The Best Places To Eat On The Lower East Side

The Lower East Side may be best known to you as the home of rowdy, rollicking nightlife, but that adventure extends to the food scene as well. Restaurants here tend to be as tiny and crowded as bars, but see it as an excuse to meet new people and try new things before you even hit the party scene. You might know iconic spots like Katz's Delicatessen or bagel heaven Russ & Daughters, but it's time to venture outside your comfort zone. The immigrant heritage of the LES colors its cuisine, leading to some fascinating hybrids — Chinese-Italian? French-Asian-American fusion? It all makes sense here.

La Contenta
Authentic Mexican fare crafted by a classically trained chef, Luis Arce Mota's La Contenta is a tiny downtown gem that's always packed to the brim — but well worth the wait. The dark and intimate interior is filled with hip Mazatlán details (vibey music and decorative dangling skulls), the service is attentive and expert, and the food is fire (seriously, everything has a hint of spice). With a cocktail lineup of inventive tequila and mezcal mixes and a menu boasting myriads of creative-classic Mexican dishes, you can't go wrong. But its hard to go wrong with an order of the crispy fish tacos with an "El Easy Rider" to sip on.

La Contenta, 102 Norfolk Street (at Delancy Street); 212-432-4180.
At SakaMai, the Japanese-style pub meets American cuisine meets high-end cocktail bar meets the Lower East Side. Based on the traditional izakaya found throughout the land of the rising sun, SakaMai nevertheless is fully at home in its ever-changing, eclectic neighborhood. Fans of uni (a.k.a. sea urchin0) will find lots to love, from the show-stopping Egg on Egg On Egg (which features caviar and soft-scrambled eggs) to the wagyu beef and uni handroll. Other standouts include the cheese potatoes topped with salted squid and the fried chicken. An on-hand sake sommelier and cocktails served with artistic flair will also remind you why sometimes shelling out $13 for a drink is well worth it.

SakaMai, 157 Ludlow Street (between Stanton and Rivington Streets); 646-590-0684.
This Australian hotspot owned by Steve Aioki serves up all-day breakfast, already making it one of our favorite LES spots. Yes, there's the requisite avocado toast and burgers, but also Brussels sprouts that might convert even the biggest veggie hater. Plus, it's filled with Instagram-worthy neon signs you can snap even if you're swinging by the new take-out counter.

Dudleys, 85 Orchard Street (between Broome and Grand streets); 212-925-7355.
Pizza Beach
How California is the vibe Pizza Beach? They carry the controversial pineapple pizza, but also an avocado pie. And, of course, there's a kale salad. And poke. The motto ("Pizza. Beach Sleep. Repeat.") also speaks to a more laid-back, West Coast vibe. So why not take a break from the decidedly more East Coast hustle and bustle of the LES and grab a few pies and Tiki drinks with some friends?

Pizza Beach, 167 Orchard Street (between Stanton and Rivington streets); 646-852-6478.
Spaghetti Incident
Fast-casual Italian that goes beyond a meatball sub, Spaghetti Incident solves the age-old problem of eating pasta to-go. Their instantly-Instagrammable cones allow you to have your spaghetti and power walk with it too, though why not sit down? You can get a main course with an appetizer or drink for under $20. Now that's amore.

Spaghetti Incident (between Houston and Stanton streets); 646-896-1446.
Photo: Courtesy of Freeman's.
Hidden at the end of an alley, this restaurant may have invented the lumberjack-hipster look. The walls are covered in stuffed animal heads like a hunting lodge, and the food is similarly rustic, like a cassoulet with three cuts of pork, or grilled trout with garlic and thyme. Luckily, it’s so delicious you’ll forgive them for the bearded masses.

Freemans, End of Freeman Alley, Off Rivington Street (between Bowery and Chrystie Street); 212-420-0012.
At Prune, it's the little things. Simple but impeccable fare, from brunch to dinner, is served by friendly waitstaff wearing pink shirts that match the pink signs and barstools (something they were doing, we might add, long before anyone ever associated the world "millennial" with the color). Menus are handwritten, and the check is brought to the table with licorice candies (brunch) or chocolate (dinner). Of course, together that adds up to a lot of big, good things (and a big line, especially at brunch) that has kept the spot going strong for over fifteen years.

Prune, 54 E 1st St # 1 (between 1st and 2nd Avenue), 212-677-6221.
Photo: via @malenasvarch.
Essex Street Market
We tend to think of food halls as an invention of our recent, food trend-obsessed past, but the predecessors of today's Bergn and Canal Street Market were originally set up in the 1940s in an attempt to get street cart vendors off the sidewalks. Over 75 years later, the Essex Street Market retains some of it's old-school charm, and remains a cross-section of the many cuisines and cultures that have been found in the Lower East side over the years. It's a great place for a picky crowd: common seating means everyone can have their choice of grub, from okonomiyaki pancake sliders from Japan to arancini from Arancini Brothers.

Essex Street Market, 120 Essex Street (at Delancey Street).
Beauty & Essex
Located in a secret door behind a fake pawn shop, with two stories of tables in a windowless setting, serving items like grilled cheese dumplings and $26 chicken shawarma, Beauty & Essex would almost be too much — if it wasn't so delicious. You'll want to order the aforementioned dumplings, of course, though the perfect Instagram shot will probably allude you in the dark lighting. Much better to chronicle via Snapchat as you progress from the tasty toasts tuna tartare to entrees like the spaghettini topped with a fried egg or burger made from a mix of brisket and short rib. Of course, you'll want to enjoy a few of Beauty & Essex's signature cocktails along the way, too.

Beauty & Essex, 146 Essex Street (between Stanton and Rivington Street); 212-614-0146.
Photo: via @gilliehouston.
New York Sushi Ko
If you're looking for California rolls, you're better served heading to the Whole Foods on Houston. But if you want a stunning omakase meal (and are prepared to pay for it), grab one of the eleven seats at New York Sushi Ko. Chef and owner John Daley foregoes trends in favor of a more traditional approach, though he still takes time to put his own twist on classic dishes and flavors. Fans of fatty tuna and uni (sea urchin) will typically find plenty of opportunities to enjoy both here, though the menu shifts daily.

New York Sushi Ko, 91 Clinton Street (between Delancey and Rivington Street); 212-466-6975.
Photo: via @nowandering.
Speedy Romeo
It can be hard to get New Yorkers to consider Chicago deep dish, but at Speedy Romeo, the case is made for a slightly less well-known pizza style: St. Louis. Served with Provel, a smokey combo of provolone, cheddar, and Swiss, it'll convince even the biggest skeptic there's room for all kinds pizza in this great country of ours. They even invented a LES original pie: the Paul's Boutique, topped off with Katz's pastrami, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing.

Speedy Romeo, 63 Clinton Street (between Clinton and Rivington Streets); 212-529-6300.
Photo: Via @photosbyamelinda.
At Kopitiam, a Malaysian-style coffee shop, the offerings go way beyond the French pastries and avocado toast New Yorkers have come to expect. In addition to coffee served the traditional way (with plenty of condensed milk and sugar), you can sample classics like half-boiled eggs or one of the sweet, coconut-filled delicacies like blue sticky rice. For an anything-but-basic coffee, order the Penang white coffee, roasted with milk and butter.

Kopitiam, 51 Canal St B (at Orchard Street); 646-894-7081.
El Rey Luncheonette
Everything on a hipster's wish list can be found inside El Rey: grain bowls, 'grammable interiors, kale salad, the option to add a poached egg to anything. It would almost be too much, if the food wasn't so danged good. Stop by for breakfast or lunch, and, if you can grab a seat, tarry a while and people watch over your cortado. Or stop by around happy hour for a glass of wine or draft beer and grab a plate of hummus or veggie-ccentric snack to share.

El Rey Luncheonette, 100 Stanton (between Ludlow St and Orchard Street); 212-260-3950.
The Stanton Social
Like the Lower East Side itself, the Stanton Social is a hodgepodge of flavors and experiences. The menu includes everything from taquitos to whole grilled branzino. And some dishes defy easy characterization at all, like the French onion soup dumplings, a customer favorite. And, like the Lower East Side, it's bustling in here. Over a decade after its opening, people are still showing up to share the creative small plates (and a drink or two) with friends. Or maybe it's the promise of homemade "Twinkies" for dessert that keeps the crowds coming.

Stanton Social, 99 Stanton Street (between Ludlow and Orchard Street); 212-995-0099.
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 creative 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.
Photo: Courtesy of Taqueria Lower East Side.
Taqueria Lower East Side
Indulge your California dreaming here, in a rowdy restaurant with a Los Angeles theme. There are LA sports teams on the TV and decorating the walls, and West Coasters (or you) can fill up on the generous portions of Mexican food—pork belly taco, yes—heavy drinks, and cheap helpings of guac.

Taqueria Lower East Side, 198 Orchard Street (between East Houston and Stanton streets); 212-677-3910.
Photo: @beckyblairh.
Oda House
If you go to Oda House, you have to get the khachapuri. A boat of bread topped with an egg and it's own mast of butter, it's all stirred together to create the gooiest, most indulgent cheesy bread we've ever had. But don't assume all Georgian food is a carb-heavy dairy fest. Located at the intersection of Asia and Europe, Georgia's food showcases its blend of cultures and spices perfectly. An order of khinkali, for example, is reminiscent of Shanghai soup dumplings, but with fresh herbs and spices that will remind you of the Middle East.

Oda House, 76 Avenue B (At E. 5th Street); 212-353-3838.
Photo: Courtesy of Dirty French.
Dirty French
Bistros in NYC are a dime a dozen, but very few come close to the rarified experience at Dirty French. At first glance, the menu looks like a typical traditional French bistro complete with dishes like steak au poivre and millefeuille. But look a little bit closer, and you'll notice spices and flavors that reach far beyond the French borders. The classic Duck à l'Orange, for example, is given new life with Moroccan spices.

Dirty French, 180 Ludlow Street (between Stanton and E. Houston Street); 212-254-3000.
Photo: via @knsthr.
Congee Village
Congee Village solves the problem of the group dinner once and for all. Practically set up to satisfy the needs of large groups of broke twenty-somethings celebrating yet another birthday, it's accomodating, atmospheric (think insta-worthy kitsch), and delicious. The special here is the eponymous congee, a type of rice porridge. But the extensive menu leaves plenty to explore, no matter the size of your group.

Congee Village, 100 Allen St, New York (between Broome and Delancey); 212-941-1818.
Photo: Via @vivapoet.
Sticky Rice
A tiny Thai restaurant in the LES, Sticky Rice is filled with flavor and charm. In addition to the more than moderate menu prices, this tasty joint is also BYOB to boot. Try an order of the tom yum soup with spicy chili sauce and shrimp. Or you can always rely on the drunken noodles — they're fire.

Sticky Rice, 85 Orchard Street (at Broome Street); 212-274-8208.
Photo: Via @onehungryjew.
Sauce brings warm, cozy, and absolutely delectable family-style Italian eats to the LES. This spot exudes the rustic vibes of an old-school red sauce joint, but with a hint of downtown flair. Try the grass fed beef bolognese — and while you're at it, be sure not to miss an order of grandma's tomato gravy with meatballs.

Sauce, 78 Rivington Street (at Allen Street); 212-420-7700.
Photo: Via @bottomfeedernyc.
Los Feliz
Los Feliz in LES is three stories of tacos, tequila, and dancing. Could we ask for a more satisfying dining trifecta? The blanco, reposado, and añejo list spans 150 different varieties and the dinner menu is inventively rich. Order the "Tacos de Conejo" with grilled rabbit sausage, rosemary aioli, panela cheese, roasted tomatoes, and panko-crusted avocado fries.

Los Feliz, 109 Ludlow Street (between Delancey and Rivington Street); 212-228-8383.
Photo: Via @devourpower.
Ice & Vice
Giving frozen treats magical makeovers since 2014, Ice & Vice is the Willy Wonka of LES dessert. With handcrafted flavors and sandwich mashups of fro-yo, sorbet, and ice cream, this unique spot raises the creativity bar for any city creamery. Also, with names like Colt .45, On The Rocks, and Shade, you're bound to be in for a festive and wholly unexpected sweet surprise on any visit.

Ice & Vice, 221 East Broadway (at Clinton Street); 646-678-3687.
Photo: Via @wherefoodieseat_nyc.
Hidden behind the facade of a Chinese restaurant sign lies a hip Greek spot in a sparse wood-beamed setting. Kiki's keeps the fare old-school and filled with fountains of traditional flavor, drawing in the hoards of hungry Lower Easter Siders. And we can't blame them —just one taste is enough to keep you coming back for infinite orders of tzatziki and grilled octopus.

Kiki's, 130 Division Street (between Orchard and Ludlow Street); 646-882-7052.
Photo: Via @infatuation_nyc.
Cheeky Sandwiches
New Orleans meets NYC — Cheeky Sandwiches serves up the ultimate in sandwich deliciousness on the LES. Stop by the cozy snack bar for a shrimp po'boy or buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken and gravy. There's just nothing like "Nawlins," y'all.

Cheeky Sandwiches, 35 Orchard Street (at Hester Street); 646- 504-8132.
Photo: via @thrillistnyc.
Katz's Delicatessen
Katz's Delicatessen has been slicing and stacking NYC's freshest deli sandwiches since 1888. They've bumped their way up from a simple family-owned and operated business to a buzzing household name. With a late closing time (2:45 a.m. to be exact) this spot is ideal for snagging a pastrami on rye before calling it a night.

Katz's Delicatessen, 205 East Houston Street (at Ludlow Street); 212- 254-2246.
Mission Chinese Food
A San Fran original that's set up shop in NYC, Mission Chinese dishes out quirky and elevated Sichuan eats. Stop by for their green tea noodles or pork riblets with pickled beets and a hibiscus glaze. Reservations are limited and the spot is hot, so be sure to plan your visit ahead.

Mission Chinese Food, 171 East Broadway (between Rutgers and Jefferson Street); 212-432-0300 .
Photo: Via @_arnavroy.
Ivan Ramen
Who would've imagined that a Long Island native would go and open up one of the top ramen spots in NYC? Not this foodie. Ivan Orkin, the culinary genius behind this noodle slurping spot, offers his unique rendition of the Japanese soup classic. We're talking bold flavors of hot spices, fresh veggies, and quality meats — the perfect dish for any chilly winter's eve.

Ivan Ramen, 25 Clinton Street (at Stanton Street); 646-678-3859.
Photo Via: @infatuation_nyc.
Casual-cozy yet sophisticated at the same damn time — Wildair unquestionably earns its title as one of the LES's best. The menu spans from small shareable plates, to French wine, and to-die-for main dishes. Oh, and a kick-ass hazelnut tarte for dessert too. This neighborhood spot is simply a must go!

Wildair, 142 Orchard Street (at Rivington Street); 646-964-5624.
Photo: Courtesy of Sweet Chick NYC.
Sweet Chick
All hail Southern comfort food, where the almighty fried chicken reigns supreme. There are seven varieties of the crunchy stuff on this menu, often with fascinatingly flavored waffles to go with, like rosemary-mushroom or spicy pecan. A fried chicken parm on a basil-flecked waffle is particularly genius.

Sweet Chick, 178 Ludlow Street (between East Houston and Stanton streets); 646-657-0233.
Photo: Courtesy of Benson's.
Their M.O. is “bringing craft beer to the Lower East Side,” but you’ll forgive that holier-than-thou missive because the actual vibe inside the place is so chill and friendly. Staffers are thrilled to help you find something new from their giant catalogue of brews and ciders, and once you’ve worked up a hunger, there’s a finger-licking menu of burgers and flatbreads and fries.

Benson’s, 181 Essex Street (between East Houston and Stanton streets); 646-791-5765.
Photo: Via @beezeatz.
L.E.S. Kitchen
Just what the city needs: another burger joint. Right? Well, when you’re surrounded by carousing youths swinging from one bar to the next, it’s not a terrible concept, but this spot offers more than greasy drunk food. Just try the mercifully cheap (and highly popular) spicy fried chicken sandwich on a toasted potato bun, or the kitchen sink fries, which are piled with pulled pork, Thai chilies, bacon, and steak.

L.E.S. Kitchen, 15 Essex Street (between Hester and Canal streets); 646-952-2313.
Photo: Courtesy of Dirt Candy.
Dirt Candy
What may be the vegetable restaurant in New York City now has a larger space on the Lower East Side. Expanding on her original East Village menu, chef Amanda Cohen continues her mastery of flora, with delicate arrangements like a portobello mousse or sturdier fare like carrot sliders and fried broccoli.

Dirt Candy, 86 Allen Street (between Grand and Broome streets); 212-228-7732.
Photo: Via @balvaneranyc.
What do you know of Argentine food? If you’re picturing steak and a glass of Malbec, you’re not wrong, and Balvanera nods to the country's beef-focused menu with leather-trimmed aprons for the staff. Beyond the beef, there are more hearty dishes like pork and veal kidneys, with a Buenos Aires soundtrack to lull you into pleasant fullness.

Balvanera, 152 Stanton Street (at Suffolk Street); 212-533-3348.
Photo: Courtesy of The Lucky Bee.
The Lucky Bee
One of those LES spots that is just about always buzzing with an insanely hip crowd (even on a Tuesday). The vibes are tropical meets disco and the food is HOT, Aussie-inspired, Thai cuisine. If you're in the mood for some spicy atmosphere and fare, pop on down to the Lucky Bee.

The Lucky Bee, 252 Broome Street (at the corner of Orchard Street); 844-364-4286.
Photo: Courtesy of @alchemyworks
Le Turtle
Want to find the next it spot downtown? Look no further than this spectacular French eatery serving up elevated modern and veggie-centric dishes. The perfect spot for a fancy date or a sophisticated evening with your crew, a meal at Le Turtle is always a social affair to remember.

Le Turtle, 177 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002; (646) 918-7189
Image: Via @russanddaughters.
Russ & Daughters Cafe
The legendary Russ & Daughters has been serving up smoked fish and bagels for over 100 years, but it only opened a dine-in restaurant in 2014. We can't predict the future, but we wouldn't be surprised to see the cafe last a century as well. In addition to its signature seafood offerings, the cafe serves Jewish comfort food staples like knishes, matzo ball soup, and latkes.

Russ And Daughters Cafe, 127 Orchard Street (between Delancey and Rivington); 212-925-5220.
Photo: Courtesy of Casa Mezcal.
Casa Mezcal
The live bands, DJ, and dance floor at Casa Mezcal, along with the absurdly happy decor, are all so fun that you might forget to eat and drink. But don’t! Like the name suggests, this place has the best mezcal cocktails in the city, alongside solid Mexican food for when all that revelry makes you hungry.

Casa Mezcal, 86 Orchard Street (at Broome Street); 212-777-2600
Photo: Courtesy of Kitty's Canteen.
Kitty’s Canteen
Opened by Richard Kimmel of The Box, this bizarre little gem also requires a game of hide-and-seek to locate. Once you do, you’ll be rewarded with bartenders in burlesque costumes… southern soul food with Jewish infusion… and jazz music. Like a New Orleans fever dream!

Kitty’s Canteen, 9 Stanton Street (between Bowery and Chrystie Street); 212-477-7047.
Photo: Courtesy of Cocoron.
You already know that noodles are one of the most comforting dishes on earth (carbs!), and Cocoron runs with the concept — their name means “heartwarming” in Japanese. There are many kinds of soba noodles dishes on the adorable, cartooned menu, which is so sweet you won’t feel embarrassed if you need your helpful waiter to explain where to begin.

Cocoron, 61 Delancey Street; 212-925-5220.
Photo: Courtesy of Birds and Bubbles.
Birds And Bubbles
In a city where you mixing new H&M with vintage Chanel is a major accomplishment, how did this idea take so long? The signature dish here is the eponymous fried chicken with champs, but there are so many combos to choose from. There are other elevated southern classics on the menu, which contains cheeky little chicken puns throughout — like “which came first” for the appetizer category.

Birds And Bubbles, 100B Forsyth Street, 646-368-9240.
Photo: Courtesy of Bacaro.
How very New York: a Venetian-style gastopub in Chinatown, situated inside a converted aquarium. History is all around you in this space, where the ancient brick and vaulted ceilings make you feel like you’re dining in a castle. The most beloved dishes are carb-y goodness, like gnocchi with mushrooms in a brown butter sauce, and spaghetti with cuttlefish ink.

Bacaro, 136 Division Street (between Orchard and Ludlow streets); 212-941-5060.
Photo: Courtesy of Pig & Khao.
Pig & Khao
You can spot Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen here at her restaurant, which mixes Thai and Filippino influences. That means a whole lot of pork (like the head, belly, and leg), as well as fish options, like skate wing in a banana leaf, or prawns in a butter curry. One lovely final touch is the option of bottomless beer — fyou can just serve yourself when you need a refill.

Pig & Khao, 68 Clinton Street (between Stanton and Rivington streets); 212-920-4485.
Photo: Courtesy of Cafe Katja.
Cafe Katja
This place is about as Austrian as you can get without boarding a plane. There’s hearty beef goulash, bratwurst, and a sausage sampler, but the best part may be what you wash it all down with. The carefully-chosen German and Austrian beers are both rare and interesting, especially for New York City.

Cafe Katja, 79 Orchard Street (between Grand and Broome streets); 212-219-9545.
Photo: Courtesy of Clinton Street Baking Company.
Clinton Street Baking Company
They do much more than sweets, but it's the sweets that you'll get in line for. There's wild Maine blueberry pancakes and caramelized banana French toast for breakfast, plus loads of pie, cake, and milkshakes. But, if you insist on eating real protein (as fans of the bakery did years ago, pushing the owners to expand to other meals), then you won't be disappointed. Go for the fried chicken!

Clinton Street Baking Company, 4 Clinton Street (between East Houston and Stanton streets); 646-602-6263.
Photo: Courtesy of Contra.
Like some other punk-rock places in this neighborhood, Contra has very little signage out front to help you find it. But you’ll forgive them once you do, because their tasting menu is the rare arrangement that won’t make you forfeit rent: a mere $67 for 5 courses. Recent offerings included a broccoli soup with uni, and swordfish with peas and pepper, gorgeously plated and delicately delicious.

Contra, 138 Orchard Street (between Rivington and Delancey streets); 212-466-4633 .
Photo: Courtesy of Dimes.
Take your Bay Area-friend here (you know, the gluten-free, dairy-free, veggie-tastic one), when they come to visit. The cuisine is healthy and creative, like spiced quinoa with with pickled vegetables, or chicken with kimchi yogurt. New York can do that ultra-fresh thing, too, you know.

Dimes, 143 Division Street (between Orchard and Ludlow streets); 212-240-9410.
Photo: Courtesy of Cata.
The vivid red and yellow interior invokes the flag of Spain, preparing you for the Catalan tapas you're about to inhale. The menu is divided into categories of sea, land, and vegetables, so there will be an option (or five) for everyone at your table. Oh, and the wide selection of gin and tonics is a refreshing kick against all of those bright flavors.

Cata, 245 Bowery (between Stanton and Prince streets); 212-505-2282.
Photo: Courtesy of The Fat Radish.
The Fat Radish
You don't have to fight about where to eat: The Fat Radish is great for the vegetarians, but placates the carnivores with a killer bacon cheeseburger and pork chop. Your group will also agree on the gorgeously bright, all-white space, which perfectly complements the delicious food.

The Fat Radish, 17 Orchard Street (between Hester and Canal streets); 212-300-4053.
Photo: Courtesy of Kuma Inn.
Kuma Inn
If you hate sharing, Kuma Inn is not the place for you. The menu is 100% tapas, with chef King Phojanakong pulling culinary inspo (and talent) from his Filipino mother and Thai father. The small plates are a good way to get to know these flavors, with fan favorites like the drunken spicy shrimp with sake and baby octopus with bamboo shoots. Oh, and it's BYOB. You don't have to share that part, if you don't want.

Kuma Inn, 113 Ludlow Street (between Delancey and Rivington streets); 212-353-8866.
Photo: Courtesy of Louie & Chan.
Louie & Chan
Of all the culinary mashups, Italian and Chinese? Louie & Chan pulls it off, with an Italian restaurant upstairs and a Chinese lounge/club downstairs. The food is pasta and pizza with luxurious details, like stracciatella and spicy blue crab. The fun continues with Chinese cocktails — the signature Chan's Tonic contains 14 herbal ingredients that are infused for a year before hitting your glass.

Louie & Chan, 303 Broome Street (at Forsyth Street); 212-837-2816.
Photo: Courtesy of The Leadbelly.
The Leadbelly
The place somewhat resembles the basement of your college dorm, but you can use that as an excuse to get college-style tipsy. There's an epic cocktail list, featuring liqueurs you're never even heard of, plus lots of yummy little plates of cheeses and baba ghanoush. You know, for when you get the late-night munchies.

The Leadbelly, 14 Orchard Street (at Canal Street); 646-596-9142.
Photo: Courtesy of Fung Tu.
Fung Tu
Here you’ll find extremely high-end Chinese-American food from Jonathan Wu, a chef whose last stop was at Per Se — so, there's a bit of a French twist, as well. To wit, we recommend trying the crowd favorite smoked, fried dates stuffed with duck. Feeling noncommittal? The $65 six-course tasting menu is a nice way to sample a bit of everything that makes this spot so interesting.

Fung Tu, 22 Orchard Street (between Hester and Canal streets); 212-219-8785.
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