photo credit: Emily Schindler

A cluttered French restaurant with lots of photos on the walls.



East Village

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightPeople WatchingSee And Be SeenImpressing Out of TownersClassic Establishment

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When Lucien opened in 1998, it was frequented by the sort of folks you’ll currently find in MoMA’s permanent collection. Decades later, the charmingly shabby East Village bistro remains packed every night, although the crowd is less artsy and more downtown meme account. The scene is still the main draw, but don’t count out the food. 

Lucien’s fries are reminiscent of McDonald’s, and their steak au poivre arrives pristine and velvety, with a spicy sauce full of obliterated peppercorns. If you want to try it, call ahead for a reservation, or stop by in the afternoon and ask a server to scribble your name in the notebook that’s kept behind the bar. 

A small French restaurant with walls covered in photos.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Like the cramped seating and menus with mysterious burn holes, the lack of online reservations is part of Lucien’s charm. Landing a table can be a bit of a hassle, but once the lights dim around 7pm and folks begin using the bathroom in pairs, few restaurants feel more alive in a (mildly annoying) New York sort of way.

Food Rundown

A frisee salad with an egg on top.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Salade Frisée Aux Lardons

There’s nothing fancy about this salad, but it does have a few big, smoky lardons hiding under the foliage, and the poached egg on the side helps tie everything together. Break open the yolk, and use it as dressing.

Tuna Tartare

The tuna tartare at Lucien isn’t very good. It’s mushy, it lacks flavor, and it comes with a wilted mixed green salad that tastes like it’s going through a really hard time. But why are you ordering tuna tartare in the first place? What is it, 2004? Have some pâté.
A small triangle of pate on a plate with cornichons.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Pâté Maison

The pâté at Lucien is pleasantly sweet, and the whole pink peppercorns scattered on top are a very nice touch. Start every meal with this.
A piece of steak with fries and a heavy sauce.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Filet Mignon Au Poivre

The best thing here, this filet arrives light and pillowy, drenched in au poivre sauce that has a legitimate, peppery bite.
A small serving of steak tartare on a plate.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Steak Tartare

Well dressed and littered with juicy capers, this simple steak tartare makes for a great mid-afternoon snack. (Lucien is much calmer at lunch, by the way.) The portion isn’t huge, so don’t order this as your entree.
A martini with olives sitting on a table.

photo credit: Emily Schindler


What else were you gonna drink?

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