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A blue bus across the street from a green park.
The M14a SBS bus begins on the West Side at Abingdon Square.

Hop on This Bus and Eat Your Way Through Lower Manhattan

From the West Village to the Lower East Side in one fell swoop

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The M14a SBS bus begins on the West Side at Abingdon Square.

The M14a – SBS is one of the city’s quintessential bus lines, and a ride along its route, should you step off along the way for eating and sightseeing, would make a perfect expedition. The “M” stands for Manhattan and over the course of 45 minutes or so, the vehicle makes its way from Abingdon Square in the heart of the West Village, through Union Square, then down Avenue A in the East Village, finally terminating on the Lower East Side. This allows easy access to four of downtown’s most popular and picturesque neighborhoods.

The SBS part of the name designates a line where one buys a ticket at the bus stop from a machine before getting on (be prepared to show the ticket). The bus itself in this case is an imperial two bus-lengths long, with an accordion in the middle to facilitate turning. So many are the seating options within this ocean liner of the land, that picking your seat can be a pleasure in itself. So buy a ticket, hop on, hop off, and hop on again.

I’ve mapped the route of the bus, making eating and drinking suggestions along the way, and also pointing out some don’t miss attractions. Happy sightseeing!

A bus map in light blue.
The eastward M14a bus route likes along 8th Avenue, 14th Street, Avenue A, and Grand Street.
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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

La Bonbonniere

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You might recognize La Bonbonniere from the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, for which the interior serves as a set in season four. It’s basically a Greek diner offering predictable breakfasts and lunches — though these are of relatively high quality, especially the pancakes.

Across the street lies Abingdon Square, with its landscaped flower gardens and 1921 statue of a World War I doughboy. South of that is a playground for kids where wealthy New York parents have left cast-off toys for everyone to share. Further south along Bleecker Street find Magnolia Bakery made famous by Sex and the City.

The exterior of La Bonbonniere, with tables and chairs and huge white sign bearing the name.
La Bonbonniere, near the first stop on the M14a.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gelateria Gentile

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The blocks north of Abingdon Square along 8th Avenue are a great place to stop for a treat. There’s Barachou, turning out multiple flavors of cream puffs, and Aux Merveilleux de Fred, improbably specializing in meringue lumps smeared with frosting. But the best place to stop is Gelateria Gentile, a branch of an ice cream joint hailing from Bari, the capital of Apulia, Italy. Often incorporating fruit imported from Italy, the product is rich and creamy, and the chocolate gelato is the darkest in town. Also consider the fresh-fruit granitas.

A hand holds a cup of gelato aloft.
A dish of Gentile gelato comes with a tiny cone, Italian style.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Xi'an Famous Foods

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Originating in a hardscrabble downstairs mall in Flushing, this noodle shop has expanded to many branches and in the process turned into a New York City icon. It was a key institution in popularizing regional Chinese cuisines, in this case, that of Shaanxi in Central China. Look for broad wheat noodles, spicy lamb and chicken dishes, and steamed-bao-based “burgers.”

Xi’an Famous Foods’ spicy cumin lamb noodles sit on a white plate as a person pulls them up.
Find delicious spicy cumin lamb noodles at Xi’an.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Chama Mama

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Chama Mama is one of the city’s better restaurants featuring the cuisine of Georgia, not the state but the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus Mountains. Cold composed salads laced with walnuts and meaty kebabs served on skewers are its forte, but what has really made the restaurants popular in New York City are the freshly made breads, especially khachapuri adjaruli, a dough boat filled with molten cheese and egg. Don’t miss it. Also a good pit stop for a glass of Georgian wine.

An oblong bread with handles has a gooey fried egg in a lake of molten cheese.
Khachapuri adjaruli at Chama Mama.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Auntie Guan's Kitchen

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Auntie Guan’s specializes in northern Chinese cooking, especially from the provinces of Dongbei, long ago known as Manchuria, which border North Korea. There are cold dishes and hot dishes, depending on what the day is like, and a larger menu of dumplings than you’ve probably seen before.

Depart the bus on 6th Avenue (a/k/a Avenue of the Americas) for a walk south to Washington Square and back, a round-trip distance of about a mile along 6th Avenue, which takes you past the architecturally distinguished Jefferson Market Library, a former courthouse, and its lovely backyard garden.

Six pinched dumplings in a bamboo steamer.
Distinctively shaped dumplings are a specialty of Auntie Guan’s.
Serena Dai/Eater NY

Union Square Greenmarket

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It started back in 1976 with seven farmers, and now there are dozens and dozens on the days the Union Square Greenmarket is held (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday). The market starts around 8 a.m. and goes till 5 p.m. or so, with booths beginning at 15th Street and Union Square West and wrapping around the northern end of the park. Wholesome snacks like yogurt, stone fruit, cherry tomatoes, old-fashioned pretzels, and wonderful apple-cider donuts are available even in the dead of winter. If you go on a non-market day, Union Square itself is worth a stroll, with big box stores on the south and a giant Barnes & Noble bookstore on the north.

Four wooden bins of apples in shades of red, yellow, green, or mottled.
This is a great season to grab an apple at the greenmarket, with dozens of varieties available.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Joe's Pizza

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With its oldest branch in Greenwich Village, this classic NYC neighborhood pizzeria has established outposts here and there that have kept the slice quality high. This is a perfect place for a great cheap lunch or dinner — with choices basically limited to cheese or pepperoni pizza. The sauce is plainish, the cheese profuse, and the thin crust perfectly suited to its purpose — this is no-nonsense New York-style pizza at its best.

A wedge of pizza with very red sauce and very white cheese.
The fresh mozzarella slice is always available at Joe’s
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Zaragoza

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Zaragoza doesn’t look like much when you step inside — a tiny Mexican bodega with crowded shelves of tortillas, dried chiles, jarred sauces, boxes set on the floor filled with tomatillos, and a refrigerator case of white cheese. These raw materials go into perfect evocations of southern Mexican cuisine, including tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. There’s cozy seating in the back where you can drink a bottled beer with a meal.

Potato and chorizo enchiladas
Zaragoza’s perfect salad-topped potato and chorizo enchiladas.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tompkins Square Bagels

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This hipster bagel spot can be wildly popular around brunch time, but it’s worth standing in line for its bagels and bagel sandwiches — which can be conventional, or totally innovative and screwy. Pick a bagel flavor you like — say cinnamon raisin, plain, or everything bagel — then match it with one of the flavored cream cheeses.

Take your treat to nearby Tompkins Square Park, the throbbing heart of the East Village, and sit by the Temperance Arch or the General Slocum Memorial.

A bagel store interior with all sorts of pastries displayed and line of customers waiting to order.
The place can sometimes be thronged, but is always worth the wait.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Two Hands

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The Korean corn dog phenomenon hit the city like a ton of bricks two years ago — but they weren’t really corn dogs, dipped instead into a rice batter in which various substances like potatoes or Cheetos can be incorporated. Sometimes the hot dogs inside are not even meat, but rather cheese, tubular rice sticks, or a combo. Investigate this new form of street food if you haven’t already — or you can also get a plain old American corn dog.

A half-bitten, Hot Cheetos-encrusted Korean corn dog
One option embeds the batter with hot cheetos.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Katz's Delicatessen

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Katz’s Deli (founded in 1888) is probably the most famous restaurant in New York City, located at the gateway to the Lower East Side and specializing in overstuffed Jewish deli sandwiches made with various forms of beef brisket. It gets crowded in the afternoons, but go in the morning or early evening and you should breeze right in. In fact, the morning has its own delights, including cheese blintzes and salami omelets. Then buy a sausage to take home. At a minimum, get a hot dog, Gotham style, with sauerkraut and mustard — but eat it fast so the bun doesn’t get soggy.

Half of a pastrami sandwich on a plate at Katz’s Delicatessen
When I say overstuffed, I mean overstuffed!
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Economy Candy

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If you long to feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store, Economy is your place. All sorts of candy are available in individual packages or in bulk, and for a healthier snack, there are top-quality dried fruits, too. The place prides itself in a candy selection that includes many that you might have thought were no longer being manufactured — Turkish taffy, Mary Janes, and Squirrel Nut Zippers, for example.

Shelves on both sides of the picture floor to ceiling with shelves of candy.
The interior of Economy Candy is chock full of...candy.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Essex Market

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Though the original dates to 1940, the current evocation of the Essex Market moved into a glitzy apartment complex in 2019. It’s part of two floors of food-court action, including retail vendors, prepared-food stalls, and even self-contained restaurants. Choices include Eat Gai (Thai-style Hainanese chicken), Shopsin’s (a decades-old cafe featuring creative comfort food), and Taqueria Nixtamal (from a legendary Queens tortilleria).

A huge food hall with floor-to-ceiling windows and a top floor of dining area
Comfortable seating is provided upstairs with sweeping views of the Lower East Side.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Doughnut Plant

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This classic Lower East Side institution reinvented the doughnut for New Yorkers in 1994 and became wildly popular for its elaborately conceived and frosted round pastries fit for breakfast or a sweet snack. The creme brulee doughnut crackles when you bite into it and pudding squirts onto your shirt, while the black-and-white transforms the signature cookie of the city into a doughnut.

A doughnut donut half white and half black.
Doughnut Plant’s black and white.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ernesto's

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By now maybe you’ve been only snacking on apples, pastries, candy, and similar stuff along the M14a, and you’re ready for a full meal. If it’s 5 p.m. or later, consider Ernesto’s, a celebrated tapas bar and Spanish restaurant that took the Lower East Side by storm when it opened on its obscure wooded corner about a year ago. If it’s earlier, consider visiting Ernesto’s Cafe next door, which opens and 8 a.m. and provides pastries, sandwiches, and other small bites in a coffee bar setting.

A vast pile of potato chips with ham wadded on top.
Ernesto’s celebrated ham and homemade potato chips.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

El Castillo De Jagua 2

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The Dominican lunch counter is a Lower East Side classic, and El Castillo is one of its most distinguished representatives. Steam-table dishes rotate on a daily basis and include the garlicky roast pork pernil, the chicken stew called pollo guisado, and for organ lovers, a tripe soup called mondongo, but there are many made-to-order dishes, too. For the budget minded a Cuban sandwich is just the thing.

A pile of yellow rice and peas with a juicy chicken stew next to it.
Pollo guisado at El Castillo.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

La Bonbonniere

The exterior of La Bonbonniere, with tables and chairs and huge white sign bearing the name.
La Bonbonniere, near the first stop on the M14a.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

You might recognize La Bonbonniere from the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, for which the interior serves as a set in season four. It’s basically a Greek diner offering predictable breakfasts and lunches — though these are of relatively high quality, especially the pancakes.

Across the street lies Abingdon Square, with its landscaped flower gardens and 1921 statue of a World War I doughboy. South of that is a playground for kids where wealthy New York parents have left cast-off toys for everyone to share. Further south along Bleecker Street find Magnolia Bakery made famous by Sex and the City.

The exterior of La Bonbonniere, with tables and chairs and huge white sign bearing the name.
La Bonbonniere, near the first stop on the M14a.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gelateria Gentile

A hand holds a cup of gelato aloft.
A dish of Gentile gelato comes with a tiny cone, Italian style.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The blocks north of Abingdon Square along 8th Avenue are a great place to stop for a treat. There’s Barachou, turning out multiple flavors of cream puffs, and Aux Merveilleux de Fred, improbably specializing in meringue lumps smeared with frosting. But the best place to stop is Gelateria Gentile, a branch of an ice cream joint hailing from Bari, the capital of Apulia, Italy. Often incorporating fruit imported from Italy, the product is rich and creamy, and the chocolate gelato is the darkest in town. Also consider the fresh-fruit granitas.

A hand holds a cup of gelato aloft.
A dish of Gentile gelato comes with a tiny cone, Italian style.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Xi'an Famous Foods

Xi’an Famous Foods’ spicy cumin lamb noodles sit on a white plate as a person pulls them up.
Find delicious spicy cumin lamb noodles at Xi’an.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Originating in a hardscrabble downstairs mall in Flushing, this noodle shop has expanded to many branches and in the process turned into a New York City icon. It was a key institution in popularizing regional Chinese cuisines, in this case, that of Shaanxi in Central China. Look for broad wheat noodles, spicy lamb and chicken dishes, and steamed-bao-based “burgers.”

Xi’an Famous Foods’ spicy cumin lamb noodles sit on a white plate as a person pulls them up.
Find delicious spicy cumin lamb noodles at Xi’an.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Chama Mama

An oblong bread with handles has a gooey fried egg in a lake of molten cheese.
Khachapuri adjaruli at Chama Mama.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Chama Mama is one of the city’s better restaurants featuring the cuisine of Georgia, not the state but the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus Mountains. Cold composed salads laced with walnuts and meaty kebabs served on skewers are its forte, but what has really made the restaurants popular in New York City are the freshly made breads, especially khachapuri adjaruli, a dough boat filled with molten cheese and egg. Don’t miss it. Also a good pit stop for a glass of Georgian wine.

An oblong bread with handles has a gooey fried egg in a lake of molten cheese.
Khachapuri adjaruli at Chama Mama.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Auntie Guan's Kitchen

Six pinched dumplings in a bamboo steamer.
Distinctively shaped dumplings are a specialty of Auntie Guan’s.
Serena Dai/Eater NY

Auntie Guan’s specializes in northern Chinese cooking, especially from the provinces of Dongbei, long ago known as Manchuria, which border North Korea. There are cold dishes and hot dishes, depending on what the day is like, and a larger menu of dumplings than you’ve probably seen before.

Depart the bus on 6th Avenue (a/k/a Avenue of the Americas) for a walk south to Washington Square and back, a round-trip distance of about a mile along 6th Avenue, which takes you past the architecturally distinguished Jefferson Market Library, a former courthouse, and its lovely backyard garden.

Six pinched dumplings in a bamboo steamer.
Distinctively shaped dumplings are a specialty of Auntie Guan’s.
Serena Dai/Eater NY

Union Square Greenmarket

Four wooden bins of apples in shades of red, yellow, green, or mottled.
This is a great season to grab an apple at the greenmarket, with dozens of varieties available.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

It started back in 1976 with seven farmers, and now there are dozens and dozens on the days the Union Square Greenmarket is held (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday). The market starts around 8 a.m. and goes till 5 p.m. or so, with booths beginning at 15th Street and Union Square West and wrapping around the northern end of the park. Wholesome snacks like yogurt, stone fruit, cherry tomatoes, old-fashioned pretzels, and wonderful apple-cider donuts are available even in the dead of winter. If you go on a non-market day, Union Square itself is worth a stroll, with big box stores on the south and a giant Barnes & Noble bookstore on the north.

Four wooden bins of apples in shades of red, yellow, green, or mottled.
This is a great season to grab an apple at the greenmarket, with dozens of varieties available.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Joe's Pizza

A wedge of pizza with very red sauce and very white cheese.
The fresh mozzarella slice is always available at Joe’s
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

With its oldest branch in Greenwich Village, this classic NYC neighborhood pizzeria has established outposts here and there that have kept the slice quality high. This is a perfect place for a great cheap lunch or dinner — with choices basically limited to cheese or pepperoni pizza. The sauce is plainish, the cheese profuse, and the thin crust perfectly suited to its purpose — this is no-nonsense New York-style pizza at its best.

A wedge of pizza with very red sauce and very white cheese.
The fresh mozzarella slice is always available at Joe’s
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Zaragoza

Potato and chorizo enchiladas
Zaragoza’s perfect salad-topped potato and chorizo enchiladas.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Zaragoza doesn’t look like much when you step inside — a tiny Mexican bodega with crowded shelves of tortillas, dried chiles, jarred sauces, boxes set on the floor filled with tomatillos, and a refrigerator case of white cheese. These raw materials go into perfect evocations of southern Mexican cuisine, including tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. There’s cozy seating in the back where you can drink a bottled beer with a meal.

Potato and chorizo enchiladas
Zaragoza’s perfect salad-topped potato and chorizo enchiladas.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tompkins Square Bagels

A bagel store interior with all sorts of pastries displayed and line of customers waiting to order.
The place can sometimes be thronged, but is always worth the wait.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This hipster bagel spot can be wildly popular around brunch time, but it’s worth standing in line for its bagels and bagel sandwiches — which can be conventional, or totally innovative and screwy. Pick a bagel flavor you like — say cinnamon raisin, plain, or everything bagel — then match it with one of the flavored cream cheeses.

Take your treat to nearby Tompkins Square Park, the throbbing heart of the East Village, and sit by the Temperance Arch or the General Slocum Memorial.

A bagel store interior with all sorts of pastries displayed and line of customers waiting to order.
The place can sometimes be thronged, but is always worth the wait.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Two Hands

A half-bitten, Hot Cheetos-encrusted Korean corn dog
One option embeds the batter with hot cheetos.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The Korean corn dog phenomenon hit the city like a ton of bricks two years ago — but they weren’t really corn dogs, dipped instead into a rice batter in which various substances like potatoes or Cheetos can be incorporated. Sometimes the hot dogs inside are not even meat, but rather cheese, tubular rice sticks, or a combo. Investigate this new form of street food if you haven’t already — or you can also get a plain old American corn dog.

A half-bitten, Hot Cheetos-encrusted Korean corn dog
One option embeds the batter with hot cheetos.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Katz's Delicatessen

Half of a pastrami sandwich on a plate at Katz’s Delicatessen
When I say overstuffed, I mean overstuffed!
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Katz’s Deli (founded in 1888) is probably the most famous restaurant in New York City, located at the gateway to the Lower East Side and specializing in overstuffed Jewish deli sandwiches made with various forms of beef brisket. It gets crowded in the afternoons, but go in the morning or early evening and you should breeze right in. In fact, the morning has its own delights, including cheese blintzes and salami omelets. Then buy a sausage to take home. At a minimum, get a hot dog, Gotham style, with sauerkraut and mustard — but eat it fast so the bun doesn’t get soggy.

Half of a pastrami sandwich on a plate at Katz’s Delicatessen
When I say overstuffed, I mean overstuffed!
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Economy Candy

Shelves on both sides of the picture floor to ceiling with shelves of candy.
The interior of Economy Candy is chock full of...candy.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

If you long to feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store, Economy is your place. All sorts of candy are available in individual packages or in bulk, and for a healthier snack, there are top-quality dried fruits, too. The place prides itself in a candy selection that includes many that you might have thought were no longer being manufactured — Turkish taffy, Mary Janes, and Squirrel Nut Zippers, for example.

Shelves on both sides of the picture floor to ceiling with shelves of candy.
The interior of Economy Candy is chock full of...candy.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Essex Market

A huge food hall with floor-to-ceiling windows and a top floor of dining area
Comfortable seating is provided upstairs with sweeping views of the Lower East Side.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Though the original dates to 1940, the current evocation of the Essex Market moved into a glitzy apartment complex in 2019. It’s part of two floors of food-court action, including retail vendors, prepared-food stalls, and even self-contained restaurants. Choices include Eat Gai (Thai-style Hainanese chicken), Shopsin’s (a decades-old cafe featuring creative comfort food), and Taqueria Nixtamal (from a legendary Queens tortilleria).