The Best East Village Eateries

Photo: Courtesy of Huertas.
The West Village may get all the attention as the fancy foodie haven of New York City, but that’s just fine for the East Village. All that means is that restaurants across the island can be more fun, more inventive, and (yes!) much kinder to your wallet. Plus, many eastside haunts also feature some outstanding bars, so consider this list not just dinner inspiration, but the start of one epic pub crawl.
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Rosie's
At Rosie's, you can get the familiar standbys, like quesadillas and tacos, as well as some harder-to-find eats like Sikil Oak, a mayan pumpkin seed dip. The drink menu is just as impressive, with flavorful margarita flavors like passion fruit-habanero. If you're craving variety, order a tequila or mezcal tasting flight to pair with your meal.

Rosie's, 29 East 2nd Street (Between Bowery and 2nd Avenue); 212-335-0114.
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Pylos
Featuring classic Greek favorites with a gourmet twist, Pylos is the next best thing to hopping a plane to Athens (or hopping on the 7 train to Astoria). Even though they keep it upscale, you'll find plenty of your favorite standbys here, like moussaka and spanakopita. An enthusiastic waitstaff, mostly Greek themselves, will also be happy to provide recommendations for less-familiar dishes with gusto.

Pylos, 128 East 7th street (Between Avenue A and 1st Avenue); 212-473-0220.
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GG's
Opened by the geniuses behind the ever-popular Morgenstern's Ice Cream, this neighborhood spot offers seriously delicious pizzas in a cute, white-tiled atmosphere. Stop by for happy hour and grab $8 cocktails and $3 slices from 4 to 7 p.m. Try their Grandma Pie, a twist on a classic topped with crispy sopressata, or the Pink Pie, with Vodka sauce, sun dried-tomato, and balsamic.

GG's, 511 East 5th Street (between Avenue A and Avenue B); 212-687-3641.
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Lucien
A much-beloved neighborhood favorite, Lucien has all the hallmarks of a French bistro: fading mirrors, steak frites, and not much elbow room. In a neighborhood known as much for it's new, up-and-coming spots, Lucien might seem a bit like a dinosaur. Approaching two decades of business, however, means they're doing something right. If you want the latest fusion cuisine, look elsewhere. Here, you'll get the basics, traditionally prepared, as satisfying as they are recognizable. Sometimes, it's just what you need.

Lucien, 14 1st Avenue (between 1st and Avenue A); 212-260-6481.
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Photo: Courtesy of Upstate.
Upstate
Some New Yorkers consider "upstate" to be anything north of the Bronx. But you can go upstate without even having to leave Manhattan, right in the East Village. At Upstate, a perfect neighborhood haunt, oysters and craft beer are the stars. A rotating menu of both keeps things both fresh and delicious. The daily happy hour is a popular time to stop by — grab a half dozen oysters for $12 and some brews, sit back and enjoy.

Upstate, 95 First Avenue (at 6th Street); 917-408-3395.
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Dinnertable
Hidden at the back of The Garret East, Dinnertable is an intimate 19-seat spot that defies easy categorization. Its current incarnation, if it can be summed up succinctly, is a kind of global Japanese cuisine, offering things like miso hotdogs and uni paella. While it might sound overly pretentious and twee, it veers well away from that territory by being hearty enough to qualify as comfort food (even if it looks like nothing mom ever made) with flavors that intrigue rather than overwhelm. The pork and clams (pictured) is reminiscent of a pot of moules you might get with hearty baguette, except the crispy-yet-tender croutons are already mixed in. The menu rotates seasonally, but some standards, like the Cool Ranch Carrots, flavored with a house made shiso ranch, tend to hang around.

Dinnertable, 206 Avenue A (at E 13 Street); no phone.
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Takahachi
Locals rave about this sushi sanctuary where you'll find every kind of roll under the sun–and if they don't have exactly what you want, you can design your own sushi à la carte. In addition to classic sushi at affordable prices, you can also order Takahachi's popular kushiyaki skewers. For as little as $1.50 a pop, you can snack on shishito peppers, okra and bacon, or squid, grilled to perfection.

Takahachi, 85 Avenue A (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A); 212-505-6524.
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Yuca Bar
Latin fusion is one of our favorites, and Yuca Bar does it better than the best. The usual tortillas and empanadas get punched up courtesy of lobster and port wine reductions. Their specialty Yucajito (coconut rum, pineapple juice, and mint) will transport you to the tropics.

Yuca Bar, 111 Avenue A (between East 7th and East 8th streets); 212-982-9533.
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Photo: Courtesy of Aquagrill.
Aquagrill
The best seafood restaurant in New York? Aquagrill might just be. It’s not just that the menu contains every kind of fishy fare your heart could possibly desire — it’s also the inventive, worldly preparations, like the crab claws with jicama-jalapeno-pineapple slaw, or the sea bass with Korean kimchi in a wasabi-miso sauce.

Aquagrill, 210 Spring Street (at Sixth Avenue); 212-274-0505.
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Hearth
Broth has been having a kale-esque food trend moment, proof that we can never accurately predict what will be the next "it" nosh. One of the pioneers of fancy broths is also the culinary mind behind Hearth. Here, the Tuscan-style dishes like grilled quail and roasted cauliflower with mint are perfectly at home alongside $12 Hearth broth that could convert even the biggest sippable soup skeptics.

Hearth, 403 E. 12th St (between 1st and Avenue A); 646-602-1300.
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Photo: Courtesy of Root & Bone.
Root & Bone
Biscuit fans, look no further. Root & Bone is comfort-food heaven, from the bomb biscuits to the melt-in-your-mouth fried chicken. Its elevated classic-American cuisine includes inventive twists, like cheddar waffles and drunken deviled eggs. Aside from serving up some of the fanciest down-home grub you've ever had, Root & Bone is also committed to locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.

Root & Bone, 200 East 3rd Street (between Avenues A and B); 646-682-7076.
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Photo: via @eatwithxjenn3
Momofuku Noodle Bar
The first restaurant in David Chang's East Village Momofuku empire, Noodle Bar still is filled with crowds daily looking for big, slurpy, savory bowls of ramen. In addition to the classic ramen and pork buns, seasonal dishes and soups are always on offer. If you can get enough friends together, you can try their fried chicken dinner: two whol fried chickens, one Southern-style, the other Korean. If you're feeling really decadent, make it a fried chicken and caviar dinner.

Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 First Avenue (between 10th and 11th streets); 212-777-7773.
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Photo: Courtesy of Saxon + Parole.
Saxon + Parole
Saxon + Parole describes their fare as "meat-centric eats," but there's plenty to be found for the more veggie-centric as well. In addition to an extensive menu of "aquatic delights" (again, their words), and meat-and-sides entrees, there are inventive vegetarian options as well, like a portobello mousse (pictured), and a truffled burrata. Most notably, Saxon + Parole is one of two NYC restaurants currently serving up the Impossible Burger, a veggie burger that bleeds.

Saxon + Parole, 316 Bowery (at Bleecker Street); 212-254-0350.
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Photo: Via @veselkanyc.
Veselka
An East Village institution, Veselka has been serving up hangover cures (and drunk munchies) for over 60 years. The 24 hour spot has a lot of solid diner food to recommend it, from breakfast through to dinner, but the real stars of the menu are the periogies. Classics like potato and cheese are on offer, as well as seasonal options. Don't pass up the short rib ones, either.

Veselka, 144 Second Avenue (at 9th Street); 212-228-9682.
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Photo: Courtesy of Empellón Al Pastor.
Empellón Al Pastor
The Empellón restaurant group includes several spots in lower Manhattan serving up elevated Mexican staples with plenty of margaritas and micheladas to wash it down. At Empellón Al Pastor, tacos take center stage, from the traditional (bistec) to the beyond (cheeseburger). The namesake tacos al pastor, a Mexico city staple of spit-roasted pork and pineapple, is not to be missed.

http://www.empellon.com/al-pastor/, 132 St. Mark's Place (at Avenue A); 646-833-7039.
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Photo: Via @lilfrankies.
Lil' Frankie's
Stepping into Lil' Frankie's feels like stepping into an old school pizza parlor (i.e. dark wood paneled and brick walls with bar tables and an ample amount of hanging plants), only the East Village scene makes it just a tinge hipper. Order up one of their delectable Neapolitan pies or any bowl of the freshly homemade pasta; We love the salame piccante with tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil, or the spaghetti limone. Buon appetito.

Lil' Frankie's, 19 1st Avenue (at E. 1st Street); 212-420-0040.
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Photo: Via @onehungryjew.
Tim Ho Wan
If you're willing to wait, the food at Tim Ho Wan will be worth your while. Not only is the dim sum delicious, but the prices are cheap enough to make you do a double take when the check comes. Definitely order the BBQ pork buns, which the restaurant is known for, and at least two varieties of dumplings. Going with a crowd will ensure you can try as much of the menu as possible. Just beware that it might be over an hour before you actually sit down and eat. We suggest leaving your phone number and getting a drink in the meantime.

Tim Ho Wan, 85 4th Avenue (at E. 10th Street); 212-228-2800.
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Photo: Via @taberna97.
Taberna 97
A Portuguese eatery near St. Marks Place, Taberna 97 steals the small plates show with its eclectic and flavor-packed dishes. Serving traditional recipes within classic decor (i.e. approachable, delicate, and delicious), try the Portuguese Chouriço or the Queijadas de Nata.

Taberna 97, 97 St Marks Place (at 1st Avenue); 212-477-5600.
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Photo: Via @somtumdernyc.
Somtum Der
This brightly lit, wood-paneled spot brings authentic Northern Thai eats to NYC's East Village. Known as an "Isan Cookery", Somtum Der dishes out ample share plates of Isan-style fried chicken, grilled pork neck, and zesty papaya salads (just to name a delectable few). Be sure to order the grilled mackerel with a side of coconut rice and a cold bottle of Signha.

Somtum Der, 85 Avenue A. (between E. 5th and 6th Street); 212-260-8570.
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Photo: Via @nyceatsout.
Bar Primi
Bar Primi gives the Manhattanites what they demand: Handmade pasta and beautiful brunches. This borderline East Village spot is two stories of chic Italian eats, that won't take you two months to secure a table at. There are several must orders if you plan on stopping by to dine — start with the ricotta crostino, drizzled with truffle honey and a sprinkling of hazelnuts, and then move onto the bucatini with lamb amatriciana. It's all delicious and Instagram-worthy decadence.

Bar Primi, 325 Bowery (at E. 2nd Street); 212-220-9100.
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Photo: Via @naomishg.
Rosie's
From the hip culinary hands that brought us NYC's Cookshop and Vic's comes Mexican-dream, Rosie's. Located on an East Village corner block, this trendy taqueria is just about always buzzing with a bustling crowd (fueled on margaritas, no doubt). Try the "Al Pastor" taco washed down with the "Fresca Verde" margarita with cucumber, Pisco, and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Rosie's, 29 E. 2nd Street (at 2nd Avenue); 212-335-0114.
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Photo Via: pickymouth.
Crif Dogs
Crif is not serving up your average NYC boiled dog with mustard and relish. The offerings here are smoked and deep-fried with a smorgasbord of inventive toppings and names (e.g. the chihuahua) — there's not a single humdrum or overpriced option to choose from.

Crif Dogs, 113 Street Marks Place (at Avenue A); 212- 614-2728.
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Photo: Via @yeungm0ney.
Bobwhite Counter
Soul food or food for the soul? Bobwhite Counter knocks both of those dining possibilities out of the park. The sizzling deep fried chicken, decadent mac and cheese, and fresh collard greens, will undoubtedly nourish your foodie souls. Oh, and let's not forget to mention the unbeatable prices: $10 for grub and $4 for a brew. Hallelujah!

Bobwhite Counter, 94 Avenue C (at East 6th Street); 212-228-2972.
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Photo: Via @laurenscala
Noreetuh
Never been to Hawaii? No problem, Noreetuh will take you there (minus the pricey plane ticket). The decor is somewhat of a modern-tropical twist and the cuisine exudes those warm and sunny beach vibes. And with a carefully selected wine list at crazy low prices, we're already saying "mahalo, very much".

Noreetuh, 128 1st Avenue (at St. Marks Place); 646-892-3050.
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Photo: Via @ubereats
Mighty Quinn's BBQ
If you, like us, enjoy some smokey BBQ, then Mighty Quinn's is a no brainer. The "Burnt End Baked Beans" are next-level delectable and the spare ribs are tender AF. Any of the other meat mains at Quinn's are also definite holes in one — and we haven't even gotten to the sides yet...

Mighty Quinn's, 103 2nd Avenue (at 6th Street); 212- 677-3733.
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Photo: Via @dbgb.
DBGB Kitchen and Bar
This East Village spot is for all you carnivores out there. A meat-loving industrial bistro with top of the line craft beers and a very selective wine list — DBGB is lively and fully satisfying. Stop by for an after work meal with coworkers or friends.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar, 299 Bowery Street (at East Houston Street); 212-933-5300.
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Photo: Via @onehungryjew.
Esperanto NYC
Esperanto (meaning "hopeful person") is a Latin American-inspired foodie haven in the East Village. Stop by for affordable and colorful eats in a buzzy, live music setting. The dinner plates are delectable and the $30 bottomless brunch is superb for Sunday groups.

Esperanto NYC, 145 Avenue C (at E. 9th Street); 212-505-6559.
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Photo: via @danielhumm.
Oiji
The management at Oiji aims to invent a new category of food: “refined authentic Korean.” What does that mean? The space is elegant, the menu is succinct, and the plating is gorgeous. Who knew smoked mackerel could resemble art?

Oiji, 119 First Avenue (at 7th Street); 646-767-9050
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Photo: via @foursquare.
Babu Ji
Make your tongue come alive. The highly spirited Indian hot spot has fun with the traditional fare, dividing its menu into street, tandoor, and curries. The descriptions — dried green mango and ginger, or cinnamon pineapple chutney — can make it impossible to choose, which is why the owners provide guidance for some items: Next to the duck dish, the menu promises “This curry is legit.”

Babu Ji, 175 Avenue B (at 11th Street); 212-951-1082.
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Photo: via @foodiemagician.
Cafe Mogador
Meet the Moroccan mayor of St. Marks Place. The beloved hangout has a gigantic backyard housed like a greenhouse and filled with red pillows. Chill out and share platters of hummus, babaganoush, and falafel, or get more serious with its varieties of tagines.

Cafe Mogador, 101 St. Marks Place (between First Avenue and Avenue A); 212-677-2226.
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Photo: via @plantempowered.
Caravan of Dreams
This restaurant is about more than food. It’s a philosophy: of vegan food, peace, love, and understanding. Amid the many raw and gluten-free options, you will find dishes that will definitely fill you up, like the heavier pastas, burritos, and quesadillas.

Caravan of Dreams, 405 East 6th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A); 212-254-1613.
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Photo: via @dannalvarez.
Desnuda
This one’s got everything you could possibly be looking for in a date spot. The space is sexy; the wine list is long, informative, and surprisingly affordable, with a focus on South America; and the menu is just ceviche, of the traditional and nontraditional variety. Feel free to judge your date by his sense of adventure when it comes to the latter.

Desnuda, 122 East 7th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A); 212-254-3515.
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Photo: Courtesy Black Ant.
Black Ant
This is not your average taco joint. Black Ant is an elevated Mexican eatery that puts an inventive flair on traditional dishes. Think cactus fries, guacamole with pomegranate and mangos, and grasshopper tacos, to name a few. The space itself is dark, festive, and inviting — the perfect spot for date night or an evening out with friends.

Black Ant, 60 2nd Ave (between E. 3rd and E. 4th streets); 212-598-0300.
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Photo: Courtesy of Avant Garden.
Avant Garden
Haters to the left. There is now a high-end vegan restaurant in New York City, and the dishes are actually delicious. The menu is divided into three categories—toast, hot, and cold—with plenty of carbs throughout to make sure you’re actually full when you leave. Full, and oh so healthy to boot!

Avant Garden, 130 East 7th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A) 646-922-7948.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ippudo.
Ippudo
There are no promises that the lines at Ippudo will be any shorter than their neighbor ramen shop, Momofuku’s Noodle Bar, but at least Ippudo’s space is large enough to let you breathe in all that salty air. Any of their ramen will fill you with porky goodness, but try the Akamaru for a special hit of garlic.

Ippudo, 65 Fourth Avenue (between 9th and 10th streets); 212-388-0088.
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Photo: Courtesy of Narcissa.
Narcissa
A girls’ night out restaurant that all the girls in your group can agree on. The farm-to-table menu features plenty of greens, for the vegetarians in the gang—or greens hiding under lacquered duck breast, for the rest of us.

Narcissa, 25 Cooper Square (between 5th and 6th streets); 212-228-3344.
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Photo: Courtesy @foodiemagican.
Bruno
Pizza is pizza, right? Not when it’s made by Roberta’s ex-pats. This sleek gray spot features imaginative pizza combos that change with the season but boast toppers like fermented tomatoes or ricotta from Narragansett.

Bruno, 204 East 13th Street (between Second and Third avenues); no phone.
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Photo: Courtesy of Zabb Elee.
Zabb Elee
What is “real” Thai food? It’s a matter of culinary debate, but when describing Zabb Elee, the word that most pops up is “authentic.” The menu is far from what you’d recognize on Seamless, but food—cooked in the northern Thai “Isan” style — is so delicious that the original branch of the restaurant, in Queens, earned a Michelin star.

Zaab Elee, 75 Second Avenue (between 4th and 5th Streets); 212-505-9533.
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Photo: Courtesy of Great Jones Cafe.
Great Jones Cafe
If you’re missing Mardi Gras this year, get your Nola fix at Great Jones Cafe, which serves Southern, Cajun specialities like jambalaya, gumbo, and fried catfish. The small space is as rowdy and fun as anything inspired by the Crescent City should be, so prepare for some noise (and a line, if you’re coming for brunch).

Great Jones Cafe, 54 Great Jones Street (at Cooper Square); 212-674-9304.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lavagna.
Lavagna
If you’re looking for the kind of Italian joint that Billy Joel might have written a song about, look no further than Lavagna. You’ll get brick walls, candlelight, a wood-burning oven — and most importantly, comfortingly delicious dishes like pappardelle with braised rabbit and rack of lamb.

Lavagna, 545 East 5th Street (at Avenue B); 212-979-1005.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jeepney.
Jeepney
If you’ve never tried Filipino food, you have no more excuses. This deliriously fun gastropub has Ginuwine on the soundtrack and richly-flavored pork shoulder on your table. Visit on Wednesdays and Thursdays, in particular, when those tables are covered with banana leaves and the silverware is stored away for traditional kamayan nights.

Jeepney, 201 First Avenue (between 12th and 13th streets); 212-533-4121.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jewel Bako.
Jewel Bako
This small sushi restaurant resembles a golden train car inside, and the romantic ambiance contrasts with the surprisingly affordable food. You can try all eight “special” makimono rolls for only $42, so give your standard Japanese take-out a break and impress a date at this shimmering spot.

Jewel Bako, 239 East 5th Street (near Second Avenue); 212-979-1012.
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Photo: Courtesy of the Eddy.
The Eddy
The simple, streamlined gray interior offsets the unique, colorful food preparations at The Eddy. There are delicious meat options on the seasonal menu, but go for the fish: cuttlefish, scallops, and seared squid get special sweet or salty pairings. The real rarity? Its tasting menu costs an un-NewYorkish $75.

The Eddy, 342 East 6th Street (between First and Second avenues); 646-895-9884.
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Photo: Courtesy of Frank.
Frank
Do you miss your grandma? Or the little Italian nonna you never had? If so, try Frank, which resembles the home of a little old lady, down to the picket fence and flower boxes out front. Inside, there’s quaint, eclectic furniture and hearty fare, like spiced meatloaf and homemade gnocchi.

Frank, 88 Second Avenue (at 5th Street); 212-420-0202.
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Photo: Courtesy of Prune.
Prune
New Yorkers love themselves a brunch. And if Prune’s eleven different varieties of Blood Marys don’t tempt you, the scent of its Dutch pancakes and creative egg dishes just might. Oh, and it’s very pretty inside, too.

Prune, 54 East 1st Street (between First and Second avenues); 212-677-6221.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cherche Midi.
Cherche Midi
Restaurateur Keith McNally, who The New York Times once claimed "invented downtown," opened his eleventh restaurant in 2014, a gorgeous French space à la Balthazar and Minetta Tavern. The buzziest dish is the Prime Rib Burger, which is topped with bacon marmalade, roasted mushrooms, and gruyère.

Cherche Midi, 282 Bowery (at East Houston Street); 212-226-3055.
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Photo: Courtesy of Graffiti.
Graffiti
When your group can’t agree on a type of cuisine, head to Graffiti. Its small plates-focused menu contains mind-bending global combinations like cumin eggplant buns and zucchini hummus pizza. Forewarning: The space is super small, so you want to pick only your very favorite friends to share these dishes with.

Graffiti, 224 East Tenth Street (between First and Second avenues); 212-677-0695.
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Photo: Courtesy of Caracas Arepa Bar.
Caracas Arepa Bar
You may know the humble arepa as a carb pocket stuffed with meat and cheese, but as this restaurant puts it, "our arepas resist definition." While the place is normally packed, there's a take-out location just two doors down where you can grab a few to go. Good luck choosing among fillings like pork shoulder, sweet plantains, grilled leeks, chorizo, and so much more.

Caracas Arepa Bar, 93 1/2 East Seventh Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A); 212-228-5062.
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Photo: Courtesy of Han Dynesty.
Han Dynasty
If you don’t like the heat, then stay out of Han Dynasty. The famous Chinese eatery opened a New York outpost in 2013, and patrons have been lining up to burn off their tongues ever since. While the Dan Dan noodles are a must, you should also try endless combinations of protein, noodle, and spiciness. Don’t worry too much, though: The kind waitstaff will walk you through the one-to-ten heat-level system.

Han Dynasty, 90 Third Avenue (between 12th and 13th streets); 212-390-8685.
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Photo: Courtesy of Edi and The Wolf.
Edi & The Wolf
There are moments when you find yourself saying, "Oh, this is why I moved to New York." One of them is when you step into Edi & the Wolf, an Austrian restaurant that more or less resembles an old wooden shack — and that's a very good thing. The rustic walls, ceiling, and tables offset the sturdy (and delicious) spatzle and schnitzel with sides of black kale and pommes frites.

Edi & The Wolf, 102 Avenue C (at East Seventh Street); 212-598-1040.
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Photo: Courtesy of Supper.
Supper
Running out of places to hold a birthday dinner? Look no further than Supper, a warm, bustling joint serving crowd-pleasing Italian specials like lemon spaghetti and a daily risotto special. Aside from the communal tables, there's a private room hidden among the wine racks that is the perfect spot to blow out the candles on your big night.

Supper, 156 East Second Street (between Avenue A and Avenue B); 212-477-7600.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ducks Eatery.
Ducks Eatery
Ducks Eatery is a barbecue spot that tries to be more inventive than the typical sticky-sweet wings with a hunk of cornbread. Have we got your attention yet? There's the smoked whole goat neck, which is accented with bing cherries and yellow curry, and smoked, fried duck confit on a waffle. Fancy, yes. But more importantly, delicious.

Ducks Eatery, 351 East 12th Street (between First and Second avenues); 212-432-3825.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gruppo.
Gruppo
Trying to declare the best pizza in New York isn't just difficult, it's insane. So it's better to pick your favorite type of pie and go from there. Gruppo has some of the crunchiest, flakiest thin-crust pizza in the city, and its toppings are pretty cool too – we recommend the Shroomtown or the Big Pineapple.

Gruppo, 98 Avenue B (between East Sixth and East Seventh streets); 212-995-2100.
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Photo: Courtesy of Huertas.
Huertas
Pick your poison at Huertas, the Spanish restaurant with a tantalizing mix of Basque-inspired small plates (pintxos) and entreé options. Pinxtos are a few bucks each, or all six for $20, and inventive — ham croquettes and squid skewers won't disappoint. While you sample, peruse the wine list touted by all East Villagers for its affordability.

Huertas, 107 First Avenue (between East Sixth and East Seventh streets); 212-228-4490.
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