Best Restaurant: Cafe Katja (Readers’ Choice)

Cafe Katja owners Erwin Schrottner and Andrew Chase. Photo by Alex M. Smith.
Cafe Katja owners Erwin Schrottner and Andrew Chase. Photo by Alex M. Smith.

From 99-cent pizza to $200 tasting menus, restaurants on the Lower East Side run the gamut. In this category, we weren’t looking for your last meal splurge but for your favorite everyday spot, the place you visit time after time for consistently good food, service and value.

It seems appropriate that, by a wide margin, the winner was Cafe Katja on Orchard Street, a thriving, locally owned restaurant that has expanded twice in the past year. Any given evening, you’re almost sure to see co-owners Erwin Schrottner and Andrew Chase seating customers, taking orders or even busing tables.

Katja’s authentic Austrian specialties, including wiener schnitzel, emmenthaler sausage and beef goulash, are crowd-pleasers. But the menu caters to diverse tastes, offering several interesting, large-portion salads, a perfectly seared hickory-smoked salmon and beautiful platters of cheese and cured meats.

Almost nothing on the menu costs more than $20; you can get a brat for eight bucks. In the now-sprawling storefront, regulars sit at the u-shaped bar, enjoying specialty cocktails, European draft beers and hearty snacks from the kitchen, while larger groups partake in full sit-down meals.

In our June 2012 cover story on locally owned and operated restaurants, Chase, who lives a few blocks away on Grand Street, pointed out that he and Schrottner are not running an Austrian restaurant but a neighborhood spot with Austrian food.

Cafe Katja
79 Orchard St.
Back to Best of the LES