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 stumble upon on a spring day.
Give your coffee addiction a breather and wander into Physical Graffitea, an underground teahouse boasting over 200 varieties. The ambiance is as funky as the Led Zeppelin album of the same name (which actually features the storefront on its cover!). Feeling under the weather? The staff is happy to lend suggestions on medicinal blends.
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 their own hair products in the shop!
Your sweet tooth cravings end here. And by here, we mean at Lady Wong, a delightful bakery specializing in kuih desserts. These colorful treats (typically rice-based) are a fixture in Southeast Asian street stalls. At this East 9th St shop the owners hone their Michelin-star training to dream up varieties that more closely resemble edible works of art. No judgment if you stash some to nosh on in your room later…
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 open for ticketed visits daily.
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.
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.
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 through timed tickets
, or you can snag free tickets with your room here
"From Legend to Discovery" Mural
You don’t have to venture far to scope out NYC’s famed street art scene! This year, The Standard, East Village has commissioned an art installation by celebrated Ukrainian artist WAONE. The mural, titled “From Legend to Discovery”, represents the resilience, life, and spirit of the Ukrainian community. Stroll by our East 5th Street wall (bordering The Garden) to see it for yourself.
At last! Spring is gracing us with its presence: AKA it’s time to soak in those longer days & rising temps. Whisk yourself away from the urban hustle + bustle with whimsical al fresco snacks and cocktails in The Garden. On chillier nights, stumble into a heated yurts for your coziest dining dreams. Reserve your outdoor hangs here!
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