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NYC Neighbourhood Guide: East Village/Lower East Side

I've been living in New York City for almost a year now, and despite the pandemic, this part of the city is still alive with plenty of outdoor activities. The East Village/LES is pretty iconic, and I'd be doing this area a disservice if I tried to summarise it's vast history in this short little blog post. Still, it's one of my favourite parts of the city, and there's plenty to do here. While most of my recommendations are food or drink related, I can't speak too much to the nightlife (because pandemic). Most of these just come from outdoor dining over the summer, but they're all great options that will (hopefully) still be available once you're able to get to the city again.

To get around, I recommend walking or taking a Citibike. The whole downtown area of Manhattan is super walkable, and you'll see so many interesting sights while you're at it. If you're coming from a different neighborhood, this area is super well-connected on the subway (outside of Alphabet City).

If you're staying in the East Village or LES, here are some of my recommendations of things to do and places to eat and drink.

Things to do:

  • Tompkins Square Park. Really cool park to hangout in, have a picnic with some friends here! There are sometimes performers who come here too.

  • Tenement Museum. Really interesting look into the neighbourhood's past, pretty incredible museum.

  • New Museum. Great museum with some interesting modern art.

  • Chinatown. Walk around here and grab some authentic Chinese food.

Places to eat:

  • Cacio e Pepe. Famous for their cacio e pepe that they prepare in a giant wheel of parmesan. So good!

  • Madame Vo. Delicious pho and lots of good Vietnamese food.

  • Momofuku Noodle Bar. One of my favourite places for ramen!

  • Mud by MudSpot. This is the coolest little coffee shop/beer garden. Perfect place for brunch.

  • Veselka. Famous East Village Ukrainian spot with delicious pierogis.

  • Taralluci e Vino. Cute little spot with some great Italian food.

  • Wild Son. Cute, trendy brunch cafe with delicious food (try their avo toast).

  • Mala Project. Szechuan-inspired bowls and dishes with lots of spice. One of my all time favourites.

  • Cafe Mogador. Delicious Moroccan food in a romantic and chill atmosphere.

  • Mokyo. The best way to describe this place would be Korean-inspired tapas. They're honestly delicious, check them out!

  • Hanoi House. In a competition with Madame Vo with who has the best pho. Check them both out and see for yourself!

  • Buenos Aires. Authentic Argentinian restaurant, everything you'd find at a typical restaurant in Argentina (minus the Argentinian prices).

  • Au Za'atar. Delicious Lebanese restaurant, so many excellent vegetarian options too.

  • Raclette. Famous for their stinky but good cheese, they'll scoop the raclette right onto your plate in front of you. Cool experience eating here, I highly recommend it.

  • Raku. Delicious Japanese food in a calm atmosphere. Try their udon!

  • Nomad. Another great Moroccan spot, they often have live music too!

  • Dudley's. Really great spot for Australian-style brunch and coffee. Genuinely good and healthy meals.

  • Tiger Sugar. Located in Chinatown, this is a great place to grab some boba.

  • Golden Steamer. Another Chinatown favourite, they sell authentic bao buns. They have sweet and savoury, but I really like the dessert buns.

  • Ruby's Cafe. Another great place to go for Australian-style brunch. Delicious, creative food.

  • Rintintin. Technically in Nolita, this place is great for healthy, Mediterranean-inspired food.

  • Bar Primi. Nice, cozy little Italian spot with great quality food.

  • Sauce. Amazing pizza!! They have unique pizzas with interesting sauces and toppings.

  • Black Cat LES. Great little spot for coffee and an acai bowl in the morning.

  • Little Canal. Nice little cafe with great coffee!

  • Kopitiam. Perfect little fast-casual spot for brunch, they specialise in Malaysian cuisine and it's delicious.

Places to drink:

  • The Immigrant. Classy but fun wine and non-pretentious wine bar. The bartenders are really nice and they have some cool wines.

  • Goodnight Sonny. Great place for a late-night cocktail. Cozy, romantic vibe.

  • Proletariat. Cool brewery/beer garden. They have some excellent craft beers!

  • Ruffian. Another cool wine bar with some really unique and interesting wines.

  • Bibi Wine Bar. Smaller, hole in the wall wine bar. Super cozy and nice!

  • The Garrett East. I think this used to be a cocktail bar, but in it's place is a really cool taco stand with great margaritas.

This is mainly a food guide, but I hope it's helpful. This part of the city is known for it's many restaurants and bars, so I'd say that's the highlight of this neighbourhood and the main thing people do here. I hope you try out some of these recommendations! It's a really great part of the city, it's still very exciting and full of life. If you're coming to NYC to visit, this is the best neighbourhood to stay in.

Mud by MudSpot.

Hanoi House.

Sunset at East River Park.

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