Lower East Side Restaurants
43 Canal St., Lower East Side
Portuguese and Spanish vibes take center stage at this cozy Lower East Side spot from restaurateur Nialls Fallon and chef Nick Perkins, partners known for their Bed-Stuy restaurant, Hart’s. The menu is simple but satisfying, with a seafood bent: cockles with Vinho Verde and garlic; Maine scallops with endive and Basque peppers; a whole Boston mackerel with aioli; platters of Cape Cod and Washington State oysters. And the dishes pair well with a glass of unfortified white from the Iberian peninsula. There’s also a juicy grass-fed lamb burger and a roasted half chicken with asparagus and paprika. For the true Portuguese experience, come for Sunday brunch, when Cervo’s serves a classic fisherman’s breakfast, consisting of sardines, house-cured trout, and pickled red peppers on toasted sourdough.
177 Chrystie St., Lower East Side
A partnership between Taavo Somer (Freeman’s) and Carlos Quiararte (The Smile), the French-inspired food at Le Turtle is supposed to be great, but people are really coming for the experience: the wild interior (two-way mirrors, shiny surfaces, neon lights, and so on) seems like a sight to be seen.
The Musket Room
265 Elizabeth St., Lower East Side
The menu is divided into five sections: Powhiri, Kaimoana, Papatuanuku, Ranginu, and Ka Kate, meaning introduction, seafood, land, sky, and farewell in Maori.
104 Bayard Street, Lower East Side
The first thing to know about this airy, minimalist Mexican restaurant is that it’s a “no avocado zone.”
37 Canal St., Lower East Side
Even in a neighborhood full of charming restaurants, this bistro, named for the most famous Brigitte we know, Bardot, stands out.
Dr. Smood Organic Café
181 E Houston St., Lower East Side
Healthy fast food seems like an oxymoron—but Dr. Smood has cracked the code. The menu has six categories (power, immunity, beauty, detox, energy, and health) all of which are certified kosher. Whether you’re looking for a juice cleanse, a latte infused with anti-inflammatory turmeric, salads or sandwiches, this is an easy, super-delicious place to get something fast.
138 Orchard St., Lower East Side
New York's new guard of young chefs are doing things differently at Contra. Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske (also of Wildair) are striving to create and define a new food identity specific to New York City alone, and given the packed seatings, awards, and consistently good reviews—their approach seems to be working. They serve a set menu self-described as "ambitious," so expect everything from uni paired with verbena to skate with beets. The restaurant does not accommodate any changes to the menu, so be sure to check it ahead of the time if you have dietary restrictions.
215 Chrystie St., Lower East Side
Jean-Georges and Ian Schrager are a formidable combination, and their new iteration of The Public in the East Village is no exception. The restaurant itself features a quintessentially East Village patio with greenery winding up the fence, and an interior that centers on two wood-fired grills and a rotisserie. Dinner is all about Jean-Georges' inventive takes on classic dishes, like a cheeseburger with frizzled onions and house-made pickles, and a squash pasta with bacon, jalapeño, and arugula.
205 E Houston St., Lower East Side
A legendary Jewish deli, Katz’s originally opened in 1888 under a different name, and across the street from its current location on Houston and Ludlow. It was an institution long before the iconic orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, although it didn’t hurt. Most people come for either the hot pastrami or corned beef sandwich, or the Reuben version, which adds Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Katz’s credits its slow curing method, which can last up to a month, for the meat’s superior taste. (You’ll also find matzo ball soup on the menu, along with everything else you’d expect/want, as well as less traditional offerings for a Jewish deli, like NY-style cheesecake.) For those outside of the city, note that Katz’s ships across the States.
86 Allen St., Lower East Side
Fun fact: Amanda Cohen was the first vegetarian chef to compete on Iron Chef America—and she also wrote the first graphic novel cookbook published in North America. Unsurprisingly, her restaurant is insanely delicious, whether you’re a veg or not.
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