Because there are more beloved East Village BBQ joints, fry windows, and ramen slingers than you can shake a juicy, delicious deckle burger at, someone had to show you the way. Check out our 12 main squeezes.
Note: for these purposes we're considering the East Village boundaries to be: 14th St to Houston, and the East side of Bowery to the West side of Avenue A. Technical.
Best Italian: Frank
88 2nd Ave
With a damn-charming white picket fence around the front patio and tremendous portions of comfort pastas like rigatoni al ragu and handmade ravioli, it kind of feels like Grandma’s, except no one’s forcing you into seconds. Mainly because the pastas are very heavy and you’re an autonomous adult now.
Best pizza: Motorino
349 E 12th St
Remember when you were a kid and hated Brussels sprouts because your mom only knew how to boil them? And then sometime in the late aughts someone decided to roast them and nothing was the same? Remember?? Well, now those once loathed lil’ cabbages are all fired up, sittin’ pretty with pecorino and pancetta atop what’s arguably the best pizza in the city.
Best ramen: Ippudo
65 4th Ave
As the Japanese chain’s first international location, it’s also one of the first real-deal ramen spots, and likely the catalyst behind the entire craze. If you eat all your noodles before the broth runs out, use your noodle and say "Kae-dama!" to order an extra ball of... noodles.
Best cheesesteak (and Juicy Lucy): Whitmans
406 E 9th St
Although this tiny white-bricked sandwich shack is known for its Minnesota-honoring, pimento cheese-stuffed Juicy Lucy, the upscale cheesesteak with its perfectly flaky, chewy hoagie roll is a sleeper hit. The place is almost too cool for school, but not cloyingly so, and the kale Parmesan salad is genuinely effing excellent, which is weird because, you know, kale.
Best brunch that's not stupid and loud: Cafe Mogador
101 St Marks Pl
For a refreshing, cheap brunch option that’s not a totally insufferable process, this St. Marks standby is your spot. But definitely don’t stop at breakfast -- all the classic Moroccan and Mediterranean fare being served up (since 1983) is on point.
Best burger: Brindle Room
277 E 10th St
Forget the East Village, this is one of the best burgers in the city. Composed of ground beef, steak trimmings, and deckle -- the heavily marbled, super-flavorful fatty outer layer of a ribeye -- the Steakhouse burger’s got a cast-iron crisp sear and a plain-ol' white bun to soak up all the juice. You’d be crazy to order anything else. Except for the Italian fries. You should definitely order those, too.
Best sushi bar: Jewel Bako
239 E 5th St
You could get the seared red snapper, shiso, ume, cucumber roll, or the crispy sea bass, but the real move is the chef’s omakase tasting menu. The tunnel-like joint has received a Michelin star every year for the past ten, so you’re in good hands.
Best Asian food empire: All the Momofukus
This one is almost too easy. David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar started it all back in 2004. His reign has since spread to a straight-up absurd number of distinct restaurants. He basically owns the East Village at this point: steamed pork bun-slinger Ssäm Bar, Milk Bar bakery (try the Crack Pie!), and wood-laden, experimental cocktail bar Booker and Dax are the ultimate trifecta on 13th and 2nd, and tiny, hard-to-reserve, crown jewel Momofuku Ko is down on 1st.
Best cheap eats: Xi'an Famous Foods
81 St. Marks Pl
Xi’an (the former capital city in Western China) cuisine is characterized by spicy, hand-stretched noodles and a lot of sour vinegar. Simple stuff at this Flushing original, like the Liang Pi, a seitan-based vegetarian dish in a special sauce, is traditionally meant to be eaten on the go, but never in take-out form -- your noodles will get “bloated, mushy, and oily”, according to at least 47 in-house and online warning signs.
Best sandwich: Ducks Eatery
351 E 12th St
This is no entry-level sandwich. With Vietnam brisket that’s been marinated in chili paste and fish sauce, house-made smoked ricotta, red cabbage, and an English muffin covered in master fat (the drippings from the pit), it’s pretty advanced, and only available on Tuesdays. And it doesn’t stop there -- the menu is rife with creative delights like smoked goat’s neck and crispy pig ears.
Best BBQ: Mighty Quinn's Barbeque
103 2nd Ave
Ducks may get the sandwich shout out, but Mighty Quinn’s non-Vietnamese BBQ, with its straight-forward wood-smoked ribs, brisket, and sausage, is the ticket. It’s counter service, so it’s also the literal ticket.
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1. Frank Restaurant88 2nd Ave, New York
2. Motorino349 E 12th St, New York
3. Ippudo65 4th Ave, New York
4. Whitmans406 E 9th St, New York
5. Cafe Mogador101 Saint Marks Pl, New York
6. Brindle Room277 E 10th St, New York
7. Jewel Bako239 E 5th St, New York
8. Xi'an Famous Foods67 Bayard St, New York
9. Crif Dogs113 Saint Marks Pl, New York
10. Ducks Eatery351 E 12th St, New York
11. Mighty Quinn's BBQ103 2nd Ave, New York
In 1998, Frank opened with the aim of bringing both authentic and affordable Italian grub to NYC. With rave reviews, it's grown over the years into a 60-seat resto with an insanely extensive wine list (read: over 750 Italian wines), outdoor patio, wine cellar, and the same simple eats that've had customers returning for years.
Lauded as one of the best pizza places in the country by average Joes and pie experts alike, Motorino -- which started in Brooklyn -- is king in the East Village. You can’t go wrong with any of the traditional and innovative flavor combos -- the classic Neapolitan-style pies are oven-baked to perfection and served with a charred crust -- but we recommend the Brussels sprouts pie topped with Pecorino and pancetta.
As the flagship (and first international) location of the acclaimed Japanese ramen empire, the East Village's Ippudo holds one of the catalyst titles for the noodle craze. Get there past 5pm and you'll bear witness to the restaurant's absurd popularity due to its ultra-rich tonkotsu pork ramen with house-made noodles, and secret "Umami Dama" in the Akamaru Modern bowl.
Famous for its rendition on the Juicy Lucy -- a burger with a cheese-stuffed meat patty, for you amateur gluttons -- Whitmans delivers on the American Dream with indulgent burgers and rich sides like deep-fried crack kale, fried pickles, and sweet potato fries. The ground-floor counter service is grab-and-go, but the downstairs dining area offers a more intimate and leisurely setting in which to court your peanut butter-bacon burger.
This casual, family-owned Moroccan/Mediterranean cafe is perpetually packed on the weekends with the East Village brunch crowd, but it's seriously worth the wait. Since 1987, Cafe Mogador has offered a number of traditional menu items -- such as lamb tagine with a spicy green chermoula sauce and couscous -- alongside elegant cocktails and an impressive wine list.
This East Village gastropub specializes in some of New York's favorite things: American comfort food, small plates, and weekend brunch. While regulars love the Brindle Room for its decadently simple Steakhouse Burger (topped with American cheese and caramelized onions), the specials menu is not to be overlooked.
You could get the seared red snapper, shiso, ume, cucumber roll, or the crispy sea bass, but the real move is the chef’s Omakase tasting menu. Jewel Bako has receive many a Michelin stars - so you're in good hands.
Named after the resting place of the famous terra cotta soldiers, the Chinatown satellite of this New York City chain boasts incredible fast/casual (but nonetheless authentic) Northern Chinese dishes. Xi'an Famous Foods is also a family-owned chain that, one day at a time, is reintroducing the rich cuisine of their homeland, which includes cold and hand-pulled noodles, soup, and flat bun burgers.
Crif Dogs is to hot dogs like Katz's is to pastrami and Russ & Daughters is to lox. The house-made dogs come in a variety of styles -- go big with one of the bacon-wrapped dogs, like the Tsunami, which comes with a healthy dosage of teriyaki, pineapple, and green onions, or keep it simple with the deep-fried corn dog (made with a super secret batter, of course). Crif Dogs' original location, in the heart of Alphabet City, is home to the phone booth entrance that leads to one of the city's most iconic speakeasies, PDT.
Texas barbecue and Vietnamese fare are the perfect couple at Ducks Eatery in the East Village, where the two cuisines come together to create fusion, one-of-a-kind meat dishes like brisket marinated in fish sauce and chili paste, and curry-laced goat neck. Most plates are meant to be shared -- and paired with an unpretentious cocktail or beer from the sizable roster.
This fast-casual BBQ joint has multiple outposts in the city, but the original holds strong at its 6th Street East Village location, bringing the sweet smell of smoked meat to 2nd Avenue. There's a real authentic flavor here, whereas many BBQ spots in the city have an artificial smokiness to their meat. The fall-apart brisket at Mighty Quinns doesn't even require sauce, but you might want to add one of the local drafts on tap to your order.