Travel

Lower East Side Restaurants

Establishment neighborhood
Wildair
142 Orchard St., Lower East Side
COVID-19 update: The duo behind Wildair continue to pivot. Currently the most exciting pastries and sandwiches in New York come from here. Abvailable for pickup and delivery. Chef duo Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske Valtierra of Contra opened a more casual wine-bar-meets-restaurant spot a couple doors down on Orchard Street in the summer of 2015, which has proven to be an LES standout. All of the seating is at high-top, communal tables, and it's walk-in only. The wine list is first-rate, but this isn't just a spot for drinks, so come hungry and attempt to order as many of the very shareable plates as you can. COVID-19 disclaimer: We are working hard to keep our listings as up to date as possible (deliveries, outdoor dining, etc.), but given the evolving nature of local COVID-19 restrictions, we recommend double-checking the information in this guide with any business you plan on visiting. Also, please note that we have not vetted any businesses listed within our guides for their compliance with applicable safety regulations.
Freeman’s
Freeman Alley at Rivington St., Lower East Side
Nestled in a back alley that's decorated overhead with twinkle lights and on the sides with greenery, Freeman's is still going strong after all these years. The classically hipster interior (taxidermied animals and velvet floral couches abound) is dark and cozy, making it best suited to warm winter meals. Food-wise, the menu is simple but never boring, with options like a cracked wheat salad, house-made pork and fennel sausage, and seriously good Ipswich clam fritters. Sitting in the private wine room, tucked away in the back, feels a bit like eating a meal in a family member's kitchen.
Dirty French
180 Ludlow St., Lower East Side
COVID-19 update: Temporarily closed. Rich Torris's restaurant group first got attention for Torrisi, a (now-closed) Italian joint that re-imagined classic dishes. As its name suggests, their second venture, Dirty French, does the same for French food. The thing to order is definitely the mille-feuille (it's a riff on the original dish that substitutes paper-thin mushrooms for puff pastry), but the whole menu—and, by the way, wine list—is excellent. The quirky décor is imbued in every part of the experience, from Bruce High Quality Foundation sculptures to frilly antique serving trays. You'll only need a group of 30 to justify an entire buy-out of the space, which gets really dolled up around the holidays. COVID-19 disclaimer: We are working hard to keep our listings as up to date as possible (deliveries, outdoor dining, etc.), but given the evolving nature of local COVID-19 restrictions, we recommend double-checking the information in this guide with any business you plan on visiting. Also, please note that we have not vetted any businesses listed within our guides for their compliance with applicable safety regulations.
Russ & Daughters Café
127 Orchard St., Lower East Side
While take-out from the 1914 original on East Houston is an unparalleled New York City experience, the new, wonderfully turned-out, old-world café is about a ten minute walk from the mothership, with waits that are two or three times that long. We heartily recommend the classic open-face sandwich, the super heebster nosh with wasabi roe, and matzo ball soup. Dying to try next: Chocolate babka french toast, along with their potato pancakes, which are topped with Gaspe Nova smoked salmon and a sunny side up egg.
Ivan Ramen
25 Clinton St., Lower East Side
As its name would suggest, when it comes to ramen, Ivan and company know what they are doing (Ivan is actually a Jewish kid from Long Island who is obsessed with Japanese cooking). The Red-Hot Cold Mazemen is delicious, while the cold spicy sesame noodles topped with prawns are a great alternative on hotter days. If you go for dinner, they’re most famous for Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazeman and Four Cheese Mazeman, which they only serve at night—the Tokyo Shio Ramen, loaded with egg, pork chashu, and roast tomato is a bit lighter. If you're not into noodles, the pork meatballs, garnished with bonito flakes, Chinese broccoli prepared in a sweet soy and garlic sauce, and the Tofu Coney Island, which is essentially an Asian spin on chili cheese fries are all insanely good. Heavy, but delicious. There's also an Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in Gotham West Market.