Only in America can a Korean-American kid growing up in Los Angeles go on to win a Michelin award for Japanese ramen and then launch a chain of Nashville hot chicken restaurants in the Atlanta metro area. At Scoville Hot Chicken, guests can choose between various heat levels, from a tame yet tasty SHU ~2500 to the blazing SHU ~50,000, and that's not even the hottest one available. The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spiciness or "Heat") of chili peppers, as recorded in Scoville heat units (shu). You can try their coveted ‘reaper’ spicy level, said to be over SHU ~1,000,000. The story of Scoville Hot Chicken is an unusual one. Scoville Hot Chicken offers sandwich combos for under $12 and a sizable list of soft drinks to wash all the heat away. We recommend their agave vanilla cream soda or fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade. Ask yourself this question, what spicy level are you? Let us know what spicy level you endured when you visit Scoville Hot Chicken at 117 Orchard St. between Rivington St. and Delancey.
If it looks and sounds like a food truck, it's probably Viva Birria. Viva Birria began as an in-house taco experience at Orchard Street bar, Boys Don’t Cry. We love the eye-catching storefront. Is that an actual tire? Viva’s signature menu item is a Mexican beef stew served with tortillas, available in beef, pork shoulder, and jackfruit versions. Try their “world famoso” red tacos with your choice of meat and Oaxaca cheese on a corn tortilla seared in their signature red chili oil. A popular dish among locals is their chunky consomme and chips, made with beef birria and gluten-free tortilla chips. You can find Viva Birria at 153 Ludlow St. between Stanton and Rivington St.
Who says you can’t play with your food? Funny Face Bakery specializes in hand-painted cookies featuring celebrity faces. In 2016, Cupcake Market first made headlines with its unique yet playful premise. In 2019, the bakery relaunched as Funny Face Bakery to more accurately describe its specialty. The bakery still sells cakes and other cookies, but it is now much more focused on the popular face cookies. While customers can opt for pre-made designs like a Nicholas Cage cookie or a funny catch-phrase from the 80s, Funny Face Bakery also allows you to customize your own edible creation. At an order minimum of 10, Custom face cookies will run you about $20 each, animal designs for $22, and custom object designs for $16. What will you create? Find Funny Face Bakery at 319 Lafayette St between Houston St. and Bleeker St.
Grab a seat and experience what many on the Lower East Side call the best-kept secret in Omakase dining. Fifteen fresh and creative courses, including dessert and complimentary sake, for less than $100 make Takumi easily one of Manhattan's most affordable Omakase options. Standout pieces include the firefly squid with shiso leaf and miso vinegar and seared A5 wagyu beef with yuzu pepper paste. Guests get approximately 75 minutes to relax and chow down, but the staff does not make you feel rushed. Currently, Takumi Omakase is BYOB, so don’t forget to bring your preferred beverage. Get in on the secret and find Takumi Omakase at 181 Essex St. between Stanton St. and Avenue A.
Gem Wine feels like going to a cool friend’s house who’s really into wine. The sleek yet simplistic approach to decor creates a relaxed atmosphere. Run by veteran chef Flynn McGarry, Gem Wine is a neighborhood wine bar steps away from his restaurant aptly named Gem on Forsyth Street. The wine bar nearly mirrors its sister location in style and space but focuses on low-intervention winemakers and small dishes like smoked mackerel with artichokes and green olives. Interestingly enough, Gem Wine is only open Monday through Friday 5 pm - 11 pm for walk-ins, so it is a prime spot for the after-work crowd looking to enjoy a glass of wine before heading home. Find this Lower East Side Gem at 297 Broome Street.
One of Lullaby’s most popular drinks is simply called “the whiskey drink” and is described on the menu as a solid choice if you wish to “look sophisticated in front of your date.” Part of what makes this basement-level cocktail bar so charming is the people behind it. Backed by Boston cocktail legend Brother Cleve in partnership with young mixologists Harrison Snow and Jake Hodas, Lullaby is a clever pairing of fancy cocktails and neighborhood dives. The team sees Lullaby as a “dressed down yet high caliber cocktail experience, that brings a level of accessibility and foregoes the frills and pretenses of a modern cocktail bar.” Brother Cleve, who got his name from hosting a radio show in Boston, helped develop the menu and occasionally DJs. One of our favorite concoctions is their alcoholic ‘Dole Whip,’ a twist on the popular soft-serve dessert sold at Walt Disney theme parks. Beer and shot combos are available for $7, and the cocktails are $15 or less. Lullaby offers a charcuterie board, mixed nuts, and olives if you need a small snack. Be sure to make your way to 151 Rivington St in the Lower East Side and find the basement entrance with a red Lullaby neon sign. We’ll see you there.
There are neon signs inside King’s Cafe that state boldly, “You Are Royalty,” and it is a theme that runs throughout this lively and vibrant spot in the Lower East Side. The menu is expansive and features a bevy of shareable plates like their popular Bacon Clothesline, five sizable strips of house candied bacon with cracked black pepper maple syrup. One of the best-shared plates on the menu has to be their Blooming Brussels, fried brussels with spicy aioli. Try their massive King’s Smashburger made with double patties, caramelized onions, cheddar house aioli, and fries for a real king’s appetite. King’s Cafe is walk-ins only, and they don’t accept reservations, so get in early while you can for brunch or dinner. Find this spot at 79 Clinton St. between Rivington and Delancey St.
Coletta is a great date spot with rustic materials, cozy spaces, lilac custom seating, wood banquettes, and antique window shutters adorning the restaurant. Guests can expect to explore distinct flavors from Italy with an impressive menu of brick oven pizzas, fresh pasta, surprising entrees like “squid-ink” ravioli, portobello carpaccio, and steak marsala. One of the standout dishes seems to be the “crispy calamari” made with parsley lemon sauce, herb marinara, and lemon. There have been a few recent kosher, vegan establishments like PLNT Burger, which we’ve featured here, and Coletta fills the Italian void. Find Coletta at 365 3rd Ave between 27th and 26th Streets.
The creative team behind Kinky’s is married couple and food entrepreneurs August and John DeWindt of Fluffy’s and John’s Juice in Brooklyn. Kinky’s is the city’s first-ever “adult bakery” which features a “sex-positive, gender-inclusive space where guests 18 and over can enjoy naughty waffles, cookies, and cupcakes,” according to the spokesperson. The cookies are appropriately shaped, if you catch our drift, and Kinky’s strongly encourages guests to take lots of pictures. The lines can wrap around the block, so be there early before they run out of your favorite dessert. Their website claims “so much more than desserts,” and we’re inclined to agree. If you’re curious about this wild spot in the Lower East Side, you can find Kinky’s Dessert Bar at 181 Orchard St between Stanton St and Houston.
After 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Una Pizza Napoletana—which originated in New Jersey in 1996—reopened its Lower East Side location with a new interior and a handful of menu changes. Expect the highly popular wood-fired margherita pies with Sicilian sea salt and a rotating selection of fruit sorbettos. What makes Una Pizza Napoletana’s pizzas so darn good? They say the difference is in the dough, which sounds like something you can brag to your foodie friends. We love the Bianca pie, prepared with buffalo mozzarella, garlic, basil, and of course, Sicilian sea salt. The topping-to-crust ratio might take some getting used to, but once you take a bite, you’ll feel transported to Naples within seconds. You can find Una Pizza Napoletana at 175 Orchard Street between Houston and Stanton Street in the Lower East Side.
Where else can you get a cubano with a side of latkes? Or a chicken liver sandwich with yucca fries? In all of its purple neon glory, Sally Can Wait is taking the Lower East Side by storm. In addition to their fusion menu, patrons can expect a bevy of craft cocktails. We particularly enjoyed the “Miami Vice” drink, half-frozen piña colada, and half strawberry daiquiri. Thanks to the stellar service and great music, this would make a great date spot or a birthday celebration. Sally Can Wait is located at 252 Broome street, between Orchard street and Ludlow, just steps away from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
A new Korean restaurant has taken over the former Meatball Shop site at 84 Stanton Street between Orchard St, and Allen St. 8282 promises a modern take on Korean cuisine. If you’re wondering why the unusual name, the number 8282 alludes to Korea’s country code, +82. The numbers, when fused, form a word that roughly translates to “quickly,” which always bodes well for hungry locals in the area. The meals, which range in price from $14 to $26, feature boneless soy garlic chicken thighs, yellowtail Crudo, and grilled scallops in black bean sauce. The couple behind this new establishment, Bong Le Jo and Jee Kim, previously ran the successful Pado restaurant in the East Village.
Make sure to swipe right on this new coffeehouse and restaurant from the Bumble dating app, which just opened and is ready for business. After a short stint last year in pop-up form, Bumble Brew finally calls 98 Kenmare Street home. Located on the corner of Mulberry St and Kenmare St, Bumble Brew offers an all-day cafe menu to-go only. A lunch and dinner menu will be available at a later date, but patrons can enjoy tasty pastries from Pain D’Avignon. Bumble Brew expects to have indoor dining within the next few weeks. In 2022, Bumble Brew is planning on hosting a variety of social events inside the 3,500-square foot space, armed with 80 seats and 24 additional outdoor seats. We’ll see you there.
The newest vendor to open inside The Market Line in Essex Market, Salon Sucré, will be your one-stop shop for all things French desserts. From irresistible macarons to pumpkin tarts to get you in the mood for Fall, there’s always something sweet waiting for you at Salon Sucré. This tasty pastry shop is open now for dine-in and takeout.