The Lower East Side’s brunch mecca, serving up delectable pancakes and perfect biscuits. The wait to get in on weekends (and many weekdays) is ridiculously long. Your best best: going for dinner. Don’t miss the fried chicken!
4 Clinton Street, near Houston
Open 8am-11pm Monday-Friday, Saturday 9am-11pm, Sunday 9-6pm
The white picket fence signals your arrival at the LES’s New Orleans-style sandwich shop. Owner Din Yates offers a half dozen or so made-to-order creations. There’s fried chicken on a biscuit, pulled pork, delicious oyster and shrimp po’ boys, etc. And for breakfast, beignets and Cafe du Monde coffee. Din’s a friendly, laid back guy who quickly established a loyal following in the neighborhood. A series of glowing reviews has not hurt business.
35 Orchard, near Hester
Monday-Friday 9am-6pm, Weekends 10-6, but actually open until 8 most days
Open to the street on two sides, featuring a big beer menu and serving up surprisingly decent “gastropub” fare, this place is one of the neighborhood’s most popular nightlife destinations. Go for lunch or happy hour to avoid the frat party that begins to build after 8pm.
101 Rivington, near Ludlow
Open Mon-Tue, noon-3am; Wed-Fri, noon-4am; Sat, 10am-4am; Sun, 10am-3am
Reservations accepted for parties of 10 or more.
Chief Curmudgeon Kenny Shopsin serves up a few hundred (no, that’s not a typo) wacky items in his little corner of the Essex Market. Ignore his profane rants and occasional temper tantrums while slurping down one of 54 “made from scratch” soups, mac ‘n cheese pancakes or shrimp gumbo grits – or the duck/chorizo/shrimp stew.
120 Essex Street, near Rivington
Open Tue-Sat, 9:30am-2pm; Sun-Mon, closed
A sometimes rowdy Irish theme bar with a fairly substantial menu (burgers, pizza, wings, etc), a large patio in the back and a few pool tables.
191 Orchard, near Houston
Hours Mon-Fri, noon-4am; Sat-Sun, 11am-4am
The inviting Clinton Street bar serves small plates: cheeses, oysters, salads and tartare. The bartenders are friendly and the room cozy.
29 Clinton, near Stanton
Hours Sun and Tue-Thu, 6pm-1am; Fri-Sat, 6pm-3am; Mon, closed
Wylie Dufresne brought fine dining to Clinton Street in the 90’s. Now at WD-50, he continues to innovate, creating some of Manhattan’s most outlandish and surprising dishes. For full effect, choose the 12-course tasting menu for $140.
50 Clinton Street, near Rivington
Hours: Wed-Sat, 6pm-11pm; Sun, 6pm-10pm
Vietnamese restaurant mogul Michael Huynh conquers the burger at this tiny Lower East Side joint. The basic offerings will only set you back $5. Add chili or cheese, jalapeno and wasabi menu — and you’ll pay a couple bucks more.
134 Ludlow, near Rivington
Open Sun-Thu, 10am-2am; Fri-Sat, 10am-4am
Located in an appealing corner spot on Orchard Street, Little Giant serves a homey, locally sourced, seasonal menu. Brunch is very popular.
85 Orchard, at Broome
Open Mon-Thu, 11:30am-11pm; Fri, 11:30am-midnight; Sat, 10am-4pm and 6pm-midnight; Sun, 10am-4pm and 6pm-10pm
Alan Natkiel fine-tuned his barbecuing technique in Georgia (slow steaming the ribs, then tossing them on the grill) before opening this spot on Orchard Street. There are only a few tables, so most people order take-out. There’s also decent fried chicken on the menu.
192 Orchard, near Stanton
Sun-Mon, noon-10pm; Tue-Sat, noon-11pm
At the end of Freeman Alley (off Rivington), Taavo Somer and William Tigertt created an enchanting hideway, offering fancy comfort food in “hunting lodge” surroundings. “A rugged, clandestine, colonial American tavern,” as they call it. There are three bars in the sprawling restaurant, serving creative cocktails. Dinner and brunch are mobbed. Weekday lunch is your best bet.
End of Freeman Alley, off Rivington
Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm and 6pm-11:30pm; Sat-Sun, 10am-4pm and 6pm-11:30pm
Known best for its rollicking weekend brunch, Essex serves an American menu with Jewish and Latin touches. The restaurant also has weekday happy hour specials.
120 Essex, at Rivington
Hours Mon-Thu, 6pm-midnight; Fri, 6pm-1am; Sat, 11am-2am; Sun, 11am-11pm
Once home to M. Katz & Sons Furniture, Beauty & Essex is the much anticipated second act from Stanton Social mastermind Chris Santos. The place features a pawn shop façade as well as four dining rooms, two bars, and a retro ladies’ lounge. On the menu: a raw bar, “jewels on toast” (bone marrow, whipped ricotta, etc.), bánh-mì-style spring rolls, chicken-fried oysters, lobster tacos, buttermilk-fried chicken, veal short ribs, chicken meatballs, garganelli, and a selection of steaks as well as a burger served with duck-fat fries.
146 Essex Street, near Stanton
Hours: dinner only for now; expanded hours in 2011