My LES – Natalie Krodel

This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side.  If you would like to participate in “My LES”, please email us here.

What do you do?

I run a cafe on Grand Street called Roots & Vines. We opened about 5 years ago and are still going strong, thankfully.

How long have you lived on the LES?

Since 2000. This makes me the ‘old guard’ of the newer contingent that’s moved down here over the last 10 years or so as the LES has gentrified.  I love it here…it’s Manhattan but has the neighborhood feel of one of the outer boroughs. I actually know the names of my neighbors.

Favorite block in the hood?

Grand Street.  I love how it runs through several types of neighborhoods–from the area farthest east which still has kosher bakeries and a kosher meat market, through Chinatown, Little Italy, and then onto the stores and restaurants in Soho.

Favorite date spot in the hood?

Allen and Delancey (the restaurant, not the intersection). It’s full of flickering candles and heavy drapes–  everyone looks beautiful and intriguing in that place.

Favorite coffee in the hood?

Well, despite the shameless plug, I really have to go with the coffee at Roots & Vines. I’m a coffee snob and the lack of good coffee in the neighborhood was one of the reasons I opened up my cafe in the first place. We’re currently brewing a single origin from El Salvador that’s made from 100% bourbon varietal plants– it has butterscotch and roasted nut tones, and it’s one of the best coffees I’ve tasted in several years.

Favorite slice in the hood?

Two Boots! Their pizza is amazing, and they’ll even make a mini pizza face pie for my toddlers. Works for everyone.

What is your favorite activity to do with your kids in the hood?

East River Park is a great place, once you get past the psychological barrier of crossing the FDR drive to get there. In the summer, they have an area for kids that everyone calls the “Seal Park” with fountains, plenty of trees and plants, and stunning views of the river and the Williamsburg Bridge.

Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?

The LES Tenement Museum.  They offer tours of apartments that recreate immigrant life in the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s absolutely fascinating.

Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?

Barramundi on Clinton. I’m revealing my age, but it was my favorite local dive bar for years in it’s former home on Ludlow.  It’s cheap, cheap, cheap and I can usually get a spot in one of their red pleather booths. Clandestino on Canal is also great– it’s not a dive bar, but it’s full of locals and they make an excellent Pimm’s Cup. There’s also Donnybrook on Clinton– it has a great vintage Irish bar feel and heavy, long wooden tables that encourage people to be social. Hmmm…I could name a few more local bars that I love, but I guess I’ll stop with those three.

Favorite LES memory?

Sledding with my kids by Corlears Hook Park. I hope to enjoy many more winters here doing the same thing.