BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
Gramercy Tavern may make this block a cut above these days, but before the famed restaurant called East 20th home, Theodore Roosevelt did. Stop by the Teddy Roosevelt Museum on this block and take a tour of the house in which he was born. The site pays homage to the life and times of America’s 26th president. The aptly named Performance Studio also called E 20th home at number 23 and saw a very green Ramones play their first show in 1974. Today, E 20th Street between Broadway and Park is a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Broadway and the high-society feel of Park Ave. Great food finds without the crowds or the attitude await!
900 Broadway – Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Its entrance is basically on E 20th, a catty-corner door facing neither E 20th or Broadway. Beecher’s makes its own cheese, hence the name of the store, but also carries a variety of other artisan cheeses, salumi and anything else you’d like to go along with the two. Stop by The Cellar downstairs to indulge in Beecher’s famous mac and cheese or a selection from their dinner menu. Don’t forget the wine… and more cheese.
27 E 20th Street – Rohm
Rohm Thai sits down a few steps from street level just enough to duck out of sight and keep Rohm a quiet spot where you can bring a date. The music is fun and upbeat, and the food and pricing right in line with other Thai offerings. Though most may find it rather un-sensational, those who dig it are loyal and come back for more time and time again.
29 E 20th Street – Mizu
It’s Japanese and Thai at Mizu, whose menu sports all the basics (with options heavier on the Japanese side) and can call itself a solid spot when you’re in the neighborhood. Don’t expect a glorious experience here, but do expect consistently fresh fish and reasonable rates at this area go-to.
30 E 20th Street – No Idea
This dive on E 20th is a favorite of the after work crowd, the cheap doubles (or so) served in a pint glass will leave you feeling fine after a tough day at the office. Find your name on their calendar and you’ll feel like it’s your birthday when your name is the chosen one for the night – drink free from 5-11 and bond with others who share your namesake! A pool table rounds out the experience and most agree this is a solid neighborhood kind of place.
31 E 20th Street – La Pizza Fresca Ristorante
La Pizza Fresca flaunts the membership rites of being only one of two restaurants in New York City to be part of the VPN (La Vera Pizza Napoletana), a rigorous membership process which includes the training of pizza chefs and a strict ingredient list whose components can only be imported from Naples. If pizza isn’t your thing, indulge in the seafood dishes from seasoned chef Alessandro Cargiolli, a native of famed seafood region of Liguria, Italy.
33 E 20th Street – Moore Brothers Wine Company
Moore Brothers stands a cut above the rest with an attention to fine wine from France, Italy, and Germany. The owners import and select all wine directly from the vineyards themselves, ensuring a quality bottle (with reasonable price tags to match) every time. A friendly, knowledgeable, and down to earth staff round out the oenophilic experience.
Parea Prime takes classic Greek specialties and the American steakhouse and makes them their own, pleasing everyone at your table with its something-for-everyone offerings; attentive service and a pleasant atmosphere round out the overall pleasing experience of dining here. Try the grilled octopus and the zucchini tempura to start!
40 E 20th Street – Flute
Ok, so the Champagne bar thing is kind 90s but Flute manages to own the theme and bring it home with a knowledgeable, friendly staff and a well thought out champagne list. Small bites are offered and can be hit or miss so come early or late depending on the type of celebration.
41 E 20th Street – Mari Vanna
Mari Vanna’s opulent decor will take you to your babushka’s house (the one who still lives in Moscow) complete with black and white family photos, floral wallpaper, and knickknacks. The classic Russian specialties here like their borscht and pelmeni will warm you heart and soul, while their selection of Russian and house infused vodkas keep you toasty on a cold winter night.
42 E 20th Street – Gramercy Tavern
For nearly two decades Gramercy Tavern has been the gold standard for new American fare and supreme service in New York City. The seasonal pre fixe menu curated by executive chef, Michael Anthony is timeless and poignant, creating a meal that will surely transport.
*Pre order a copy of the Gramercy Tavern cookbook (being released later this year) to enjoy some of the classics at home!
43 E 20th Street – Veritas
The wine list at Veritas is not merely a list, it is a collection. The collection of Park B. Smith, a textile entrepreneur, accounts for much of the wine list at Veritas and is yours to peruse while you enjoy the offerings of executive chef, Sam Hazen. The kind of experience you should expect at Veritas doesn’t come cheap – for a more affordable option grab a seat at the bar and snack on a selection of sumptuous contemporary American small plates.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
What’s On… Clinton Street? (Between Stanton and Rivington)
Clinton Street’s way east address is deterrent for some, making the gentrification factor slightly less than other parts of the LES, but those who do venture to Clinton Street are pleasantly surprised to find a long a varied strip of food and nightlife destinations. However, it wasn’t long ago that the Lower East Side’s underbelly called Clinton home. It wasn’t until 1999 when Wylie Dufresne helped to put 71 Clinton on the map that things started to turn around. Clinton Street’s not so recent past also warrants a tour. It was on Clinton Street that Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum’s original storefront stood. From here, Mandelbaum saw millions of dollars worth of stolen goods pass through in the mid 19th century. She also ran a school for aspiring pickpockets and robbers which is said to have been right next door to a police precinct.
35 Clinton Street – Donnybrook
This Irish pub seated at the corner of Clinton and Stanton can usually be caught under maximum capacity (which is more to say than for most bars in the LES) bringing those who like a casual drink with good friends back time and time again. A 12 – 15 dollar brunch special serves its purpose in a ‘hair of the dog’ sort of way.
37 Clinton Street – Atlas Cafe
The H & H bagels served at Atlas Cafe make it a worthwhile stop if you’re in the area around breakfast time. Other menu offerings include quiches and paninis with a variety of vegetarian offerings. Coffee suffices and free WiFi is another selling point for most.
58 Clinton Street – Temple of Ankh
Most agree that Temple of Ankh is nothing to get excited about – but really, what hookah bar lives up to the hype anyway? Food, service, and decor-wise it’s pretty much unanimous that this place lives up to the standard of other so-so hookah places although the milk and Sprite hookah varieties do add some unconventional fun to the mix.
50 Clinton Street – wd~50
Wylie Dufresne’s acclaimed restaurant wd~50 celebrates 10 years this year. In case you haven’t heard – WD~50’s Wylie Dufresne is somewhat of a mad scientist when it comes to your dinner plate. Molecular gastronomy paired with precision and attention to detail make for a culinary experience you won’t soon forget. To celebrate WD~50’s 10th anniversary, try a tasting menu from some of the past 10 years’ best dishes!
63 Clinton Street – Fatta Cuckoo
The seasonal menu at Fatta Cuckoo is all about coming together to have a good time over good food. Comfort food focused items like fried chicken or their signature key lime pie comprise the menu and an enticing cocktail selection rounds out the scene. The “drunch” brunch special is what keeps most people coming back – at $25 for 3 quality cocktails and an entree, who can complain? – Even when you’re sitting on top of your next door neighbor.
63 Clinton Street – Cube Sushi
The BYO status of Cube 63 has regulars coming back for a boozy good time before a night on the town, but can’t seem to keep new clientele looking for satisfying sushi due to its lack of fresh ingredients. Try to stay away if you’re not looking to lose your lunch.
67 Clinton Street – Barramundi
The always crowded, kitschy bar who once called Ludlow home is now tucked away on Clinton waiting to be rediscovered. You’ll want to try their sangria and stay for their house infused vodkas. A 2 for 1 happy hour every night until 8 sweetens the deal. Through a door in the back lies a secret upstairs for a more refined crowd than downstairs…
67 Clinton Street (Upstairs) – 2nd Floor on Clinton
A quiet library setting for no more than groups for 4 awaits up the stairs from energetic Barramundi. Sip artfully crafted cocktails and enjoy artisan chocolate truffles by Roni – Sue. Ring the bell next to the door marked ‘private’ to be escorted upstairs to this haven of sorts nestled deep in the Lower East Side.
*2nd Floor on Clinton is only open Wednesday – Saturday.
68 Clinton Street – Pig and Khao
Leah Cohen of Top Chef fame and the Fatty crew have teamed up to create Pig and Khao – a modern take on Southeast Asian cooking. Stop by for classic Filipino favorites like sizzling sisig (pig head) or a tasty Thai red curry. This gem isn’t quite on the radar yet, so stop by while the waits are short!
*The $1 beer happy hour is one of the best deals in the city.
69 Clinton Street – Prosperity Dumpling
Another one of the best deals in the city – Prosperity’s pork and chive dumplings come 4 for $1 at this LES location (5/$1 at their Eldridge St. locale). What this place lacks in decor and service, the dumplings more than make up for in value and flavor. Stop out of your way for these things, you’ll be glad you did.
71 Clinton Street – Izakaya DoDomPa
This Japanese pub is exactly what the doctor ordered in this part of town. Quality izakaya at fair prices make DoDomPa a great stop if you’re looking to fill your belly and have a few drinks with friends before a night on the town. Their Nagoya chicken wings are stand out and fans say they are just happy they can travel somewhere other than St. Marks to enjoy the food and atmosphere of quality Izakaya.
71 Clinton Street – San Marzano
The $40 all you can eat and drink special is what has rowdy groups coming back for time and time again, but it’s the pizza with namesake San Marzano tomatoes that keeps us coming back.
Go at an off time and enjoy the regular menu with regular people (read: not drunk and angry) or stop by on the weekend until 2am for an always satisfying slice.
72 Clinton Street – Cibao
You won’t stop by Cibao for its decor or service, but instead to sit down to a good, hearty meal rounded out with rice, beans, and tostones. It’s a Dominican diner, unglorified and unapologetic and doing its thing for decades. If tripe is your thing – don’t miss out on their Mondongo.
*Planning a party? Cibao also caters.
44th Street between 8th and 9th is just off the beaten path enough to have some good dining and drink options along with a rich history in the film and recording industry. This block was once home to offices of 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Record Plant – the recording studio that revolutionized the recording industry, where Jimi Hendrix recorded Electric Ladyland and where John Lennon recorded “Walking On Thin Ice” the day he was shot and killed.
Todd English serves the Theater District well at Ça Va, a French brasserie serving as the restaurant for the InterContinental Hotel, meaning so-so hotel decor and 3 meals a day.The dinner pre fixe is your best bet and a great way to try out some of the more interesting menu options for the more adventurous diner. Don’t expect accommodating service – it seems the staff is happier daydreaming about that standing ovation they’re hoping for after their next stint on Broadway.
This Japanese BBQ Chain gets two thumbs up for reasonable pricing and a run place to take the kids. A menu geared toward the American taste bud
is what has made this place such a success around the country (know your audience, right?) along with the experience of grilling your own food right at the table. It’s not authentic, but who cares? You’ll have a great time with nearly anyone you bring of any age (except maybe the food snob in your life).
321 W 44th Street – New York Beer Company
This pretty massive bar near Times Square features fluctuating beer prices featured on a ticker board. Prices go up with popularity,
but it seems like even the least popular selections are selling for more than we’d like to pay for. Most try to ignore the gimmicky theme and agree that this is actually a decent neighborhood hangout, if Times Square is your ‘hood. *Come early and snag the table with its own tap.
339 W 44th Street – Smokey Burger
This recently opened burger shop sports organic burgers piled high with organic toppings. Options range from beef to ostrich and lamb, but with average prices hitting the $17 mark before even a side of fries some are looking around at the fast casual setting waiting for even the tiniest slice of truffle or hint of foie gras to justify the prices.
339 W 44th Street – One Thai Chef
It would seem that the above restaurant and One Thai Chef share more than an address – what does the same owner mean for these two new restaurants? Only time will tell; but my advice is that they both lower their prices – stat.
352 W 44th Street – Etcetera Etcetera
Etcetera Etcetera stands a bit apart from the other mundane pre-theater options in the area with a neighborhood feel despite its proximity to Broadway and the Theater District.
The menu reads to please – something for every taste with standard Italian favorites at reasonable prices. The pasta will satisfy every time, but most locals suggest leaving this place to the out of town crowd.
356 W 44th Street – Harley’s (f.k.a. The Irish Rouge)
The second of two locations for Harley’s (the original located in East Harlem), this newly opened BBQ haunt features a surprisingly large menu of cheap-o BBQ. A $14 dollar brunch special including two drinks might just be the best deal on the block!
357 W 44th Street – Reunion Surf Bar
Don’t miss the understated entrance of Reunion Surf bar on 44th St. This bar, named after a tiny volcanic island off the coast of Africa which happens
to be a prime locale for catching serious waves, serves surf inspired cuisine (think Hawaiian surf shack) that would satisfy any hungry dude or dudette. Some complain that this place isn’t what it used to be, now that the shubees have taken over.
358 W 44th Street – Don Giovanni
Ok, so it’s not the best you’ve ever had but you’ll find something for everyone at this red sauce Italian serving all the basics including pizzas and heroes.
Geared toward the out of town crowd due to its proximity to Times Square, it might just work if you don’t know what you’re missing elsewhere.
358 W 44th Street (Upstairs) – The Producers Club
This storefront rental space for off-Broadway productions features 5 theaters and a downstairs bar/lounge area. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of shows from Shakespeare to comedy to the Avant Garde. The digs could use some updating, but most agree it just adds to the charm.
630 9th Avenue (@ 44th Street) – Marseille
Around since 2001 Marseille has been supplying Hells Kitchen with dependable French fare with an emphasis on the cuisine of its namesake port city.
Brunch is the standout, especially during the summer to take advantage of the prime 9th avenue people watching. Executive chef and partner Andy D’Amico
seems to have taken over the block (of 9th Avenue) with restaurant openings at every store front. (See: Nizza and Five Napkin Burger).
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
2nd Avenue gets a bad rap these days, with construction of the 2nd Ave subway underway those who don’t live up in Yorkville would rather stay away. Keep the small business alive in their time of need and make the trek, there are still some great food finds to be visited. While you’re in Yorkville, stay awhile – visit the beautiful Gracie Mansion for a tour or relax in Carl Schurz Park, overlooking the Hell Gate section of the East River.
1481 2nd Avenue – Lenny’s
This NYC lunch chain serves a wide variety of sandwiches for any taste, making Lenny’s a solid choice for a workweek lunch. Be prepared for a wait during busy lunch hours, and keep an eye on whomever’s making your sandwich – with so many options they’re bound to make a mistake on yours.
1483 2nd Avenue – Vero
This wine and Panini bar is best known around the neighborhood for their Monday special featuring a free Panini with purchase of a drink, but the other menu selections are solid choices for any other day of the week. Be sure to try a glass of one of their specialty sangrias – they’re not only delicious, but may help you stomach the vivacious (read: loud) atmosphere inside the tiny space.
*If you like this uptown location but the trek is a bit much – try their Midtown location at 2nd Ave and 53rd Street
1484 2nd Avenue – Al Forno Pizzeria
Pizza is the way to go at this family friendly Italian. Although gourmet pies aren’t what they’re after, Al Forno serves a solid pie cooked in the brick oven on premise. The friendly, neighborhood atmosphere paired with reliable pizza is what gives this place 2 thumbs up with the locals – and that’s all that really matters for business!
1485 2nd Avenue - Brother Jimmy’s
It’s “Bro J’s”, fondly to the regulars who pack the place most nights, but don’t expect much class at this UES location of NYC BBQ chain Brother Jimmy’s where the liquor runs freely until you get kicked out cause you’re causing a scene. The food will do in a pinch, but it’s not the food that brings most back for a rowdy good time.
1486 2nd Avenue – Uva
Uva is the perfect first date spot if you’re looking to romance your date over fine Italian wine and food. Most menu items pay homage to the motherland (Italy, of course), using either homemade or imported direct from the source ingredients. The bruschetta is a can’t miss, just don’t get caught sharing a plate with someone other than the date you took to Uva last week!
1489 2nd Avenue – Sable’s
It’s all about the smoked fish at Sable’s. You can’t go wrong with the smoked salmon, or the lobster salad, a sweeter version than found on your classic lobster roll. Pricing beats the competition from the Upper West Side or the Lower East Side, so most find the trek up to Sable’s worth every stop on the 6 train.
1490 2nd Avenue – Doc Watson’s
Head to Doc Watson’s for brunch or to catch a weekend afternoon game. Burgers or eggs benedict are always a safe bet here; otherwise it’s just standard pub fare. The evening crowd can get a little fratty, so unless you want to get up close and personal with the polo team stick to the day shift!
1491 2nd Avenue – MXCO
When you’re in the neighborhood and craving Mexican, MXco is a solid choice, every time. Service that makes you feel like you’re at you’re abuela’s and margaritas that will knock you flat keep the neighbors coming back but most agree that portion sizes aren’t in line with pricing.
*Try the braised short rib taco!
1492 2nd Avenue – Vermicelli
Vermicelli is a favorite with the locals, for comforting Vietnamese dishes at comfortable prices. Try the chicken with ginger and scallions in honey sauce (Ga Xao Gung), a favorite at Vermicelli or the grilled pork chop (Suon Nuong), a house specialty in many restaurants featuring Saigon food.
1494 2nd Avenue – Lusardi’s
Lusardi’s has been a neighborhood staple since it first opened in 1982 and regulars have been visiting ever since. Worthy of a special occasion, Lusardi’s service is top notch with prices to match. While the menu options aren’t there to wow you, Owners Luigi and Mauro Lusardi have been at it for 30 years and they stick to what they know works. An extensive Italian wine list rounds out the meal, but not before setting you back a few $$.
1496 2nd Avenue – Bocca East
With a slightly more updated menu than Lusardi’s next door, Bocca East appeals to the younger set of UES patrons with a clean, wine cellar esque design sense and even a late night menu. Best for some wine tasting from their considerable list paired with a few select antipasti, Bocca East will impress almost any date.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
What’s On… MacDougal? (btwn Prince and W Houston)
Think of MacDougal Street and think of the heart of the Village. That is, until you step south of Houston Street where MacDougal becomes a sleepy, more refined version of itself. Named for Senator and the first president of the Bank of New York, Alexander MacDougall, MacDougal Street has been a fixture in the fame and overall boheme essence of Greenwich Village. The 1950s brought with it, such literary greats as E.E. Cummings, William S. Burroughs, and Dylan Thomas who used Greenwich Village as their muse; and the 1960s saw Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix strum some of their first public chords on this street, leading the way for a whole new take on rock music.
38 MacDougal Street – Hundred Acres
You’ll feel like you’re at home (if your home looked like a French Country style restaurant) at Hundred Acres, whose menu sports the farm to table mantra dishing out comfort food done right. The neighborhood feel and solid menu (with something for everyone) keeps the regulars coming back for more. *Try the pork chop or fried chicken for dinner.
48 MacDougal Street – Rouge et Blanc
While the sleek wood exterior may deter some, a few steps inside Rouge et Blanc and you’ll feel completely different. The French-Vietnamese food, and atmosphere are both welcoming and serene. The tapas style menu can add up (as they always seem to) – try the fried brussel sprouts or the grilled quail and don’t miss out on the Gateau au Chocolat for dessert!
51 MacDougal Street – Something Special
Grab a cup of coffee while you’re waiting for your ‘something special’ to be notarized. This Village notary has bee a fixture here, for as long as anyone can remember. There are mailboxes for rent, convenient, if you’re trying to live under the radar like Something Special’s celebrity clientele.
56 MacDougal Street – 12 Chairs
The Israeli-Russian menu inspired menu at 12 Chairs is best suited for a lunch date with large salads and plenty of hummus to go around. During the nice weather, this place always has a crowd due to the front doors they open creating a breezy hangout with nice street view. It’s easy to linger with a cup of nana tea and some good company.
58 MacDougal Street – Comodo
At the (very) recently opened Comodo, it’s all about family – and they’ll make you feel like you’re part of theirs. The family run restaurant serves inspired Latin cuisine in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. Stop by to check out this new spot for yourself, just don’t forget to try to lamb sliders while you’re there!
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
The northern half of Chrystie gives way to a Whole Foods and a swank new apartment complex near where it intersects Houston Street. It is also the site of the Chrystie Street connection, a major subway connection and the first and only section of the Second Avenue subway line to be completed to date; evidence that there is no stopping the gentrification as it makes its way down Chrystie. Visit Chrystie while there are still reminders of why we love the Lower East Side and Chinatown!
157 Chrystie Street – Sammy’s Roumanian
It’s hard not to have fun at Sammy’s, an old school Jewish joint that never gets old whether you’ve just discovered it or have been going since the 80s. You’ll feel like you’re at your best friend’s Bar Mitzvah each and every time, so get ready to get up, get dancing, and pour on the schmaltz!
Tenderloin steak at Sammy’s
161 Chrystie Street – Dixon Place
Part Lounge, part performance space – Dixon Place has been catering to the performance art scene since the 80s, though this particular location has only been opened since 2008. Come with an open mind to support the budding talent and get comfortable, because you’ll never know quite what to expect here.
167 Chrystie Street – New Beer Distributors
New Beer Distributors has one of the largest selections of beer for retail sale in the city, along with a few taps so you can take a growler away. Pick up a frequent growler customer card and get rewarded for your beer purchases!
189 Chrystie Street – The Box
One of the most raucous shows in the city, The Box puts on vaudeville-esque shows for the 21st century New Yorker whose unsurpassed shock tolerance may just be surpassed here. Reserving a table can get pricey and the door is tough without one, but most agree The Box is a must at least once in this lifetime for a late night romp.
191 Chrystie Street, 2F – Freemans
While the address says Chrystie, look instead for Freemans at the end of Freeman Alley off of Rivington. This trendy traditional American restaurant focuses on local produce and meat paired with excellent small batch spirits. Stop by for their quieter weekend brunch for a feel of ‘Old New York’ while noshing on some classics like their hot artichoke dip or smoked trout.
203 Chrystie Street – Neuman’s
One of New York’s premier catering services, Neuman’s, calls Chrystie home. Top quality service, food, and presentation at reasonable rates has made Neuman’s a standout among the many caterers in New York for over 30 years.
229 Chrystie Street – Subway
The Subway chain of restaurants was established in 1965 in Bridgeport, CT by a 17 year old boy as a way to make money to pay for his college education. Nearly 50 years later the company boasts more than 34,000 locations around the world, making it the #3 largest chain restaurant.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
What’s On… Chrystie Street? (Part 1)
Chrystie Street has two lives. During the day the bustling food markets of Chinatown and lumber and electrical suppliers reign king. Sara D. Roosevelt Park, spans the entire length of this seven block street and is a bustling community of its own while the sun shines with playgrounds for children and even hosts the city’s best location for bike polo, The Pit. At night, the scene changes as stores close and the park becomes home for some of New York City’s homeless. The lively Chrystie Street becomes admittedly desolate and a more subtle kind of life comes into play. Bars, clubs, and restaurants open their doors as night falls and the young hipster crowd flood the street.
We’ll split Chrystie into two. This month, Chrystie below Delancey and next month, Chrystie north of Delancey. Proving that the barrier between the Lower East Side and Chinatown is still a prominent one.
49 Chrystie Street – Yoshi Wine and Liquor
Stop by Yoshi Wine and Liquor for a last minute bottle of something tasty before you hop on the Lucky Star to Boston boarding just a few doors down. Prices are fair and the owners pleasant – what more could you want from a neighborhood liquor store?
51 Chrystie Street – Yaya Tea Garden
Bubble tea, iced tea, hot tea, tea jelly, you name it and they’ve got it at Yaya Tea Garden. The menu is complete with tea combos sporting fancy names like “clean clothes” or “Better Life” and snacks. Stop by for their Onigiri, or rice balls and nearly any mix of tea you can imagine.
55 Chrystie Street – 9 to 9 Happy Store
This recently opened convenience store, conveniently located just about where the Lucky Star bus doors open and shut is the perfect place to grab a snack for the sometimes very long trip to Boston. 9 to 9 carries a variety of interesting dehydrated Chinese and Japanese snacks as well as your reliable American convenience store nibbles.
55 Chrystie Street – T Baar
Head to T Baar for smoothies and bubble tea. Dedicated patrons claim that T Baar is best in the business while the cheap Chinatown prices keep the rest of us coming back for more. Check out one of T Baar’s other five locations in Borough Park, Brooklyn or on the Lower East Side on Eldridge Street in Manhattan!
73 Chrystie Street – Kung Fu Tea
Yet another tea spot on Chrystie, Kung Fu Tea carries the basic milk and bubble teas. The menu allows you to specify your desired amount of sweetness, ensuring that every order is customized just the way you like it, every time.
77 Chrystie Street – C & L Dumpling House
Stick to the dumplings at C & L Dumpling House – and at $1.25 for 5 of them, who wouldn’t want to? Granted, you’ll get what you pay for here (read: service, decor, cleanliness, ingredient quality) but the dumplings still manage to be tasty in a pinch at this relatively under the radar dumpling house.
79 Chrystie Street – Wah Fung #1 Fast Food
With one of the cheapest meals in the city Wah Fung seldom has a day when, come lunchtime, there isn’t a line out the door. The $3.00 (and seeming to rise) roast pork and chicken over rice is heaped into a container and certainly won’t leave you hungry. Although prime times are busy and lines can be long, it’s worth it to come then and scoop up some of the freshest meat and rice.
79 B Chrystie Street – Tao Hong Bakery
Beautiful cakes line the display case at Tao Hong Bakery, a lovely little bakery that takes pride in each detail of their sweet treats. Order a cake for a special occasion, or grab smaller cake or rice ball for a treat on the go.
81 Chrystie Street – Lucky Plaza
Lucky Plaza is known by their American clientele for their two person lobster deal – appetizer, lobster, and a main course for just about 20 dollars – and known by the Chinese locals for their Hong Kong style clay pot rice. While decor may be minimal and service gruff, the lobster was alive just before it came to your plate… and there’s always the karaoke room at the back of the restaurant to sing your sorrows away.
83 Chrystie Street – New Kim Tuong
Another great place on Chrystie Street for a cheap Chinatown lunch. The $3.50 roast BBQ pork over rice can’t be beat in these parts. If you’re up to your neck in the area with roast pork over rice, the Pi Pa duck rivals many others‘ in the city and is a must try.
131 Chrystie Street – Home Sweet Home
Crossing Broome Street from the South slowly brings you out of Chinatown and into the nightlife haven of the Lower East Side. Home Sweet Home is a subterranean dive that can get all too cozy as the night progresses. It’s your parents… or grandparents basement complete with taxidermy, knick-knacks and ugly lamps. The crowd is young, drunk, and sweaty so if that’s your bag grab a spot in line and hope for clement weather while you wait!
131 ½ Chrystie Street – Fig. 19
The owners of Home Sweet Home have opened a more intimate, grown up version of their rowdy good time downstairs. Fig. 19 is set behind a gallery space just up the stairs from Home Sweet Home, making it a part of the speakeasy style bar resurgence that has flooded New York. Fig. 9 comes complete with more taxidermy and serious bartenders mixing serious drinks. The door can be tough unless you know someone, so get to schmoozing to get behind Fig. 19.
139 Chrystie Street – Panda NYC
Part art gallery, part coffee shop, and part dance club Panda is the it spot for many LES hipsters who dig the DJ and art combo. Though the party at Panda doesn’t usually get off the ground until the wee hours, it can also double as a decent alternative when the line for Home Sweet Home is too long. Strap on your best pair of Nikes and get to breakin’ it down!
141 Chrystie Street – Chrystie 141 aka Mystique
Also known as Mystique, Chrystie 141 is a multi level club space complete with DJs, dancing and karaoke on the second floor. The vibe is a little space age, the door tough, and the scene not there yet, so most are saying it’s not worth the hassle.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
What’s On… East 1st Street? (Between 1st and 2nd Avenue)
East 1st Street between First and Second avenues has only recently become the block of wonderful brunch spots and restaurants it is today. Mostly a residential block, once with a public school and a smattering of shops has had a history ranging from a mirror company specializing in non-reversing mirrors, a gambling themed store, and Justus Schwab’s Saloon; a watering hole owned by socialist Justus Schwab whose regulars included famed anarchist Emma Goldman. Justus Schwab’s was the go to hangout for the radical movement of the late 19th century. Now, we can enjoy this block as the edge of the East Village and the start of the Lower East side both known for their rich histories and restaurants and nightlife of today.
43 East 1st Street – Cozy Cafe
Although the staff is pushy and the music blaring, the selection of hookah is wide and chances are, you’ll have a rowdy good time. Probably best set for the NYU crowd, Cozy Cafe delivers when you want some unique hookah in a pinch.
45 East 1st Street – Joe Doe
Fried Matzo, anyone? While their famous fried Matzo put them on the map, Joe Doe is full of many other delectable bites – all your favorites re-created with a menu that changes seasonally. Service can be on the harsh side, so mind your manners. *Try the ‘prepared beers’ for a unique treat and check out the newly opened JoeDough sandwich shop!
54 East 1st Street – Prune
Chef/owner Gabrielle Hamilton packs ‘em in (especially for brunch) at Prune. Be prepared for a wait (a no res policy for weekend brunch) to taste her menu, comprised of comforting yet simple and inspired American. The bone marrow is the winner for dinner, but for brunch every menu item is better than the last. Check out her new book, ‘Blood, Bones, and Butter’.
58 East 1st Street – Prima
Opened about 2 months ago, Prima is all about the seafood. A set-up reminiscent of a steakhouse, allows you to choose your fish and its preparation along with a selection of vegetable sides. Ask the bartender to mix you one of their stellar cocktails to complement your fish – or ask your waiter what might pair superbly with your cocktail.
64 East 1st Street – La Vie
At La Vie restaurant and hookah lounge, stick with the dancing and hookah and skip the restaurant. Though more club than laid back hookah lounge; La Vie delivers if you’re looking for a stress free night out. *Try the reasonably priced bottle service with your hookah for the best experience here.
68 East 1st Street – Tuck Shop
Tuck Shop, the go to Aussie Bakery for a different kind of pie. Meat pies abound here, fresh or frozen to take home and cook later. Try the traditional for a real taste of Australia and don’t forget to wash it down with one of their homemade sodas. *If you can’t get to Tuck Shop on 1st Street, try one of their other locations – St. Mark’s Place and Chelsea Market!
70 East 1st Street – The Juice Press
For serious juice heads (the good kind) and smoothie fanatics, the Juice Press is the place to be. Although it’ll cost you, it’s completely worth it – say fans of the cold pressed juices, smoothies, and raw food which are also available for delivery.
72 East 1st Street – Bluebird Coffee Shop
It’s all about the coffee at Bluebird, a neighborhood cafe where although ownership has changed, the coffee still remains. If it’s a good cup of joe you’re hankering for while meandering around the East Village or Lower East side, then Bluebird is one of your best bets.
1st Ave @ 1st St – Juicy Lucy
This stand at the corner of 1st Ave and 1st St needs no other introduction. Juicy Lucy has all the juiced delights you could ever want plus a can’t miss cafe con leche. Cheaper than other spots around (probably due to its lack of a brick and mortar rent to pay for), a line can form at peak times so plan accordingly.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
The late 20th century brought with it the rise of Amsterdam Avenue; becoming one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Manhattan at the time. Several institutes of higher learning call Amsterdam Ave home, including City College, John Jay College, Columbia University, and Yeshiva University as well as Saint Luke’s Hospital and New York Presbyterian Medical Center. While the backside of the Beacon Theater (est 1926) occupies most of the block between 74th and 75th streets on Amsterdam, there are some great choices for pre/post theater (or for any time!) on this and the surrounding corners.
167 74 Street – Levain Bakery
Just around the northeast corner of 74th street lies Levain Bakery. A tiny, decor-less, space (essentially a kitchen fronted by a counter), Levain dishes out some mighty tasty treats (notably their stellar chocolate chip cookie) that are worth the trip no matter where you’re coming from or where you might be headed – unless you might be headed to East Hampton, where they have a second location.
300 Amsterdam – Josie’s
Josie’s is a family friendly spot, specializing in fresh and organic fare. Best suited for lunch, Josie’s bright flavors and cheerful decor will leave you feeling refreshed. Some quip the prices are a little steep, but for the neighborhood and a satisfying meal – spot on.
303 Amsterdam – Freddy & Peppers Pizza
Pizza toppings abound at Freddy & Peppers where you can get just about any craving on top of a pizza pie. Goat cheese, beans, avocado, seafood, and even a ratatouille slice are all the norm here. *try the Chilean empanadas for an added bonus.
311 Amsterdam – Fusha West
If it’s Asian fusion you’re looking for, then Fusha West is a good bet. Although prices are what you’d expect for the neighborhood, most agree the decor and service can justify the extra dollar or two tacked on to each dish. *Try the guacamole with spicy tuna and wasabi chips.
164 75 Street – ‘Cesca
At the northeast coner on 75th street, ‘Cesca spells solid Italian for the Upper West Side. A front bar lends itself to ice breaking on many a first date; a precursor to a meal that may just sweep her off her feet for you. A nice Italian wine list and menu items that you haven’t seen a million times before make ‘Cesca a standby that we hope won’t go anywhere soon. *Like ‘Cesca? Check out their sister restaurant Accademia di Vino across town.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
What’s On…Bayard Street? (btwn: Mott and Elizabeth Streets)
The colorful past of Bayard Street in Chinatown began in the early 19th Century as its location landed it in the famed Old Sixth Ward and internationally known slum, 5 Points. Disease and unparalleled violence for over 70 years made Bayard Street a place that most did not venture. Mott (at Bayard St), came in to the news again in 1989 when police confiscated 820lbs of heroin from Peter Woo, then 71 and owner of Tai Pei Liquors, who was the largest importer of heroin at the time. Today, Bayard Street is still shrouded in a bit of mystery, located in the heart of Chinatown where we hope things haven’t been cleaned up too much – however, there are some wonderful finds for those seeking a different kind of adventure.
55B Bayard Street – Bubbly Tea
The name says it all – Bubbly Tea is the go-to location in Chinatown for bubble tea (tea mixed with tapioca beads). With many flavors, hot or cold, to choose from and a bonus snack menu, who can resist some Bubbly Tea? *They often have drinks on promotion; ask the cashier what you can get for a discount!
57 Bayard Street – Bayard Meat Market
Fresh, reasonably priced meat is what you’ll get at the Bayard Meat Market. Satisfyingly clean surroundings and a selection of dumplings and other cooked foods available for take-out make the Bayard Market a stop for many on their way home from work at night.
59 Bayard Street – Bayard Fish Market
Right next door to (and the sister market of) Bayard Meat Market is the Bayard Fish Market. A good selection of fish and shellfish as well as fresh produce make this, and the former, the only place you’ll have to stop before you head home to make dinner.
61 Bayard Street – Yuen Yuen
Unsuspecting Yuen Yuen has been a staple in Chinatown for as long as (at least the people who know it’s there) can remember. Yuen Yuen serves comforting home-style Chinese food at prices that don’t seem to have risen much since the beginning of time (most dishes come in at about $5!). Don’t let the non-existent decor deter you – stop in and try one of the glutinous ball soups and the almond tea.
64 Bayard Street – Mei Li Wah Bakery
Stop at Mei Li Wah for the pork buns and leave happy, very happy. At 80 cents each, it makes it easier to ignore the huge vats of MSG that pile up on the sidewalk outside.
65 Bayard Street – Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Authentic Asian flavors make the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory a go-to for year round ice cream treats. Stop by for flavors including black sesame, green tea, red bean, and almond cookie for a truly authentic Chinatown experience (at truly Manhattan prices).
65 Bayard Street – Old Sichuan
The Sichuan province in China is known for its spicy food and numbing Sichuan peppercorn. Old Sichuan aims to please those looking for just that. While not the spiciest Sichuan in the city, it ranks among the best of its kind if you’re in Chinatown. Nicer than average Chinatown decor make this haunt a go-to for out-of-towners.
66 Bayard Street – Nice Green Bo
The dumplings are indeed nice and the decor indeed green at Nice Green Bo. Stop in if you’re passing by to give their soup dumplings a try (in an area where the soup dumpling reigns king) – but don’t make it a special trip.
Famous lamb burger at Xi’an Famous Foods
67 Bayard Street – Xi’an Famous Foods
This NYC mini chain pumps out cheap and crave worthy fast food style Chinese food. Most say the cumin spiced lamb burger is the only way to go here (and indeed, it is addictingly delicious), but lamb and pork centered noodle dishes can certainly hit the spot also.
69 Bayard Street – Sun Lin Garden
Chinatowns favorite (and maybe only) “diner” serves the drunken college aged of Chinatown 24 hours a day. Dollar bills line the walls, and while it might not be food you’ll enjoy when you’re sober, regulars all have their own go to at 3AM earning this place a spot in the books as an NYC landmark we hope won’t ever go away.
69 Bayard Restaurant
70 Bayard Street – Neighborliness Bakery
Okay, so it’s not the cleanest place on the block, but the name says it all. Clientele is comprised mostly of an older set of neighbors making this place intimidating for some, but a natural choice for others. Sweet treats and coffee occupy most of the menu and are best for takeout if its Chinese desserts you’ve got a hankering for.
72 Bayard Street – Hsin Wong
Try Hsin Wong if you’re in the mood for the wonderful world of Chinese roast meats. Roast duck and pork are the stars of the menu here – but most will agree the congee is reputable as well. The lunch hour can get crowded and rushed, so try Hsin Wong for dinner at prices that will make you smile.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
This two block street, put on the map in the early 17th century was originally home to many of New York’s wealthy. The area was so popular in fact, that a bus was created to bring residents from Bond Street to their jobs downtown on Wall Street. The 1857 murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell took place on 31 Bond Street – a famed case where his wife, Emma Cunningham is said to have strangled and stabbed him at least 15 times. Though the case still remains unsolved Emma Cunningham will go down in history as the one suspected of this brutal, and famous murder. Today, Bond Street boasts only a few of its original Greek revival homes strewn in between luxury townhouses and lofts. Despite the seemingly dismal Bond Street economy with more empty store fronts than full, a few delectable restaurants whose menus you’ll want to save for a special occasion have weathered the recession.
6 Bond Street – Bondst
Come to Bondst for fresh sushi and refreshing tastes. This NoHo landmark can’t be denied its stellar sushi and 10 course tasting menu or its staying power for that matter, but is also known for the hefty price tag and sometimes stuffy atmosphere. If sophisticated sushi is your bag, then Bondst it is. *If you’re visiting Florida, check out Bondst on South Beach!
26 Bond Street – The Smile
Uber trendy (maybe too much so for its own good), The Smile delivers American bites reminiscent of a home cooked meal, that is – if your mother was Chef Melia Marden.
Some say The Smile tries too hard to be the low-key hang out it is, but others are content as they hide-out in the corner noshing on dishes that’ll make you smile – even if the staff won’t smile back.
45 Bond Street – Mercat
It’s hard to upstage Il Buco next door, but Mercat holds its own with well thought out Catalan tapas and an ‘all Spanish, all the time’ mind-set. The transporting white tile of the open kitchen sets the mood, and the tapas complete the experience. Dishes can be on the pricey side, but worth it for a special occasion. *Try the tuna tartar with pork rinds and yucca fries.
47 Bond Street – Il Buco
Il Buco keeps diners coming back for more with its delectable Italian-Spanish fare. It’s easy to guarantee that a meal at Il Buco will linger in your thoughts and taste buds for as long as it takes to come back again. *Start with the kale and end with the panna cotta!
55 Bond Street – Hung Ry
Bond Street is one of the only places where Chinese food and organic (at least in NYC), seem the norm. Their tasty hand pulled noodles and pledge for all things local bring a new standard and unconventional twist to the art of hand-pulled noodles. The prices certainly aren’t Chinatown, but neither is their mantra.
BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
What’s On… Irving Place?
Where Lexington Avenue meets Gramercy Park South lies a long-time village standby – Irving Place became a literary haven in the 19th and early 20th centuries, serving as the stomping grounds for O. Henry (though not it’s name-sake, Washington Irving) and housing the offices of literary magazines, The Dial and The Nation (the U.S.’s oldest, currently running magazine) who’s contributors include Jean Paul Sartre, George Orwell, and Hunter S. Thompson. The offices of the New York branch of the Rosicrucian Order, and Washington Irving High School also call Irving Place home.
17 Irving Place – Irving Plaza
Originally opened in 1860 as “Irving Hall”, Irving Plaza has long been a fixture in the music and theatre culture of New York City. Today, find rock acts on nearly any night of the week with a nationally known selection to suit any mood.
33 Irving Place – The Cottage
While The Cottage to most is just another mediocre Chinese takeout spot close to home – the NYU clientele see The Cottage as a free unlimited wine (with a purchase of dinner) haven. Sure, the wine may not be top notch but what poor college student can turn down free wine?
52 Irving Place – Casa Mono
Ok, ok so no one likes the eternally surly service found at Casa Mono – but no one can deny the fact that Chef Andy Nusser has created an inventive twist and visually beautiful array of classic Spanish dishes all while earning a Michelin Star. *Helpful Hint: Try your darnedest to ignore the rude, rude service, the food will taste that much better.
125 East 17th Street – Bar Jamon
Who can talk about Casa Mono without mentioning its sister bar, Bar Jamon? Located right next door (or around the corner if you will), though not on Irving Place, skip the ‘tude here and head straight for the wine list and chalked up menu of cold plates. Helpful staff will assist in choosing the perfect glass for your taste buds as you munch on a plate of paper thin sliced jamon. *Try the pulpo with spicy garbanzos.
53 Irving Place – Pierre Loti Wine Bar
One of three locations in Manhattan, this Irving Place venue is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner glass of vino. The comfortable, intimate atmosphere and long wine list may make it a little too easy to linger past your dinner reservation. Food is pricey for what it is, but selections of olive, cheese and charcuterie seem to be just what the doctor ordered.
54 Irving Place – Pure Food and Wine
Although pricey, this gourmet raw food establishment draws patrons from all walks of life – including those who are just curious about raw cuisine. Whether you’re a fan of the raw cuisine, or not no one can deny the beautiful presentations and the serene decor.
129 East 18th Street (Corner of 18th Street & Irving Place)- Pete’s Tavern
With its address on East 18th and its main entrance on Irving Place, Pete’s Tavern, established in 1864 is the oldest continually running bar and restaurant in Manhattan surviving even the prohibition era with a floral shop front. Come for the historic, friendly bar and skip the food.
56 Irving Place – C