Pick a genre of food—any genre—and you will most likely find it in the East Village. With over 300 restaurants within just a few dozen blocks and an equally staggering amount of variety, the East Village is a true restaurant utopia. It’s home to top-tier cuisine and affordable takeout fare, aspiring new chefs and seasoned restaurateurs, eclectic bohemian roots and modern establishments alike.
It’s no wonder the neighborhood has long been considered one of NYC’s top food scenes. Tragically, trying all the best East Village restaurants is a near-impossible feat. So, consider this your guide to a very special food haven; one rich in history, culture, and endless flavor. We can’t wait for you to try all the best East Village restaurants!
11. The Bao
The Bao is a chic eatery known for its Shanghai-style xiao long bao soup dumplings. In fact, these soup dumplings are some of the best you’ll find outside of Chinatown. Their dumpling skin is paper-thin, which is impressive considering it houses a mouthful of steaming hot broth. You can choose from several flavor varieties, but you can’t go wrong with the pork or crab soup dumplings (the crab filling also makes the dumplings turn pink, in case you like your meals looking extra cute). The Bao’s menu offers various other Hunan, Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Szechuan dishes, but if you’re after another standout item, order the pan-fried noodles. They’re dense, oily, chewy, and will likely leave your pants feeling a bit snug by the time you leave.
$$ Shanghainese, Dim Sum, Salad
10. Stromboli Pizza
Stromboli Pizza may not be the trendiest joint in the neighborhood, but their by-the-slice pizza is so solid that it feels right at home on our guide to the best East Village restaurants. When it comes to an NYC slice, instinct will tell you to go with a classic cheese pie. But at Stromboli, dare to live a little with their Margherita pizza. The simple, olive-oiled crust is chewy, well-seasoned, and piled high with dollops of mozzarella, canned tomato halves, fresh basil, a sprinkle of parmesan, and heaps of chopped garlic (in other words, just the right amount of garlic). Grab your slice, take a spot at their countertop, and people watch on St. Marks as you inhale some really great carbs.
9. Superiority Burger
Superiority Burger creates vegetarian and vegan dishes that even the most stringent meat-eater will love, making it one of the best East Village restaurants. Everything on the menu, from their burgers to their burnt broccoli side, is wildly satisfying, skillfully seasoned, and as good as everyone says. The classic Tokyo Megamouth is what they’re known for—a vegan burger that doesn’t try to be meat. And it doesn’t need to. The “patty” is a mix of spiced quinoa and chickpeas that comes charred, tender, and textured. It’s topped with shredded romaine slathered in a tangy spread and a tomato slice the size of your face, all packed inside a sesame seed bun. With a constantly changing menu that continues to pull crowds across the city, Superiority Burger makes for one of East Village’s strongest dining options.
$ Burgers, Vegetarian
8. Málà Project
Meet the dry pot of your dreams at Málà Project. It isn’t just one of the best East Village restaurants, it’s arguably one of the best Szechuan spots in the entire city. Designed to bring unaltered, original Chinese dishes to New York, the restaurant has made a mark on the city’s foodscape since opening in 2015. For the dry pot experience, load your bowl up with any ingredient under the sun, from poultry and seafood to vegetables and soy products. They take whatever you choose—maybe some fatty pork belly, fresh bok choy, starchy lotus root, and slurpy potato noodles—and wok-fry it over high heat along with 24 spices, a mélange of Chinese medicines, and chile peppers to create an intense flavor profile. The breadth of ingredient choices promises an exciting experience every time you visit. Hot tip: the “mild” is still spicy, so tread lightly.
$$ Szechuan, Hot Pot
7. Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e Pepe is the reason you’ll be left wondering why pasta isn’t served out of wheels of cheese more often. Yes, you read that correctly. Their homemade signature pasta is tossed and twirled in a barrel of creamy pecorino cheese right in front of your eyes to ensure every centimeter is coated to your satisfaction. It might be theatrical, but its impact cannot be denied. The noodles are served al dente, so prepare for a little extra bite with each mouthful. And don’t sleep on the starters, aka the parmesan crème brûlée. Every bit as lavish as the custard it replicates—from the lightly blistered, crackly top to the densely whipped base—this dish is salty-sweet heaven in a cup.
Cacio e Pepe
$$ Italian, Bars
6. Café Mogador
Founded in the early 80s, Café Mogador broke up the staple Italian and Latin landscape in the East Village with some zesty Moroccan flare. Today, the restaurant continues to play one of the neighborhood’s main characters thanks to its award-winning brunch menu, kebabs, falafel, tagine, and overall coffeehouse vibe. The lamb shank tagine is a dish you won’t want to miss, nor its melt-in-your-mouth texture. You can choose from several sauces, but the Casablanca chickpeas, raisins, and caramelized onions offers a sweet complement to the lean lamb and pairs beautifully with the side of fluffy couscous. For something a bit lighter, their hummus platter with falafel and pita offers the restaurant’s authentic Moroccan flavors in shareable appetizer form.
$$ Moroccan, Middle Eastern, Breakfast & Brunch
5. Hanoi House
Find one of the top East Village restaurants near the park at Hanoi House. The beef pho flavor is clean, deep, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it for about 30 hours, which, incidentally, is how long it’s simmered for. Their house special pho comes with standard elements like scallions, cilantro, and rice noodles. But what makes it really special are the aromatic hunks of tender filet mignon, brisket, and oxtail. Not to mention, supple, in-bone marrow that can be gently scooped into the broth like butter off a hot knife. The amount of meat here works because the broth itself is so light—and every bite offers something new. This dish comes with fried breadsticks reminiscent of churros for dipping, as well as additional sides of pickled garlic and chili sauce. Run, don’t walk.
4. Emmy Squared
Detroit-style pizza? In NYC? Don’t question it. Originally opened in Williamsburg, Emmy Squared Pizza is part of the Pizza Loves Emily family of restaurants. Emmy Squared stands apart not only because of their signature square-shaped pizza and famed reputation, but because of their cheesy “frico” crust, which is what happens when piles of cheese form a miraculous, crunchy coating against the edge of the pan. The crust is as fluffy, doughy, and perfectly crisp as focaccia bread. The Colony is one of their top menu items, thanks to the honey that pools inside the pepperoni cups and balances the spicy jalapeños and cheese. It’s a high contender for some of the best NYC pizza, let alone one of the most solid East Village restaurants.
Emmy Squared-East Village
$$ Pizza, Sandwiches
Oiji aims to provides classic Korean cuisine filtered through a gourmet lens. The result is a creative, upscale dining experience that has collected citywide acclaim, as well as a place on our guide to the best East Village restaurants. Most are here for the honey butter chips with vanilla ice cream. The paper-thin chips come straight from the fryer, near-translucent and shimmering beneath a honey-butter glaze. However, there are other menu delicacies that merit equal attention. The fried chicken, cloaked in an unbelievably fragile, crackling coating, sits over a boat of citrusy, spicy soy vinaigrette. The bone marrow is genuinely brilliant, served with tender short rib and a maitake and lemon gremolata topping. The taste is next-level, bearing garlicky-sweet hues and a velvety texture. It comes with a small bowl of crispy rice crackers (think: bougie salt and vinegar chips) that only enhance each bite.
Jeepney is a modern Filipino gastropub that has helped pave the way for NYC’s burgeoning Filipino restaurant scene. The restaurant forged its glory from its Kamayan nights—a traditional Filipino pre-colonial communal feast served over banana leaves and meant to be eaten with your hands. And it has maintained its spot as one of the best East Village restaurants thanks to, well, everything else. The award-winning Chori burger, which lives up to its title, is a savory mix of beef and pork topped with maggi aioli, spicy banana ketchup, atchara pickles, and a perfectly gooey egg. For something a bit more authentic, get the Bicol Express. It offers pork shoulder covered in a rich Bicol express sauce with sticky rice and singed bok choy. Almost curry-like in taste and consistency, the sauce packs some seriously mind-bending flavor.
$$ Filipino, Gastropubs, Breakfast & Brunch
1. Koko Wings
There is no better gateway to the flavorful world of Korean fare than Korean fried chicken. At Koko Wings, get a little taste of heaven in the form of gleaming, golden chicken wings twice as sumptuous, juicy, and meaty as their American counterpart. While the restaurant offers a steep variety of tasty menu items, keep your eyes on the prize. That is, a combo chicken plate with soy garlic coating. Deep-fried skin forms a hard, crackling shell that shatters beneath every bite, lending way to tender, succulent meat underneath. The chicken is practically candied, thanks to the saccharine glaze laminating every fissure. And the end result is so fiendishly good it’s almost confusing. With a side of their sweet-and-sour kimchi coleslaw, you will have little choice but to revel in the very best East Village restaurant.
$$ Korean, Chicken Wings, Beer Bar