystie St [COCKTAIL BAR]
– This might well be my new favorite cocktail bar / lounge in the city – only wish I had known about it sooner! A nondescript, after hours art gallery entrance – you actually walk through the gallery, then pass through an unmarked door to reveal a beautiful chandelier-studded interior, with plenty of space, cosy couches to one side and an inviting bar on the other. Cocktails here are great, not particularly overpriced, and the place doesn’t get overly crowded either. A real hidden gem, so to speak!
Katz, 205E Houston St [JEWISH]
– If you can get past understanding their overly-complicated ordering system and deal with the chaos that ensues, this place is worth it for their legendary stuffed Pastrami Sandwiches! Decent selection of Beer too!!
La Caverna, 122 Rivington St [CLUB]
– Funky decor, good dance music and a very efficient bar!
Loreley Biergarten, 7 Rivington St [BEER GARDEN]
– By Manhattan standards, a decently sized outdoor area with efficient service, a well stocked and reasonably priced Beer menu and some nice German bar food to accompany it all. Their Pork Meatballs are excellent! A second location recently opened in Williamsburg.
Mehanata, 113 Ludlow St [BAR]
This intense Bulgarian bar features Gypsy bands, face painting, swings, and a Vodka booth – for those looking to get completely wasted in under 2 minutes!! A great spot if you’re in a big group and in the mood for something different in the LES!
Mission Cantina, 172 Orchard St [MEXICAN]
– Their Chinese venture didn’t quite take flight in NYC, but they seem to have got it right with Mexican – for now, at least! A colorful, inviting corner space, with a modern and fairly inventive take on Mexican cuisine, Mission Cantina seems to have got it together! There are plenty of standouts within the ever changing menu, but the good part is they’re all shareable, and a large group can pretty much check off everything on it!
Paladar, 161 Ludlow St [LATIN AMERICAN]
– Cosy place with a good selection of food from the Caribbean, Central and South America.
Piano’s, 158 Ludlow St [BAR]
– Crowded as hell on the weekends but worth it if your in the mood for good music, very often from the 80s!
Pig and Khao, 68 Clinton St [FILIPINO / THAI]
– From the team behind the “Fatty” brand of Asian restaurants, Pig and Khao offers a very pleasant dining experience in the LES, in a well designed space, offering a fun mash up of Filipino and Thai staples. The Sizzling Sisig is at par with the best in town, and the Cod in Banana Leaf is great too. A simple, incisive menu that’s sure to please most palettes, and most wallets too!
Russ & Daughters, 179E Houston Street [SEAFOOD MARKET / BREAKFAST]
– My wait was 40-minutes on a Sunday morning but I finally got the sandwich I’ve been craving – Smoked Atlantic Salmon on an everything Bagel – from possibly the city’s most celebrated purveyor of the same! Russ & Daughters, as much an institution on the Lower East Side as Katz’s Deli is, has been around for almost a 100 years, so consider the long wait inside as time well spent! Their Coffee is good, and their spread of baked offerings is elaborate – neither require you to wait in queue!
Stanton Social, 99 Stanton St [BISTRO / LOUNGE]
– The restaurant is on the lower level and great for weekend brunch. The lounge is on the upper level and quite the ‘scene’ in the LES!
Sweet Buttons, 84 Rivington St [DESSERTS]
– This little corner spot can really push those buttons – your sugar-craving ones i.e.! But only in a good way – servings are a little more than bite-sized, which means you can share and sample more, without the guilt! There’s no single desert that I could recommend here, unfortunately, as everything I’ve had has been great. Prices are reasonable too, so its a win-win all around!
The Back Room, 102 Norfolk St [BAR]
– THE coolest place in the LES and yet unknown to many!! An underground bar with awesome decor made to appear like a speak easy from the 20s! Beer is served in brown paper bags and well drinks are served in cups and saucers!
The Derby, 167 Orchard St [SOUTHERN / COMFORT]
– Great corner location, smack in the middle of all the LES action. Good place for brunch; for groups, or simply for anyone looking to get a feel for the neighborhood. Plenty of sidewalk seating in the warmer months, which is probably best utilized on a weekend, when Orchard street is closed to automobile traffic.
The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton St [ITALIAN-AMERICAN]
– I haven’t actually eaten in yet but I have had food catered from there and I was most impressed! Possibly some of the best Meatballs I’ve eaten, including a Veggie one – which was quite a revelation – and easily the best mashed potatoes I’ve had in a very long time! Will definitely be going there soon..
Tom & Jerry’s, 288 Elizabeth St [BAR]
– Technically, this bar sits just north of the LES, but its probably your best bet for an escape from the over crowded watering holes south of Houston. An excellent selection of beers; a laid back vibe; cool decor and friendly staff round up the experience here, while keeping a distinctly local feel to it.
Verlaine, 110 Rivington St [BAR]
– One of the best happy hours in the city with great Lichee Martinis for a steal!
Welcome to the Johnson’s, 123 Rivington St [DIVE BAR]
– For anyone hankering the LES of yore, this dive bar is your go-to! Cheap beers (handed to you straight from a fridge!); an old jukebox; an even older pool table; and plenty of mismatched furniture to boot! An unlimited supply of PBRs and character guaranteed!