LES Cheat Sheet: Where To Dine & Dance—& What To Wear!

By now, you know NYC is a city made up of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own special flair — the UES has the best museums in town, Park Slope is perfect for the stroller set, and the West Village is all about the boutiques. The Lower East Side? In our minds, this happening 'hood is the go-to spot for an all-night rager. From the hottest restos in town to grungy, dirty, and just plain awesome rock clubs to stunning rooftops, the LES packs a powerful (often spiked) punch.
Square footage-wise, it might not be huge, but navigating this after-hours-friendly nabe can be oh-so-tricky. That's why we're giving you a (stiletto-shod) leg up with a yours-truly cheat sheet to our five favorite LES joints. Plus, we've made things extra easy and picked out the best outfits to wow the crowd at each and every establishment — so, all you have to do is round up your BFFs. Peep our handy map for your instant weekend plans, and don't forget to start hydrating now.
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Chinese food — light? Yes, there's not an oil-laden mapo tofu dish in sight here. Chrysanthemum salad and scrambled eggs with jasmine buds will rock your idea of stereotypical "Chinese food.” Plus, the long bar and communal tables are ripe for flirting.

The neighborhood and the cuisine say casual; the dim bulbs and the sexy crowd say otherwise. So, go simple-chic and wear an effortless button-down and jeans. The fact that those jeans are shiny and super skinny make the outfit date-worthy (or pick-up-a-date-worthy).

AllSaints Harrah Pipe Skinny Pant, $395, available at AllSaints; Uniqlo Women Broadcloth Print Long Sleeve Shirt, $30, available at Uniqlo; Baggu Drawstring Purse in Black, $140, available at Baggu; Lizzie Fortunato Age of Innocence Earrings in Gunmetal, $144, available at Lizzie Fortunato; H&M Coat, $129, available at H&M; Kate Spade New York Licorice Too Pump, $298, available at Nordstrom.

Yunnan Kitchen, 79 Clinton Street (at Rivington Street); 212-253-2527.

Photographed by Paul Wagtouicz
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We'd tell you to don some seersucker for this upscale tavern, but we’re in New York, after all. The thoroughbreds on the wall might imply a certain gentility, but believe us, things can get weird in those cozy dining nooks in the back (designed by the very hip AvroKO team, no less). And, that's a good thing. Join S+P's membership program and you'll get a 16-ounce bottle of a specialty pre-mixed cocktail labeled with your name and stored in a cabinet until your next visit. Swag.

Just like the vibe at the restaurant, a prim dress suits equally well as patterned tribal flats and unusual, subtle studs. Throw them all together with a small wristlet to hold your necessities.

Mociun Mismatched Square Turquoise and Diamond Studs, $863, available at Mociun; 10 Crosby Derek Lam Pleated Sleeveless Dress, $425, available at Neiman Marcus; J.Crew Jackie Cardigan in Jazzy Purple, $62, available at J.Crew; Belle by Sigerson Morrison 6614B in Red Aztec, $195, available at Piperlime; BCBG Harlow Mini Envelope Clutch with Wristlet, $58, available at BCBG.

Saxon + Parole, 316 Bowery (between 1st and 2nd streets); 212-254-0350.

Photographed by Daniel Krieger
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The French have arrived in Chinatown. Specifically, André Saraiva — yes, the Beatrice Inn guy — has arrived with Le Baron, which took two years to open and boasts plush red seats, a black lacquered bar, and an exotic dancer or two. Samantha Ronson and chef Eddie Huang have been known to enjoy a night here, so why aren’t you on the smoky dance floor?

The minute you enter Le Baron in that runway-ready hallway, you want to look like you mean business. And, in New York, that tends to mean black. We love the idea of showing a flash of leg while keeping things covered up top. For now.

Bella Luxx Gathered Back Tulip Skirt, $128, available at Shop Ambience; Cole Haan Chelsea Double Platform Pump, $448, available at Cole Haan; Elizabeth and James Snake Christopher Blazer, $267, available at Bergdorf Goodman; Topshop Fairytale Swing Cami Top by Boutique, $96, available at Topshop.

Le Baron, 32 Mulberry Street (between Bayard and Worth streets); no phone.

Photo: Courtesy of Le Baron
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We can't talk about the Lower East Side without getting into a little grunge. Arlene's has played home to up-and-coming bands (The Strokes ring a bell?) since the mid ‘90s, and it's still kickin'. This is where punks and suits unite. Case in point: You'll catch the maitre d' at Daniel letting his hair down on rock-'n'-roll karaoke nights.

This bra is meant to be seen. Let it show through a thin white tank tucked into a high-waisted skirt. And, since you're going to be taking the stage (yes, you are!), you'll need some rock-star boots.

American Eagle Boyfriend Tank, $15.95, available at American Eagle; Stella Mccartney Marguerite Riding Soft Cup Bra, $70, available at Journelle; Rachel Comey Mars Shoe, $427.50, available at Club Monaco; Topshop Khaki Army Jacket, $96, available at Topshop; Katharine Hamnett Jane Russell Stretch-Denim Skirt, $49.50, available at The Outnet.

Arlene's Grocery, 95 Stanton Street (between Ludlow and Orchard streets); 212-358-1633.

Photographed by John Bergdahl
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There are only 11 tables in this room, which looks like a professor's library — if that professor was super sexy and had a well-stocked liquor cabinet. You have to enter through Barramundi Bar, but the search is worth it: Every cocktail has a story. The Topsy Turvy, for example, is named after owner Tony Powe's great-grandfather's donkey, Topsy, who helped the family excavate prehistoric caves that they owned in the UK. Just another Thursday on the LES.

We constantly find ourselves referencing Alicia Silverstone's good girl on top/bad girl on bottom leather skirt ensemble in Clueless. With a studded (but blush pink) purse and a simple crewneck sweater, the look becomes worthy of that top shelf cocktail you're about to sip.

Zara Mini Messenger Bag with Studs and Clasp Fastening, $90, available at Zara; J.Crew Dream Crewneck Sweater in Heather Grey, $78, available at J.Crew; Marais Open Oxford in Blush, $55, available at Marais; Diane von Furstenberg Britt Leather Skirt, $557, available at Matches; Iosselliani Double Snake Ring, $250, available at Honey In The Rough.

2nd Floor on Clinton, 67 Clinton Street (between Stanton and Rivington); 212-529-6900.

Photographed by Sam Horine
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