Women-owned, plant-based, and in the heart of East Village, Luz Market + Restaurant is a spot you don’t want to miss. Flatbreads rule the day at Luz with tasty options like roasted crispy mushroom and pesto with almond ricotta. Guests rave about their bowls, but co-owner Raquel tells us there’s an even a hotter item, “Our zucchini noodles lasagna is definitely our most popular dish. Customers love how delicious it is, whether they are vegetarian or not.” Despite the rising number of vegan eateries opening in Manhattan, Raquel says, “There still isn’t enough. Here in the East Village, people want to try something new and feel good about what they eat. We promote that. Eat flatbread! Feel happy and full!.” Luz sports a gorgeous and spacious garden for outdoor patrons, and a brunch menu is currently in the works. Guests can also grab and go a few items off the menu, and we hear their soft-serve vegan ice cream is one to check out. We’ll see you at 97 St. Marks Pl in the East Village.
To enter Gongo, you must enter through Mine Craft Sushi and ask a waiter where Gongo is. Can you feel the anticipation yet? Make your way down a set of stairs, past a hall of lanterns, and to a nondescript curtain in true speakeasy fashion. Gongo sports an outstanding drink selection that features Japanese-inspired craft cocktails (and mocktails), fine sake, shōchū, spirits, wine, and singular upscale Japanese cuisine that reinterprets traditional Japanese flavors all in a sleek and intimate setting. Try their Mussels Saka Mushi, mussels steamed in sake, garlic, and butter. We’re also big fans of their Smoked Saba Bo Sushi, a cured and smoked mackerel sushi roll, a plate that’ll have you asking for more. Guests can enjoy large sashimi platters, roasted duck, and the shiokara for those looking for more of an adventurous bite. The shiokara is cured squid, and according to one local, it goes very well with sake. Try it for yourself at 15 St. Marks Pl between Astor Pl and 3rd Ave.
There is no drink menu per se at Joyface. Instead, they have a large bowl filled with the names of certain liquors and mixers, and it is up to you to pick out a few at random, and the bartender will make you a cocktail based on your chosen ingredients. If you’ve ever wondered what was it like to party in the 70s’, then Joyface has you covered and then some. This cocktail spot in the East Village has plush couches and rugs in wildly different colors, illustrations of tigers on the walls, a disco ball, and a functional waterbed in the corner for good measure. You could always order a traditional cocktail if the novelty wears off, but we love the randomness. Joyface also has a pretty sizable fireplace, so bring a date, pick out a few random ingredients from the bowl, and share in the disco fever. Find this 70s portal at 104 Avenue C between 7th St. and 6th St in East Village.
What started as a popup in 2019 from veteran chefs Jeffery Kim, Matthew Lee, and Victor Xia of Momofuku fame is now a thrilling new New Asian-American restaurant. If you’re wondering about the odd name, a Nudibranch is a mollusk, a soft-bodied gastropod known for its vibrant coloring yet seldom seen in plain sight. The restaurant’s name reflects a metaphor for the chefs’ philosophy on dining; like the elusive nudibranch, the owners see the restaurant as something beautiful and colorful worth discovering. The menu is truly something to behold for those looking to diversify their palate, from frog legs prepared with lemongrass, galangal, and ginger to a juicy turkey neck smothered in white sauce and hot sauce. We love the variety at $75/person, and you won’t find these offerings anywhere else. Sit back and enjoy the warm and intimate atmosphere of Nudibranch at 125 1st Ave between St Marks Pl and 7th St.
Spring forward and try something new and exciting at Raiz. At first glance, it may appear to be your typical Mexican spot in the East Village, but look a little closer, and you’ll find inventive takes on Mexican dishes like mindblowing vegan birria made with slow-cooked jack fruit topped with onions and cilantro. From corn soup to burritos and asada fries, Raiz has enough variety to keep you coming back for more. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the excellent creamy oat milk flan gently topped with candied hazelnuts, caramel, and raspberries. Find Raiz at 120 1st Ave between St Marks Pl and 7th St.
Fried Chicken sandwiches are all the rage. Isn’t it time to shake things up a bit? Rowdy Rooster looks to do just that with ingredients and spices inspired by the local cuisine of Northern India. Here, the fried chicken is crunchy, smothered in yogurt and pickled onions, and served on soft, buttery pao buns. Have a preference for spice level? There are three, and the highest level will have you sweating before the second bite. We recommend getting the crispy potato pakora as a side as you enjoy the chicken sandwich. Find Rowdy Rooster at 149 1st Ave between St Marks Pl and 9th St. The space is small and sits about seven people, but Rowdy Rooster offers takeout for as long as they still have stock. Better get there fast.
Dumplings can be fun, can’t they? Nestled amidst the wide variety of shops in St. Marks Pl is the colorful and inviting Dumplings N’ Dips. The interior looks like something out of a Tron movie. The menu is surprisingly diverse, and the dips are essential. Try the octopus dumplings and the green curry; it’s a match made in dumpling heaven when dipped in their spicy lime sauce. The shrimp sticks are also a good bet when paired with a side of sweet ginger sauce. The menu is pretty accessible as well. From gluten-free options to vegan, there is something for everyone. Their chive noodles are a must-try at just over $11 with vegetables and soup on the side. Bring the whole gang at 5 St Marks Pl between Astor Pl and 3rd ave.
Did you know that the Bronx Brewery turned ten years old last year? The beloved South Bronx beer haven, Bronx Brewery, introduces a new brewery to add to the family. Bronx Brewery East Village, located at 64 2nd Ave, in the heart of East Village, combines limited-release brewing, art & music from Y-Series (beer brand) creative collaborators, and the first-ever U.S. location for Swedish burger brand Bastard Burgers. Not a bad way to celebrate the 10th anniversary. Bastard Burgers is an award-winning Sweden-based burger outfit praised for its quality beef and extensive vegan choices. We’re big fans of the Stockholm burger made with caramelized onions, jalapeños, bacon, tomato, burger lettuce, agave jalapeño dressing, and pepper jack cheese. How can you resist?
From 7 am to 3 pm, Hekate Cafe and Elixir Lounge serve coffee drinks every day. After 3 pm? The witches come out to play. We are not kidding. After 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, "resident witches" offer tarot card readings and serve ‘magical elixirs.’ While we don’t have much information on these concoctions, co-owners Abby Ehmann and Brooklyn Roasting Company founder Jim Munson invite guests to join them in tastings. Abby says, “Hekate Café and Elixir Lounge will be a warm space infused with feminine energy, serving coffee and espresso drinks, specialty teas, and magical elixirs. There will also be interesting merchandise for sale with an emphasis on the mystical.” Visit their website for a lengthy list of upcoming events. You can find this whimsical cafe at 167 Avenue B between 10th Street and 11th Street.
For those wondering about the name, we were too. According to co-owners Telly Justice and Camille Lindsey, “We were thinking about names that are about femininity, but that are unpopular,” Lindsley says. “It’s both ‘have a good summer and a slant against ‘old hags,’ or witchy women—so, we thought it would be fun.” The restaurant expects to sit about 20 people and mainly focus on seasonal ingredients featuring some Southern techniques and flavors. Ultimately, the menu is a reflection of the pair’s queer experience. “Queer potlucks, picnics in the park, and sardines on the beach—these formative queer hangout moments that are our most significant food memories—that’s what’s driving the vision of the menu,” Justice says. HAGS will also hold special programming such as “Pay What You Can Sundays,” featuring a menu that the restaurant will offer on a sliding scale to whoever is hungry. It is all about the community and creating a safe space for all queer people. HAGS is set to open at 1st avenue and 10th street in the East Village.
Don’t be turned off by the abundance of duck images and puns. Embrace them. The Ugly Duckling is a multi-level sports bar in the East Village blasting 90s music and serving delectable dishes. From an exhaustive list of traditional and boneless chicken wing flavors to seafood options and sandwiches, there’s enough here to satisfy just about any palate. Grab one of their “Ducktales” like the “Feeling Lucky” made with serrano chili-infused tequila, lime, grapefruit, agave, and soda. Treat yourself to a fun photo opp featuring an entire wall adorned with rubber ducks. There’s a lot more to see at The Ugly Duckling, but we don’t want to spoil it all. Find this party gem at 106 3rd ave between 14th street and 13th.
We love their slogan. “Travel by sandwich. Internationally inspired sandwiches made with local ingredients.” The unusual word Coddiwomple is a verb meaning “to venture into the unknown.” Coddiwomble’s East Village location will be the third location in NYC, following successful runs in the Upper East Side and Hells Kitchen. Sandwich lovers have a varied menu of signature sandwiches to choose from. Try the Roman Holiday; a toasty delight made with prosciutto, mozzarella, pesto, fresh tomatoes, arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette on ciabatta. Need something lighter? Coddiwomple also offers salads and two soups, zucchini soup, and classic creamy tomato soup to warm up your day. Unlike their other locations, customers can dine in at this one. Grab a seat at 213 1st Ave between East 13th and 12th street.
Feel the jolt. Electric Burrito storms into the East Village with California-style Burritos, and we can’t get enough. Try their irresistible burritos and tacos stuffed with french fries and a side of pico de gallo to get your day rolling. You can also choose surf-and-turf burritos and quesadillas, among other California-inspired favorites. Get it while it's hot at 81 Saint Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003.
Coffee fans have reason to celebrate with the North American debut of the renowned Nordic coffee company La Cabra brewing its way into town this week. Enjoy a crisp cold brew or a sweet and savory croissant at 152 2nd Ave in the heart of the East Village.