manhattan restaurant guide // week 4

As most of you know by now, the kind folks at OpenTable asked me to write about a few of our favorite restaurants in the city and I decided to turn it into a six week series!

Time for week 4 of our restaurant reviews. This week we're covering the cool, trendy, and delicious neighborhoods of the East Village and the Lower East Side. The East Village stretches from East of Broadway and South of 14th street to Houston.  The Lower East Side  is East of Bowery and South of Houston (see beautiful hand drawn map below).  

Many of our friends leave in these areas and we frequent them often. My favorite part about this section of the island is the diversity in the cuisine.  From noodles and dim sum in China Town (unfortunately, most of the good places in Chinatown don't take reservations), to tasty farm-to table eats, and some seriously good Italian, these neighborhoods have it all. Check out a few of our favorites below. To make reservations, click on over to the OpenTable New York City Restaurants page.

::: Where to Eat in the East Village & Lower East Side :::

CO-OP ::: In the über-chic Rivington Hotel, this place has amazing small plates in an awesome atmosphere. Great for girls night or a big group.

Freeman's ::: Literally hidden at the end of a little alley way, this place is adorable and rather large for LES. Multiple floors and rooms in a little old house. Good for dinner, drinks, and especially brunch, this is one of our favorites. They also have great rooms and party packages if you're looking to host an event.

The General ::: From Top Chef Hung Huynh, we love this place. It's dimily lit, and the innovative Asian dishes are surprising and yummy. Great for groups our a date. It's not just good food, but a fun experience.

Hearth ::: Like it's name suggests, this place is warm in all ways - ambience, menu, and staff. We tend to go in the colder months and share a braised meat or pasta dish. Cute neighborhood spot.

Hecho en Dumbo ::: When I first moved to New York, a cowoker of mine at the time knew how much I loved Mexican food and sent me his list of "decent" Mexican faire (it's hard to find good Mexican food here). This was top on his list and I have to agree with him. They also have a great prix-fixe chef's table menu for $65.

La Palapa ::: This is more like the Mexican food I'm used to from back home. Lots of rice, beans, and CHEESE.  Get the Queso Fundido. Relaxed, easy atmosphere and good prices. They also serve a stellar brunch.

Lil' Frankie's ::: I had my first real slice of New York style pizza here (that wasn't served over a deli counter) and was instantly hooked. Nothing fussy, just good pizza and pastas. They do great with large parties too. And I always giggle a little when I tell the cab driver I'm going to "First and First".

Narcissa ::: While we haven't been yet, our friends are raving about this spot at the new Standard East Village Hotel. I've heard of beautifully-created, farm-to-table eats (they call it 'Californian') with great service. It's very high up on our must-eat list. See you in August, Narcissa.

Schiller's ::: It seems as if just about every Keith McNally restaurant is making my lists. And rightfully so. Schiller's has McNally's standard subway tile, bottle-lined walls with yellow light. And the food is goooood. Mac and Cheese, deviled eggs, salads, you name it. There's really not a time of day when this place isn't bustling. Brunch, lunch, dinner, late night. Go here. 

The Smith ::: Just like The Smith in the Upper West Side, this version does not disappoint. Classic American Brasserie fare served in a casual yet cool setting. This spot in the East Village opens all of its large windows in the warmer months making it almost al-fresco dining. We love it.

The Stanton Social ::: I don't normally like restaurants that are known for their small plates, but this is an exception. Each dish is masterfully created and memorable. The Kobe Philly Sliders are my favorite. Great for groups who are down to share. Very hip vibe. You feel cool eating here...until you eat 17 appetizers and have to be carted out the door.

Village Pourhouse ::: This place isn't going to win any James Beard awards anytime soon, but I have to list it because we have been loyal fans for the past six years. One of the few places that shows every KU game, we go here to watch basketball (and that one year when we had a good football team) and are always met with friendly smiles, are standard booths, and really good bar food. Kansas fans in from out of town on a game day? This is your spot.

Did I miss any of your favorites? I feel like we don't make it down tho this neck of the woods quite as often as we used to. And looking at my mater restaurant spreadsheet, we have a LOT on our "must eat" list down here. Looks like we have some work to do. 

A recap of all the ground we've covered so far. Only two more weeks left!

Check out the previous posts in this series:

Thanks to OpenTable for reaching out. The OpenTable New York City Restaurants page is always my first stop when planning our dining.

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