10 Must Visit Restaurants in East Village
Every district in Manhattan has its own unique flavor. Meatpacking district is known for its clubs, SoHo for its wide range of boutique shops, and East Village for its highly diverse restaurants. To help you on your way to becoming an East Village foodie, below are 10 must visit restaurants each with a different cultural basis.
Chinese - Han Dynasty
Steer clear of this place if you can't handle spicy food. Otherwise, this place is an absolute must visit for all the tongue searing goodness. Han Dynasty specializes in Szechwan cuisine, which is known primarily for its spicy bold flavor. Great for groups or for a daring first date.
Must try dish: Dry Pepper Chicken Wings
Japanese - Yakitori Taisho
Yakitori are Japanese skews of grilled chicken but most places now serve much more than poultry. Yakitori Taisho has a wide range of beef, pork, fish, and chicken skewers along with a host of other more traditional dishes. The location is a bit cramped and is more akin towards street food than a restaurant. However, the setting only further promotes the cuisine as Yakitori is traditionally a street food item.
Must try dish: Chicken Heart Skewer
Korean - Boka
Right next to Yakitori Taisho you’ll find Boka, a very trendy Korean restaurant. This is a great place to kick back after work with a group of friends and a tall beer. If you’d like to try something more unique, Boka serves an amazing watermelon Soju which is served inside an actual watermelon. Yes that’s right a whole watermelon so be ready to be knocked off your butt. Definitely check it out on a Friday to get the complete ambiance but the food is great any other day of the week if you’d rather skip the line.
Must try dish: Korean Fried Chicken
American – Duck’s Eatery
Right on the corner of 1st Ave and 12th you’ll find this hip joint complete with some of the strangest and delicious food you’ll encounter. Between the exposed brick wall and Mason jar cocktails, Duck’s Eatery is a complete 180 from many of the other restaurants in the area. Reservations are a must if you plan on arriving after 8PM as it gets pretty crowded as the night goes on. These guys make one hell of a cocktail as well, I strongly recommend the Duck Buck. Google
Must try dish: Crispy Pig Ear
Mediterranean – Halal Guys
Most people know of the Halal Guys food stand on the corner of 6th Ave and 53rd that had lines that stretched down the block. Luckily, the location of their restaurant is not as well-known and carries equally greasy goodness as the Midtown location. Unluckily, this location is getting more and more popular as the club goers are stumbling in on Friday and Saturday night by the multitudes. Be extra careful with the red sauce as it has a very strong kick. Fair warning, the food here can very easily reach 2000 calories apiece so if you’re watching your waistline this might not be the best place for you.
Must try dish: Large Combo
Belgian – Pommes Frites
Ok – cards on the table this is not necessarily a restaurant but it still has amazing food. Pommes Frites specializes in fresh thick cut fries with a deluge of dipping sauces. There’s a sitting area in the back but for the most part people normally just line up and order which is a good thing because the line stretches pretty far at times. Other than the incredibly crispy fries fresh out of the fryer, you can mix and match over 30 different sauces to create a truly unique experience. Sauces such as peanut satay, war sauce, and pomegranate teriyaki mayo.
Must try sauce: Wasabi Mayo
Cajun – Great Jones Cafe
This place is very well hidden which is shocking considering their mouth water selection of southern and Cajun dishes. Nestled on an oddly renamed street, Great Jones St, this restaurant does not look like much but don’t judge a book by its cover. Gumbo and Jambalaya are two staples of any Cajun cuisine but with something like Roast Chicken with Honey-Pecan Glaze this place really has it all.
Must try dish: Louisiana Jambalaya and Jalapeno Cornbread
Ethiopian – Awash
At least amongst my group of friends, many have not tried Ethiopian before so for the most of you out there this will probably be a very unique experience on its own. Unlike most cuisines, Ethiopian is a communal food experience. Food will be served on to of Injera, a spongy sourdough flatbread. Food is then grabbed with separately rolled Injera and eaten with your hands. The food itself is incredibly flavorful and tender. Coupled with a super sweet honey wine and Awash will pretty much hit every corner of your palate.
Must try dish: Meat Combo
Mexican – Otto’s Tacos
The general consensus is that it is almost impossible to find a good taco place in the city. Otto’s Tacos popped up earlier this year and has since blown away the locals. Freshly press tortillas are only the start of an unbelievable journey. Add on some grilled shrimp or perfectly spiced chorizo and some locally sourced tomatoes and onions for one hell of a taco. They also produce and bottle their own Horchata which completes this experience. The restaurant has limited seating indoors with a sidewalk expansion during the summer. Not a terrible place to hit up after work if you’re too tired to cook.
Must try dish – Carne Asada Taco
Pizza – Artichoke Pizza
What’s a list of NYC food spots if it does not include a pizza joint? What’s unique here is that they pretty much completely reinvented pizza sauce. Theirs is a thick and creamy sauce that just oozes down the side of the slice as you eat it. It is incredibly difficult to explain but I can guarantee that you would most likely never had another slice like it anywhere else. If you do decide to try this place out, definitely come later at night when the club and bar people are out and about. Drunk people eventually want food and when drunk people want food in East Village they inevitably end up at Artichoke Pizza. This means fresh pizza that sells out by the minute and you will be able to indulge in the way it was meant to be eaten, piping hot and dripping with cheesy goodness.
Must try dish – Artichoke Pizza (You will be missing out on one hell of a pizza if you choose anything else)
I have put on quite a few pounds trying out all the different restaurants in the area and these 10 places rank amongst the best East Village has to offer. In no way does this list represent all the great restaurants in the area so if you still have room definitely go exploring as you’ll more than likely stumble upon a new hidden gem that will make a future list.