Explore New York City

A Quick Guide to NYC's East Village

Explore East Village, a neighborhood with no shortage of eats, drinks and entertainment.

New York City is full of new favorites to discover, and the East Village is no different. A neighborhood that has been reinvented several times over—in the early to mid-20th century, it was an extension of the Lower East Side, with a large population of Russian and Ukranian Jews, until it morphed into an area for artists, students, beatniks in the 1950s, and then hippies in the 1960s—it is now considered one of the city’s most coveted spots to both visit and live. Pick an hour, an afternoon or a day to wander around this colorful neighborhood, where chances are good you are going to find the Next Big Thing, whether it be in eats, clothes or something else! 

Whether it's a new cuisine friends have been saying is the best, a new boutique that offers made-in-America mens clothing or just the idea of exploring a new neighborhood, East Village brings its A-game when it comes to quirky haunts to explore. Use this guide to traverse the area one block at a time to find what might just be a new favorite restaurant, bar or show that tickles your fancy.

Hanoi House Restaurant in NYC
Hanoi House has a fun vibe from the platings to the funky, fun sign out front. (Courtesy Hanoi House)

Eat: Some of the Best Restaurants in East Village

Ethnic eateries abound on St. Marks Place, including these two standouts. Vietnamese cuisine is big in NYC, and newcomer Hanoi House features crispy pig ears in foliage-filled digs. In contrast, pastel-hued La Palapa—now entering its 17th year—specializes in flavorful Mexican fare, both rustic dishes and street food.

Duck tacos and clock and dagger storefront in NYC
Left: Duck tacos at La Palapa. Right: Cloak & Dagger storefront (©Driely Carter)

Shop: Books, Fashion and More

East Village Books & Records is where bookworms can burrow for used tomes and tunes of all types. Cloak & Dagger blends contemporary designer wares and vintage pieces. At The Lodge, gents stock up on belts and satchels. Every inch of space is filled with games and diversions at toy shop Dinosaur Hill.

Where to Drink in East Village

Belly up to the raw bar—or snag a seat in the book-lined nook—at Goodnight Sonny, which offers several varieties of market-fresh oysters to down with its Dirty Bird, Cross Eyed Bear and other intriguingly named cocktails. Once the site of a speakeasy—you can still see bullet holes in the walls—tiny William Barnacle Tavern, which shares an address with Theater 80 St. Marks, features absinthe, a dark atmosphere and Celtic music on Monday nights. William Barnacle Tavern, 80 St. Marks Pl., 212.388.0388

The Orpheum Theatre, current home of “Stomp.” (Courtesy Steve McNicholas)

Play: The Best Attractions in East Village

Trash cans, hubcaps and other mundane objects make beautiful music at “Stomp” at the historic Orpheum Theatre. From magic shows to Negro Ensemble Company productions, there’s always something going on at Theater 80 St. Marks. Adjacent to it, the Museum of the American Gangster is an ode to the bad guys of bygone days.