The East Village, east of the Village on Manhattan, was traditionally considered part of the Lower East Side, and constitutes the portion north of Houston St., south of 14th St., and east of Broadway. Although increasingly gentrified, with former crack dens that are now modern apartments so hip you can't afford them, it remains an ethnically diverse area of students, young professionals, and older longtime residents. This colorful neighborhood is full of good values in food as diverse as its population, and there's always something happening on St. Marks Place, 24/7.
East of 1st Av., encompassing the area from Av. A to the East River, is a sub-neighborhood often called Alphabet City or Loisaida (Spanglish for "Lower East Side"); Av. C's alternate name is "Loisaida Avenue." Parts of Alphabet City still have a Hispano-Caribbean feel, especially on Avs. D and C, but since most of Alphabet City is similar to the rest of the East Village now (diverse, somewhat gentrified, stylish), the separate designations are less used than was the case a 2-3 decades ago. The area between Broadway and 3rd Av./Bowery, on the other hand, is sometimes called NoHo, for "North of Houston St." by analogy to SoHo to its south.
The best subway line for getting into the heart of the East Village is the 6 train, which stops at Astor Place, just one short block from St. Marks Place. You can also get out at Bleecker Street for more southerly East Village locations between Houston and 4th Streets.
The N and R trains run under Broadway along the western edge of the neighborhood, stopping at 8th Street NYU station near Astor Place.
The L train is a rare crosstown train that runs along 14th Street, the northern edge of the East Village. The 3rd Avenue and especially the 1st Avenue stations can save you some steps if you're headed for more northerly or easterly destinations. The L can also take you to Greenwich Village or Brooklyn's Williamsburg, for a tour of Bohemias past and present.
There are also trains that run along the southern edge of the neighborhood, under Houston Street - take the B, D, F, or M to the Broadway-Lafayette station. The F also runs to the 2nd Avenue station.
There are many trains that stop at Union Square, which is just past the northwest corner of the East Village - but it's something of a hike to the center of the neighborhood. Take the 4, 5, 6, N, Q, R, or the L.
Numerous MTA bus routes serve the neighborhood. Of particular note, however, are the crosstown buses. The M8 travels east on 8th St., then turns north on Av. A and travels on 10th St. the rest of the way. The M8 travels west on 10th St. and then starting on Av. A, on 9th St. The M14 14th St. crosstown is also notable because after going crosstown on 14th St. from the west side, the M14A bus turns down Av. A, whereas the M14D turns down Av. C and travels down Av. D starting at 10th St.
This is absolutely the best way to catch all of the East Village action. If you are coming from uptown on the West Side, take the West Side Green Path down to 14th Street. Cross east on 12th, or any street with a bike lane that runs east! If you are coming down from the East Side, there is an East Side bike path that is interrupted by the United Nations. Simply cross over to Second Ave. and ride south until you cross 14th St.
Parking in the East Village can be difficult. If you plan to park on the street, be patient and opportunistic, and take care to observe posted parking regulations and avoid parking in front of houses of worship and funeral homes, lest your car should be ticketed or towed. There are also some parking garages in the neighborhood, if you don't mind paying.
If you are within walking distance of the East Village in decent weather, walking to the neighborhood is the most interesting way to go, and certainly the best way to get around.
There are usually many taxis in the East Village. It is easiest to flag down a cab on avenues, rather than side streets, but if you are on a side street, look for cabs, anyway, while you walk toward an avenue. Be warned that at peak times and in bad weather, it can be hard to find empty cabs.
Tompkins Square Park, btwn 7th St., 10th St., Avenue A, and Avenue B. Not much to see, but a nice park nonetheless and historically significant for its long reputation of political demonstrations and radical thought. The Grateful Dead played their first East Coast show here in 1967, and the first Hare Krishna gathering outside of India took place here in 1965. The park has a curfew — it closes at midnight.
Ottendorfer Library, 135 Second Avenue (near 8th St.), ☎ +1 212 674-0947, . M, W 10AM-6PM, Tu, Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-5PM. The oldest continuously existing free lending library in New York, it was originally designed in 1884 as a "Deutsches Bibliothek" when this neighborhood was part of Kleindeutschland (Little Germany) and now serves as a branch of the New York Public Library. A lovely red brick building, it contains reliefs of heroes of German culture such as Goethe. Another part of the building, constructed as a "Deutsches Dispensary," recently stopped functioning as a clinic and will reportedly be converted into condominiums soon.
Cooper Union, Cooper Square (Astor Place and 7th Street), . The only private, full-scholarship college in the United States dedicated exclusively to preparing students for the professions of art, architecture and engineering. The college, established in 1859, occupies several buildings, but the most recognizable and famous is the Foundation Building, which is situated on the block to the south of Astor Place between the two branches of Cooper Square (one being the southward extension of 3rd Av. and the other, an avenue that connects the Bowery with 4th Av. at Astor Place). The college, the legacy of Peter Cooper, occupies a special place in the history of American education.
St. Marks Place. The eastward extension of 8th St./Astor Place past 3rd Ave. There are many bars, restaurants, and shops (many with a street vending presence) on the block between 2nd and 3rd Aves. There's always quite a mixture of folk walking up and down the street and within the area not to mention the slew of students from Cooper Union and NYU, which has plenty of dormitories and facilities nearby. Be warned that it can be unpleasantly crowded with slow-moving tipsy people at times, but it is a good place for people-watching.
Stuyvesant St., . The only street in Manhattan that actually runs due east to the compass. There are several 18th- and early 19th-century buildings along this street, which runs from a bit south of 9th St. and 3rd Ave. to 10th St and 2nd Ave. At the corner of 10th St. and 2nd Ave. is St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, a historic landmark and a very active church today, with an old and lush graveyard to the north, on and near the corner of 11th St. and 2nd Ave. Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of the colony of New Netherland before the British took possession and renamed it New York, is buried in a crypt in the east wall of the church. On the other end of Stuyvesant St., at the triangle between 9th St., Stuyvesant St., and 3rd Ave., a small garden and a compass fountain were constructed a few years ago for beautification and in order to show that Stuyvesant St. does go due east to the compass.
Alamo. A sculpture at the center of Astor Place. This steel cube actually rotates as you push on any side, though you may need the strength of two or three people for a complete rotation. One of its sister cubes resides on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Public Theater and the adjoining Joe's Pub at 425 Lafayette St, are part of the lifeblood of the East Village. You can see shows, events, art, and Shakespeare, and hear some excellent performers of jazz, world music and so on at Joe's Pub.
Blue Man Group, Astor Place Theatre, 434 Lafayette St, ☎ +1 212 254-4370, .
Russian-Turkish Bathhouse, 268 E 10th St, . Enjoy a day of self indulgence with a very authentic Russian feel. Then nosh on bagels and cream cheese, or an authentic Russian meal in the restaurant. Maybe after all that shvitzing (that's Yiddish/New Yorkese for "sweating"): a huge bottle of seltzer, or fresh carrot juice is the thing you'll want most.
STOMP, Orpheum Theatre on 2nd Ave (between 7th St and St. Marks), ☎ +1 212 477-2477, .
Many souvenirs, articles of clothing, and new and used records are on sale on St. Marks Place between 2nd and 3rd Avs. in storefronts that open onto the street and indoor stores.
The Shape of Lies, 127 East 7th Street (between 1st Ave & Ave A), ☎ 212 533 5920, . Wed to Sun. One of the last live/work artist store fronts in the East Village. Morphing from window art dioramas in the 80's they now showcase only local jewelry designers and artists along with their own museum replica jewelry and paintings. Screen door and original tin ceiling complete the authentic East Village look.$28-$300.
Surma, 11 E. 7 St. (between Cooper Square and 2nd Av.), ☎ +1 212 477-0729. There are Ukrainian clothes, musical instruments, books, and other items for sale here.
There are two Japanese grocery stores in the neighborhood. JAS Mart, 133 2nd Av., (212) 420-6370, is actually on St. Marks Place just west of 2nd Av. Sunrise Mart, 29 3rd Av. (2nd floor - accessible by elevator), (212) 598-3040, is actually on Stuyvesant St. Both of these stores are extensively patronized by Japanese residents of New York.
M2M, 200 E. 11 St. (corner of 3rd Av.), ☎ +1 212 353-2698. A Korean supermarket. No, this is not just an ordinary Korean-owned fruit, vegetable, and convenience store, but a fair-sized supermarket stocked with Korean foodstuffs and catering to Koreans (and to a lesser extent, Japanese). There is a set of tables for those who want to have a meal, snack, or drink inside. M2M stands for "morning to midnight," the store's hours.
Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway (corner of 12th St.), ☎ +1 212 473-1452 (fax: +1 212 473-2591), . One of the foremost used bookstores in New York, reportedly housing over 18 miles of shelf space, all of it crammed to capacity. A recent renovation has opened up the space tremendously, though that will be a surprise to any newcomer, who will marvel at the wall-to-wall crowds.
There are hundreds of eateries in the East Village, which is among the best neighborhoods in Manhattan for sampling a variety of different cuisines and has lots of good values at a wide spectrum of price points.
Avenue A Sushi, 105 Av. A, ☎ +1 212 982-8109. Affordable and excellent sushi—go for the marble roll which is wrapped in white seaweed, a true delicacy. Friendly fun and delicious! If you don't like DJ music while you dine, however, this isn't your place.
Cafe Mogador, 101 St. Marks Place (between 1st Av. and Av. A), ☎ +1 212 677-2226, . Serves Moroccan, French, and Middle-Eastern cuisine, all dependably good. The cafe is especially popular for weekend brunch, but a very good breakfast/brunch is available every day of the week. More dishes are on the brunch menu on weekends, but you are likely to wait a half hour or more for weekend brunch during peak hours.
Caracas Arepa Bar, 93 1/2 E. 7th St. (just east of 1st Av.), ☎ +1 212 228-5062, . A small restaurant specializing in arepas, the Venezuelan answer to empanadas. They also serve Venezuelan empanadas, salads, desserts, etc., and very good fresh-squeezed juices. You may have to wait on line for a table at peak hours, but it is a very relaxing place to eat at the bar on off-hours. Prices have increased substantially ($6 for one arepa), but the lunch specials are still the best value.
Chinatown Brasserie, 380 Lafayette St. (corner of Great Jones), ☎ +1 212 533-7000, . Famous for its unusual take on dim sum items, some of which are available for dinner as well as lunch; its upscale Chinese-American food (though not everyone loves this); and its cocktails. You will pay dearly for the experience - each plate of dim sum costs between $6 and $15 for an order of four dumplings, for example, with some plates as much as $22, and cocktails are $8-12 apiece (if anything lower than usual for cocktail bars of comparable fanciness in this city but hardly cheap) - but if you love dim sum and can afford the price, you'll probably find it an experience worth having. Reservations strongly advised. NOW CLOSED.
De Roberti's, 176 1st Ave. (near 11th Street), ☎ +1 212 674-7137, . Old-school Italian pastry shop opened in 1904 and has been satisfying neighborhood sweet tooths ever since. Authentically old New York. Be warned that not everyone likes their pastries, however.
Gandhi, 345 E. 6th Street (between 1st and 2nd Aves.), ☎ +1 212 614-9718. Called by some the best Indian restaurant on the block (others disagree), has an extensive vegetarian menu, tandoori specials, etc. Open seven days a week. Reservations not needed except for larger groups, which can opt for a party room.
Grand Sichuan International St. Marks, 19-23 St. Marks Place (between 2nd and 3rd Avs.), ☎ +1 212 529-4800. Serves reliably good Hunan and Sichuan cuisine. For best results, stick to those parts of the menu and avoid lunch specials. Large parties may need reservations.
Hearth, 403 E. 12th St., ☎ +1 646 602-1300, . An upscale American restaurant strongly influenced by Italian cuisine. Hearth is open for dinner only. Expect to pay roughly $80/person, including wine. Reservations recommended.
John's of 12th Street, 302 E. 12th St. (near 2nd Avenue), ☎ +1 212 475-9531. 4pm-11pm. This old-school Italian-American red-sauce place has friendly service, ample portions, loads of atmosphere and a century's worth of history.
Life Cafe, 343 E. 10th Street (at Avenue B), ☎ +1 212 477-9001. 10 am-12 am. Funky neo-diner is no longer the terrific bargain it once was, but is still a great place to people watch. Featured in the musical Rent. Also seen in the movie Joe's Apartment, when Joe first arrives in NY and is having coffee there while looking at apartment listings in the paper.
Menkui Tei, 63 Cooper Square (southern extension of 3rd Av., between 7th and St. Marks Place), ☎ +1 212 228-4152. An authentic ramen house popular with Japanese people. In addition to various kinds of ramen, their gyoza are also popular.
Mud, 307 E. 9th St., ☎ +1 212 228-9074, . 9AM-12AM. A real neighborhood hangout that offers terrific coffee and light meals.
Ramen Setagaya, 34 St. Marks Pl (between 2nd and 3rd Avs.), ☎ +1 212 387-7959, . A branch of a ramen chain of the same name based in Japan.
7A Cafe, 109 Ave. A (at 7th Street), ☎ +1 212 475-9001. 24 hours. Snazzy yet affordable with a cut above diner food. Has a real East Village feel and a great view of Tompkins Square and the Avenue A street life. Some people find their food underwhelming, though.
Soba Koh, on 5th St. (just east of 2nd Av.). A small, comfortable, civilized restaurant serving delicious soba and desserts and playing sweet modern jazz on its sound system. Expect to pay roughly $20-30/person for dinner.
Veniero's, 342 E. 11th Street (between 1st and 2nd Aves.), ☎ +1 212 674-7070, . A fun little Italian pastry shop, according to some. However, others think it's been riding on its reputation for 20-30 years.
Veselka, 144 2nd Avenue, ☎ +1 212 228-9682. 24 hours. Half-century-old Ukrainian diner now has a snazzier decor and hipper clientele but still offers traditional Eastern European fare like pierogi, blintzes, stuffed cabbage, etc.
B Bar, 40 E 4th St, ☎ +1 212 475-2220, . Restaurant and bar, this place caters mostly to the bar and club crowd.
d.b.a., 41 1st Ave (between 2nd and 3rd Sts), . 1PM-4AM daily. Has a good selection of beers including many from microbreweries, as well as a bunch of single malt whiskeys, and prices are reasonable for the neighborhood. It can get crazy on Saturday nights, but it's a pleasant, relaxing place on weeknights.
KGB Bar, 84 E 4th St, . A hard-drinking literary bar.
McSorleys Old Ale House, 15 E 7th St (between 2nd Ave and Cooper Sq), ☎ +1 212 473-9148, . M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 1PM-1AM. The oldest pub in continuous operation in New York, this small pub packs up fast. Sawdust on the floors, McSorleys beer only that comes in pairs, this place is a favorite with tourists and locals alike. The ancient chandelier above the bar has turkey wishbones dating from WW1 when a turkey dinner was thrown for the departing soldier and the wishbone was hung up till he returned. Abraham Lincoln drank there and Teddy Roosevelt's signature graces the walls. Boisterous atmosphere and cheap food too!
Vazac's Horseshoe Bar (7B), 108 Ave B (at 7th St), ☎ +1 212 473-8840. A rock 'n' roll hangout that dates back to Prohibition, 7B has been featured in numerous movies for its classic Manhattan atmosphere.
Velvet Cigar Lounge, 80 E 7th St (at 1st Ave), ☎ +1 212 533-5582, . M-F 3PM-1AM, Sa noon-2AM, Su 2PM-midnight. Not your run of the mill cigar lounge. This intimate, unpretentious spot captures the laid back feel of the East Village. They have their own boutique cigar line, named after East Village locales. Oh, and it's BYO, very affordable night out. A true New York experience!
The Immigrant, 341 E 9th St (at 1st Ave), ☎ +1 212 677-2545, . Su-Th 5PM-1AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM daily. Wine bar with great list and some microbrews. Cozy, elegant without being pretentious. Great place to meet with friends or bring a date.
Bowery's Whitehouse Hotel, 340 Bowery (between Great Jones (3rd St) and 2nd St, on the Western Side of Bowery), ☎ +1 212 477-5623, . Private room. The rooms are very small (not much larger than the bed!), but they are clean, hostel is centrally located. Internet access, 24-hour reception, cash machine, grocery store located next door. There is also an internet cafe down the street at Cooper Square called Web2Zone. This hostel has great rates at $35 for a single per night. It doesn't have a traditional ceiling, but what they consider traditional for an old-fashioned hostel that its lattice and you can hear the other occupants through it. Right down the street from the 6 train and is a great place to explore the East Village, the West Village and so on.
East Village Bed & Coffee, 110 Ave C (between 7th & 8th Sts), ☎ +1 212 533-4175, . Small, eclectic rooms. Small garden out back for nice weather.Single: $95. Double: $110+, tax included.
The Bowery Hotel, 335 Bowery (between 2nd & 3rd Sts), ☎ +1 212 505-9100, . Fabulously dark and moody, this newish old-school hotel is cool and charming in a low-key way. Rooms are spacious with plenty of light and dark hardwood floors, and the more expensive ones come with fantastic bathtubs. The bar and lobby are popular hangouts.From $350.
The Standard, East Village, 25 Cooper Square, ☎ 212-475-5700, . Pet-friendly boutique hotel.
The East Village is a residential neighborhood. Visitors are of course welcome. But please do not block the sidewalk, entrances to residences, or intersections where people may want to cross the street on green or red lights, and do not make a lot of noise outside at 3 in the morning. Remember that local residents have places to get to quickly day and night, and though New York is called the "City That Never Sleeps" (a name that's particularly apt in the East Village), most residents above a certain age do need some shut-eye before 5 A.M., even on St. Mark's Place.
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