My L.E.S. – Erica Smith
We are pleased to announce one of our readers’ favorites, “My L.E.S.,” is back by popular demand. This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.
What do you do?
I’m a freelance book editor (soon to be working full-time for Interweave Press) and a songwriter.
How long have you lived on the L.E.S.?
8 years. Unfortunately I had food poisoning the first few days of my residency (courtesy of a restaurant that is *not* in the LES), but after the vomiting subsided, it’s been up and up ever since.
Favorite block in the hood?
Mine! Especially working from home these past few months, I have found that everything you could want or need can be found on Grand St., in the sleepy stretch between Henry and Pitt: Zafi’s breakfast special, LES Sushi’s lunch special, Moishe’s (I can’t live without their rye bread), Pizza Shack (awesome meatballs), Grand Street Cleaners (incredibly friendly and fast). CVS has the best price on Skim Plus, by the way. And having the Abrons Arts Center around the corner is wonderful. I finally was able to take piano lessons! This block feels like Sesame Street to me, when you can walk down the street and say “hi” to shop owners through the window. I’m incredibly happy and spoiled.
Favorite date spot in the hood?
My husband and I crave the burger at Alias. ‘Inoteca and Azul are definitely on our hit parade. The chicken mole at Festival is unbelievable. We also went on a date to Seward Park Library for their LES film series (Thanks for the tip, Lo-Down!).
Favorite coffee in the hood?
I’m so so happy that Dora is here! It’s been delightful getting to know Nicole and the staff. It’s a great place to stop while going to or from the library or post office.
I also love the coffee at our local Hill Top Grocery. It has been my go-to java for years.
Favorite slice in the hood?
When we order A-1 pizza for parties, people freak out.
Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?
People love to come by the apartment (in Hillman). There is a good vibe in the building that people like. We also have an incredible view looking West on Delancey and North, looking toward the bridges and smokestacks.
Katz’s and Donut Plant are definite go-to places.
When visiting family, we bring Kossar’s bialys. I’m afraid my parents won’t let me in without the bialys.
Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?
Whiskey Ward, for sure! And the Parkside Lounge for music.
What sort of changes have you seen in the neighborhood in the last few years?
Our floor has been graced by lots of kids being born and/or moving in. We adore them. They are slightly obsessed with our cats.
Favorite LES memory?
Seeing Love Camp 7 play Parkside Lounge.
My husband kissing me for the first time in front of American Choice Deli on a summer Monday.
Riding my bike up the new, gorgeous stretch of East River Park this fall.
Playing a Great American Songbook set at Banjo Jim’s last year with my band.
Hunkering down the day after the Dec. 26 blizzard with good company (my husband), a wonderful novel (A Fortunate Age, written by my neighbor Joanna Smith Rakoff) and a fridge full of delicious food (leftover from Christmas Eve).
Opening the door to start painting the entryway, and suddenly having six kids of various ages wander into our apartment looking for cats.