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Where to Eat, Drink & Stay in the Lower East Side

By Kathy Buccio | May 4, 2018 | Lifestyle

The Lower East Side is booming with prime real-estate, art galleries, music venues, and some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. For a glimpse at what the Lower East side has to offer, check out our favorite places to eat, drink and stay in one of Manhattan's hottest neighborhoods.

Where to Eat



Sometimes small and simple is good, just ask the talented and creative team at Wildair, Contra’s more laid-back and fun sister (and a little more reasonably priced), where the wine is stellar and so is the inventive menu that comes along with it. Try the Tête de cochon on toast, with nduja, swiss chard or the Beef tartare (cheddar, horseradish, brazil nuts), which is perfect for sharing (all dishes are meant for sharing) with your fellow mates. A vast and extensive wine list might be challenging to decipher if you’re not well versed in grapes, but the friendly and knowledgeable sommeliers on site will help you choose the right red or white varietal to pair with your dishes. Communal dining is a thing at Wildair, where the space is well-lit, inviting, and gives off some sleek industrial vibes meshed with some pre-war elements (hello, brick walls). Orchard St., 646-964-5624

Ivan Ramen

Ramen’s moment in the dining spotlight doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon and with good reason- it’s comforting, slurping goodness is a feel-good treat. Case in point- Ivan Ramen in the Lower East Side. After much success at his Gotham West Market fast-casual spot, Slurp Shop (and two other Tokyo-based ramen restaurants), Ivan Ramen set up shop, literally, on Clinton Street. You can’t go wrong with any of the Ramen dishes, but order the Tokyo shoe ramen for some pork belly goodness. There are also non-ramen items that worth ordering like the steamed pork buns and the Japanese fried rice. The wait is worth it. 25 Clinton St., 646-678-3859

The Meatball Shop

It’s meatballs all day and all night at this Lower East Side staple that has patrons bum-rushing the shop right when it opens. Founded by childhood friends, Dan Holzman and Mike Chernow, The Meatball Shop is family-friendly-casually-fun establishment where balls- meatballs- are the name of the game. With the help of a meatball cheat sheet and a trusty black marker, foodies can mix and match their meatball selections and pick from five varieties of meatballs, including classic beef, pork, chicken, veggie, and the daily special and then pair them with house-made sauces like classic tomato, pesto, parmesan cream, spicy meat, and mushroom gravy. Order them as is, in a hero, a smash (on a brioche roll with melted mozzarella or provolone), or my personal favorite, over a bowl of their freshly-milled polenta. Ice cream and freshly baked cookies are all made in-house, and include favorites like the Snickerdoodle and the double chocolate chunk. Whether you pop in for brunch or dinner, make sure to order the signature Whack-A-Mole, a cocktail that includes tequila, lime pomegranate, and mole. 84 Stanton St., 212-982-8895

Where to Drink



Nitecap, a drinker’s paradise, which has been around for a few years now in the LES, continues to draw revelers to its ‘dark and stormy’ yet intimate digs on Rivington. True to it’s name, its the ideal spot for a nightcap after dinner or right before wrapping up the night. The mixologists behind the bar take their libations seriously here, and I suggest sampling a few of their unique cocktails such as the School Night or the Turbo Lover. Go big or go home with their $80 shareable punches for groups of four to six peeps. You won’t find another spot like this in the neighborhood. 151 Rivington St., 212-466-3361

The Flower Shop

Pop into the Lower East Side’s The Flower Shop and immediately feel like you’ve taken a time machine to your grandmother’s 1970s home. Wood paneling, Victorian flower wallpaper, and flea-market find frames, is the decor du jour at this happening resto-bar. While the grub is food, it’s the downstairs bar that patrons really dig. Play a round of pool, or strike a pose by the bubble-gum pink fireplace, but make sure you do it with a cocktail in hand. Order the cucumber gimlet, a refreshing libation that goes down smooth. The Flower Shop delivers on cool, hip, and trendy with a side of truth or dare in your grandma’s basement. 107 Eldridge St., 212-257-4072

Sel Rrose

A taste of that 20th century Parisian elegance and joie de vivre, is almost discreetly tucked away on the corner of Bowery and Delancey. Sel Rrose is not only charming and divine once you walk through those pale pink doors, but the purposely exposed brick and cement walls gives it an extra nod to the weathered decadence that makes it a popular drinking spot. Come here for their carefully crafted cocktails and oysters—lots and lots of oysters—and if you come during happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily), those oysters will cost you a buck eaah. From Wellfleet to Bonitas, at Sel Rrose, they take their oysters seriously. Back to the cocktails, though. The Lavender Piscine, an amazing champagne drink made with lavender ice, herbs de provence syrup, and grapefruit bitters, is a crowd pleaser. The Santa Rosa (tequila, rosebud dyrup, lime juice, orange bitters, and sparkling rosé) is a bubbly refresher that pairs nicely with bivalves. Grab a stool at the bar. It’s the best seat in the house. 1 Delancey St., 212-226-2510

Where to Stay

Bowery Hotel


The spirit of Old New York minus the stuffiness lives on at the Bowery Hotel. Located on the intersection of the Lower East Side and the East Village, the Bowery Hotel is a frequent haunt of some the city’s most fashionable and famous set. Nevermind the Instagrammable fireplace in the hotel lobby, the cozy yet elegant furnishings and mood lighting also translate into The Lobby bar, where guests can take a seat in one of the plush couches and indulge in a cocktail or two. Floor to ceiling factory-style windows with views of the city skyline, give the room an industrial chic touch. The charming and cozy rooms are all equipped with iPod stereo docking stations and Le Labo bath products. Also a perk, foodies don’t have to go far to find a good Italian restaurant. The boutique hotel houses Gemma, a bustling Italian trattoria, which draws you in with its romantic and rustic decor (dripping candelabras for the win), and a hearty menu that includes favorites such as gnocchi ai funghi and pizza margherita. The restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Burn off those calories and rent one of the complimentary bikes the hotel has for your riding pleasure. 335 Bowery, 212-505-9100

Hotel Indigo

The neighborhood’s personality and defined street style is reflected in the energetic and urban interiors of the Hotel Indigo. This artistically driven boutique hotel on Ludlow Street, is the perfect location to call home during your NYC stay. Generous sunlight coming in from the city views, fills every room—from the Superior Queen to the King Suite with Extended Terrace (oh yes, I said extended terrace). Speaking of the King Suite, splurge the extra bucks and enjoy your very own terrace with sweeping views of downtown NYC. The King Suite also has a separate living room space, a rain shower, and a soaking tub that was made for selfies. With just a few short weeks to the unofficial start of summer, Hotel Indigo boasts a rooftop pool and bar- an urban oasis right smack in the middle of the Lower East Side. Also on the rooftop, Mr. Purple, the hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant that goes beyond sceney and serves up fun signature cocktails like the Mr. Purple (Casamigos reposado tequila, cranberry liqueur, allspice dram, apple, and lemon served punch style). Throw some Franks in a Blanket, available on their all-day menu, while you’re at it. 171 Ludlow St., 212-237-1776

Ludlow Hotel

Another Sean MacPherson hotel hotspot continues to reign in the Lower East Side. The Ludlow Hotel channels the neighborhood’s original grit with welcoming luxury via it’s retro lobby vibes. Rooms vary in size from Studio to Penthouse, and if you book a Terrace or a Loft, you’ll have access to a private outdoor space—a prime spot for a fresh brew with a view. One of the hotel’s loveliest amenities? An ivy-covered garden that’s perfect for summertime drinks and conversation or a nightcap with friends. Head to the Lobby Bar for pre-dinner cocktails and finish the night at Dirty French, the Moroccan-French bistro, that’s clamoring with trendsetters as well as equally delectable dishes, such as the duck a l’orange and the boulangere. Don’t leave after dinner. Keep ordering the cocktails as the swanky dining room turns into a pulsating who’s who of notable hipsters. 180 Ludlow St., New York, NY (212) 432-1818

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