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15 Flavorful Lower East Side Restaurants in New York City (Everyone Must Try)

best lox bagels New York City

The Lower East Side (LES) is a colorful, exuberant neighborhood full of stimulating cultures, charm and flavors. You’ll find a contagious high spirited energy that makes you want to eat and drink your way through the streets. As a local I’ve spent years enjoying all the neighborhood has to offer (and have learned which Lower East Side restaurants to avoid) and I’m going to share my experiences with you.

All this talk is making me hungry, what do you say we dive right in?

Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (10 Best Neighborhoods +3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.

Lower East Side Restaurants

Table of Contents: Best Restaurants on the Lower East Side

Pepperoni slice from Scarr's Pizza, New York City best pizza

Scarr’s Pizza

Website: Scarr’s Pizza
Address: 22 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Scarr’s Pizza is known for its retro and nostalgic atmosphere, with vintage decor and a throwback feel. Folks appreciate the simplicity of the menu. The dough is made in-house, contributing to the authentic and delicious taste of the pizzas.

The Sicilian grandma slice is satisfying but the pepperoni takes the cake. The large slices demand to be folded and the thinly stretch dough is the ideal canvas for the delightful marinara sauce and quality toppings. If there’s one thing this Lower East Side restaurant got right, it’s the way the cheese and marinara sauce form a harmonious union without overwhelming.

Double Chicken Please

Website: Double Chicken Please
Address: 115 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

Double Chicken Please, an unconventional bar, crafts unique cocktails like Japanese Cold Noodle & Key Lime Pie, creatively deconstructing popular dishes into boozy beverages. In 2022, they won the Disaronno Highest New Entry Award, and debuted impressively at #6 on the list of the 50 Best Bars in the World. Besides innovative drinks, their small complimentary menu features mouthwatering chicken sandwiches and a delightful hojicha pudding dessert, making it one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.

Pig and Khao

Website: Pig and Khao
Address: 68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

Chef Leah Cohen draws inspiration from her Filipino roots to craft mouthwatering Southeast Asian dishes at Pig and Khao. With a cozy 74-seat dining area, reservations are recommended due to its small size. The star-studded menu features heavyweight favorites like the sizzling sisig, made with pork head, chili, and egg, delivering a perfect blend of crispiness and tenderness.

The extensive drink selection, including cocktails and beer, enhances the overall dining experience. By the end, you’ll understand why Pig and Khao stands out as one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.

Outside shot of Freemans in the Lower East Side


Website: Freemans Restaurant
Address: Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002

Freemans, a hidden gem in the Lower East Side, is tucked away at the end of Freeman Alley on Rivington Street. The rustic cabin-like atmosphere, adorned with animal head mounts and wooden accents, creates a warm and inviting feel. Known for its simple, home-style cooking, the attentive and friendly staff add to the dining experience.

Freemans is renowned for its generous portions and satisfying meals, with the artichoke dip being a standout choice. Additionally, it stands out as one of the best brunch restaurants in the Lower East Side, offering a variety of satisfying American breakfast classics.

Jajaja Mexicana

Website: Jajaja Mexicana
Address: 162 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

Jajaja Mexicana, a top vegan restaurant in the Lower East Side, proves that vegan food can be delicious. Despite being plant-based, the menu is extensive, featuring vegan versions of Mexican classics like burritos, enchiladas, and tamales. A must-try is the buffalo flower tacos, made with cauliflower, celery, shredded carrots, and blue cheese – a surprising delight even for non-vegans.

Essex Market Best things to do winter in New York City

Essex Market

Located in Downtown Manhattan, Essex Market is New York City’s most historic food hall. The market has been around officially since 1940 (unofficially since the 1880’s) and has served as a culinary gathering place for New Yorkers to come together as a community.

The three story market is a great place to grab a bite because it’s a hub of some of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side. You’ll find everything from coffee, dessert, hot & cold meals and it even has a bar. The top floor has a sea of tables and floor to ceiling windows that flood the space with natural daylight.

Best Lower East Side restaurants in Essex Market:

  • Veselka (Ukranian)
  • Shopsin’s (American)
  • Dhamaka (Indian)
  • Kotti Berliner Döner Kebab (Mediterranean)
  • Don Ceviche (Peruvian)

Address: 88 Essex St, New York, NY 10002



Website: Dudley’s
Address: 85 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Dudley’s, from the creators of the acclaimed Ruby’s in SoHo, has established itself as one of the top restaurants in the Lower East Side. While Ruby’s is a cafe, Dudley’s stands out as a bistro with a menu featuring comforting dishes, some shared with its popular sister restaurant.

An irresistible choice is the crispy brussels sprouts – a simple side, yet the perfectly cooked golden morsels are so delicious that they could be a meal on their own.

For those with a sweet tooth, I recommend trying the ricotta pancakes. Served with honeycomb butter, maple syrup, and Nutella, these pancakes will leave you craving a second serving for days.

Beauty & Essex
Image Courtesy Beauty & Essex

Beauty And Essex

Website: Beauty And Essex
Address: 146 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

Beauty & Essex may confuse first-time visitors as it resembles a pawn shop rather than a restaurant upon entry. Adorned with antique and high-dollar items on the walls, the true dining experience is revealed only when you pass through and discover a winding staircase leading to four dining rooms. This hidden gem is considered one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.

This famed institution has spared no expense in cultivating an elegant and posh experience. There’s a two story chandelier, designer jewelry for sale and the woman’s bathroom is outfitted with a salon, luxurious couch and antique perfume bottles.

The reason they’re on the list of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side is thanks to their unrivaled brunch spreads. It’s hard not to whip out your phone for pictures of the unique dishes. Beauty and Essex is perhaps best known for their Oreo Cookie pancakes. Fine Oreo crumbs are speckled over a stack of pancakes held together by a sweet filling similar to that of, well, an Oreo. 

Clinton St Baking Company Brunch NYC

Clinton Street Baking Co.

Website: Clinton Street Baking Co.
Address: 4 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

Founded in 2001 by chef Neil Kleinberg, a New York native and kitchen prodigy, Clinton St. Baking Company started as a small batch bakery. The restaurant’s popularity led to expansion, acquiring the neighboring property and transforming into one of the top restaurants in the Lower East Side.

Renowned for their pancakes, Clinton St. Baking Company lives up to the hype, offering fluffy and airy pancakes with options like wild Maine blueberries, banana walnut, or chocolate chunk. With a menu featuring traditional American breakfast dishes, it rightfully earns its place among the best brunch spots in the Lower East Side. Due to its popularity, reservations are recommended.

Zucco Le French Diner

Le French Diner

Instagram: Le French Diner
Address: 188 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Discovering the best restaurants in the Lower East Side often means stumbling upon tiny, mom & pop places with a postcard-sized menu. Le French Diner perfectly fits this description with its cozy dozen seats. Despite its size, the kitchen works magic, offering dishes like escargots, hanger steak, and mussels that are worth their weight in gold.

The wine, labeled only by type, adds to the charm, and despite the lack of reservations, the ambience, drinks, and warm plates elevate Le French Diner from a miniature bistro to one of the top restaurants in the Lower East Side. Arriving soon after opening is recommended to secure a spot in this hidden gem.

Outside of Mr. Taka Ramen

Mr. Taka

Website: Mr. Taka Ramen
Address: 170 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

Mr. Taka Ramen opened in New York City in 2015, but the restaurant has roots in Japan. The chef, Takatoshi Nagara, earned a Michelin Star at his Tokyo restaurant, Bigiya Ramen, before going international. Mr. Taka has boasted a Bib Gourmand rating in the past, but didn’t crack the list in 2023.

That’s not say the restaurant has lost any quality or flavor, it’s still one of the best restaurants in the LES (and they have the lines to prove it). Mr. Taka is famous for its miso ramen that’s made with chicken and fish broth, but if you ask me the spicy tonkotsu ramen made with pork broth is the way to go.

iconic New York City restaurants

Russ & Daughters

Website: Russ & Daughters
Address: 179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Russ & Daughters is arguably the most iconic bagel shop in NYC,. They’ve made some of the best bagels and lox in New York City for more than 100 years! Therefore – it’s not surprising it’s one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side!

The bagels at Russ & Daughters are exceptional, as you would expect, but the smoked fish is where they shine. That’s why I strongly recommend the lox bagel here (it’d be a shame to pass it up, seriously). They have an impressive selection of smoked fish, cream cheese and appetizers. What’s more, they’re one of the few bagel spots that offers caviar, which my husband always orders.

Something to know: Russ and Daughters is a bagel shop, so there isn’t any seating – however the food holds its own among the best restaurants in the Lower East Side. My suggestion is to grab a bagel and head to the park across the street to enjoy it.

Cheap Eats New York City Cheeky Sandwiches
Image Courtesy Bloomberg

Cheeky Sandwiches (Currently Under Renovation)

Instagram: Cheeky Sandwiches
Address: 35 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

None of the sandwiches at Cheeky Sandwiches are over $10 making it one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side for cheap eats. What’s more, I can attest the sandwiches are in fact cheeky. Simple ingredients give rise to bold creations, resulting in a symphony of flavors.

Their beef sandwich is top-tier delicious, made out of braised short rib that’s tender and juicy all without making the bread soggy. Topped with horseradish sauce, arugula and cherry tomatoes it’s an uncomplicated masterpiece.

Admittedly, Cheeky Sandwiches is one of the smallest restaurants in the LES and there isn’t much in the way of seating (a few stools along the bar). However, I’ve never had a hard time finding a place to sit.

Katz Delicatessen

Website: Katz Deli
Address: 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Omitting Katz Deli from a list of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side is an inexcusable offense. This cafeteria-style deli has been serving New Yorkers since 1888 and is one of the most iconic restaurants in NYC.

The interior walls are adorned with photos of celebrities that can’t resist the mile high thick-cut pastrami sandwiched between rye. The exterior walls are adorned with long lines of locals and tourists, eager to try one of the most popular restaurants in the Lower East Side.

The biggest challenge while visiting Katz Deli (apart from the long lines and crowds) is knowing how to navigate the ordering system, but I’m here to help.

How to order a (life-changing) pastrami sandwich at Katz Deli

You will be handed a ticket upon entering Katz, put it in your pocket and head to the ordering line. One of the folks behind the counter will call you over and ask you what you’d like. Tell them your order and hand them your ticket (they’ll write down what you ordered).

When your masterpiece of a sandwich is completed you’ll have two options: find a table or order drinks/sides. If you’d like to order drinks and sides (like fries) head to the left-most counter and place your order (they’ll also ask for your ticket).

After finishing your meal you will need to pay (using the ticket) at the counter by the door with the large “cashier” sign. When your bill is settled you can make your way out by handing your paid ticket over to the person working the front. This is how you can enjoy one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.

Most Iconic restaurants New York City


Website: Kiki’s
Address: 130 Division St, New York, NY 10002

Kiki’s, how do I describe your allure with mere words? The Lower East Side restaurant is the kind of neighborhood joint you’d see in a movie. Where two unsuspecting strangers fall in love, or friends set aside their differences for the feel good crescendo of the film.

Although it’s housed in a gray building, Kiki’s is one of the warmest restaurants in the Lower East Side. There’s a palpable charm that’s only magnified by the friendly service and sprouts of strangers laughing, and stuffing their faces.

Although you might visit for the vibe, you’ll come back for the food. The Greek restaurant makes the best damn octopus I’ve ever had. And the saganaki, lamb chops, and branzino are all tempting options. This is one of the most popular Lower East Side restaurants so don’t be shocked if there’s a substantial wait. Since reservations aren’t available I suggest visiting soon after they open.

Restaurants Lower East Side (Post Summary)

  • Kiki’s
  • Katz Delicatessen
  • Cheekys Sandwiches
  • Russ & Daughters
  • Mr. Taka Ramen
  • Le French Diner 
  • Clinton Street Baking Co. 
  • Beauty & Essex
  • Dudley’s
  • Essex Market
  • Jajaja
  • Freemans
  • Pig and Khao
  • Double Chicken Please
  • Scarr’s Pizza 

(Map) Best Lower East Side Restaurants

Helpful Related Links

And there it is my friends! The Lower East Side restaurants. I hope you enjoyed the post.