The East Village may conjure visions of beat poets reading
from tattered notebooks, punks in Tompkins Square Park, worn-down tenements,
and...well, yeah, that’s part of it. The neighborhood, home to The Standard, East Village, south of 14th street and
north of Houston has a storied history and a wild legacy, and it’s these things
that make it one of New York’s most enduringly important (and culturally rich) neighborhoods.
As the city has changed around it, the East Village hasn’t
stayed the same either, but it’s always maintained a certain artistic spirit
and eccentricity that make it special, in both the enduring old school spots
hidden on its side streets and in the new class of restaurants, cafes, vintage
stores, clubs, and bars constantly popping up throughout the neighborhood.
We went ahead and rounded up some of the coolest, weirdest, most
East Village spots you can wander into or enjoy outdoors.
The East Village’s coffee game is strong, but Coffee Project takes things to a whole new level. From a deconstructed latte (in three parts) to their numerous house specials (try the Ginger Elixir, you’ll thank us later), this delightful and friendly spot is a perfect stop any time of day. Nestled on East 5th street, the cafe has a lovely little plaza out front for you to meet up with a friend, listen to a podcast, or read a book.
If you’re looking for a fresh, funky, classic or kooky cut, this is the place. Hairrari is a gender-neutral barbershop that offers a variety of services at really great prices. They specialize in undercuts, fades and chops, but have an amazing and dynamic team that can hook you up with any style. Plus, the vibes there are great. Everyone is super friendly and chatty (but not TOO chatty, if that’s not your thing while in the chair) and they’ve made everything safe and sanitized with stations spread apart, temperature checks and plenty of hand sanitizer. There's always a great playlist and they even sell cute handmade masks in the shop!
Brooks Headley is a monster. The former Del Posto pastry chef turned slinger of veggie burgers used to play in a metal band, but that’s not what makes him a beast. He’s a beast for turning his veggie burger pop-up into one of the most talked-about brick-and-mortar burger shops in the city. It’s totally worth the hype (and the line). The signature burger is meatless perfection, but don’t stop there—the sides are super inventive, and the labneh soft serve is a swirly cup of heaven.
Just a few blocks south of The Standard, East Village is one of the country’s best places to view contemporary art: The New Museum! Set in a stunning space on The Bowery, the museum is back open for their normal hours of operations with timed ticketing for visitors at 25% capacity.
The worst thing to do would be to come to Mast Books with a plan. If you have some time for a mission of discovery, you’ll really get the most out of your trip. From special editions to hard-to-find gems, Mast is a book lover's paradise. There’s nowhere to really hunker down and read, but that’s actually a good thing. If you get too absorbed in one book, you might miss all the other magic that’s hiding amongst the shelves.
Honestly, DROOL. This is one of our favorite neighborhood red sauce joints. It’s normally one of those quintessential packed, teeny downtown restaurants where you might accidentally take a fork from the table next to you instead of your own, but they’ve revamped things with a great outdoor setup for you to dive into a pizza or big bowl of pasta. If you’re a meat eater, the chicken parm is a must; the spaghetti limone is divine; they have affordable and delicious carafes of wine, and make a killer espresso martini.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, Mr. Throwback is one of the most unique vintage stores you’ll ever visit. Specializing in old school sports gear, they have hats, starter jackets, T-shirts and more, in classic styles from pretty much every baseball, basketball, and football team. The store has been around for many years, and the proprietors are more than happy to talk to you about the neighborhood. Don’t be shy—they certainly have a story to tell.
Joe’s Pub & The Public Theater
It’s tough for theaters and venues right now, so we need to give them some love and support. Joe’s Pub and The Public Theater are some of the coolest downtown spots for a cabaret, stand-up show, or live musical performance. Cackling to Bridget Everett while eating fries and drinking a beer is an experience that changes you. Truly. While the theater remains closed, they’ve developed a really robust program of podcasts, summits and virtual events that are definitely worth checking out.
There’s no shortage of amazing Thai restaurants in the East Village, and Fish Cheeks is truly top tier *chef’s kiss*. The colorful spot has spilled out onto Bond Street, which is stunning in and of itself, with some of the best residential new development in Manhattan to oogle at while you slurp your oysters. A self-proclaimed "No Pad Thai Zone," the creative menu focuses on seafood, with highlights including the coconut crab curry and shrimp chips with chili jam, but honestly, everything is bomb.
Tompkins Square Park
We like our greenery with a little grit in New York, and Tompkins Square Park, often leaning towards the latter, is an East Village icon. Get a coffee to-go from Café Standard and stroll through here for 30 minutes or less and you’re guaranteed a show. The park is always packed with colorful characters, artists, musicians, street performers, people walking dogs, all talking to each other or to themselves. Or if you’re craving a quieter moment, there’s plenty of lawn space to picnic, read, and spend time outside with friends. Dog watching at the dog park is always fun, too. Just remember the cardinal rule and hang by the gate if you choose that activity: “no dogs without people, no people without dogs.”
International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)
You down with I-C-P?! You should be! The International Center of Photography recently moved into a sprawling new space in the Lower East Side, a straight shot down The Bowery from the hotel. The museum is centered around the history, process, and future of imagemaking through an incredible collection of exhibitions, educational programs and workshops. The museum is back open on February 4 for in-person viewing through timed tickets
, with their new winter/spring cycle, But Still, It Turns
: Photography from the World, and they’re continuing amazing public programs virtually.
The Bowery Mural
The number of spots to see street art in New York City seems to be slowly shrinking, but The Bowery Mural Wall on the corner of Houston Street has remained a fixture. It first began in 1982 with work from Keith Haring, and has since evolved to be a curated project by Goldman Global Arts to feature both well-known and young, emerging artists to feature their art on a large scale. Also, it’s an ideal activity for these times - it’s fully outside!
Hunker down and cozy up for the season in our Winter Garden. You'll completely forget you're even in New York City; our alpine yurts are available for you and your crew to dive into fondue, burgers, oysters and more, plus we've got plenty of outdoor seating beneath heaters to sip spiked hot chocolate and share a plate of gingerbread cookies. Nestled among the evergreens, you'll feel oh-so-delightful this holiday season and beyond.