I've shared my Introduction to NYC and my West Village guide, but today I'm here to share my guide for East Village. If I had to identify myself with a neighborhood in the city, it would not be East Village…at all. That said, don't let it's grunge keep you away. There are some incredibly talented chefs and mixologists that attract the young and old.
Where To Go
For an intimate, speakeasy date
This is a place to go for a date when things are headed toward getting more serious and it's time to step up your game. As a first date, these spots might be a little too intimate and exclusive, but they are not to be missed once things go to the next level.
- Death & Company – This no reservations speakeasy is recognized for their incredible cocktails, but they also have a small wine and beer list. I advise showing up early, especially if you are with more than one person, otherwise they will call you should something become available. The vibe is dark, moody, and sexy – a perfect date night stop for a cocktail to remember.
- PDT – Accessed through a vintage phone booth within Crif Dogs, this speakeasy wins for the most fun and adventurous entrance. Like Death & Co, it's very small inside so availability is limited. I had an incredible Mezcal Mule paired with a 2 Poc Dog from Crif Dogs next door, which you can order and they pass through a tiny window. I love how exclusive it is, yet not pretentious.
- Angel's Share – Located upstairs in a Japanese restaurant, Village Yokocho, this popular speakeasy is secretive from the outside but from the inside overlooks the Stuyvesant triangle. The talented mixologists serve creative cocktails, many with Japanese techniques. I personally love to sit at the bar if I can get a seat, with a beautiful mural overhead. The East of the Sun cocktail is amazing, but I'm sure they rotate their menu. Since I moved, they have opened a second location down the street!
For comfort food with anyone, anytime
No matter crazy weather, stress, or whatever might be going on in your life, these warming classics will soothe your soul and make for one happy belly.
- Ippudo – This Japanese Ramen Noodle Brasserie has an hour-long line out the door during winter for good reason. The pork buns are messy and delicious, and the ramen (also messy, ha) revives the body from any remote feelings of frostbite. I never grew up eating ramen, so this restaurant was a fantastic introduction to how amazing such a simple, accessible food can be.
- Supper – This cash-only, rustic Italian trattoria in Alphabet City is somewhere to spend hours talking over a comforting bowl of homemade pasta. It's tucked away from the crowds of East Village with a casual yet candlelit atmosphere.
For Breakfast & Brunch
- Russ & Daughters – If you like Seinfeld and you like bagels, you should go here. The experience, specifically the service, feels like an episode straight from the show or like you are going back in time. I noticed it the first time I went there and it was comical to say the least (note: bagel nazi). The bagels with lox and the smoked fish are authentic and it shows. So. Good.
- Poco – This popular, casual brunch spot is perfect for meeting up with friends to talk about where you went out last night, over mimosas of course. The portions are huge (see above right) to replenish your system if you went a little too crazy.
For a spontaneous casual outing
All of these places have multiple locations within the city, but I don't feel like calling them a chain would give them justice. To me, they were the reliable places to turn to in moments of uncertainty that everyone would enjoy.
- The Mermaid Inn – With three locations in the city, this cute, upscale-casual seafood joint offers a $1 oysters happy hour, a selective variety of seafood favorites, and a nice drink list. I've enjoyed the Grilled Spanish Octopus appetizer and Mermaid Fish Tacos, in addition to oysters of course!
- The Standard – With another location in the Meatpacking District, the vibe and offerings in East Village are much different. I went to Cafe Standard many times as an after work spot!
- The Smith – The original location, which has since expanded all over the city, is an upscale but approachable modern American restaurant with a large menu, offering something for everyone. I've had their mussels, steak salad, macaroni & cheese, …well probably half of the menu!
For girls night out
- Rosie's – I typically hosted my birthdays in the city at my apartment (an epic dinner one year, and an unforgettable brunch the next), but for what turned out to be my last birthday in the city, I went to Rosie's! I had returned from a trip to Montreal the night before, so it seemed like a smart decision. I had been to the colorful Mexican spot a few times before, and needless to say, it was a hit! The atmosphere is perfect for groups looking to have a fun, lively meal (and to leave with a pretty insta). I specifically enjoyed their brunch, made even better by the bright natural light from the large windows that surround the space.
- The Blind Barber – Classic barber shop from the front, rowdy cocktail bar in the back. Unlike most speakeasies, this one is a bit larger in size, therefore accommodating dancing and groups.
For a sweet tooth
- Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream – This gourmet ice cream shop was one of the last places I went to in NYC, and it was cold in November. They do classics very well, have interesting flavors (like peanut butter marshmallow crunch and earl grey tea), and offer vegan ice cream too! There was always a line when I went, so prepare to walk out with your ice cream and pray you don't drop it!
- Momofuku Milk Bar – Disregarding my fan-girl attitude towards Christina Tosi (fellow Master Chef fans anyone??), this bakery sells really fun, quirky cookies, truffles, cakes and pies. People often brought them into the office so I was able to try many of her weird concoctions, but they were always so nostalgic and delicious!
For those who follow dog Instagram accounts
Want to meet your favorite dog on Instagram? Head to the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade! I could have spent all day, walking around the square laughing at the adorable dogs and the owners who often matched their dogs. The owners were passing out business cards to follow their account, something that would have been unimaginable five years ago.
Where are your favorite places in East Village? Any new places I should try next time I visit?