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Where to Celebrate a Special Occasion in the East Village

Find some of the city’s best and most affordable food for a celebratory meal here

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Momofuku Ko sells $255 tasting menus in its main dining room — and $6 chicken wings at its a la carte bar. Le Sia, one of the city’s best shellfish spots, hawks whole Dungeness crabs for $35. A Filipino feast to end all feasts for four at Jeepney costs just over $200. And in a city where a sushi omakase can easily exceed $300, Jewel Bako, open since 2001, only asks $125.

What’s so majestic about the East Village is that its splurgiest and most indulgent meals, while never quite cheap, are almost always more affordable than elsewhere in Manhattan. And so for a special occasion lunch or dinner — a graduation, a birthday, an anniversary — it is, quite simply, one of best places to look. Following is a list of such celebratory venues, with options for multiple budgets.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Jeepney

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201 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-4121
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Nicole Ponseca and chef Miguel Trinidad’s Filipino gastropub continues to serve one of Manhattan’s most affordable splurges: a 10 to 12 dish kamayan feast meant to be eaten with one’s hands. The specialties, served on banana leaves, might include longanissa sausage, banana ketchup ribs, adobong manok (chicken adobo), bicol express (coconut milk stew), and puto (steamed rice cakes). The pricing runs $45 to $65 per person. The menu requires at least four people Monday through Friday, and 10 people on the weekends.

Jeepney Jeepney/Facebook

2. Hearth

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403 E 12th St
New York, NY 10009
(646) 602-1300
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Marco Canora is largely known as the “bone-broth guy” these days, hawking his pricey Brodo from various points throughout the city. But his 16-year-old flagship, Hearth, remains a wonderfully warm spot for excellent Italian-inflected American fare. Outside of Craft (where Canora was the original chef de cuisine), there is perhaps no better place in New York for butter-drenched gnocchi. Also consider the heady, funky variety burger, made from off-cuts of beef, as well as a stunning mixed-meat broth laced with turmeric, bone marrow, and black pepper. Expect to spend about $100 per person or more.

Hearth’s dining room with wooden beams on the ceiling and exposed brick walls

3. Le Sia

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11 E 7th St
New York, NY 10003
(646) 370-6423
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Tina Chen, Yang Liu, and chef Zac Zheng’s Le Sia is one of the city’s best places to eat shellfish, period. This is where diners come for spicy piles of crawfish ($15 per pound), snow crab ($28 per pound), whole lobsters ($30), and, best of all, Dungeness crab ($35). Patrons don plastic gloves and eat with their hands. Any night here is a special occasion, and even more so for solo guests who tackle these succulent crustaceans by themselves.

4. Oiji

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119 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(646) 767-9050
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Modern Korean fare represents one of the city’s most exciting cuisines, and Oiji chefs Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku are at the forefront of that movement. Among the best dishes at the East Village small plates place are the Jang-jo-rim rice, packing the buttery richness of movie theater popcorn, as well as the truffled seafood broth, which boasts an obscenely concentrated maritime tang. Expect to spend about $100 per person or less, and end with the honey butter chips over vanilla ice cream.

Oiji Photo by Nick Solares

5. Jewel Bako

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239 E 5th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 979-1012
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Grace and Jack Lamb’s sushi restaurant has held a Michelin star since 2004. The right move, as at all omakases, is to sit at the bar, currently presided over by chef Mitsunori Isoda. The sushi menu priced at $125 includes 14 pieces of nigiri, served piece by piece, while the longer omakase, with seasonal and hot dishes, runs $200.

Jewel Bako Photo: Foursquare

6. Huertas

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107 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-4490
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Chef Jonah Miller and Nate Adler’s Basque spot remains one of the city’s more overlooked Iberian restaurants. The menu is a la carte, with pintxos like croquetas and foie gras with jam going for $9, but the best deal is the $60 selection of small plates, served family style. All prices are service-included.

Huertas Fideos

7. Soogil

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108 E 4th St
New York, NY 10003
(646) 838-5524
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This intimate East Fourth Street spot, from ex-Daniel chef Soogil Lim, is a solid addition to the city’s modern Korean scene, mixing East Asian dishes with French sensibilities. Among the best dishes: spicy seafood soup over tofu flan, spicy glass noodles topped with beef bulgogi, and a mung bean pancake that sports the texture of a good chicken croquette. Also consider the 10-course tasting, a relative steal at $65.

Assorted dishes at Soogil Gary He

8. Momofuku Ko

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8 Extra Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 203-8095
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The two Michelin-starred gem of David Chang’s empire remains one of the city’s best restaurants. Chef Sean Gray serves a $255 tasting at the chef’s counter, while the a la carte bar room offers an a al carte meal that’s no less exciting, often for $100 or less. The clutch order in the bar room is quadruple-fried chicken, brushed with yuzu-Tabasco glaze, as well as the dry-aged steak charred over the binchotan. Prices are service-included.

Momofuku Ko Bar
Ko’s bar room
Louise Palmberg

9. Bowery Meat Company

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9 E 1st St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 460-5255
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Josh Capon and John McDonald’s bastion of beef is where to go for an East Village steakhouse experience. Start off with lush kushi oysters topped with wasabi leaf and lemon; follow that up with chile duck wings glazed in soy honey; then order a big old steak. For maximum flavor, the dry-aged porterhouse will get the job done ($152). Or for something a bit more nimble (and affordable), the 18-ounce strip ($72) will provide sufficient bovine nourishment for two.

Bowery Meat Co. Steak

10. Tuome

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536 E 5th St
New York, NY 10009
(646) 833-7811
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Chef Thomas Chen’s Chinese-American spot, awarded four stars by Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema, has been quietly wowing East Village residents for nearly half a decade, dishing up octopus with pork XO sauce and cauliflower with blue cheese miso. But the true reason to come here is for that $58 “pig out” for two. Pork belly is cured in thyme, ginger, and salt; cooked in duck fat for 15 hours; and paired with greens and peanut noodles.

Ten squares of pork sit on a black plate next to assorted condiments Daniel Krieger

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1. Jeepney

201 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Jeepney Jeepney/Facebook

Nicole Ponseca and chef Miguel Trinidad’s Filipino gastropub continues to serve one of Manhattan’s most affordable splurges: a 10 to 12 dish kamayan feast meant to be eaten with one’s hands. The specialties, served on banana leaves, might include longanissa sausage, banana ketchup ribs, adobong manok (chicken adobo), bicol express (coconut milk stew), and puto (steamed rice cakes). The pricing runs $45 to $65 per person. The menu requires at least four people Monday through Friday, and 10 people on the weekends.

201 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

2. 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

Marco Canora is largely known as the “bone-broth guy” these days, hawking his pricey Brodo from various points throughout the city. But his 16-year-old flagship, Hearth, remains a wonderfully warm spot for excellent Italian-inflected American fare. Outside of Craft (where Canora was the original chef de cuisine), there is perhaps no better place in New York for butter-drenched gnocchi. Also consider the heady, funky variety burger, made from off-cuts of beef, as well as a stunning mixed-meat broth laced with turmeric, bone marrow, and black pepper. Expect to spend about $100 per person or more.

403 E 12th St
New York, NY 10009

3. Le Sia

11 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003
Read Review |

Tina Chen, Yang Liu, and chef Zac Zheng’s Le Sia is one of the city’s best places to eat shellfish, period. This is where diners come for spicy piles of crawfish ($15 per pound), snow crab ($28 per pound), whole lobsters ($30), and, best of all, Dungeness crab ($35). Patrons don plastic gloves and eat with their hands. Any night here is a special occasion, and even more so for solo guests who tackle these succulent crustaceans by themselves.

11 E 7th St
New York, NY 10003

4. Oiji

119 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Read Review |
Oiji Photo by Nick Solares

Modern Korean fare represents one of the city’s most exciting cuisines, and Oiji chefs Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku are at the forefront of that movement. Among the best dishes at the East Village small plates place are the Jang-jo-rim rice, packing the buttery richness of movie theater popcorn, as well as the truffled seafood broth, which boasts an obscenely concentrated maritime tang. Expect to spend about $100 per person or less, and end with the honey butter chips over vanilla ice cream.

119 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

5. Jewel Bako

239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003
Jewel Bako Photo: Foursquare

Grace and Jack Lamb’s sushi restaurant has held a Michelin star since 2004. The right move, as at all omakases, is to sit at the bar, currently presided over by chef Mitsunori Isoda. The sushi menu priced at $125 includes 14 pieces of nigiri, served piece by piece, while the longer omakase, with seasonal and hot dishes, runs $200.

239 E 5th St
New York, NY 10003

6. Huertas

107 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Read Review |
Huertas Fideos

Chef Jonah Miller and Nate Adler’s Basque spot remains one of the city’s more overlooked Iberian restaurants. The menu is a la carte, with pintxos like croquetas and foie gras with jam going for $9, but the best deal is the $60 selection of small plates, served family style. All prices are service-included.

107 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

7. Soogil

108 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003
Read Review |
Assorted dishes at Soogil Gary He

This intimate East Fourth Street spot, from ex-Daniel chef Soogil Lim, is a solid addition to the city’s modern Korean scene, mixing East Asian dishes with French sensibilities. Among the best dishes: spicy seafood soup over tofu flan, spicy glass noodles topped with beef bulgogi, and a mung bean pancake that sports the texture of a good chicken croquette. Also consider the 10-course tasting, a relative steal at $65.

108 E 4th St
New York, NY 10003

8. Momofuku Ko

8 Extra Pl, New York, NY 10003
Read Review |
Momofuku Ko Bar
Ko’s bar room
Louise Palmberg

The two Michelin-starred gem of David Chang’s empire remains one of the city’s best restaurants. Chef Sean Gray serves a $255 tasting at the chef’s counter, while the a la carte bar room offers an a al carte meal that’s no less exciting, often for $100 or less. The clutch order in the bar room is quadruple-fried chicken, brushed with yuzu-Tabasco glaze, as well as the dry-aged steak charred over the binchotan. Prices are service-included.

8 Extra Pl
New York, NY 10003

9. Bowery Meat Company

9 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003
Read Review |
Bowery Meat Co. Steak

Josh Capon and John McDonald’s bastion of beef is where to go for an East Village steakhouse experience. Start off with lush kushi oysters topped with wasabi leaf and lemon; follow that up with chile duck wings glazed in soy honey; then order a big old steak. For maximum flavor, the dry-aged porterhouse will get the job done ($152). Or for something a bit more nimble (and affordable), the 18-ounce strip ($72) will provide sufficient bovine nourishment for two.

9 E 1st St
New York, NY 10003

10. Tuome

536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009
Read Review |
Ten squares of pork sit on a black plate next to assorted condiments Daniel Krieger

Chef Thomas Chen’s Chinese-American spot, awarded four stars by Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema, has been quietly wowing East Village residents for nearly half a decade, dishing up octopus with pork XO sauce and cauliflower with blue cheese miso. But the true reason to come here is for that $58 “pig out” for two. Pork belly is cured in thyme, ginger, and salt; cooked in duck fat for 15 hours; and paired with greens and peanut noodles.

536 E 5th St
New York, NY 10009

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