The Best Restaurants In The East Village
Our favorite spots in a neighborhood packed with great places to eat.
Narrowing down a list of the best restaurants in the East Village isn't easy. Extremely worthy candidates live on every block, like a BYOB Puerto Rican cafe that’s been around for decades, a Thai restaurant on 13th Street with a secret backyard, and sushi speakeasy that feels like a house party. You almost can’t run out of amazing restaurants to try in the East Village, so consider this list a starting point for restaurants—both old and new—that you should prioritize.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Punjabi Grocery & Deli
One of the irreplaceable gems of the East Village, this basement-level cab stand has been selling vegetarian Indian chaat and curries on Houston Street since the early '90s. Bring about $10 in cash, and you can have an incredibly fulfilling meal here—whether that’s by way of a steaming bowl of chana masala and potatoes or a brown paper bag filled with crunchy fried pakora. If you’re having a tough day, stop by and ask for “samosa chaat with the works.” You'll get a mound of food piled-high with cut-up samosas, masala chickpeas, cooling yogurt, fresh raw onions, sweet chutney, and spicy sauce.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
In order to get to Studio 151, you enter a door that's marked with a single red lightbulb, then walk up a red-lit staircase and ring a tiny buzzer. This Alphabet City restaurant is technically a speakeasy, and it's located in a cavernous space reminiscent of a ‘90s art loft. You can grab a high-top or a couch and eat some à la carte sushi—but we suggest you reserve one of the four seats at the chef’s counter and try the exceptional $80 omakase. In any case, you’re going to have a good time.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
Yellow Rose specializes in pressed-to-order tortillas made with Sonoran flour. You can see these blistered, perfect discs in action via one of their excellent bean and cheese tacos or a taco stuffed with braised carne guisada. You should also try their doughnuts (available on weekends), zingy vegan queso made from cashews, and Texas sheet cake that you’ll want to hide in your fridge and eat at midnight. Stop by for breakfast tacos in the morning or a casual dinner with a friend at night.
There are enough Japanese restaurants in this neighborhood to warrant another fully dedicated guide. But if it’s à la carte sushi that you’re after, try this Avenue A spot that focuses on sustainable fish. While at Rosella, you’ll meet fish from unexpected sources, like bluefin tuna from North Carolina or applewood-smoked steelhead trout from inland farms. If you’re looking for a place to start, the chirashi is a great way to get a sampling of their sashimi.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
7th Street Burger
How did 7th Street Burger become the most hypebeasty place to eat a patty between two buns? Maybe it’s because this East Village spot serves incredibly straightforward $7 burgers. Or maybe it’s because they also serve an impossible burger for only $1 dollar more. In reality, the appeal of 7th Street is easy to understand. This is somewhere you should come for relatively affordable burgers and crispy fries, even if you don’t eat meat.
If you pride yourself on knowing about the best Thai restaurants in the city, Soothr’s food is required eating. This serves central Thai dishes you may not have seen elsewhere in Manhattan, like sukhotthai tom yum noodles and specialties from Bangkok’s Chinatown hub. (Whatever you do, order the koong karee.) Whether you stop by for a meal in their gazebo-esque backyard or spend a night with a takeout tub on the couch, your Soothr experience will be headline news during your next catch-up with a friend.
There’s plenty of great Szechuan food in the East Village. But Málà Project’s dry pot specialties make it the most remarkable Szechuan spot for an in-person dining experience in the neighborhood. One night, you could come for a great dinner consisting of bacon fried rice and a dry pot with broth-filled beef balls, bok choy, and lotus root. And you could go back the following week for a dry pot full of tofu skin, four different kinds of mushrooms, and frog. No matter how many times you eat here, the spicy dry pot always feels exciting.
A buzzy European-inspired restaurant/wine bar, Claud feels like the cozy-yet-chic East Village apartment of your chef friends who don’t make a big deal about how talented they are. The menu changes seasonally, but if they're available, make sure you order the razor clams, tomato mille-feuille, and swordfish au poivre. Finish with a dish of ice cream and the devil’s food cake for two (one of the Best New Dishes Of 2022).
photo credit: CheLi
CheLi spotlights the seafood-dominant cuisine from the larger region around the city of Shanghai—all in a serene, waterfall-clad room on St. Marks Place. Our favorite ordering method here relies mainly on fish and crustaceans, like the meaty Atlantic blue crab soaked in floral Shaoxing wine. But there’s plenty of delicious pork to be eaten, too—the stacks of red braised pork belly coated in a dark soy sauce, in particular, are requisite ordering. Bring a couple friends for your next group dinner.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Come to this iconic BYOB Puerto Rican restaurant in Alphabet City for crispy-skinned rotisserie chicken, beans and rice, and fresh avocado salad. Adela Ferguson, the woman at the helm of the business since it opened in 1976, sadly passed away a few years ago—but the family-run place still feels as welcoming and homey as ever. If you want to supplement your rotisserie chicken with something else, try the garlicky, piping-hot mofongo with pernil or a couple alcapurrias. Bring cash—they don’t accept credit cards.
You can find some of our favorite summer rolls in the city at Hanoi House—a casual Vietnamese restaurant on St. Marks right by the park. In addition to the summer rolls, we always order the rich beef phở. It comes with a combination of filet mignon and brisket, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it for at least 32 hours.
Ruffian is worth visiting just for the wine. With over 250 mostly-natural options organized into categories like “Beach Sipping,” “Stoop Sipping,” “Rootsy” and “Kool-Aid,” this is one of the best places to drink and learn about wine in the entire city. That said, you could also go to Ruffian just for the vegetarian food. The menu constantly changes, but all of the of Mediterranean-leaning dishes are shareable.
There are a lot of fried chicken sandwiches out there, and, truthfully, most of them make us wish we were at Popeyes. Rowdy Rooster’s Indian fried chicken sandwiches are different, though. They’re crunchy, covered in yogurt and pickled onions, and they come on soft, buttery pao buns with five different spice levels—the highest of which is genuinely sweat-inducing. Rowdy Rooster also makes a few vegetarian options that are surprisingly exciting for a place with fowl in the name.
Every entree at this Ethiopian spot on Avenue B near Tompkins Square Park comes with two vegetable sides. While we recognize that you’re an adult and can do what you want, we can’t stress enough that one of those sides should be the shiro wot, Haile’s chickpea mash that coats everything it meets with garlicky creaminess. We like to plop a thick layer of shiro wot on each torn piece of injera, and then top it with other delicious things like tart red beets or tender dark meat chicken that’s been slow cooked in onions, berbere, and spiced clarified butter.
Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant
Like their original Jackson Heights location (which tragically closed in 2021 because of a fire), Lhasa on 1st Avenue and 11th Street serves a menu of excellent momos with both meat and vegetable fillings. You’ll also find some noodle dishes and thenthuk with tons of beef and hand-ripped noodles. It’s understandably difficult to choose between momos here, so make it easy on yourself and get one of Lhasa’s combos.
photo credit: Lucy Ballantyne
When fries wind up in burritos, it can go one of two ways. Either the fries are drastically soggy and weigh the whole operation down, or they're the perfect golden, crispy additions to your handheld meal. At Electric Burrito on St. Marks, expect the latter. This counter-service spot's California burritos—like what you’d find at a stand in San Diego—use french fries in place of rice, but you can also order their Conga burritos which are just as noteworthy and come with beans, rice, crema, and your choice of protein.
If you’re googling “Fun restaurants East Village,” 886 is what you’re looking for. The narrow, neon-lit space could easily be converted into the city’s smallest nightclub. But the real reason you come here is for the excellent Taiwanese food, like their big fried chicken sandwich and braised pork with soft-boiled egg over seasoned rice. Nothing on the menu costs over $20, so this is a great spot for an affordable meal with a couple of friends.
This Kosher lunch counter is the kind of classic neighborhood place that makes us say “Goddammit I love New York City” every time we pass by. It’s been open since 1938 and is now run by a couple who met in the East Village (named Ola and Fawzy). The Eastern European breakfast and lunch menus are extensive, and the pierogi is always a good choice. Get them filled with potato or sauerkraut and mushroom. Otherwise, try one of the soups or giant sandwiches like the tuna melt on toasted homemade challah.
Malai Marke is our favorite place to eat Indian food on East 6th Street. That’s a significant claim, considering the restaurant’s one-block radius has historically been home to tons of Bangladeshi and Indian spots. The bulk of the menu is dedicated to expertly-spiced Northern regional specialties, like creamy black lentil dal makhani and lamb burra kabob cooked in a tandoor. But you’ll also see coastal dishes made with coconut and fish and Indian-Chinese chili chicken. Even on weekends, you can usually get a table.
In the early 20th Century, the East Village was largely made up of Ukrainian, Slovak, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants, but there are only a few remnants of that history left. One landmark that's still around is Veselka, a well-known Ukrainian diner that opened in 1954. Despite its crowds, Veselka somehow retains the magic of an old-school neighborhood joint. Stick with the Ukrainian food—like the stuffed cabbage, borscht, or potato pierogi—for the best results.
photo credit: Kate Previte
Great breakfast burritos are a rarity in this city, and this Pueblan counter-service spot does them extremely well. Theirs are packed tight with steamy scrambled eggs, black beans galore, onions, peppers, and jack cheese to bind everything together. The morning is our preferred time to visit this small, cash-only bakery, but their tortas and tamales with mole poblano are worth trying, too.
Of the trio of Frank restaurants, we like Supper the best. It feels a little more grown-up than Lil Frankie’s and Frank, and it still serves the spaghetti al limone that at least one person you know has photographed and questionably captioned with “get in my belly.” Supper is exactly the sort of place you’ll want to visit on a Sunday evening for a large quantity of homemade pasta and red wine. Just know that they only accept cash.