Post Overview: Best restaurants Lower East Side
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, drink and carelessly laugh.
There’s perhaps no better way to enjoy everything the neighborhood has to offer than by visiting the many noteworthy restaurants in the Lower East Side. From theatrical dining rooms to hole in the wall counters, there is so much delicious food in the neighborhood.
The hard part can be deciding which restaurants in the Lower East Side to visit first. There’s nothing worse than an anticlimactic meal, so I’m going to share with you the same list I send to my dearest friends who ask for recommendations.
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 am going to share my experiences with you.
All this talk is making me hungry, what do you say we dive right in?
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Lower East Side Restaurants
Within a bite, my husband proclaimed Scarr’s as the absolute best pizza in New York City. Fighting words, I know!
But he has a point. I mean, I don’t know if we were exceptionally hungry or something, but Scarr’s Pizza was so good that we returned the next day for more. Over the years and countless slices later it’s safe to say Scarr’s Pizza is one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
The Sicilian grandma slice was so satisfying but the pepperoni took 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.
The cheese and marinara sauce form a harmonious union without overwhelming. In effect, this pizza is everything a pizza should be — simple and delicious! It should come as no surprise the straightforward, high-quality slices make Scarr’s one of the most iconic restaurants in the Lower East Side.
Plus, extra points for the incredible staff here. In a city where good food sometimes comes at the expense of good service, Scarr’s stands a mile above the rest.
Plus, the unfussy storefront definitely evokes old school vibes and makes visiting one of the most casual Lower East Side restaurants. Just bear in mind Scarr’s is an iconic pizza spot, so lines can be long but it’s so worth it.
Address: 22 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Double Chicken Please
Double Chicken Please is one of the best bars in the Lower East Side thanks to it’s unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries. That’s why it’s one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side for dinner and drinks (but mostly drinks). 😉
Their cocktails are anything but traditional, serving up the likes of Japanese Cold Noodle & Key Lime Pie. They impressively deconstruct popular dishes and transform them into boozy beverages.
Even the shots are fun, my favorite being the Oolong Whiskey. Safe to say, if you’re after a unique experience Double Chicken Please is among the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
Double Chicken Please won the 2022 Disaronno Highest New Entry Award, which is presented to the bar with the best, first-time ranking on the list of the 50 Best Bars in the World. They remarkably debuted at #6!
Double Chicken Please offers reservations, which you’re going to want since it’s one of the most popular restaurants in the Lower East Side.
If you do choose to enjoy more than just drinks you’ll find a small but complimentary menu that tastes even better with a slight buzz. As one of the best Lower East Side restaurants you’ll mouthwatering chicken sandwiches and a hojicha pudding dessert (buckwheat, tahitian vanilla) that’s worth the trip alone.
Address: 115 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
Pig and Khao
Opened in the 2012, Pig and Khao wasted no time in becoming one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side. Chef and owner Leah Cohen sought inspiration from her Filipino upbringing and makes mouthwatering Southeast Asian meals that can make a grown man fall to his knees.
Pig and Khao is also one of the smaller restaurants in the Lower East Side, seating a cozy 74 folks into its casual, no frills dining area. Due to its small size I suggest making reservations in advance to ensure you get a table.
And in regards of the food, Pig and Khao has a star-studded menu full of heavyweight favorites that pack a flavorful punch. Take the sizzling sigsig for example, which is made with pork head, chili and an egg offering the perfect outer crisp and tender, chewy interior.
Or the Khao Soi, which is made with red curry, coconut milk, chicken, egg noodles, red onions and pickled mustard greens. It has the perfect amount of kick, keeping you scooping like a machine until your plate is completely clean.
The wide array of booze only elevates the experience, and whether you like cocktails or beer you’ll be satisfied. When you leave (or are rolled out) you’ll have no doubt as to why Pig and Khao is one of the best Lower East Side restaurants.
Address: 68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Freemans is quite literally one of the best hidden-gem restaurants in the Lower East Side. It’s tucked away at the end of an alley, so you have to do a little searching to find it, but once you do you won’t want to leave.
Head to Rivington Street, between Chrystie and Bowery and you’ll find Freeman Alley. Walk to the very end and bam, you’ve arrived at one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
The place feels like a rustic cabin, mostly thanks to the plethora of animal head mounts. The wooden accents give the place a warm, inviting allure and the staff add to the experience by being attentive and friendly.
You’ll find the menu reflects simple, home style cooking and every meal is satisfying and a generous portion. But no matter what you do order, start with the artichoke dip, it’s *chef’s kiss* and alone warrants Freeman a spot among the best Lower East Side restaurants.
You’ll notice the menu is a bit small but loaded with meat-heavy, hearty dishes. There’s steak, fish and a lamb chop big enough you won’t have breakfast the next day. Furthermore the drink menu is generous with tons of wine, beer and cocktail options.
Also worth noting, Freemans is one of the best brunch restaurants in the Lower East Side. Offering a plethora of satisfying American breakfast classics.
Address: Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002
Allow me a second to be fully transparent (and forgive me). For years I denied vegan food the love it deserved. I was convinced that meat alternatives were just that a meal couldn’t be the same if it lacked meat or dairy.
That all changed the first time I visited Jajaja Mexicana. As one of the best vegan restaurants in the Lower East Side every bite sends your taste buds on a roller coaster of flavor and adventure.
And don’t even begin to think the menu is a small one, no no honey. Jajaja Mexicana is one of the best Lower East Side restaurants and offers the vast majority of your Mexican food favorites like burritos, enchiladas and tamales.
If you’re in need of a suggestion I say you can’t leave without trying the buffalo flower tacos. Made with cauliflower, celery, shredded carrots and blue cheese the old me would’ve considered them a heresy, but the new me admits they’re just plain damn good.
Like most other Mexican restaurant in the Lower East Side you’ll find an assortment of Mexican beer. And considering most of the cocktails are made with tequila, Jajaja is one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side for those with a craving for the Mexican liquor.
Address: 162 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002
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 even has a bar.
The top floor has a sea of tables and floor to ceiling windows that flood the space with natural daylight. Not only is the Essex Market home to the best restaurants in the Lower East Side, it has one of the best dining areas to rest your legs.
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
Dudley’s comes by way of the same folks that brought us Ruby’s, one of the best restaurants in SoHo. Not unlike its sister restaurant, Dudley’s has come to hold its own among the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
Whereas Ruby’s was created as a cafe, Dudley’s is a bistro (similar, but not the same). The LES restaurant has a menu full of comfort food, including some of the same dishes that have made Ruby’s so popular.
Take the crispy brussels sprouts for example. The dish is nothing more than a side, but the small morsels of gold are cooked perfectly and if I could have a bowl of them as a meal, I would.
The Australian brunch destination is also one of the best value brunch restaurants in the Lower East Side. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s cheap, but I do think it packs a good bang for your buck.
If you’re in need of a meal recommendation and have a sweet tooth like me I suggest ordering the ricotta pancakes. Paired with honeycomb butter, maple syrup and Nutella you’ll find yourself craving a second serving for days.
Address: 85 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Beauty And Essex
Folks might stumble into Beauty & Essex and think they’re in the wrong spot, turn around and leave. That’s because when you first walk in it doesn’t look like one of the best Lower East Side restaurants, it looks like a pawn shop.
Antique and high dollar items decorate the walls. It’s only until you walk past that you’ll find a winding staircase that leads to their four dining rooms and 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 in the pawn shop 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. Think cookies & cream ice cream flavor – but in a pancake.
Address: 146 Essex St, New York, NY 10002
Clinton Street Baking Co.
Clinton St. Baking Company was born in 2001 to prodigy chef Neil Kleinberg. A native New Yorker, Kleinberg honed his skills in the kitchen from a young age and opened his first restaurant at a mere 22 years old.
Having first opened their doors as a small batch bakery, Clinton St. Baking Company’s rise in popularity forced them to buy the property next door and evolve into one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
Clinton Street Baking Company’s claim to fame is their pancakes, which are famous for good reason. On their website, Clinton St. Baking Company says their current mission is to live up to the “hype” and I can attest, they do.
The pancakes are everything you want them to be, fluffy and airy. I like them with wild Maine blueberries but there are also options for banana walnut or chocolate chunk. All it takes is one bite of the buttery hotcakes and you’ll understand why Clinton St. is one of the best Lower East Side restaurants.
Offering more traditional American breakfast dishes, Clinton St. Baking is well placed among the best brunch restaurants in the Lower East Side. It’s also one of the most popular spots in LES, so don’t forget reservations!
Address: 4 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Le French Diner
Sometimes the best restaurants in the Lower East Side are found where you least expect them. I’m talking hole in the wall, itty bitty, mom & pop restaurants with a menu no larger than a postcard.
I’m essentially describing Le French Diner. The small neighborhood joint has a measly dozen seats or so, but the kitchen works magic. Dishes like escargots, hanger steak, and mussels are worth their weight in gold.
The wine is labeled only by type rather than winery but I always walk away with a photo of the bottle so I can pick it up on my next run to the liquor store. The ambience, drinks and warm plates elevate Le French Diner from a miniature bistro to one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
You might be surprised to learn that Le French Diner doesn’t offer reservations. I encourage arriving soon after opening so you too can enjoy one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
Address: 188 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Mr. Taka is one of the first restaurants in the Lower East Side I bring out of town guests to. The small but cozy vibe makes enjoying a hot plate of ramen, steam still rising, all the more enjoyable.
With just one bite (or slurp) you’ll understand why Mr. Taka’s ramen was rated one of the 20 best ramen restaurants in Tokyo by the Michelin Guide. When the company moved to New York City in 2015 I enjoyed a bowl, and we’ve had an inseparable love ever since.
They keep the menu simple, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of the ramen options. Pair it with some hot sake and you’ll really feel like you’re at one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
I’m partial to the Spicy Tonkotsu but my wife loves the Yuzu Shoyu. No matter what you choose rest assured, you’re enjoying some of the best ramen in New York City.
Address: 170 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
Russ & Daughters
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.
This particular delicatessen stands a mile above the rest and is worth going out of the way for. Russ & Daughters has expanded over the years but I suggest visiting the original store, which is one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side.
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.
Address: 179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
Allow me be the first to say, spending an arm and a leg on a sandwich is the last thing I want to do. The ingredients are rarely expensive and paying someone to assemble it for me doesn’t seem like the best use of my hard earned funds.
However, Cheeky Sandwiches has helped me come around. None of their 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 way to bold creations that come together for a dance party of flavors and they’re surprisingly satisfying.
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 Lower East Side 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.
Address: 35 Orchard 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.
Address: 205 E Houston 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 worth 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.
Address: 130 Division St, New York, NY 10002
Restaurants Lower East Side (Post Summary)
- Katz Delicatessen
- Cheekys Sandwiches
- Russ & Daughters
- Mr. Taka Ramen
- Le French Diner
- Clinton Street Baking Co.
- Beauty & Essex
- Essex Market
- Pig and Khao
- Double Chicken Please
- Scarr’s Pizza
(Map) Best Lower East Side Restaurants
And there it is my friends! The Lower East Side restaurants. I hope you enjoyed the post.