The East Village & Lower East Side Guide
For whatever reason, the East Village has somehow escaped a lot of the glossifying that other Downtown neighborhoods have experienced over the past several years. That gritty, urban feeling has attracted a host of cool (dare we say, hip) bars and restaurants, making this arguably the city’s best choice for a long night out.
Angel’s Share8 Stuyvesant St., East Village | 212.777.5415
Tucked away on the second floor through a hidden door in a Japanese restaurant, this speakeasy-style hideaway serves really great cocktails. The best part though is that they only allow a handful of parties in at once (and limited party sizes at that), meaning that it's never crowded. (Never crowded does not mean that you sometimes don't have to wait.)
Bowery Hotel Bar335 Bowery, East Village | 212.505.9100
Ideally located where NoHo, the East Village, and Nolita meet, this hotel's bright bedrooms and contrastingly cavernous bar attracts the rockstar set—for scene, but also for comfort. Downstairs, Gemma is a good spot for a drink (it’s also a good dinner option for bigger groups). There's a great bar on the second floor that's often rented out for events—and sometimes only available for hotel guests. But it's always worth asking.
Death & Co.433 E. 6th St., East Village | 212.388.0882
New York is full of prohibition-themed bars, but this one stands out for its incredible drinks. The space, dark and intimate, is meant for small parties to enjoy their drinks and snacks over quiet conversation (make a reservation as seating is scarce). The drink menu is sorted by spirits, then by "shaken" or "stirred," so you're bound to find something that meets, and then exceeds, your very particular expectations. Don't miss the incredible food, which justifies arriving with an empty stomach.
Mayahuel304 E. 6th St., East Village | 212.253.5888
With its extensive tequila and mezcal menu, this bar intends to enlighten us all about the two great Mexican imports, and it works: They make some great cocktails from each. There's also a surprisingly lengthy menu of inventive small plates, meaning that a trip here is an education in modern Mexican cuisine, too.
Please Don’t Tell (PDT)113 St. Marks Place, East Village | 212.614.0386
Criff Dogs—a hot dog joint—was an institution even before PDT (Please Don't Tell) came onto the scene. It's one of the best bars in the city for fantastic cocktails dreamed up by owner Jim Meehan, whose book of recipes has brought good, old fashioned cocktails back into the modern lexicon. Plus, there are deluxe hot dogs on the menu to accompany your drinks. It's a tiny, dark space, and the setting is intimate on purpose, so it can be hard to get a seat. Drop by early to put your name on the list—they're great about giving you a call when a table is available. >>Photo: Noah Kalina
The Third Man116 Avenue C, East Village | 212.598.1040
This Vienna-inspired cocktail bar—named after the classic 1949 British noir film—has a clandestine feel, with lots of iron beams, exposed brick, and dim lighting. Come for a well-mixed cocktail and Austrian small plate.
Mother of Pearl95 Avenue A, East Village | 212.614.6818
Mother of Pearl's elevated take on the tiki bar is unapologetically vibrant. Couches are done in retro floral prints, and bright orchids and lilies sit atop teal-patterned tables. Long, gathered white curtains separate an open, airy front sitting room from the bar, which is outfitted with kelly-green-topped stools. The cocktails, likewise, are decorated with flowers (and fruit) and are just as festive. The bar snacks hold up, as well, and there's a larger brunch menu on the weekends.
Miscelanea63 E. 4th St., East Village | 212.253.0277
Tortas beat out tacos at this small, cozy, yet teeming market. Grab one of the delicious Mexican-style sandwiches to go (favorites include chorizo and egg) with an agua fresca to wash it down, or stop in to shop all good things that are hard to come by elsewhere: from traditional ingredients, like Oaxaca cheese and great Mexican coffee, to less traditional selections, like tequila- and mezcal-infused jams, and paletas (ice pops); also, authentic (amazing) salsas, chiles, masa, and other spices; and even beauty products, like the original, healing, beautifying Mayan clay mask from Tulum Spa. On a warm day, try the iced coffee with horchata (sweet rice milk).
The Flower Shop107 Eldridge St., Lower East Side | 212.257.4072
This ‘70s-inspired Lower East Side bar-slash-restaurant is one of our favorite spots. Upstairs there are comfortable booths to melt into after a long day, short day—or anytime you just really need a cocktail. The bar snacks are good, especially the cauliflower steak on a bed of farro drizzled with tahini. Downstairs feels like a tricked-out version of your cool neighbor’s basement—pool table, sunken fireplace, and jukebox included, plus walls covered with tapestries and kitschy-cool posters.