Exploring NYC's Lower East Side

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On Travel Savvy’s first episode of Around the Corner, we took to the streets of one of Manhattan’s oldest neighborhoods, the Lower East Side.

Historically, the Lower East Side was a working-class neighborhood and home to 19th-century immigrants. Today, the area has become a hotspot destination for foodies and stylish shoppers alike. These streets are where you'll find the best fried chicken, delicious boozy cupcakes, burlesque shows, haunted speakeasies, art galleries and so much more.

Eat + Drink

  • Our first stop of the day was Kossar’s. Founded in 1936, it is one of the oldest bagel and bialy bakeries in NYC… and one of the most delicious. After all, you’re not a true local New Yorker unless you start your day with a hefty dose of carbs and coffee.

  • From Seinfeld to Friends, every NYC-based television show has typically featured an 'all-night eats' joint where the neighborhood gang gathers for drinks and plot development. We’ve come to expect nothing less from the Remedy Diner, a classic 24/7 no-frills diner boasting a menu of key lime pies and cheeseburgers, and a colorful local LES cast of characters who come to dine almost daily.

  • If you’ve never had a taquito, your first trip to the unassuming Taquitoria, located on Ludlow Street, is going to be life-changing for your taste buds. A neighborhood favorite of the drunk-munchies crowd, Taquitoria is the perfect pitstop during a night of savory Lower East Side shenanigans.

  • Now with multiple locations around lower Manhattan, The Bean is a quintessential NYC coffee shop boasting some of the best dirty chai lattes in the city. Expect menu items with playful names (like the “Nutella Fitzgerald”) and eclectic decor crafted by local Lower East Side artists to go with your delicious vegan treats and espresso drinks.

  • Themed restaurants would be kitschy anywhere else, but on the Lower East Side, a wolf-themed eatery fits right in. At Wolfnights, on the corner of Rivington and Ludlow streets, patrons can perch on porch swing seats and gobble up gourmet wraps with names like “Once Bitten” and “The Howling,” making this restaurant’s quick-service feel like anything but fast-food.

  • Once a gimmicky ice cream truck, Big Gay Ice Cream now operates in two storefronts in lower Manhattan. Thanks to the rave reviews signature flavors have received, namely the “Salty Pimp” which is a soft serve cone covered in chocolate and salt, this ice cream shop has a consistent line out the door (and occasionally around the block.) Worth it? Ask any local, and they’ll say “most definitely!”

  • After our host Paula met up with the owners of Prohibition Bakery, Travel Savvy staffers have become addicted to these delicious boozy cupcakes. Specializing in alcoholic spiked-and-flavored miniature cupcakes, this bakery offers delicious treats ranging from “pretzels & beer” and “car bomb” to “dark & stormy” and “Pimm's cup.” 

  • Travel Savvy guest Jesse Malin owns multiple businesses in the East Village, including Black Market, which promises patrons "burgers, brunch, and beyond." From cocktails and oysters to french fries and eggs Florentine, this cozy neighborhood joint is one of our staffer's go-to's. 

  • A favorite among visitors, college students, locals, and Travel Savvy staffers alike, the long-standing Ukranian diner Veselka will forever be recommended as one of the best authentic brunches the East Village has to offer.

Shop + Discover

  • Next, we headed around the corner to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Not only can visitors tour real tenement apartments that were once home to hundreds of immigrant families (complete with costumed reenactment actors), but also take a full walking tour of the entire LES neighborhood.

  • Your one-stop shop for all things occult, Enchantments has been a staple in NYC’s historic East Village since 1982. From magically inspired candles and crystals to spellbooks and herbs, there is something to delight and surprise anyone who walks into this one-of-a-kind shop. Plus, because of the location, you’re just a hop and a skip away from the best restaurants and shops the East Village and Lower East Side has to offer.

  • Searching for the quintessential Lower East Side boutique shopping experience? Located in the heart of the East Village, Cloak and Dagger is a store that offers apparel and accessories ranging from name brand items to one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.

  • Previously a booth at the 26th Street flea market in Chelsea, Fabulous Fanny’s has grown into an East Village retail destination selling an eclectic variety of vintage and vintage-reproduction glasses, frames, and quirky accessories.

  • Whether you’re hunting for medicinal herbs or culinary spices, the East Village’s Flower Power has one of the biggest selections of organic herbs, roots, flowers, leaves, and seeds in the city.

  • You'll find everything from petite succulent plants to glowing rose quartz crystals at the Crystal Garden, a tiny floral shop that's the perfect place to find rare gifts for the hard-to-shop-for people in your life.  

  • Many Travel Savvy guests have already professed their love for historic Trash and Vaudeville clothing store, catering to the East Village punk rock scene since 1975. Regulars include pretty much every lower Manhattan rocker, from Jesse Malin to Blondie.  

Filed Under: brunch, cocktails, coffee, desserts, dive bars, East Village, food, Lower East Side, New York, restaurants

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