East Village Restaurants
300 E. 12th St., East Village
This is East Village granola heaven. In the frill- free space, you'll find lots of rice-based dishes with all kinds of healthy combinations to suit your tastes.
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.
88 Second Ave., East Village
This homey, neighborhood joint churns out delicious and affordable Italian comfort food. Frank Prisinzano, for whom the restaurant is named, developed a menu comprised of his family's best dishes and continuously sources top-notch ingredients, which makes for a pretty excellent meal any day of the week. Plus, his wine cave downstairs boasts a vast array of regional Italian wines from Piedmonte to the Veneto.
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.
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.
65 4th Ave., East Village
The NYC Ippudo locations are the only branches in the United States. The noodles are hand-pulled on-site and cooked perfectly al dente. They're known for the super-flavorful tomkotso version, but we love the Miso Ramen and pork-free Wasabi Shoyu. They have some more contemporary restaurant-style dishes here, but the traditional ramen bowls are really where it's at. Prices are low, and it's first come, first sit, so be prepared to wait. The other location is in Midtown.
130 St. Marks Pl., East Village
Frill-free and well-priced for omakase (there's a 12-piece option for $85), everything here is dressed and plated by the 70-year-old chef Ishizuka (grab a spot at the 12-seat bar to watch him work). You won't find wasabi or soy sauce—only ginger, as it's traditional to the max: In fact, it’s only marked outside by a white wall with a blue curtain, that's bedecked with a small white bow. Highlights: Belt fish, squid, red snapper, and seared salmon. Photo: Jebb
111 East 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.
19 First Ave., East Village
The team behind Frank bring the same homey, rustic appeal to this pizza and pasta spot, where you can grab a great Italian meal and wash it down with a regional wine. There's a covered garden in the back.
8 Extra Pl., East Village
David Chang's Ko is a multi-course gastro experience, while the Noodle Bar next door is its laid-back, no-reservations, ramen-specific sibling. Meanwhile, up the street, Ssam Bar, which is attached to Milk Bar, offers a wider range of options. Chang, who is now legendary, does pretty revolutionary food, whether it’s noodles or pork buns, meaning that if there’s just one must-try foodie experience downtown, one of his restaurants would probably be it. At Ko, the reservation policy is a bit tough (email at 10 a.m. EXACTLY for the same night, tables are gone by 10:03) but worth a shot. >>Photo: Noah Kalina
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