New York City Destination Guide: Lower East Side and East Village

The East Village and Lower East Side have largely avoided the widespread glossification seen in other parts of Downtown Manhattan—though that’s not to say that these two lively neighborhoods haven’t rapidly evolved in the 21st century. Still, they retain many vestiges of their past as bastions of bohemianism and creativity, including the characteristic grit and beatnik energy that ranks them among the most iconic districts in NYC. Here, HAP’s guide to the East Village (EV) and Lower East Side (LES). 

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Where to Stay:

Credit: Stephen Kent John

Nine Orchard

With the opening of Nine Orchard, there’s officially no longer a dearth of design-centric hotels below Delancey. Housed inside the historic 100-year-old Jarmulowsky bank building are 113 swanky rooms styled in residential-style luxury. Delectable drama is delivered at full tilt in the lobby, where the Swan Room buzzes beneath a glorious vaulted ceiling.

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The Ludlow

This sleek LES boutique is a handsome homage to the neighborhood’s industrial origins. The lobby scores major cozy points with its exposed brick walls, low-slung leather couches, and a wood-burning fireplace, while white walls and four-poster beds keep the guest rooms bright and airy. Signature restaurant Dirty French remains one of the most coveted dinner reservations in the hood.

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Moxy Lower East Side

Inspired by the vibrant culture of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the Moxy LES is a new boutique stay that represents the area’s history like no other. The catwalk entrance leading to the eclectic lobby and guest rooms draws from the area’s entertainment hub past, equipping playful wallpapers and unseemly acrobatic figurines hanging from chandeliers. Grab a bite to eat at swanky in-house Japanese restaurant, Sake No Hana, then spend the night partying at the hotel’s sleek underground nightclub, Loosie’s.

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Where to Eat:


The sister restaurant to Contra (also worth checking out), Wildair offers a spectacular wine selection and creative seasonal dishes that are perfect for sharing. Menu highlights include beef tartare with smoked cheddar and chestnut, fried squid served with inky aioli, and romaine and pistachio salad.

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Legendary restaurant Veselka in Little Ukraine has been serving homestyle Eastern European fare for over 60 years. Beyond old-country classics like borscht, stuffed cabbage, and pierogies, you can score an incredible Angus beef burger. 

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This Dimes Square dinner joint is a paean to Iberian cuisine, with a sharp spotlight on seafood delights like crackly-fried shrimp heads (eat them whole!), briny Manilla clams in Vinho Verde, and breaded skate wing mingle. The Piri-Piri chicken and lamb burger are also stellar choices. All bites pair perfectly with natty wines and expertly-shaken martinis.

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Hanoi House

Tucked off Thompkins Square Park, this perenially popular restaurant cooks up some of the best Vietnamese in NYC. The phở is an insanely flavorful concoction of gingery-garlicky bone broth base, with pickled garlic and bone marrow punching it up an extra notch. Small plates like the crunchy pig ear papaya salad and pork summer rolls with crunchy fried onions are just as divine. 

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Where to Drink: 

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Death & Co.

Many credit Death & Co. for igniting America’s craft cocktail revolution, and though the mixology craze may have begun over a decade ago, the popularity of this East Village institution hasn’t wavered. There are dozens of libations to choose from (go for the Rita Hayworth, made with pineapple-infused tequila) plus excellent small dishes like tuna tartare and rib-sticking truffle mac and cheese.

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Skin Contact

Skin Contact on Orchard Street is a rare wine bar that satisfies (sans pretension) wine snobs and amateur oenophiles alike. The candle-lit hideaway prices most glasses at under $15—a refreshingly approachable price for top-quality juice.

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A basement bar beneath a Rivington Street sushi joint might make you think “speakeasy,” but it’s anything but. Lullaby is essentially a low-key discotheque dressed up as a neighborhood watering hole, fueled by cocktails that are just whimsical enough (try the frozen Dole Whip) and music you’ll want to Shazam at every other track.

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Where to Visit: 

Credit: Sing Sing

St. Marks Place

St Marks Place—8th St between Third Ave and Ave A—is one of Manhattan’s most culture-packed stretches of pavement and arguably the most famous in the East Village. This relatively short street bustles day and night with quirky boutiques and street vendors, ethnic eateries and grungy bars, and so much more. Food highlights include a Moroccan brunch at Cafe Mogador, sushi-making classes at Osaka, and Crif Dogs’ legendary hot dogs. End your night with karaoke at Sing Sing.

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Essex Market

Though Essex Market has existed since the 19th century, it moved to a shiny new complex across Delancey Street that also has a movie theater and access to an adjoining subterranean food hall called The Market Line. Whether you’re searching for hand-made pasta, organic produce, or fresh-caught seafood, Essex Market has it all. Don’t pass up a gluttonous greasy spoon brunch at Shopsin’s, or a flavor-packed North Indian feast at Dhamaka.

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Tenement Museum

This immersive living museum sits inside several resorted Orchard Street tenement apartments, transporting visitors to the 19th and 20th centuries when waves of immigrants settled in the LES. Guides in period costumes narrate different tours from a first-person perspective, opening a portal to the struggles and achievements experienced by newcomers to America. 

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New Museum

Rising like a stack of metal blocks on the Bowery, the New Museum (designed by Tokyo architecture firm Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA) is NYC’s only dedicated contemporary art museum. Since it’s a non-collecting institution, the museum collaborates directly with artists to produce new exhibitions and facilitate dialogue directly with audiences.

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