Like the sign inside says, Carmine Morales has been “serving real Lower East Siders since 1976.” The Classic Coffee Shop is only open weekdays. The menu is super-basic: egg sandwiches, grilled cheese, pb&j, cold cuts. But the price is right. A turkey sandwich, for instance, will set you back $3.50. Coffee is a buck. This is a place to be treasured while it’s still around.
56 Hester, near Ludlow
Mon-Fri, 8am-4pm; Sat-Sun, closed
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
A little bit of Oaxaca comes to the Lower East Side. The three-story restaurant, bar and cultural center features, as you probably guessed, delicious tequila drinks, a tapas menu and a recently introduced full dinner menu. Are you man/woman enough to try the fried grasshoppers with cheese?
86 Orchard Street, at Broome
Hours Tues- Thur 12-2am Fri-Sat 12–4am Sunday 12-1am
The tiny Italian spot on Clinton Street features seasonal ingredients (including vegetables from a backyard garden) and a Williamsburg refugee in the kitchen, Brett Ackerman of Diner and Marlow & Sons. Sandwiches and salads for lunch… pan roasted mussels, crab cakes and veal dumplings for dinner.
63 Clinton Street, near Stanton
Hours: daily 11am-2pm; weekend brunch 11am-5pm
A vegan Chinese restaurant that also prepares dishes without garlic and onion (gasp!). Stay away from the mock meat dishes.
170 Allen, near Stanton
Hours Mon-Sat, 12:30pm-10:30pm; Sun, closed
Chinese, vegan, delivery, lunch
In the former home of the legendary Garden Cafeteria, this old-school Cantonese restaurant does a reasonably decent job with dim sum, barbecued meats and seafood dishes. The price is right. Downside: they don’t deliver.
165 East Broadway, at Rutgers
This bakery, juice bar and fish market in the Essex Street Market offers some of everything. The $4 fish sandwiches are tasty and a great deal. There are a few tables right across from the bakery, if you wish to consume your purchases on the spot.
120 Essex Street, near Delancey
Hours: 8am-6pm, closed Mondays
Hand pulled noodles from Lanzhou, in Central China, is the specialty at this hole-in-the-wall on Eldridge Street. The dumplings are also standouts here.
26 Eldridge, near Canal
This Thai restaurant on Orchard Street is part of a Manhattan mini-chain. If you like your food spicy, be sure to tell the waiter. Dishes tend to be on the mild side. No alcohol served.
85 Orchard, near Broome
Mon-Fri, noon-10pm; Fri-Sat, noon-10:30pm
Zucco passed away in early 2010 but his charming little diner on Orchard Street lives on. All the classics are here: steak in a red wine sauce, duck confit, salad nicoise, onion soup, etc. There’s a single table outside and a cozy dining room.
188 Orchard, near Houston
Mon-Sat, noon-midnight; Sun, 11am-11pm
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.
Japanese home cooking in a tiny spot on Suffolk Street. The menu includes tofu-based dishes and miso soup, but this is not strictly a vegetarian restaurant. There’s a casserole dish, for example, made with beef and potatoes.
102 Suffolk, near Delancey
Open Mon-Fri, noon-10pm; Sat, 5pm-10pm; Sun, closed
Reservations not accepted
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
At this spartan, subterranean spot, handmade wheat noodles are served with a choice of 20 or so toppings (chopped pork bones, duck, ox tail, etc). For English only speakers, ordering here is a bit of a challenge. Some think the fish ball soup is unrivaled.
27 Eldridge, near Canal
Open daily 7am-10pm
Keith McNally’s (Balthazar, Schiller’s, etc) take on a Roman pizzeria and trattoria. The wood-fired oven produces slightly charred thin crust pies, featuring a lot of interesting toppings. Also on the menu: several antipasti platters and other entrees (roasted fish, hanger steak). Like all McNally ventures, Pulino’s highlights specialty cocktails and a big, lively bar.
282 Bowery, at Houston
Hours: brteakfast daily 830am-1130am; lunch Monday-Friday noon-5pm; dinner daily 6pm-midnight; weekend brunch 10am-4pm