Foodies looking for adventure off the beaten path head to the Lower East Side, where small eateries pack them in thanks to interesting menus and a hip but mature vibe.
Lower East Side
The intersection of Broome and Orchard streets is one of the more fashionable in the area. Black Tree (131 Orchard St, tel: 212-533-4684) is a hip yet homey spot serving seasonal, organic and imaginative sandwiches like fresh pumpkin with fall spice ricotta, mozzarella, roasted seeds, and herbs. Just around the corner the hot new downtown wine bar, Ten Bells (pictured, 247 Broome St, tel: 212-228-4450) serves organic wine by the glass or the bottle accompanied by yummy nibbles – rillettes, mixed cheese plates, fresh oysters – in a dimly lit, cozily rustic space.
Fashionable Freeman’s (8 Rivington St, end of Freeman’s Alley, tel: 212-420-0012) a pioneer of the hunting-lodge chic look, serves sophisticated American traditional food (wild-boar terrine, summer pudding). Meatballs have made a comeback in Manhattan, witnessed by the popular Meatball Shop (84 Stanton St, tel: 212-982-8895), which has a wide-ranging meatball menu from classic beef, chicken, or spicy pork to salmon or vegetarian.
Serious foodies head to Lowlife (178 Stanton St, tel: 212- 257-0509) where chef Alex Leonard invents wildly imaginative concoctions like Dayboat scallops with pickled chanterelles and oroblanco.
Schiller’s Liquor Bar (131 Rivington St, tel: 212-260-4555) is a bohemian bar and bistro, serving the fashionable, the local and the suited. For pancakes, pies and freshly baked goods, head to The Clinton St. Baking Company (4 Clinton St, tel: 646-602-6263) – a popular brunch and lunch spot.
For some people-watching and the wow-factor, have a drink in the dramatic lounge of the Hotel on Rivington (107 Rivington St); or try to get past the velvet ropes at the exclusive penthouse bar Above Allen (190 Allen St) with its sensational view of the New York skyline. A scruffy but fun alternative, lively dive bar Max Fish (178 Ludlow St) lays on cheap beer, a pool table and a great jukebox.
A few blocks north in the East Village, Supper (156 E. 2nd St, tel: 212-477-7600) is a current downtown favorite, serving rustic Italian in a crowded yet convivial space. Prune (54 E. 1st St, tel: 212- 677-6221) has a polished menu of American dishes with ethnic twists, and a great weekend brunch.
Delicious smells waft from the wood-burning oven into Gnocco (337 E. 10th St, tel: 212-667-1913), a relaxed but sophisticated Tuscan restaurant with a great outdoor garden.