Miles from the sketchy, drug-infested neighborhood it was in the 1980s, today’s East Village houses a swath of the city’s finest eateries. From David Chang’s Asian-fusion dishes, or the tangiest barbecue you’ll find anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon, this vibrant section of downtown Manhattan offers myriad choices sure to please your palate.
Escape to Napoli if only for an hour when you wander inside this narrow but inviting spot on First Avenue. Distinctly different from the average New York pizzeria, Luzzo’s crafts out-of-this-world pies such as the Napoletana (tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, basil) and the Salsiccia E Broccoli (mozzarella, sausage, broccoli rabe, basil) from one of the few remaining coal-fired ovens in town.
213 1st Ave, L train to 1st Ave, (212) 473- 7447
In the heart of Alphabet City, this unassuming trattoria delivers decadent Italian recipes in a cozy, brick-walled space. Menu items range from the octopus carpaccio with lemon juice, chives, and pepperoncini, to pizzette Margherita topped with fresh mozzarella. Opt for a perfectly cooked pasta dish followed by the roasted pork chop garnished with Borlotti beans, and top off your meal with a bottle from Lavagna’s award-winning wine list.
545 East 5th St, F train to 2nd Ave, (212) 979-1005
Discover Mediterranean and Moroccan plates in an enchanting setting when you visit this East Village landmark. A classic since 1983, Mogador endures and thrives despite the neighborhood’s ongoing change. The café has been voted one of the city’s best brunches, and rightfully so, as its friendly service and use of organic ingredients keep loyal customers returning time and time again.
101 St Marks Place, 6 train to Astor Place, (212) 677-2226
Pardon My French
Craving charm and a Croque Madame? Then PDF (no curse words here) should be at the top of your restaurant list. Besides its globally influenced menu, the bustling bistro is loved for its late-night hours (until 4 a.m. on weekends), as well as handsomely donned waiters complete with French accents. Pardon My French serves wines “a la ficelle” ––an entirely new concept to New York –– whereby price is calculated by the amount you drink. Don’t miss the “Drunch” (drunken brunch) every Saturday and Sunday.
103 Avenue B, F train to 2nd Ave, (212) 358-9683
Greek food enthusiasts no longer need to trek to Queens for traditional dishes like spanakopita and galaktoboureko. The East Village’s location promises authentic, varied menu choices appealing to carnivores, pescetarians, and vegetarians alike. With its casual ambiance and stellar service, TK attracts a full house nightly.
228 1st Ave, L train to 1st Ave, (212) 432-0011
The Big Apple happily welcomes Quinn’s moist, flavorful version of the Texas and Carolina staple. Arguably the tastiest barbecue you’ll find in the five boroughs, the succulent brisket will satiate any meat lover’s appetite. While the humongous smoked Brontosaurus Rib isn’t for the faint of heart, you can share this caveman-appropriate portion with a pal, albeit garnished with a side of the creamy broccoli slaw.
103 2nd Ave, 6 train to Astor Place, (212) 677-3733
Visually stunning as well as pleasing to the taste buds, David Chang’s upscale flagship pushes the word gourmet to a higher level. Its multi-course tasting menu, although labeled “American,” boasts strong Asian influences. A real gem for special occasions, Momofuku Ko provides an extraordinary but costly dining experience, with the Omakase pricing at $175 per person.
8 Extra Place, F train 2nd Ave, (212) 203-8095
Basque-inspired tapas charge the menu at Huertas, where you’ll chow on migas, papas, and salchicha, among other small plates carried on trays to your table. Want a taste? Don’t be shy. And if that round doesn’t look appetizing, you can catch a bite of the next. This dim-sum style of serving is ideal when you don’t want to commit to a large plate, and prefer a more laid-back approach to dining. A selection of craft cocktails, local brews, and Spanish wines round out the menu, which also includes a chef’s tasting at $55 by reservation.
107 1st Ave, 6 train to Astor Place, (212) 228-4490
Big spenders will opt for the kaiseki menu at this under-the-radar Japanese, but don’t let the hefty prices scare you away as you’ll have the choice of ordering a la carte for a fraction of the cost. Known for its Kyoto-style cuisine, Kyo Ya steps far beyond the Japanese norm, offering adventurous eats undoubtedly worth the splurge. Try the sweet potato tempura, miso cod, and pressed sushi.
94 East 7th St, L train to 1st Ave, (212) 982-4140
With no freezer on the premises, this rustic oyster bar brings in, preps, and serves its ingredients on the same day. A variety of East and West Coast oysters, charcuterie, and a small selection of main plates such as beer-steamed mussels and spaghetti with clams are regulars in the lineup. An impressive tap selection and rotating wines by the glass complete the offerings in this woodsy East Villager with a chill atmosphere in a compact space. If you’re on a budget, aim for the weekday happy hour where you can order six oysters and a draft for just $12.
95 1st Ave, 6 train to Astor Place, (212) 408-3395