What’s On… 2nd Avenue between 7th Street and St. Mark’s Place?
A monthly column by CAROLYN ONOFREY
From the beginning, the East Village was a melting pot for the Polish, the German, and the Ukrainian; the place where the Yiddish theater flourished in the early 20th century and where affordable (although cramped) housing was always the trend. Today, the East Village can seem a bit watered down from its roots as a melting pot, but if you know where to look you can grab a glimpse of East Village past.
118 Second Avenue – Virage
Although the decor says French bistro, the menu begs to differ, gathering inspiration of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern persuasion. Try your luck with the menu selections, the pasta always being a safe bet, but stay away from the fried artichokes.
119 Second Avenue – East Noodle Ramen & Robatayaki
Stop by East Noodle for some Japanese barbecue and Ramen. Keeping with the trend of cheap Japanese in the East Village, East Noodle delivers another mediocre display of Japanese comfort food. Frequenters of the area each have a favorite that they swear by; maybe East Noodle will be yours!
121 Second Avenue – Sushi Park
Sushi Park is most known for its 50% off sushi special. The sushi may not be the best you’ve ever had, but a plethora of rolls at dirt cheap prices keep the poor college students coming back for more.
122 Second Avenue – Ukrainian Sports Club
The Ukrainian Sports Club is a soccer club founded in 1948 by Ukrainian immigrants to the East Village. While technically only open to members and their guests, the soccer club comes complete with a pool table and cozy bar, and will allow the public to drop by and cheer for their favorite Ukrainian fighter. This sports club is truly a reminder of the melting pot that New York City and the East Village continue to be.
123 Second Avenue – Pommes Frites
When you’re craving fries Pommes Frites is the perfect stop. Enjoy a selection of flavored mayos and ketchups with your fresh thick cut, always fried twice, Belgian style frites. Sauces are $1 each and come in flavors ranging from Sweet Mango Chutney Mayo to Wasabi Mayo to Mexican Ketchup. Go plain (Mayo, Ketchup, Mustard, or Tabasco and Malt Vinegar) for free!
124 Second Avenue – San Loco
San Loco’s can’t miss Mexican has quickly become a late-night tradition for many of the young patrons of the lower east side of Manhattan. Sure, the food is better after you’ve been at the bar all night, but some things just can’t be understood unless you’ve lived them yourself. This location on Second Avenue is one of four locations scattered throughout the East Village, Lower East Side, and Brooklyn. Try a taco or two and take a look at the surprisingly tasty dessert menu.
126 Second Avenue – Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre started out in the 1880s as a concert garden and expanded into the theater it is now in 1904 and after a brief hiatus as a motion picture theater, has been home to great productions such as Anything Goes (1962) and Little Shop of Horrors (1982). The Orpheum Theatre is currently the home of Stomp, where you can grab a lively show of beat-heavy theatrics and physical comedy. Tickets will run you about 50 to 90 dollars each.
127 Second Avenue – B & H Vegetarian
Not to be confused with B & H Photo, B & H Vegetarian may not look like anything more than a bodega from the outside, but has been a staple for cheap vegetarian grub in the East Village since 1942. The clientele over the years have left their mark with blintzes, pierogi, borscht, and homemade Challah bread dotting the menu.
128 Second Avenue – Stage
Although not always open when you want it to be, Stage is another ancient spot on this block that has carved a niche for itself in the immigrant history of the East Village. Walking into the narrow space with its lunch counter, it is clear that this is the kind of place where the locals have roamed for years. Try the corned beef on Thursdays or the pierogi.
129 Second Avenue – Cheep’s Pita Creations
Cheep’s is one of the latest additions to this strip of second avenue. Serving “cheep” falafel and shawarma and even a knock-off of Pommes Frites’ Belgian style fries. They’re a one stop shop for the delicious treats at Mamoun’s (around the corner on St. Mark’s) and Pommes Frites without the sometimes seemingly endless lines.
131 Second Avenue – Paul’s – Da Burger Joint
Established in 1989, Paul’s is a perfect example of the gritty past of the East Village. The interior of Pauls, with its lunch counter, open grill, and dingy digs is strangely comforting. If walls could talk, Paul’s would no doubt have plenty to say. Grab a burger (and vat of pickles while you’re at it) at this East Village institution that won’t disappoint.