East Village Restaurants
111 E. 7th St., East Village
Ravi DeRossi’s collection of vegan restaurants and cocktail bars (Mother of Pearl, Avant Garden, cienfuegos) are all delicious; Ladybird, backed by animal-rights activist/musician Moby, has tons of tapas—hummus crudites, vegan fondues, and veggie toasts. All of the cocktails are packed with vegetables, so they feel a just little bit virtuous. The late-night happy hour re-creates classic bar food from mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings to mac 'n' cheese—all of which are mind-blowingly good.
119 St Marks Pl., East Village
While NYC has its fair share of Vietnamese restaurants, what's great about this cozy St. Mark's spot is the mix of inventiveness and authenticity: the pho is extremely rich and layered and served sans the traditional American side of lime, and the spring rolls have an unexpected crunch thanks to fried wonton shells. It's also a great brunch option, if you're looking for something other than traditional breakfast fare—crispy rice crepes, fried eggs, and salmon roe, all of which pair well with a pot of their hot Coconut Oolong.
Tim Ho Wan
85 4th Ave., East Village
Since its' opening in late 2016, this NYC outpost of the famed Hong Kong chain has been packed – like, lines around the block packed. Known by many as the world’s cheapest Michelin restaurant, Tim Ho Wan boasts an extensive menu – some highlights include excellent crispy turnip cakes, baked BBQ pork buns, and deep-fried eggplant with shrimp. Unlike some other popular dim sum spots, it has limited seating and no carts, but it’s also open all day, which means you can get your dumpling fix any time between 10am and 10pm.
430 E. 9th St., East Village
Superiority Burger made a name for itself with chef Brooks Headley's (formerly the pastry chef of Del Posto) rakish take on vegetarian fast food. The menu is brief, but you can't really make a bad choice—the small-but-mighty veggie burger, a Sloppy Dave (their version of a Sloppy Joe), and burnt-broccoli salad are stand-outs. Daily specials range from soarana beans with parsley to kabocha squash with pea shoot pepita pesto. Grabbing one of the few seats is basically a competitive sport, so better take your food over to Tompkins Square Park and grab a bench. Check their Instagram feed for daily specials. They're closed on Tuesdays.
18 E. 2nd St., East Village
Considering New York's reputation when it comes to Mexican food, it's possible that Rosie's was actually transplanted here from LA. Even the décor feels a little California, with pale-green, geometric chairs, string lights hanging above the bar, and sliding doors that open the corner space to the street in warm months. The menu has all of the classic craving-satisfiers, including tacos al pastor, queso fundido, and a tart, lime-ey margarita. The easy vibe makes it the kind of place that's great for feeding a big group without a fuss.
Empellón Al Pastor
132 St. Marks Pl., East Village
There is nothing fancy or gimmicky about chef Alex Stupak’s third south-of-the-border-inspired restaurant. What separates Al Pastor from Taqueria and Cocina are the modest prices and super approachable vibe—everything is served on paper plates, the seating is first-come, first-served, and tacos start at $4. The taco al pastor is stuffed with spit-roasted, chili-spiced pork and pineapple, and the guacamole is really good, too. Plus, there’s a giant mural on the ceiling that’s essentially the East Village equivalent of the Sistine Chapel—a must-see if you’re into gigantic llamas.
265 E. 10th St., East Village
The décor is nothing special, but the Middle Eastern dishes—standards from tabbouleh to falafel, plus their trademark oven baked "pitzas" (that's a pita served like a pizza)—are more than a cut above your standard Turkish café. Plus, it's really well-priced. We love this as a lunch option or as a crowd-pleasing take-away. There are also locations in the West Village and in Harlem.
156 E. 2nd St., East Village
This relaxed, affordable Italian place in Alphabet City has a menu that reads like a greatest hits list of Italian classics. Their private rooms (you'll need at least 15 people) are perfect for a big family birthday party, with a prix-fixe menu served family style.
90 3rd Ave., East Village
The food here is full of flavor and spice (the dan dan noodles are particularly insane). It's a no-frills kind of place, but the BYOB policy and reasonable tabs make it a great place to go with a group on a budget. There's also a location on the Upper West Side.
216 E. 10th St., East Village
At this quaint, no-frills shabu spot, you dip thinly sliced beef, tofu, and vegetables in boiling water placed right in the middle of the table. And for those seeking vegetarian options, their menu extends far beyond their specialty shabu shabu, and includes awesome bibimbaps.
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