17 Orchard Street. 212 300 4053.
Modern British. Easily the pick of the neighborhood, it's the perfect marriage of delicious modern, seasonal British fare in a hip but inviting space, which really stuns at night when it's bathed in candlelight. Best dishes on a recent visit were the grilled cheese and pickles, Scotch egg, kale Caesar salad and the roasted skate with apples, parsnips and brussel sprouts. They also own The Ledbelly across the street to bide your time for the inevitable wait, and have just expanded to the Upper East with the East Pole.
End of Freeman Alley, off Rivington betw Chrystie and the Bowery. 212.420.0012.
New American - Bar. Tucked away in an alley off Rivington St, this hidden gem prides itself on its original cocktails but also has rustic, simple fare like roast chicken and an outstanding artichoke dip.
il laboratio del gelato
188 ludlow st (entrance on east houston).
Gelato. The best gelato (and sorbet) in town and a must-visit if you're in the neighborhood (and if you live in NYC, thankfully Freshdirect sells it). Well over 50 normal and unique flavours.
113 Ludlow St, 2nd Floor.
Asian Fusion. You'll need to book a table at this tiny Phllipino, Thai, Southeast Asian spot. Standout dishes include the ahi tuna tartare and pan roasted scallops with kalamanzi and bacon.
132 Orchard Street.
Ice Cream. Best ice cream sandwiches in town, I always hunt down their cart that's stationed on the High Line. My favorite is the "Classic" (walnut chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream) but they have other fun flavors like the Lovelet (red velvet cake with cream cheese ice cream) or the Cinnamax (snickerdoodle cookie with cinnamon ice cream).
101 Rivington St, at Ludlow. 212.228.0027.
New American/Gastropub. Open til 4am, the chalet-style reclaimed wood décor plus simple affordable fare come with a few dozen beers on tap (plus many more by the bottle). From the same people of Fat Baby and Mason Dixon (the one with the mechanical bull).
Schiller's Liquor Bar
131 Rivington St, at Norfolk. 212.260.4555.
New American. Another picture perfect brasserie from Keith McNally with a reasonably priced global bistro menu: except for the steaks, all entrees are less than $20.
The Stanton Social
99 Stanton St, betw Ludlow and Orchard. 212.995.0099.
New American. Chef/owner Chris Santos teams up with Tao's Richard Wolf and Happy Ending's Peter Kane to bring a sophisticated wining and dining destination to the Lower East Side. A great option for brunch.
205 E Houston St, at Ludlow. 212.254.2246.
Kosher/Jewish. A tourist favourite since it appeared in the faked orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally. Just be ready with your order because it can get chaotic. The pastrami is legendary.
Loreley Restaurant and Biergarten
7 Rivington Street. 212.253.7077
If you can't get into Zum Schneider for Oktoberfest, this is your next best bet. We came here once (after refusing to wait 2 hrs to get into ZS) and it was a great alternative. Built after the Brauhaus in Cologne, Germany, we pitched up at one of the communal tables in the graveled patio beergarden out back, with gas lamps to keep us warm, drank our huge beers (they have a dozen German beers on tap) and had some perfectly decent, hearty German food.
ON THE RADAR
154 Orchard St. 212 529 8800
When it reopens, that is...after being shut down by the Health Department a number of times for violations, Danny Bowein closed his insanely popular SF-based Chinese restaurant and in the meantime opened Mission Cantina (Mexican).
Shopsin's at Essex St Market
120 Essex St, toward the South End of the Market.
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Open Wed-Saturday 9am-2pm, and Sun 10am-2pm.
The Essex St Market is reason alone to come down this way, but Shopsins on its own has a huge legion of foodie fans. The menu is literally insane - with everything from a couple dozen soups and sandwiches, to full breakfast, Tex-Mex offerings, pancake stacks, the famous duck gyro, and plenty of vegetarian options too.