An Editor's Guide To The East Village (No Dollar Pizza Included!)

UPDATE: If you're scrambling for some weekend plans, we've got just the hit list. This story was originally published on January 4.
Welcome to R29 column, Building Blocks, a celebration of the places we call home, and all of the hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems we love — plus, the new neighborhood spots we're discovering all the time. Each go-round, a different editor will show you around their five favorite spots in their 'hood. Today, check out what our global editor, Connie Wang, loves best about the East Village.
I still shudder to think about my aversion to moving into my first apartment in the East Village — there are actual Gchat conversations that exist still between me and my roommate about how we were worried about the lack of restaurants, bars, and things to do in our new neighborhood — after all, our experiences with NYC extended as far as Woody Allen films and a single Fashion Week where we had stayed in some ridiculously beautiful Chelsea apartment (the one and only duplex I've ever been in, since). Needless to say, I was an idiot back then. The East Village is awesome.
Plus, R29 HQ is also conveniently situated in the East Village, so it's become an embarrassing fact that between work-, home-, play-, and chill-time, I rarely venture outside of my neighborhood. But, there really isn't a reason to. The area's rife with all my favorite things: amazing restaurants, hole-in-the-wall haunts, and great boutiques…most of which I can enjoy without a Wall Street salary. Let me show you six of the places you'll most likely see me at if you come down to my neighborhood.
1 of 5
Still House
Need to give someone a present? Don't even bother going anywhere else. Thanks to dishware so pretty it could turn you into a person who cares about that kind of thing and dainty jewelry made by local artists, this is the first (and usually the only) place I go to for little giftables — including the ones I give myself.
117 East 7th Street (between Avenue A and 1st Avenue)

Photo: Courtesy of Still House
2 of 5
Abraco Coffee
If you're married to the Trenta lifestyle, this won't be the place for you, but Abraco Coffee in the East Village brews what I think is the best cup in the city. Your coffee will come in a comically small cup, but it will be the most amazing few sips your taste buds will ever experience. Just make sure you're scheduling your coffee break as a grab-and-go; with just enough space for five people to stand inside, this is definitely not a place for lingering.
86 East 7th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues)

Photo: Courtesy of Abraco
3 of 5
You know that one fantastically stylish girl whose clothing is so nostalgically perfect that it's either designer or vintage (you can't tell!)? She probably shops at Duo. The owners have curated a lovely collection of indie designers with vintage sensibilities including Dusen Dusen, Ontario, and Bodkin. They've also got a fantastic, reasonably priced selection of vintage finds — two of my favorite dresses comes straight from their sale rack!
337 East 9th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues)

Photo: Courtesy of Duo
4 of 5
Asian noodles in broth are my idea of comfort food, and on days when ramen feels too heavy and Pho feels too light, I like to head to Soba-ya. Their soba noodles are handmade on site, and the service, presentation, and menu feel straight out of Hokkaido. My order has always been the uni torero, avocado tempura, cold Kamo Seiro soba, and milk tofu for dessert. What can I say? I always go hungry.
229 East 9th Street (between 2nd and 3rd avenues)

Photos: Courtesy of Soba-ya
5 of 5
William Barnacle Tavern
This place markets itself as a speakeasy from the '20s, but it doesn't have all the gimmicky, come-in-through-the-phone-booth, wait-three-hours-for-a-table trappings of other more well-known bars in the East Village. Seriously — you'll be able to sit at a table with a group of friends on a Friday night. This weird Celtic tavern is operated by Theater 80, which means you'll be sharing the bar with community thespians. Split a Swiss absinthe with a friend (they've got a great collection and are more than willing to walk through all the types with you), and — if you stay long enough — the barkeep might even play his panpipe for you.
80 St. Marks Place (between 1st and 2nd avenues)

Photo: Courtesy of William Barnacle