Lower East Side - Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists

Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists (2016)

Map 4. Lower East Side



Neighborhood Overview


Map 4

Now characterized by bars and nightclubs and the high-heeled, cologne-drenched crowds that flock to them, the Lower East Side has traditionally been known as the epicenter of immigrant cultures. At one time the term "Lower East Side" applied to what's now called the East Village as well, but starting in the latter part of the 20th century, the two neighborhoods have commonly been referred to separately, with Houston Street as the dividing line. While the Lower East Side has the grittier reputation, with its sprawl of housing projects along the East River, and shared border with Chinatown on the southern and western edges, gentrification is quickly sweeping across the landscape; one of the more obvious signs is the incongruous Blue Condo rising above Norfolk Street.

Of all the groups who settled here, the area is perhaps most known for its Jewish roots, and traces can still be found if you look hard enough. A number of historic synagogues still stand, including Bialystoker Synagogue on Willett Street, and the Angel Orensanz Foundation, which has been converted into an art gallery. The venerable Katz's Delicatessen on Houston Street is an obvious starting point for any culinary tour, and if you still have room after all that pastrami, head to Russ & Daughters for bagels, smoked fish, and old world appetizing. If a light snack is what you're after, Kossar's Bialys is still one of the best deals in town. Once your belly is full, walk along the tenement buildings and discount clothing stores along Orchard Street until you reach the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. There you can tour restored apartments of actual people who lived in the area long ago, and thank your lucky stars that at least you don't share your tiny studio with a half dozen relatives.

The overlapping of Jewish, Puerto Rican and Chinese cultures, as well as the changes wrought by the neighborhood's rising attractiveness to developers make any walking tour fascinating. Along Clinton Street, old school Latino businesses stand side-by-side with cutting-edge eateries. On Broome Street, pungent Chinese vegetable markets encounter pricey boutiques. Art center ABC No Rio, which grew out of downtown's squatter movement and punk rock scene is located a couple blocks from the swanky Hotel on Rivington. You get the picture.

When you're done with history, you can always do some more eating. Check out the stalls at Essex Street Market—established in the 1930s to replace the pushcarts that once clogged these streets—for gourmet groceries, meats, and produce. If you're passing by on a Saturday, Hester Street Fair will give you a taste of the city's booming foodie scene with its many artisanal delights. And then there's the infamous nightlife, a slice of party heaven (or hell) clustered around Orchard, Clinton, Ludlow, Rivington, and Stanton Streets. If you're not up for impressing bouncers at Libation or downing vodka shots at Mehanata, do what we do and catch a show. Mercury Lounge is one of our favorite venues, and there's always something going on at Cake Shop or Arlene's Grocery. This is best attempted on a week night, of course. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Ready for a night out on the Lower East Side? Chug some cut-rate PBRs at Welcome to the Johnsons then head to Arlene's Grocery for rock n' roll karaoke. Or check out burlesque at Nurse Bettie, then get cozy on a couch at The Back Room. Or sample beers at Spitzer's Corner then catch a show at Cake Shop or Fat Baby. Go!

Lower East Side


Map 4

image Landmarks

✵ Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts ✵

172 Norfolk St [Stanton St]


Performance space in ex-synagogue. Amazing.

✵ Bialystoker Synagogue ✵

7 Bialystoker Pl [Grand St]


The oldest building in NY to currently house a synagogue. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad.

✵ Blue Condo ✵

105 Norfolk St [Delancey St]

Bernard Tschumi’s odd masterpiece.

✵ East River Park ✵

East River Park at Broome St


The park the FDR Drive built.

✵ Gouverneur Hospital ✵

621 Water St [Gouverneur St]

One of the oldest hospital buildings in the world.

✵ Katz’s Delicatessen ✵

205 E Houston St [Ludlow St]


Classic New York pastrami; I’ll have what she’s having!

✵ Lower East Side Tenement Museum ✵

108 Orchard St [Broome St]


Great illustration of turn-of-the-century (20th, that is) life.

image Coffee

✵ Caffe Vita ✵

124 Ludlow St [Rivington St]


Seattle coffee ballers’ first outpost east of the Mississippi.

✵ Konditori ✵

182 Allen St [Stanton St]


Cozy/packed mini-chain of Swedish coffeehouses.

✵ Kopitiam ✵

51 Canal St [Orchard St]


The Malaysian-style white coffee garners raves.

✵ Roasting Plant ✵

81 Orchard St [Broome St]


Custom-ground coffee. Theatrical.

image Farmers Markets

✵ Hester Street Fair ✵

Hester St [Essex St]

Fancy street grub and artisanal snacks every Saturday from April-Oct.

✵ Lower East Side Youthmarket ✵

Grand Ave b/n Pitt St & Abraham Pl

Sundays, July-Nov, 8 am-4 pm.

image Nightlife

✵ 151 ✵

151 Rivington St [Suffolk St]


Dependable, with cheap specials.

✵ 169 Bar ✵ 169 E Broadway [Rutgers St]


Sometimes good, sometimes not.

✵ 200 Orchard ✵

200 Orchard St [Stanton St]


Dance ‘til it hurts.

✵ Arlene’s Grocery ✵

95 Stanton St [Ludlow St]


Cheap live tunes.

✵ Bacaro ✵

136 Division St [Ludlow St]


Wine and pretty snacks from Venice.

✵ The Back Room ✵

102 Norfolk St [Delancey St]


The secret room is behind a bookcase.

✵ Barramundi ✵ 67 Clinton St [Rivington St]


Good cocktails in a low-key setting.

✵ The Bars at the Hotel on Rivington ✵

107 Rivington St [Ludlow St]


Groovy baby.

✵ Boss Tweed’s Saloon ✵

115 Essex St [Rivington St]


Oaken bartop. Jukebox divine. Surprisingly obnoxious, then.

✵ Cake Shop ✵

152 Ludlow St [Stanton St]


Coffee, records, beer, rock shows, and a “Most Radical Jukebox.”

Ready for a night out on the Lower East Side? Chug some cut-rate PBRs at Welcome to the Johnsons then head to Arlene's Grocery for rock n' roll karaoke. Or check out burlesque at Nurse Bettie, then get cozy on a couch at The Back Room. Or sample beers at Spitzer's Corner then catch a show at Cake Shop or Fat Baby. Go!

✵ Chloe 81 ✵

81 Ludlow St [Broome St]


Another secret bar you won’t get into.

✵ Clandestino ✵ 35 Canal St [Ludlow St]


Inviting bar off the beaten track.

✵ Clockwork Bar ✵

21 Essex St [Hester St]


Much needed punk rock dive in an increasingly chic nabe.

✵ Dark Room ✵

165 Ludlow St [Stanton St]


For dark deeds. Ask Lindsay Lohan.

✵ The Delancey ✵

168 Delancey St [Clinton St]


Overrated, but the roof is cool if you can get up there.

✵ Donnybrook ✵

35 Clinton St [Stanton St]


Upscale yet rustic pub for the professional crowd.

✵ Eastwood ✵ 221 East Broadway [Clinton St]


Drinks and eclectic grub + brunch.

✵ Fat Baby ✵

112 Rivington St [Essex St]


Excellent venue to see “Friend Rock.”

✵ Libation ✵

137 Ludlow St [Rivington St]


If you like this place, please leave New York.

✵ Local 138 ✵

138 Ludlow St [Rivington St]


Great happy hour. No douchebags most of the time.

✵ Los Feliz ✵

109 Ludlow St [Delancey St]


Taqueria/tequileria full of revolutionary splendor and a hidden subterranean labyrinth.

✵ The Magician ✵ 118 Rivington St [Essex St]


Hipster haven. The NFT cartographer loves it.

✵ Mehanata ✵

113 Ludlow St [Delancey St]


Keep an eye out for DJ Eugene Hutz.

✵ Mercury Lounge ✵

217 E Houston St [Essex St]


Rock venue with occasional top-notch acts.

✵ Mr. Purple ✵

180 Orchard St [Stanton St]


Crafty cocktails and a stunning 15th floor view of Manhattan.

✵ Nurse Bettie ✵

106 Norfolk St [Rivington St]


Cozy cocktails and burlesque. Recommended on weeknights.

✵ Parkside Lounge ✵

317 E Houston St [Attorney St]


Good basic bar, live acts in the back.

✵ Pianos ✵

158 Ludlow St [Stanton St]


Painful scene with decent live tunes.

✵ Set L.E.S. ✵

127 Ludlow St [Rivington St]


Drinks with above-average gastropub grub.

✵ The Skinny ✵

174 Orchard St [Stanton St]


Shimmy through sweating crowds in this appropriately named dive bar.

✵ The Slipper Room ✵

167 Orchard St [Stanton St]


Striptease for the arty crowd.

✵ Spitzer’s Corner ✵

101 Rivington St [Ludlow St]


40 beers on tap best enjoyed Sunday through Wednesday.

✵ The Ten Bells ✵

247 Broome St [Ludlow St]


Organic wine bar with candlelit Euro-vibe. Nice!

✵ Verlaine ✵

110 Rivington St [Essex St]


Mellow, French-Vietnamese motif with deceptively sweet cocktails.

✵ Welcome to the Johnsons ✵

123 Rivington St [Essex St]


Great decor, but too crowded mostly.

image Restaurants

✵ Antibes Bistro ✵

112 Suffolk St [Delancey]

212-533-6088 $$$

Good Frenchy (and affordable) date place.

✵ Bacaro ✵

136 Division St [Ludlow St]

212-941-5060 $$

Venetian snack bar.

✵ Barrio Chino ✵

253 Broome St [Orchard St]

212-228-6710 $$

Started as a tequila bar, but now more of a restaurant.

✵ Benson’s NYC ✵

181 Essex St [Houston St]

929-376-5574 $$$

Great bacon and beer selection. What else is needed?

✵ Black Tree ✵ 131 Orchard St [Rivington St]

212-533-4684 $$$

Super-eclectic and delicious; good for brunch or dinner if you can get in.

✵ Cabalito ✵

13 Essex St [Hester St]


Cheap, cheese-filled Salvadoran pupusas that hit the spot.

✵ Cafe Katja ✵

79 Orchard St [Broome St]

212-219-9545 $$$

The LES Euro zone welcomes Austria into the fold.

✵ Cheeky Sandwiches ✵

35 Orchard St [Hester St]

646-504-8132 $

New Orleans po’ boys dressed. The real deal.

✵ Clinton Street Baking Co. ✵

4 Clinton St [E Houston St]

646-602-6263 $$

Homemade buttermilk everything. LES laid back. Top 5 bacon.

✵ Cocoron 61 ✵

61 Delancey St [Allen St]

212-925-5220 $$$

Japanese Soba specialists.

✵ Congee Village ✵

100 Allen St [Delancey St]

212-941-1818 $$

Porridge never tasted so good.

✵ Contra ✵

138 Orchard St [Rivington St]

212-466-4633 $$$$

Inventive set menus highlighting seasonal ingredients.

✵ Creperie ✵

135 Ludlow St [Rivington St]

212-979-5521 $

A hole-in-the-wall that serves sweet and savory crepes.

✵ Dimes ✵

49 Canal St [Orchard St]

212-925-1300 $$$

California-to-table cuisine; young creative vibe.

✵ Dirt Candy ✵ 86 Allen St [Broome St]

212-228-7732 $$$

Haute-vegetarian that’s fun for all.

✵ Eastwood ✵

221 East Broadway [Clinton St]

212-233-0124 $$$

Fish ‘n chips, Scotch eggs, and, of course, kale.

✵ El Castillo de Jagua ✵

113 Rivington St [Essex St]

212-982-6412 $

Great cheap Dominican.

✵ El Maguey y La Tuna ✵

321 E Houston St [Attorney St]

212-473-3919 $$

LES Mexican.

✵ El Sombrero ✵

108 Stanton St [Ludlow St]

212-254-4188 $$

Cheap margaritas. Dates back to earlier days of the LES.

✵ Essex ✵

120 Essex St [Rivington St]

212-533-9616 $$$

Great space, OK food.

✵ The Fat Radish ✵

17 Orchard St [Canal St]

212-300-4053 $$$

Modern British eats with a hip, industrial backdrop.

✵ Fung Tu ✵

22 Orchard St [Canal St]

212-219-8785 $$$$

Chinese-American elevated beyond your wildest dreams; still no chop suey.

✵ Gaia Italian Cafe ✵

251 E Houston St [Norfolk St]

646-350-3977 $$

Super cheap BYOB Italian with superb food and strict rules.

✵ Georgia’s Eastside BBQ ✵

192 Orchard St [Houston St]

212-253-6280 $$

Recession buster: cheap, good, and filling.

✵ Hi Thai ✵ 123 Ludlow St [Rivington St]

212-677-7624 $

Tasty Thai eatery near bustling nightlife and shops.

✵ il laboratorio del gelato ✵

188 Ludlow St [E Houston St]

212-343-9922 $

Mind-bogglingly incredible artisanal gelato.

✵ Katz’s Delicatessen ✵

205 E Houston St [Ludlow St]

212-254-2246 $$

Classic New York pastrami; I’ll have what she’s having!

✵ Kossar’s Bialys ✵

367 Grand St [Essex St]

212-473-4810 $

Where NFT gets their morning bialys and bagels.

Sliders at the Meatball Shop and brunch at Clinton Street Baking Co. keep 'em lined up, but if you're with a group, just get a big table at Congee Village. We love Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop and Nonna's L.E.S. Pizza for a quick bite, and Shopsin's when we just need some good old fashioned mac n' cheese pancakes.

✵ Kottu House ✵

250 Broome St [Ludlow St]

646-781-9222 $$

Spicy Sri Lankan goodness, good veg options too.

✵ Kuma Inn ✵

113 Ludlow St [Delancey St]

212-353-8866 $$

Spicy Southeast Asian tapas.

✵ La Contenta ✵

102 Norfolk St [Delancey St]

212-432-4180 $$$

We’re contented with the fish tacos and margaritas, gracias.

✵ Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle ✵

144 E Broadway [Essex St]

212-566-6933 $

Noodles hand-pulled before your eyes, no frills, little English.

✵ LES Enfants de Boheme ✵

177 Henry St [Jefferson St]

646-476-4843 $$$

French goodness deep in the heart of the LES.

✵ Lowlife ✵

178 Stanton St [Attorney St]

212-257-0509 $$$

Doggedly local, seasonal New American cuisine.

✵ The Lucky Bee ✵ 252 Broome St [Orchard St]

917-262-0329 $$$

Quality Southeast Asian cuisine.

✵ The Meatball Shop ✵

84 Stanton St [Allen St]

212-982-8895 $$

Amazing balls in many different varieties.

✵ Mission Chinese ✵

171 East Broadway [Essex St]

212-529-8800 $$$

Always packed Chinese hipster spot is worth the hype.

✵ Nakamura ✵

172 Delancey St [Attorney St]

212-614-1810 $$

Internationally renowned ramen.

✵ Noah’s Ark Original Deli ✵

399 Grand St [Suffolk St]

212-674-2200 $$

Great Jewish deli.

✵ Nonna’s L.E.S. Pizzeria ✵

105 Clinton St [Delancey St]

212-477-2708 $

Get a grandma slice.

✵ Pig and Khao ✵

68 Clinton St [Rivington St]

212-920-4485 $$$$

Filipino fusion that’s all good—short rib, pork belly, chicharron, ahhh.

✵ Prosperity Dumpling ✵

265 Broome St [Allen St]

212-343-0683 $

Super cheap; best of the hundreds of dumpling houses around.

✵ Russ & Daughters Cafe ✵

127 Orchard St [Rivington St]

212-475-4881 $$$

Cheery café serving up fish noshes from popular retail store.

✵ Schiller’s Liquor Bar ✵

131 Rivington St [Norfolk St]

212-260-4555 $$$$

Loud, good, loud, good.

✵ Set L.E.S. ✵

127 Ludlow St [Rivington St]

212-982-8225 $$$

Go for the sliders and the clams casino…and drinks, of course.

✵ Shopsin’s ✵

120 Essex St [Rivington St]

212-924-5160 $

Kenny’s back! Get your Blisters on My Sisters in the Essex St Market.

✵ Souvlaki GR ✵

116 Stanton St [Essex St]

212-777-0116 $$

Perfect Greek sandwiches to transport you away to the islands.

✵ SOY ✵

102 Suffolk St [Delancy St]

212-253-1158 $$

Japanese home cookin’. Tiny space.

✵ The Stanton Social ✵

99 Stanton St [Ludlow St]

212-995-0099 $$$

Cocktails and unique small plates for trendy thirty-somethings.

✵ Sticky Rice ✵

85 Orchard St [Broome St]

212-274-8208 $$

Thai treats, Asian BBQ, BYOB, and Wi-Fi?!

✵ Sugar Cafe ✵

200 Allen St [E Houston St]

212-260-1122 $$

If its 2 am and you need some sugar.

✵ Sweet Chick ✵

178 Ludlow St [Houston St]

646-657-0233 $$$

Your basic chicken ‘n waffle hangover solution.

✵ Teanyssimo ✵

90 Rivington St [Orchard St]

212-475-9190 $$

Vegan tea room and Moby hang-out.

✵ Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop ✵

129 Rivington St [Norfolk St]

212-228-4919 $

Great art work on the walls, complements delicious sandwiches in your belly.

✵ Wassail ✵

162 Orchard St [Stanton St]

646-918-6835 $$$

High-end cider on draught and in cocktails plus vegetarian cuisine.

✵ Wildair ✵

142 Orchard St [Rivington St]

646-964-5624 $$$

Cozy wine bar with inventive dishes.

image Shopping

✵ Babeland ✵

94 Rivington St [Ludlow St]


Sex toys without the creepy vibe.

✵ Bike Works ✵

106 Ridge St [Rivington St]


Friendly, small place for repairs; consistently top rated.

✵ Bluestockings ✵

172 Allen St [Stanton St]


Specialty—political/left wing.

✵ Boba Guys ✵

23 Clinton St [Stanton St]

Artisanal bubble tea.

✵ Chari & Co. ✵

175 Stanton St [Clinton St]


Cozy Japanese bike shop with down-to-earth staff.

✵ Dah Bike Shop ✵

134 Division St [Ludlow St]


BMX experts. Totally rad!

✵ Doughnut Plant ✵

379 Grand St [Norfolk St]


Great, weird, recommended.

✵ Economy Candy ✵

108 Rivington St [Essex St]


Floor-to-ceiling candy madness.

✵ Edith Machinist ✵

104 Rivington St [Ludlow St]


Where to buy your vintage boots and bags.

✵ Erin McKenna’s Babycakes NYC ✵

248 Broome St [Ludlow St]


Awfully good vegan, gluten-free pastries, and cupcake tops!

✵ Essex Street Market ✵

120 Essex St [Rivington St]


Classic public market with a great combo of old-school and fresh-faced vendors.

✵ Frank’s Bike Shop ✵

533 Grand St [Jackson St]


Sales, repairs, and rentals.

✵ il laboratorio del gelato ✵

188 Ludlow St [E Houston St]


Mind-bogglingly incredible artisanal gelato.

✵ Joy’s Flower Pot ✵

40 Hester St [Essex St]


Flowers, succulents, cacti, air plants, and too-cute terrariums.

✵ Kossar’s Bialys ✵

367 Grand St [Essex St]


Oldest bialy bakery in the US. The absolute sh**.

We buy our gear at Ludlow Guitars, retro glasses at Moscot, jewelry at Wendy Mink, groceries at Essex Street Market, and uhhh…just browse at Babeland. Bluestockings is worth a look for activist lit, Economy Candy has everything, and if you're hungry, hit Kossar's Bialys, and Doughnut Plant.

✵ Labor Skate Shop ✵

46 Canal St [Orchard St]


Hip skate kids roll on in to hang and pick up a cool board.

✵ Ludlow Guitars ✵

172 Ludlow St [Stanton St]


New and used vintage guitars, accessories, and amps.

✵ Melt Bakery ✵

132 Orchard St [Rivington St]


Surprising, tasty, seasonal ice cream sandwiches.

✵ Moishe’s Bakery ✵

504 Grand St [E Broadway]


Best babka, challah, hamantaschen, and rugalach.

✵ Moscot ✵

118 Orchard St [Delancey St]


Glasses like your grandfather used to wear.

✵ Narnia ✵

161 Rivington St [Clinton St]


So many awesome articles. So few dollars to buy them with. Expensive, beautiful vintage.

✵ Project No. 8 ✵

38 Orchard St [Hester St]


Fashionable Euro-boutique.

✵ Roni-Sue’s Chocolates ✵

148 Forsyth St [Rivington St]


Chocolate-covered bacon and other sweets sold from inside Essex Market.

✵ Russ & Daughters ✵

179 E Houston St [Orchard St]


Fab Jewish soul food—lox, herring, sable, etc.

✵ Saxelby Cheesemongers ✵

120 Essex St [Rivington St]


All-American and artisinal.

✵ September Wines & Spirits ✵

100 Stanton St [Ludlow St]


Wines from a variety of family-operated vineyards. Free tastings!

✵ Streit’s Matzos ✵

148 Rivington St [Suffolk St]


Making the real deal since 1925.

✵ Top Hops ✵

94 Orchard St [Delancey St]


Sip a beer while you shop for more beer.

✵ Wendy Mink ✵

72 Orchard St [Broome St]


Unique, affordable jewelry that’s handmade in NYC.

✵ xCubicle ✵

25 Essex St [Hester St]


Game system and smartphone repair.

✵ Zarin Fabrics ✵

314 Grand St [Allen St]


Major destination in the fabric district.