New York's Great Food Neighborhoods: The Lower East Side
One of New York City's Best Food Destinations
New York's Lower East Side is one of the city's great food neighborhoods. While it is undergoing a transformation and new residents are calling it home, so far the area is resisting complete gentrification and is evolving into a rich mix of its Jewish immigrant origins, hipsters, long-time Hispanic residents, and spillovers from adjacent Chinatown and SoHo.
What to Buy
There is much to see, explore and buy in the neighborhood. The food stores offer a combination of artisanal products, traditional Jewish foods sold by 5th generation merchants, and specialty purveyors who have only recently opened for business. Bring a string bag and cash because not every place takes credit cards.
Here's a suggestion of some things you could buy on this tour but you'll find much to tempt you:
- Mango glazed and Valrhona chocolate doughnuts at The Doughnut Plant
- Spicy whole sour pickles (great sliced on a sandwich) from The Pickle Guys
- Hand cut horseradish from Guss' Pickles
- Organic nuts and dried fruit or Michel Cluizel chocolates from The Sweet Life
- Bulk "penny" candies that you haven't had since you were a kid, from Economy Candy
- A gluten-free red velvet cupcake and an iced tea at Baby Cakes
- Meltingly tender cheese curds, organic eggs and goat milk from Saxelby Cheesemongers
- Bold and buttery aged pecorino di fossa and custom-bottled extra virgin olive oil from Formaggio Essex Market
- Australian leg of lamb from Jeffrey's Meats in the Essex Street Market
- A potato knish from Yonah Schimmel (perfection with a dab of mustard)
- Spanish tortillas from Batista Mini Market in the Essex Street Market
- Herring and smoked fish from Russ & Daughters
- A half-pound of organic just-roasted coffee from The Roasting Plant
- A small producer Chianti selected for your price range by owner Gabrio at DeVino wine store
Here is a suggested itinerary and a list of some of the most loved merchants in NYC that you'll find along the way.
- By Subway: F, J, M or Z train to Delancey Street. Exit the train to come above ground at the corner of Delancey and Essex Streets.
- Walk from Delancey heading south on Essex Streets 2 blocks to Grand St.
• The Pickle Guys, 49 Essex Street, between Grand and Hester
• Kossar's Bialys, 367 Grand St., between Essex and Norfolk Sts.
• The Doughnut Plant, 379 Grand St. between Essex and Norfolk Sts.
- Continue south on Essex Street 1 more block to Hester St.
• The Sweet Life, 63 Hester St. at Ludlow
- Continue west across Hester one block and turn right uptown onto Orchard St. and up 2 blocks toward Broome.
• The Roasting Plant, 81 Orchard St., between Grand/Broome Sts.
• Guss' Lower East Side Pickles, 85-87 Orchard St. at Broome St.
• Baby Cakes, 248 Broome St., between Orchard/Ludlow Sts.
- Walk across Ludlow, up Essex Street 1 block to the Essex Street Market, 120 Essex St.
• Jeffrey's Meats
• New Star Fish
• Formaggio Essex Market
• Saxelby Cheesemongers
• Batista Mini Market
• Luis Meat Market
• Casa Tua (fresh pasta and sauces)
- Walk up Essex Street and turn left onto Rivington St.
• Economy Candy, 108 Rivington St.
- Retrace your steps on Rivington St. walking 3 blocks to Suffolk St.
• Streit's Matzo Company, 148 Rivington St.
- Continue on block on Rivington and turn left onto Clinton St., walking 2 blocks to Stanton St.
• De Vino Wine Store, 30 Clinton St.
- Walk up Clinton 1 block and turn left onto East Houston St.
• Russ & Daughters, 179 E. Houston St.
• Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, 137 E. Houston St.
- If you have the stamina to do more than food, the Lower East Side is adjacent to the Bowery where many restaurant supply stores are located, including Bowery Restaurant Supply at 183 Bowery, at Delancey St.
If there's anything you still need to buy, there is a Whole Foods located on the southwest corner of East Houston and Allen Streets. But after visiting some of New York's best and most authentic merchants, you may find a national grocer a pale choice.
Take a Break
While walking the neighborhood, you'll find many places to stop for a cold drink or lunch. Here are a few to spot:
- Katz's Deli: 205 E. Houston St. New York's oldest deli, famed for "send a salami to your boy in the Army." Great pastrami, corned beef, brisket, fries, hot dogs and other satisfying foods.
- 88 Orchard Street: salads, sandwiches, sweets, cold drinks including beer and wine, and outdoor seating in nice weather.
- Castillo de Jagua: 113 Rivington St. Excellent Spanish/Cuban food and sandwiches.
- Il Laboratorio del Gelato: 95 Orchard St. Italian gelati made right there.
- Coffee, cold drinks and sweets are also available at Baby Cakes, The Doughnut Plant, and The Roasting Plant.