The Ultimate Manhattan Neighbourhood Guide: East Village

Where: From the East River to 3rd Avenue, between 14th Street and East Houston Street.

Tucked away from the main tourist attractions, the East Village is the perfect place to get a taste of what life is really like in New York. If you’re into eating, drinking or shopping, this effortlessly cool neighbourhood will make you never want to leave!

Things To Do

  • Just like me, the East Village is made for eating and drinking. With new bars and restaurants opening constantly, there’ll always be somewhere great to try. Take advantage of the numerous happy hour deals and watch your afternoon fly by.
  • Shop like the trendy locals and find yourself a gem at one of the many vintage stores, or just look at the clothes in utter confusion like I did.
  • Grab a picnic from a local deli and settle in to an afternoon in Tomkins Square Park.
  • Catch some independent theatre. The area has everything from musicals to audience participation murder mysteries.

Where To Eat

  • Katz Deli: New York isn’t New York without pastrami and Katz has some of the best. Served in monster sandwiches, it’s a favourite with both locals and tourists alike, just make sure you know what you want as the servers can get grouchy. The sandwiches are pricey but you’ll easily be fine getting one for two people to share.
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar: You’ll be hard pushed to find NYC food guide that doesn’t contain at least one member of the Momofuku family. The East Village Noodle Bar is one of the first of the group but has been moved around to bigger units to accommodate the demand. The current location even contains the novelty of real tables instead of just bar service. 
  • Veniero’s Pastry ShopAs a huge Cake Boss fan, I arrived in NYC incredibly excited to visit Carlo’s Bakery but after a fairly average cannoli from the Times Square store I took it upon myself to find a better bakery (because who else is going to try multiple cakes a day? Life is hard). Whilst almost all of the independent bakeries I sampled would trump Carlo’s, Veniero’s was definitely my favourite. Try anything, but the strawberry shortcake is especially incredible.
  • Baohaus: Somewhat of an institution, Baohaus serves amazing Taiwanese buns dreamed up by celebrity chef and TV host Eddie Huang. The restaurant is tiny but the Chairman Bao is well worth the wait. Sometimes they’re even open till 3.30am so you get the best quality drunk food you’ll ever not remember having. 
  • S’mac: S’mac was easily one of the best places I’ve ever eaten in New York although my love of cheese (real cheese, not American cheese) may make me biased. There are plenty of ready-made options on the menu but I’d recommend creating your own with whatever cheeses and toppings you want. I ended up with hot dogs, bacon and beef but I’m sure you could pick some veg if you’re that way inclined.

Where To Drink

  • BarcadeIf you love bars but hate the idea of actually having to talk to your friends, then Barcade is for you. Alternatively, if you like your friends but you’re just looking for something a little different to do with your evening, this is the perfect place. They have a huge selection of old school arcade games as well as an extensive beer menu and good quality bar food.
  • PDT: Despite the name standing for Please Don’t Tell, everyone and their cat seems to want a piece of this trendy speakeasy. Located behind a phone booth in a hot dog shop, my personal favourite NYC bar offers perfectly crafted cocktails along with the fanciest tater tots you’ll ever eat. Be warned though, it’s crazy popular and they only take reservations on the day from 3pm. We called at 3:15 on a Tuesday and couldn’t get a table until midnight.
  • Lois: Say draught wine and what do you think? My head automatically goes to a slightly dodgy, family owned Italian restaurant, but Lois is trying hard to change that. The minimalist, Scandinavian style bar serves up to 16 different wines on tap with the aim of keeping the drinks fresh and the prices down. Whilst I can’t really taste the difference, you can’t argue with the fact that low prices are good prices.
  • Holiday Cocktail Lounge: Whilst it can hard for a long running institution to survive alongside the influx of modern, trendy establishments in cities like New York, the Holiday Cocktail Lounge remains a firm favourite. It has all the character of a classic dive but with the menu and quality of a high class cocktail bar. 
  • Anywhere with a Happy Hour: Whilst there are some truly outstanding places to spend your evening, the streets are lined with great bars packed with locals, all offering a great, laid back atmosphere. Experience the all-American pickleback, a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. Apparently it’s a tradition but I’m still convinced the barman was bored and wanted a laugh.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Manhattan Neighbourhood Guides coming soon!

Katie x

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