Latest and Greatest on the Lower, Lower East Side
Once the grittier, harder-partying sibling of Manhattan’s East Village, the Lower East Side today is more Michelin-stars than dive bars, and the scene seekers are heading even farther south. Writer and LES dweller Charlotte Steinway shares her picks of the top new spots below Delancey Street
“When I first moved to Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the location was perfect for my post-college budget and 22-year-old partying needs. Bordered by Nolita, Chinatown, the East Village, and just a 20-minute jaunt across the bridge to Williamsburg, I welcomed the proximity to my favorite Ludlow Street watering holes, while my parents were grateful for the dose of history and culture housed within the nearby (and honestly, excellent) Tenement Museum. It was a win-win for everyone.
And yet as three years passed in a New York minute, my buzzing ‘hood ceased to pique my interest. While I may occasionally frequent some of the same Ludlow street bars (I’m talking to you, Pianos) and historic Houston foodie standbys (Katz’s Deli, Russ and Daughters), my choice diversions have since shifter farther south — south, specifically, of Delancey Street.
This new lower, Lower East Side has already spun off its share of realtor-friendly acronyms — LoHo is Lower Houston, BelDel is a reminder you’re below Delancey — but in reality, this microneighborhood has been coming into its own for years. Just look at Orchard between Delancey and Grand, with craft beer bottle shop-cum-tasting bar Top Hops, candlelit Austrian date spot Café Katja, and late-night dancing den Casa Mezcal. Now, there are even more new kids on the block, making it worth trekking toward Chinatown or venturing east to the river."
Here, check out the six new staples of Lower East Side South, from surf-themed coffee shops to Dim Sum dance parties.
Eastwood 200 Clinton St.
Israeli born Sivan Harlap teamed up with her Scottish husband for this bar and adjacent takeout hub on Clinton and East Broadway, specializing in each of their respective regional favorites, fish & chips and falafel. Get to Eastwood before eight for their two-for-one happy hour (where you can score two Green Flash IPAs for under $10 total), and place a food order through the takeout window next to the bar: the kale salad and Israeli Scotch egg (a hardboiled egg fried in falafel batter) are both excellent.
Lost Weekend NYC 45 Orchard St.
The Lower East Side’s response to SoHo’s wildly popular Saturdays Surf, Lost Weekend NYC is a coffee shop-cum-surf shack, carrying hipster surf attire (think graphic tees and board shorts), Malin + Goetz grooming products, Mast Brothers chocolate and Blue Bottle coffee. Grab a cold-brewed iced coffee (ironically served in a hot to-go cup every time) and sit on the wooden chairs out front for prime people-watching.
The Leadbelly 14 Orchard St.
Last year, the team behind Orchard St. staple the Fat Radish opened this cocktail and oyster spinoff across the street. With live musical performances every night of the week and a DJ spinning tunes on weekends, Leadbelly transcends just the happy hour crowd. That being said, they do have dollar oysters and drink specials every weekday until 8 p.m., so it’s well-worth starting your night early and staying on for the live jazz.
Frank’s Chop Shop 19 Essex St.
Though this four-seat barbershop has been around since 2006 (when they allegedly shared a wall with a brothel next door), it’s recently become a favorite in the celebrity circuit: Danny Brown, Drake, and Jake Gyllenhaal have been known to pay head barber Mr. Bee a visit when they’re in town. Frank’s Chop Shop's Essex street space also serves as a storefront, selling scissor-adorned five panel hats and tailored bomber jackets.
Malt and Mold 221 E. Broadway
Every burgeoning neighborhood needs a quality craft microbrew and cheese shop. The Lower, Lower East Side’s is Malt and Mold, the just over a year-old shop with five taps (fit for growlers from 16 to 64 oz), a high quality selection of bottles, and various artisanal odds and ends from East Coast cheeses to imported olive oils to Brooklyn chocolate. Stop by on Saturdays, when they spotlight a different weekly-rotating brewery and offer free beer tastings from 3-6 p.m.
88 Palace 88 E. Broadway
Because drinking in a speakeasy behind a pawnshop or deli was so 2012 (see Beauty & Essex, Sons of Essex), the folks at MeanRed productions upped the ante by throwing a party in the middle of a working dim sum restaurant. Every month or so, MeanRed hosts Dark Disco at 88 Palace, with a pop-up cash bar and DJ booth. Recent acts have included electronic masterminds Cyril Hahn, Ryan Hemsworth and Jacques Greene; look out for a performance by Parisian trap newbie DJ Snake come November.
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