The East Village has arguably been one of New York’s coolest neighborhoods for decades. And while some of the area’s most popular spots are seen on every tourist itinerary, the streets below 14th Street are packed with hidden small shops, restaurants, bars, and beyond. Whether you live in the East Village and are ready to explore beyond your regular haunts or are just seeing the neighborhood for the first time, here are some lesser known gems to check out as you walk through the bustling streets of lower Manhattan.
Known for serving some of the best espresso in New York City (and you must try the olive oil cake!), this tiny, table-free coffee shop is often passed by. Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall appearance fool you—all that’s needed is an espresso machine and high-quality beans to pull an impressive shot, and this East Village spot certainly has that. Grab a drink to go or sip quickly at the
windowsill to make room for the next crew of coffee drinkers.
Via Della Pace
Via Della Pace
This cozy, cash-only East Village Italian restaurant isn’t nearly as buzzed about as some of its neighborhood counterparts (Frank, Lavagna), but it’s just as good when it comes to pizza and pasta. The dimly lit, exposed-brick dining room is undeniably romantic—you’ll be tempted to Lady and the Tramp your homemade fettuccine in sausage and pork rib meat sauce no matter who you’re with.
The Eddy is part restaurant, part tiny cocktail bar, so don’t pass up an opportunity to try some of the best drinks in New York, usually without the wait that some more well-known establishments (cough, PDT, cough, Employees Only) always have. Sit at the bar or a nearby table for two or three and sip creatively named and mixed concoctions like the @LauraFallsDown, made with cachaça, persimmon, aji amarillo, tiki salt, green coffee, and more ingredients unique to even the mixology enthusiast.
Everyone knows about the popular East Village ramen spots—Minca, Ippudo, Zen 6, Rai Rai Ken—but another Japanese noodle soup has a great slurping spot in the neighborhood: Udon. Raku’s homemade noodles are soft and delightfully swirlable in their flavorful broths with toppings like tender short rib, mushroom tempura, kelp, and beyond. Manhattanites: You can also order Raku via Caviar if exploring this hidden gem from the comfort of your apartment appeals to you.
Nai Tapas Bar
Long before the small plates trend took off, Nai Tapas Bar was serving up the original small plates—tapas—with plenty of sangria on the side. Bring a group to try a little bit of everything in this no-frills joint, where you can enjoy classics such as croquetas, patatas bravas, and gambas al ajillo, as well as more unique, East Village–esque tapas like the tempura-fried short rib with spicy avocado sauce and the pork belly with caramelized pecans and yuca chips over a cream of carrot.