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What to Do on The Lower East Side

December 28, 2014 - by City Guide
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This Lower East Side is often thought of as a gritty bohemia that attracts young hipsters with funky boutiques, understated restaurants, and nightlife. Bordered by Houston Street, the Bowery, and the East River, the Lower East Side once attracted many Jewish immigrants, and the generous delis in the area still serve up heaping portions of pastrami on rye.

For decades, the neighborhood has been synonymous with immigrants housed in cramped tenements determined to make their dreams come true. Today, this cultural mecca is home to emerging artists, young professionals, and innovative shopkeepers determined to do the same.

LES NEWS: Erik Blauberg, chef at the renowned 21 Club, has now opened his own 70-seat restaurant on the LES, called Stanton Street Kitchen (178 Stanton Street) . The menu features small dishes such as sugar pea risotto with crepes and delicata squash, homemade tagliatelle with hen of the woods mushrooms and wild boar sausage, and port-braised oxtail with foie gras and fava bean ravioli. Larger plate selections will include a 42-ounce porterhouse and truffle-crusted wild salmon. Large wine list and a larger 100+ beer list of bottled and seasonal beer will be available.

Meow Parlour (46 Hester Street), New York City’s first ever "cat cafe," is now open!! Created by Christina Ha, co-owner of Macaron Parlour, the parlour will have adoptable cats from KittyKind while an adjoining patisserie will offer baked goods, macarons and Blue Bottle Coffee. The space can accommodate roughly 12 cats and 30 people. There will be a modest service fee of $4 per half hour to mingle with the kitties.

The Lower East Side remains a neighborhood synonymous with immigration, displaying signs in English, Spanish and Chinese. The old-world shops remain, as well as the traditional Sunday street vendors and the Jewish delis, but they now sit side-by-side with trendy boutiques, funky cafes, art galleries, and velvet-roped nightspots. Located south of Houston Street between First Avenue and Ludlow Street, and right around the corner from Chinatown and Little Italy, the Lower East Side attacts both natives and tourists alike with its history, culture, unique character, shopping, and nightlife. It’s a true mix of the classic and the contemporary. Here’s how to get a taste of the Lower East Side, where you’ll travel through time in a matter of blocks.

Located in the heart of the shopping district at 261 Broome Street, the Visitor's Center is the perfect place to start your visit. Their staff can assist you with information about local dining, sightseeing and shopping. Call 866-226-0206 or visit

Tour the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a preserved tenement serving as tribute to the 7,000 people from 20 nations who once lived here. View fully restored apartments and hear stories of immigrant families who struggled to survive and then flourish in the U.S. Call to schedule a tour.

Visit the Museum at Eldridge Street, an exquisite structure completed in 1887 as the first Eastern European synagogue in the city. A restoration project initiated in 1986, it now houses many public programs and events, as well as Sabbath and holiday services. Tours are also available.

Discount shopping is one of the neighborhood’s biggest draws, and bargain hunters will love the eclectic mix of fashion and fabric shops on Orchard Street.

The highly curated Hester Street Fair operates Saturdays and Sundays from late April until late October, paying tribute to the neighborhood's "pushcart roots" with one-of-a-kind items and specialty foods.

Investigate the LES’ unique character and offerings, a hub for home decorations and boutiques. Vintage stores cover the 1940s to the 1980s, and a variety of new designers have set up shop in the neighborhood.

Katz's Delicatessen NYC

Famous for its bialys and savory pickles from a barrel, the LES has expanded its menu in recent years. Check out Katz’s Delicatessen, the oldest and largest in the city, serving some of the best pastrami on rye around. Or grab some amazing homemade gelato at Il Laboratorio del Gelato. The Meatball Shop has quickly become a huge neighborhood favorite (be prepared to wait). And that’s just a sampling…

The Lower East Side has truly evolved into one of New York’s most eclectic areas brimming with culture and history.

Dining on the Lower East Side quick links:
Katz's Delicatessen.

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