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People throng a sidewalk, with a hat stall to the left and tattoo sign in the background.
Any hour of the day, St. Marks Place is a wild scene.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

30 Restaurants That Define the East Village

Japanese, Mexican, Moroccan, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Jamaican, and Tibetan — it’s all here in one of the best dining neighborhoods in NYC

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Any hour of the day, St. Marks Place is a wild scene.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The East Village is one of the city’s richest neighborhoods when it comes to its culinary offerings. The area has long supported an immigrant population that refuses to leave, but it’s also a magnet for younger New Yorkers from all over the city — and indeed all over the world — intent on eating and drinking, and craving something new. As a destination for Chinese food, one could argue it is now the equal of any neighborhood in the city, and Mexican food is another high point. Among its other glories are a continuing Eastern European presence, and newer places to find Albanian, Portuguese, and Himalayan fare. Pick a cuisine, and we bet you can find it there.

But where is “there”? The disputed boundaries go from the north side of Houston to the south side of 14th; and from Third Avenue, both sides, to the East River, thus including what is now called Alphabet City (largely due to the musical Rent). Take a walk along the neighborhood’s three-block backbone of St. Marks Place to get an inkling of the East Village’s level of excitement and the range of its dining options.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Yellow Rose

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102 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 529-8880
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San Antonio natives Krystiana Rizo and husband Dave Rizo (a Superiority Burger vet) opened Yellow Rose late in 2020, pandemic be damned. Their laser focus is on Central Texas, with bean-and-cheese tacos (and five other choices) served on flour tortillas made on the premises, chili con queso (both vegan and not), and some interesting salads and sandwiches — including one featuring wild boar. The interior is plastered with historic photos and posters, some recalling the area’s hippie era. Texas boutique grocery items are also stocked, including blue cornmeal from Barton Springs Mill and Rancho Gordo beans.

A flour tortilla filled with a dark beef stew held in two hands so we can see inside.
The carne guisada taco at Yellow Rose
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2. Soothr

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204 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 844-9789
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One surprise during the pandemic has been the opening of new Thai restaurants with menus that stretched the public’s idea of the cuisine. The food of the Chinese community within Bangkok was one example, as also seen at Noods ‘N Chill in Williamsburg and Tong in Bushwick. Soothr showcases koong karee, a colorful dish featuring shrimp in egg sauce. Other highlights involve food from Central Thailand’s Sukothai, where two of the owners come from: Kittiya Mokkarat and Supatta Banklouy. A third owner, Chidensee Watthanawongwat, hails from Isan.

A restaurant facade open at the front with a couple of tables on the sidewalk.
Soothr lies on bucolic (and lucky) East 13th Street.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

3. Veeray Da Dhaba

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222 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009
(212) 777-1420
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Channeling a roadside snack shack in the Punjab, Veeray da Dhaba is the brainchild of Indian fine-dining veterans Sonny Solomon, Hemant Mathur, and Binder Saini. The restaurant offers what is usually displayed on steam tables at area Indian buffets hiked up a notch or two. Goat biryani is one highlight, and so is a saag paneer made with cheese made in-house, a fish fry from Amritsar, and a ramped-up tandoori chicken not simply smeared with bottled red paste.

Three Indian dishes in plastic containers on a worn picnic table top, one green, one brown, and one rice based.
A nicely balanced selection of Punjabi dishes from Veeray Da Dhaba
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

4. John's of 12th Street

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302 E 12th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-9531
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Red-sauce fare dating to 1908 makes this Italian restaurant a piece of living history. It’s resisted most trends and remains charmingly dated with its murals, an intricate tile floor, and a guttering candle that looks like it has been lit since Prohibition. All the classics are here: eggplant parm, linguini with clams, spaghetti with meatballs, and pizza, too. But the place surprised everyone by mounting a vegan menu a decade ago, ahead of its time. Former proprietor Nick Sitnycky owns the building, and he sold the restaurant under the condition that it remain open, so John’s actually has a chance of making it.

A veal cutlet smothered in cheese with spaghetti and meat sauce above it.
Veal parm at John’s isn’t one of the vegan offerings.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

5. Salma

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351 E 12th St
New York, NY 10003
(917) 261-4907
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This new casual cafe flaunting its blue-tiled tables and an intimate bar laden with antiques joins the neighborhood’s growing collection of Lebanese cafes, seeking to define itself through poetry. The menu, too, offers some unique twists, including a specialty in grazing platters fit for accompanying a pot of mint tea, and a large breakfast section, paradoxically only available after the 11:30 a.m. opening. It includes a plate of fava beans seasoned with lemon and olive oil; sandwich of labneh, mint, cucumbers, and tomatoes; and knefeh — a sweet pastry.

On a bright blue tile background, several dishes in baskets and bowls.
Mixed appetizer platter at Salma.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

6. Hearth

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403 E 12th St
New York, NY 10009
(646) 602-1300
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For something hearty, chef Marco Canora offers a perfect Florentine bollito misto, a catalog of braised meats presented with an herby green salsa on a menu that, featuring plenty of meat, skews Italian but also with health-food flourishes stemming from the chef’s attack of the gout six years ago. Other appealing selections include maccheroni with pork ragu, a mushroom-laced strozzapretti (“priest stranglers” due to thickness of the noodle), and the Tuscan vegetarian soup ribollita. It’s a lovely date and brunch spot.

Hearth’s dining room with wooden beams on the ceiling and exposed brick walls.
Hearth makes a lovely dating destination.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

7. Dua Kafe

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520 E 14th St
New York, NY 10009
(212) 228-1696
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Four years ago, owner Bobian Demce opened this narrow Albanian cafe in a former tailor shop. It offers all the usual Balkan specialties, from flaky byrek pies stuffed with spinach and cheese to the grilled and skinless ground beef sausages qebapa, which arrive smothered in cream sauce. There are also vegetable-heavy casseroles, grilled kebabs and chops, and desserts like baklava. This being the East Village, a fairly conventional hamburger is also available.

A line of brown skinless sausages striped with cream sauce.
Qebapa Albanian skinless sausages.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

8. Hasaki

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210 E 9th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 473-3327
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Opened by Bon Yagi — called the godfather of the East Village’s Little Tokyo — in 1984, Hasaki is the last of the neighborhood’s earliest sushi bars left standing. Known for its bargain omakase menu of traditional nigiri sushi, the daily fish assortment often holds a few surprises. A kitchen at the rear of this handsome semi-subterranean space with a backyard of private nooks offers the usual Japanese appetizers, mains, and side dishes, including teriyakis, fried chicken, tofu in kelp broth, and chawanmushi.

A luscious plate of sushi, totally filling the frame, with orange sea urchin, pink tuna, and many other fish on rice, some with roe. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

9. Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant

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177 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(917) 388-2230
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Sang Jien Ben, who grew up in the Tibetan town of Rebgong, is the operator of Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant. Occupying the former corner space of Little Tong, it’s a spin off of a Jackson Heights establishment immortalized by Anthony Bourdain. A greatest hits of Himalayan cuisine is present here, from colorful momo dumplings, puckered at the top, to dishes — both meatless and meaty — featuring homemade noodles. Vegetarians, in particular, will find much to admire here.

Noodles rolled around tofu and chile sauce, like Japanese maki.
The noodle-based sushi lhamo at Lhasa.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

10. Uluh

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152A 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(917) 261-5963
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While most Chinese restaurants in the East Village specialize in noodles, soups, dumplings, and other budget-friendly dishes, Uluh offers a contemporary Chinese menu that could as easily be found in Flushing...or Beijing. Sure, there are Sichuan dishes, but diners will find ones originating in several other Chinese regions, some at higher prices than similar spots.

Three decorative bowls, one with salt-cured sliced chicken leg.
A typical selection of dishes from uluh.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

11. Madame Vo

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212 E 10th St
New York, NY 10003
(917) 261-2115
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Modern Vietnamese restaurants are growing in numbers, and deeply flavored dishes such as fish sauce chicken wings, caramelized pork ribs, fried rice with prawns and pork sausage, and a huge and distinguished beef pho with a deeply flavored broth and firmer than usual rice noodles make Madame Vo one of the scene’s leaders. Owners Yen Vo and chef Jimmy Ly preside over an agreeable space with white brick and cushy banquettes.

A ceramic crock with ribs and a thick brown broth inside, crusting on the lip of the vessel.
Caramelized spare ribs in a crock at Madame Vo.
Daniel Geneen/Eater NY

12. CheLi

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19 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(646) 858-1866
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Gradually, the East Village has become one of the city’s best destinations for Chinese food. This elegant upstairs restaurant on St. Marks, right next door to its sister restaurant Szechuan Mountain House, specializes in food from Shanghai and surrounding territories. The emphasis, via chef Qiling Wang, is on historic recipes, and those invented in a modern vein. Be surprised by a tofu soup thickened with sea urchin, a dish with braised pork belly and abalone, and some very colorful dim sum. Three kinds of soup dumplings are available but those almost seem like afterthought with so many hits on the menu.

Yellow, green, and white dumplings, one shaped like a pumpkin.
Dim sum comes in threes at CheLi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

13. Veselka

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144 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-9682
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A New York City icon, Veselka has been serving Ukrainian diner fare to the neighborhood since 1954. Pierogi are an obvious order, available in flavors like potato, cheese, and short rib. Other Ukrainian specialties like borscht and veal goulash are also offered, but a sleeper hit is the giant platter piled high with pierogi, meat-stuffed cabbage, and beet horseradish salad. Go at any hour for breakfast and for comforting nourishment and a slice of NYC life.

Three plates of boiled half-moon dumplings.
How about some Ukrainian pierogies?
Gary He/Eater NY

14. Kenka

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25 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-6363
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A few steps below street level, Kenka is one of St. Marks’ most colorful establishments, serving izakaya fare like curry and takoyaki, as well as more surprising things like bull penis with mayo that one suspects are to be eaten on a dare. (We’ve tried it, and it’s stringy and tough.) The decor is pornographic, and there are fun details like free serve-yourself cotton candy at the exit, though that feature has been on hiatus during the pandemic. This has always been the most intriguing and goofiest Japanese spot in the East Village, so be prepared for a wait

A jumbled pair of storefronts with a life size strange creature in front, and all sorts of skeleton themed art above this classic Japanese restaurant.
The blue façade of Kenka lies below a secondhand clothing store.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

15. Ramen Misoya

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129 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-4825
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Yes, there are a dozen places you can go for excellent ramen in the East Village, so why choose this one? Misoya specializes in miso broths in a rainbow of brownish, reddish, and whitish colors. The range of flavors are often unexpected, with add-ins that might include butter, parmesan cheese, fried fish cakes, and pork cutlets. And the heat level is adjustable with many bowls. The quality of the noodles is high, and they tend to be firmer than most.

A bowl of ramen with boiled egg, fish caked, and napa cabbage sticking out of a beige broth.
Miso ramen with fish cakes.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

16. B&H Dairy

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127 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-8065
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This enduring Jewish Kosher luncheonette — open since 1938 — is now owned by Polish-Catholic Ola Smigielska and Egyptian-Muslim Fawzy Abdelwahed and remains a pescatarian and vegetarian highlight in the neighborhood. Dishes include tuna melts on challah, cheese pierogies, omelets, and berry filled blintzes. And let’s not forget its amazing vegetarian soups — mushroom barley, cabbage, and matzoh ball are favorites. Served with homemade challah, they’re bargain lunch mainstays.

A bowl of cabbage soup speckled with orange carrots and challah bread on the side on a white counter.
B&H’s famous cabbage soup, with “holly bread”.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

17. Le Fournil

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115 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Two years ago French bakery Le Fournil supplanted old-timer Moishe’s, and the replacement proved fortuitous. It turns out a much broader range of baked goods, which often includes rugelach and other products of its predecessor, but also extends its reach to Portuguese custard tarts, fig focaccias, and zatar-dusted flatbreads from Lebanon. There’s also all the traditional French breads and pastries, including the difficult ones. It’s a perfect place to outfit a picnic in Tompkins Square.

A round sandwich with mozzarella, tomato, and pesto on a wooden picnic table surface.
A caprese sandwich from Le Fournil.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

18. Frangos Peri Peri

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182 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009
(917) 675-7897
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Finally, as if Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood were transplanted to downtown Manhattan, the East Village has its own Portuguese barbecue restaurant. This spot, with a colorful mural extending across the interior, features a range of marinades (including the eponymous piri piri, an Angolan hot pepper sauce), as well as a choice of wings and other chicken parts, chicken nuggets, and whole or partial chickens. Salads, sandwiches, and a series of vegan grilled items round out the menu.

A whole red Portuguese chicken splayed on a blue mottled platter.
A whole chicken in Angolan piri-piri sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

19. Stromboli Pizza

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83 Saint Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 673-3691
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The neighborhood’s longest-running slice joint is still going strong. Stromboli Pizza has been a mainstay since 1976 and is open until late at night for slices with a sweet tomato sauce, a full blanket of cheese, and some oregano on a thin crust. The Beastie Boys ate there in the 80s, and it has hosted many other rock stars dropping in for a late night bite, post-gig.

Diners sit at table beneath the red Stromboil sign.
The Beastie Boys ate pizza here and so did Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

20. Cafe Mogador

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101 St Marks Pl # 1
New York, NY 10009

Founded by Rivka Orlin in 1983 a stone’s throw from Tompkins Square, Cafe Mogador was a pioneer in the East Village dining scene back in the day when options were mainly limited to Italian, Eastern European, and Latin restaurants. The menu was a novelty, focusing on the cuisine of the Moroccan Jewish community, which meant a plethora of small appetizing dishes based on vegetables and yogurt, and mains that focused on tajines and couscouses — all served in a laid-back, coffeehouse ambiance.

A series of colorful small dishes including beets and eggplant.
A selection of vegetarian appetizing dishes at Mogador.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

21. Oiji

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119 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003
(646) 767-9050
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Chef and owner Brian Kim is among the leaders in NYC’s modern Korean food movement, serving exciting fare at Oiji like a Long Island duckling with kimchi fried rice, a mushroom salad featuring shiitakes and maitakes lightly fried, and a truffled seafood broth. One of NYC’s best desserts is here, vanilla ice cream topped with sticky, salty, and sweet honey butter chips, shown below. Check the cocktail list, which changes regularly.

A heap of golden potato chips in a bowl, with presumably ice cream underneath.
Oiji’s famed honey butter chips with vanilla ice cream.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

22. The Izakaya NYC

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326 E 6th St
New York, NY 10003
(917) 697-7162
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Co-owner and chef Dai Watanabe (the other co-owner is flea market maven Yudai Kanayama) presides over a menu of izakaya classics, hiked up a notch in quality from the usual menus around town. Some of Eater’s favorite dishes there include candied smelts with flavored mayo and lemon, yellowtail sashimi fresh as an ocean breeze, and a perfect fried pork cutlet, all of which may be washed down with a quirky sake selection.

A passel of anchovies glistening on a plate with a lemon wedge and dab of brown mayo dip.
Candied smelts at Izakaya NYC.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

23. Sidney’s Five

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103 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10003
(917) 409-3368
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Sidney’s Five, named in honor of its four owners (don’t ask), is like a cross between a bistro and a diner, and the menu is full of surprises. One of the best dishes from chef Edie Ugot is charbroiled oysters with a choice of toppings. Diners can also have raw oysters, frito misto, and a standout lamb burger topped with gouda served with a dab of mint jelly. Inside is a lunch counter with stools that are actually comfortable, blue neon signs, and baby pictures of the staff.

Three oysters with black, red, and greenish toppings.
Grilled oysters with various toppings at Sidney’s Five
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

24. Ho Foods

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110 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009
(347) 788-0682
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Deeply flavored and dramatically dark Taiwanese beef noodle soup is the focus of owner Richard Ho’s uber-tiny Ho Foods. The soup, available with two types of noodles, is the main attraction, nicely rounded out by garlic cucumbers, Lu rou fan (minced pork over rice), and housemade tofu with a century egg. There’s also Taiwanese breakfast on the weekends.

A bowl of beef soup with wide wide noodles with a reddish broth.
Beef noodles soup at Ho Foods.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

25. Miss Lily's 7A Cafe

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109 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 812-1482
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Normally, one might have to sojourn to Flatbush or at least Harlem to find Jamaican food of this caliber, but be forewarned, Lily’s doubles as a wild cocktail lounge as the sun sets and the corner of East Seventh Street and Avenue A becomes the most tumultuous scene in the East Village. Via chefs Kahari Woolcock and Andre Fowles, crisp codfish fritters, a version of pepper shrimp saucier than its beachside prototype, and jerk chicken are all recommended, and even the rice and peas are moist and flavorful.

A colorful corner facade with lots of painted signage, and a temporarily structure out front, all with diners seated.
By day Lily’s is almost sedate.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

26. Downtown Bakery

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69 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-1757
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Once an Italian bakery before it was taken over by a Pueblan family in the mid-90s, Downtown Bakery eventually eschewed baked goods and went on to mount an impressive and inexpensive menu of mainly southern Mexican and Mexican-American standards. The owners are now the sister-and-brother team of Olivia Marin and Manuel Marmolejo. For diners craving birria, the epic adobo sauce based on guajillo chiles is the Pueblan equivalent, available with chicken or over enchiladas. Breakfast tacos, Austin-style, and Mission-style California burritos are other fantastic options.

Three enchiladas painted with a deep red sauce and melted squiggles of cheese.
Chicken enchiladas in guajillo chile sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

27. Somtum Der

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85 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 260-8570
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Some of NYC’s spiciest Thai fare can be found on Avenue A, where Somtum Der has spotlighted the food of the Isan region of Thailand since 2013, and become one of the city’s most distinguished Thai restaurants. As the name suggests, the focus is on shredded green-papaya salads prepared in a mortar with options that include the raw blue river crabs, but there are also incredibly spicy larbs, as well as deep-fried chicken thighs, grilled coconut-milk-marinated pork, and sour pork sausages.

A shredded green papaya salad heaped on the plate in an orangish dressing.
Papaya salads are the centerpiece of the menu at Somtum Der.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

28. Minca

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536 E 5th St
New York, NY 10009
(212) 505-8001
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Founded by jazz musician Shigeto Kamada, Minca is a tiny shop that ranks among the best ramen-yas in a neighborhood that has many. The level of care put into the composition of each bowl makes it a destination not to be missed. The Tokyo tsukemen, a deconstructed dipping ramen dish that Eater highly recommends, is a good bet here, although any of the roughly 15 options on the menu are well worth exploring.

A deconstructed bowl of noodles with broth and fixings.
Tokyo Tsukemen at Minca.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

29. Bobwhite Counter

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94 Loisaida Ave
New York, NY 10009
(212) 228-2972
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This snug lunch and dinner counter in Alphabet City specializes in two things: simple Southern fried chicken and lighter-than-air biscuits. There may be Texas Pete’s hot sauce and a squeeze-bottle of honey on every table in the restaurant, but the chicken here doesn’t need either. It’s brined overnight in sweet tea, then dredged in milk, flour, salt, pepper, and a handful of mystery spices that owner Keedick Coulter has kept secret since opening in 2012.

Two pieces of dark fried chicken, coleslaw, and a biscuit on a vintage white plate with a pink floral design
Fried chicken, coleslaw, and a biscuit at Bobwhite Counter
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

30. Casa Adela

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66 Loisaida Ave
New York, NY 10009
(212) 473-1882
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Adela Fargas, who passed in 2018, founded this Lower East Side Puerto Rican institution in 1976, making it the longest running restaurant in Alphabet City. The rotisserie chickens — visible through the front window kicking like a chorus line — have been a carryout magnet, but roast pork, fricasseed chickens, steak with onions, and Cuban sandwiches were equally as alluring. For the cash strapped, a plate of rice and beans often suffices.

A paprika rubbed half chicken with rice and red bans on the side.
Paprika-dusted rotisserie chicken
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

1. Yellow Rose

102 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10003
A flour tortilla filled with a dark beef stew held in two hands so we can see inside.
The carne guisada taco at Yellow Rose
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

San Antonio natives Krystiana Rizo and husband Dave Rizo (a Superiority Burger vet) opened Yellow Rose late in 2020, pandemic be damned. Their laser focus is on Central Texas, with bean-and-cheese tacos (and five other choices) served on flour tortillas made on the premises, chili con queso (both vegan and not), and some interesting salads and sandwiches — including one featuring wild boar. The interior is plastered with historic photos and posters, some recalling the area’s hippie era. Texas boutique grocery items are also stocked, including blue cornmeal from Barton Springs Mill and Rancho Gordo beans.

102 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003

2. Soothr

204 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003
A restaurant facade open at the front with a couple of tables on the sidewalk.
Soothr lies on bucolic (and lucky) East 13th Street.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

One surprise during the pandemic has been the opening of new Thai restaurants with menus that stretched the public’s idea of the cuisine. The food of the Chinese community within Bangkok was one example, as also seen at Noods ‘N Chill in Williamsburg and Tong in Bushwick. Soothr showcases koong karee, a colorful dish featuring shrimp in egg sauce. Other highlights involve food from Central Thailand’s Sukothai, where two of the owners come from: Kittiya Mokkarat and Supatta Banklouy. A third owner, Chidensee Watthanawongwat, hails from Isan.

204 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003

3. Veeray Da Dhaba

222 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009
Three Indian dishes in plastic containers on a worn picnic table top, one green, one brown, and one rice based.
A nicely balanced selection of Punjabi dishes from Veeray Da Dhaba
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Channeling a roadside snack shack in the Punjab, Veeray da Dhaba is the brainchild of Indian fine-dining veterans Sonny Solomon, Hemant Mathur, and Binder Saini. The restaurant offers what is usually displayed on steam tables at area Indian buffets hiked up a notch or two. Goat biryani is one highlight, and so is a saag paneer made with cheese made in-house, a fish fry from Amritsar, and a ramped-up tandoori chicken not simply smeared with bottled red paste.

222 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009

4. John's of 12th Street

302 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003
A veal cutlet smothered in cheese with spaghetti and meat sauce above it.
Veal parm at John’s isn’t one of the vegan offerings.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Red-sauce fare dating to 1908 makes this Italian restaurant a piece of living history. It’s resisted most trends and remains charmingly dated with its murals, an intricate tile floor, and a guttering candle that looks like it has been lit since Prohibition. All the classics are here: eggplant parm, linguini with clams, spaghetti with meatballs, and pizza, too. But the place surprised everyone by mounting a vegan menu a decade ago, ahead of its time. Former proprietor Nick Sitnycky owns the building, and he sold the restaurant under the condition that it remain open, so John’s actually has a chance of making it.

302 E 12th St
New York, NY 10003

5. Salma

351 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003
On a bright blue tile background, several dishes in baskets and bowls.
Mixed appetizer platter at Salma.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This new casual cafe flaunting its blue-tiled tables and an intimate bar laden with antiques joins the neighborhood’s growing collection of Lebanese cafes, seeking to define itself through poetry. The menu, too, offers some unique twists, including a specialty in grazing platters fit for accompanying a pot of mint tea, and a large breakfast section, paradoxically only available after the 11:30 a.m. opening. It includes a plate of fava beans seasoned with lemon and olive oil; sandwich of labneh, mint, cucumbers, and tomatoes; and knefeh — a sweet pastry.

351 E 12th St
New York, NY 10003

6. Hearth

403 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009
Read Review |
Hearth’s dining room with wooden beams on the ceiling and exposed brick walls.
Hearth makes a lovely dating destination.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

For something hearty, chef Marco Canora offers a perfect Florentine bollito misto, a catalog of braised meats presented with an herby green salsa on a menu that, featuring plenty of meat, skews Italian but also with health-food flourishes stemming from the chef’s attack of the gout six years ago. Other appealing selections include maccheroni with pork ragu, a mushroom-laced strozzapretti (“priest stranglers” due to thickness of the noodle), and the Tuscan vegetarian soup ribollita. It’s a lovely date and brunch spot.

403 E 12th St
New York, NY 10009

7. Dua Kafe

520 E 14th St, New York, NY 10009
A line of brown skinless sausages striped with cream sauce.
Qebapa Albanian skinless sausages.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Four years ago, owner Bobian Demce opened this narrow Albanian cafe in a former tailor shop. It offers all the usual Balkan specialties, from flaky byrek pies stuffed with spinach and cheese to the grilled and skinless ground beef sausages qebapa, which arrive smothered in cream sauce. There are also vegetable-heavy casseroles, grilled kebabs and chops, and desserts like baklava. This being the East Village, a fairly conventional hamburger is also available.

520 E 14th St
New York, NY 10009

8. Hasaki

210 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003
A luscious plate of sushi, totally filling the frame, with orange sea urchin, pink tuna, and many other fish on rice, some with roe. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Opened by Bon Yagi — called the godfather of the East Village’s Little Tokyo — in 1984, Hasaki is the last of the neighborhood’s earliest sushi bars left standing. Known for its bargain omakase menu of traditional nigiri sushi, the daily fish assortment often holds a few surprises. A kitchen at the rear of this handsome semi-subterranean space with a backyard of private nooks offers the usual Japanese appetizers, mains, and side dishes, including teriyakis, fried chicken, tofu in kelp broth, and chawanmushi.

210 E 9th St
New York, NY 10003

9. Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant

177 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Noodles rolled around tofu and chile sauce, like Japanese maki.
The noodle-based sushi lhamo at Lhasa.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sang Jien Ben, who grew up in the Tibetan town of Rebgong, is the operator of Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant. Occupying the former corner space of Little Tong, it’s a spin off of a Jackson Heights establishment immortalized by Anthony Bourdain. A greatest hits of Himalayan cuisine is present here, from colorful momo dumplings, puckered at the top, to dishes — both meatless and meaty — featuring homemade noodles. Vegetarians, in particular, will find much to admire here.

177 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

10. Uluh

152A 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Three decorative bowls, one with salt-cured sliced chicken leg.
A typical selection of dishes from uluh.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

While most Chinese restaurants in the East Village specialize in noodles, soups, dumplings, and other budget-friendly dishes, Uluh offers a contemporary Chinese menu that could as easily be found in Flushing...or Beijing. Sure, there are Sichuan dishes, but diners will find ones originating in several other Chinese regions, some at higher prices than similar spots.

152A 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

11. Madame Vo

212 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
A ceramic crock with ribs and a thick brown broth inside, crusting on the lip of the vessel.
Caramelized spare ribs in a crock at Madame Vo.
Daniel Geneen/Eater NY

Modern Vietnamese restaurants are growing in numbers, and deeply flavored dishes such as fish sauce chicken wings, caramelized pork ribs, fried rice with prawns and pork sausage, and a huge and distinguished beef pho with a deeply flavored broth and firmer than usual rice noodles make Madame Vo one of the scene’s leaders. Owners Yen Vo and chef Jimmy Ly preside over an agreeable space with white brick and cushy banquettes.

212 E 10th St
New York, NY 10003

12. CheLi

19 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
Yellow, green, and white dumplings, one shaped like a pumpkin.
Dim sum comes in threes at CheLi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gradually, the East Village has become one of the city’s best destinations for Chinese food. This elegant upstairs restaurant on St. Marks, right next door to its sister restaurant Szechuan Mountain House, specializes in food from Shanghai and surrounding territories. The emphasis, via chef Qiling Wang, is on historic recipes, and those invented in a modern vein. Be surprised by a tofu soup thickened with sea urchin, a dish with braised pork belly and abalone, and some very colorful dim sum. Three kinds of soup dumplings are available but those almost seem like afterthought with so many hits on the menu.

19 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

13. Veselka

144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Three plates of boiled half-moon dumplings.
How about some Ukrainian pierogies?
Gary He/Eater NY

A New York City icon, Veselka has been serving Ukrainian diner fare to the neighborhood since 1954. Pierogi are an obvious order, available in flavors like potato, cheese, and short rib. Other Ukrainian specialties like borscht and veal goulash are also offered, but a sleeper hit is the giant platter piled high with pierogi, meat-stuffed cabbage, and beet horseradish salad. Go at any hour for breakfast and for comforting nourishment and a slice of NYC life.

144 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

14. Kenka

25 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
A jumbled pair of storefronts with a life size strange creature in front, and all sorts of skeleton themed art above this classic Japanese restaurant.
The blue façade of Kenka lies below a secondhand clothing store.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

A few steps below street level, Kenka is one of St. Marks’ most colorful establishments, serving izakaya fare like curry and takoyaki, as well as more surprising things like bull penis with mayo that one suspects are to be eaten on a dare. (We’ve tried it, and it’s stringy and tough.) The decor is pornographic, and there are fun details like free serve-yourself cotton candy at the exit, though that feature has been on hiatus during the pandemic. This has always been the most intriguing and goofiest Japanese spot in the East Village, so be prepared for a wait

25 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

15. Ramen Misoya

129 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003