Tre (173 Ludlow St)
One of my favorite Italian places in the city! Small and cute, owned by an Italian guy, haven’t gone wrong with any of the food and the wine prices are excellent. They also have an amazing happy hour with super cheap bites and wine. Definitely a must if in the area! It’s small so it’s safe to make a reservation, but we’ve also just sat at the bar. They have a back courtyard too.
Contra (138 Orchard St)
If you’ve never done a tasting menu, this is a good foray into one–affordable for a tasting menu, $67 for 5-6 courses. Pretty hipster too so they have a good beer selection as well as wine. They change the menu daily based on what the chefs find at the market, so it’s very fresh. Definitely a fun change of pace if you want to go a little fancy but not splurge. Must make a reservation.
Beauty and Essex (146 Essex St)
Large speakeasy-type place that’s good for dinner and drinks. You go in through what looks like a thrift store/pawn shop. Typical prices for cocktails (~$15). It can be hard to get in at night so make a dinner reservation for a little earlier, and then continue on/stay for drinks afterwards. Free champagne in the downstairs bathroom!
The Back Room (102 Norfolk St)
Another large speakeasy in the LES. It was originally an actual speakeasy so it is prohibition-themed, cocktails come in mugs, and beers wrapped in paper bags. Go in where the sign is for Lower East Side Toy Company and go straight through the tunnel. Prices typical for speakeasies. Generally good music and dancing since it’s big inside.
Katz’s (205 E. Houston St)
Jewish deli–a must in the LES. Everything is huge so you can easily split anything. Pastrami on rye is the signature. Make sure you don’t lose the ticket you get when you go in or you’ll owe $50!
Russ & Daughters (179 E. Houston St)
The storefront is a snack place with Jewish food—you can get rugalach and lots of desserts, smoked fish, etc. Get the chocolate babka!! They also have a full-on brunch place down the street.
Cata (245 Bowery)
Tapas place that’s pretty cool inside and has more interesting plates than a typical Spanish place. Some standouts are the deviled eggs and S’mores dessert. They have a G&T menu too. A little on the pricier side depending on what you get. Make a reservation as it gets crowded.
Freeman’s (End of Freemans Alley, off Rivington St between Chrystie and the Bowery)
Down the end of an alley and remniscient of a speakeasy, it looks small from the outside but is surprisingly large inside. Very good cocktails and dishes–we had an excellent lamb kebab dinner.
Morgenstern’s (2 Rivington St)
A very eclectic collection of ice cream flavors–everything from sweet potato mello to black coconut ash.
Dirty French (180 Ludlow St)
Part of the Carbone/Torrisi empire, a French bistro located in the Ludlow Hotel. The bar outside the main restaurant has several of the same dishes and drinks as well. Delicious and pricy, make sure to make a reservation!