Lower East Side
104 Bayard St., 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.
The Flower Shop
107 Eldridge St., Lower East Side
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.
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.
149 Essex St., Lower East Side
A sort of choose your own wellness adventure, this light, bright, Lower East Side spa has a luxe nail salon with 5-free options, massages, and a café all under one roof. Start your experience with an adaptogen-spiked turmeric latte (they have their own line of Chillblend powders to help you relax, energize, and detox) while you check out the nail-art menu that changes seasonally—we’re totally obsessed with the Matisse- and Yayoi Kusama-inspired designs. Massages range from the short Express (25 minutes of deep tissue work) to the more-intense, aptly named hourlong Chill Pill. Photos: Dillon Burke
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
If you think about it, the concept for this East Village hotel is pretty revolutionary: Offer topnotch service and accommodations without the pretense or hefty price tag. Rates for the elegant, generously sized rooms are reasonable and include breakfast; instead of traditional room service, there’s the market-style Louis). Whether for dinner (Jean-Georges Vongerichten is in charge of the menu) or a drink, the Public Kitchen is a favorite. The rooftop bar is quintessential Ian Schrager, with clubby lights and a serious late night crowd.
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.
180 Ludlow St., Lower East Side
The hotel itself makes for a really lovely stay for visitors—particularly if you're looking for a place to post-up during the day and get some work/reading done: The lobby is a gorgeous lounge space with a distressed limestone fireplace, cozy leather couches mixed with vintage furnishings, Moroccan-style rugs, and chandeliers with a romantic glow.
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