Must-See East Village
by Julie Besonen, 02/08/2012
(From left) Cured hamachi at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, photo by Gabriele Stabile • Trash & Vaudeville photo by Joe Buglewicz
The East Village lets in the sun, its low brick buildings and wealth of mom-and-pop services making it feel like an actual village. Sleepy it's not. Sidewalks are alive with students, musicians, elderly Polish and Ukrainian immigrants, dog walkers, shoppers obsessed with vintage boutiques, chowhounds seeking ethnic eats and regular working stiffs trying to thread their way through all the action. The area spans roughly from East Houston Street to East 14th Street, from Lafayette Street to the East River. Alphabet City is at the eastern edge and includes Avenues A, B, C and D, where a former edginess has been sanded down by gentrification, vacant lots transformed into magical community gardens. A punk-rock sensibility can still be felt in certain pockets, especially along St. Marks Place. Nightlife abounds for all persuasions—straight, gay, karaoke lovers, poets, avant-garde music fans, Irish barflies and cocktail connoisseurs. Our guide includes the essentials for daytime and nighttime exploration, revealing the neighborhood in all its diversity.