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Where to Eat on the Lower East Side

January 8, 2016 - by Mari Gold
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The Lower East Side, abbreviated by many New Yorkers as simply the "LES," is the area roughly between the Bowery and the East River and Canal and Houston (that's pronounced 'House-ton') Streets downtown. Formerly an immigrant area considered crowded and unsanitary, the mid-2000s brought the start of major gentrification. Today's LES is a vibrant area with chic shops, hot music venues, and lots of great restaurants. We've got a rundown of the best places to eat on the Lower East Side.

Katz's Delicatessen

Katz' Delicatessen

Photo: Katz' Delicatessen/Instagram

This iconic deli, featured in many movies (including the famous "I'll have what she's having" scene in, When Harry Met Sally) serves oversized hand-carved sandwiches. Both the pastrami and corned beef are top of the list. 205 E Houston St., 212-254-2246, katzsdelicatessen.com

Birds & Bubbles

Chef Sarah Simmons makes the combo of fried chicken and champagne an incredible treat, although the red-eye pork chop with broccoli rabe and pickled golden raisins is no slouch either. And those buttermilk biscuits! On a warm sunny day hit the back deck. 100B Forsyth St., 646-368-9240, birdsandbubbles.com

The Boil

Just about the only spot downtown where you can belly up to a massive bag of messy, delicious crawfish. Bring your best bib and bring cashno credit cards. 139 Chrystie St., 212-925-8815, theboilny.com

Café Katja

A dark, woodsy Austrian spot for mugs of German beer and comfort food. For a feel for their definition of a sausage, try the bernerwurstel, a pork sausage wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese, or the family plate with several varieties served for two or more. 79 Orchard St., 212-219-9545, cafekatja.com

Contra

A design-y, avant-garde spot that does an oft-changing set menu of colorful small plates featuring seasonal, local foods. 138 Orchard St., 212-466-4633, contranyc.com

Fat Radish

A cool kid clientele adores this hipstervore haunt that serves lots of chic veggies; in a nod to the house's Brit roots, there's also plenty of meat and seafood. 17 Orchard St., 212-300-4053, thefatradishnyc.com

Freemans

Just past a menswear shop at the end of an alley lies a rustic bi-level American tavern featuring fine grub and stylish drinks. Despite the hidden location, expect to find crowds of stylish diners. 191 Chrystie St. (enter from Rivington), 212-420-0012, freemansrestaurant.com

Georgia’s East Side BBQ

One of the only pre-haute barbecue spots in downtown Manhattan. Expect a tiny (not even a bathroom) checkered-tablecloth setting where pulled pork and other high-flavored sandwiches rule. 192 Orchard St., 212-253-6280, georgiaseastsidebbq.com

Grey Lady

A spot perenially in the running for best lobster roll on a menu divided into Raw, Snacks, Sea, and Land. 77 Delancey St., 646-580-5239, greyladynyc.com

Happy Ending

The second coming of a raucous club, now in the form of a hidden-away French restaurant with snacks, chef's plates, and all manner of deliciousness, both for eating and drinking. 302 Broome St., 646-998-3184, happyending-nyc.com

Ivan Ramen

The New York flagship of one of the most respected ramen chefs in the world, who combines his New York roots with a love of all things Japanese. Check out the Cony Island Tofu and the salt ramen. 25 Clinton St., 646-678-3859, ivanramen.com

Mission Cantina

Non-conformist Mexican food ranges between super-tasty burritos and a take on queso fundido that skews Vietnamese. The place is painfully hip and very popular. 172 Orchard St., 212-254-2233, missioncantinany.com

Pies ‘n’ Thighs

Pies n Thighs

Pies n Thighs/Facebook

Lauded as "Best Donut" and "Best Biscuits" in New York, not to mention "Best Apple Pie" and "Best Fried Chicken" in national surveys, these standouts (as well as the mac & cheese and rotating selection of killer pies) show comfort food at the top of its game. 43 Canal St., 212-431-7437, piesnthighs.com

Pig & Khao

If the combination of Filipino pork shank and a bottomless Yuengling keg is what you’re looking for, this is the place to be. A great spot to spend a casual Saturday afternoon. 68 Clinton St., 212-920-4485, pigandkhao.com

Prohibition Bakery

Prohibition Bakery Old Fashioned Cupcake

Two young bakers came up with recipes for booze-spiked mini-cupcakes, ready for consumption at this tiny Clinton Street bakery, or for gifting or hoarding at home, as you see fit. 9 Clinton St., 646-596-8294, prohibitionbakery.com

Russ & Daughters

For more than 100 years, Russ & Daughters has been selling bagels, caviar, and some of the best smoked fish ever. 179 E. Houston St., 212-475-4880, russanddaughters.com

Russ & Daughters Cafe

Russ & Daughters Café

The new sit-down café version of the over-the-counter legend. Get caviar on your latkes and sturgeon on your bagel. It's still unpretentious and fabulous. 127 Orchard St., 212-475-4881, russandaughterscafe.com 

Sauce

Part corner butcher and part farmhouse with Italian wines and everything related to red sauce. One of the better deals in the neighborhood. 78 Rivington St., 212-420-7700, saucerestaurant.com

Schapiro’s Eatery & Cocktail Bar

New American food with a distinctly Jewish tilt serving pan-roasted chicken, potato dumplings, meatloaf, and hot pastrami. Good cocktails, too. 120 Rivington St., 212-466-3360, schapirosnyc.com

Schiller’s Liquor Bar

A vibrant, casual French-inspired spot for lunch, brunch, dinner, and supper. The frites with the steak are standouts, and the whole operation is open into the wee hours. 131 Rivington St., 212-260-4555, schillersny.com

Sweet Chick

Chicken, waffles, Kool-Aid cocktails, and the occasional spontaneous performance from a Wu-Tang Clan member are among the highlights of this hipster hot spot. 178 Ludlow St., 646-657-0233, sweetchicknyc.com

Vanessa’s Dumplings 

No-frills spot churns out fried an steamed dumplings, smoothies, noodles, and other Chinese faves. A nabe fave for food that's both quick and cheap. 118A Eldridge St., 212-625-8008, vanessas.com

Yonah Schimmel Knish's Bakery

Serving the city’s favorite knishessavory, sweet and nostalgic mounds of carby joyfor more than a century. 137 E. Houston St., 212-477-2858, knisherynyc.blogspot.com

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