The locals guide to the East Village

Listen to your elders. Seriously, these East Village veterans can tell you young whippersnappers where it's at.

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Oleh Pich


50, video engineer
“I’ve lived in the East Village all my life. I’m Ukrainian-American; my family moved over in 1950. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else because this is where I’ve been all my life. My roots are over here, my parish church, a lot of my friends are here...and I’m used to the neighborhood.”

SHOP HERE: “I spend a lot of time at the Greenmarket in Union Square (15th to 17th Sts between Union Square East and West; 212-788-7476, cenyc.org/greenmarket; Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat 8am--6pm). There’s a lot for everybody: a huge variety of produce and handmade goods, and it’s a good place to go be among a crowd of people. I like to buy apple pies and little cinnamon buns, and in the summer and springtime there’s always a lot of nice flowers. I try to spread out what I buy among as many farmers as I can because I like to support them all.”

EAT HERE: “There’s a Polish restaurant I go to a lot called Neptune (194 First Ave between 11th and 12th Sts, 212-777-4163). They have good home cooking there. I like their breaded chicken breast; it’s very tender and it’s pretty affordable. The whole meal is $9.50.”

DRINK HERE: “There’s a bar I like to hang out in called Bar 82 (136 Second Ave between St Mark’s Pl and 9th St, no phone); it’s owned by a friend of mine. I like to go there from time to time just to have a cold beer and see some friends.”

NEXT Victoria Linchong, development assistant at Film Forum



Victoria Linchong


“In my 30s”; development assistant at Film Forum, artistic director of Direct Arts
“I was born in Stuyvesant Town on 20th St and Avenue C, and then [my family] moved to Queens. I left home on Halloween ’88 when I was 17 and moved into the basement of Theater for the New City, where I had been working since I was 14. I ran off from home, sharing a space with this crazy guy and then moving into the cages in the basement where the pushcart peddlers used to store their carts. I stayed there until the following year, and I haven’t left the East Village since. I founded Direct Arts (directarts.org) in 2006, a theater and film company that explores the intersection of cultures. It’s very East Village: The East Village is the ethnic and artistic heart of New York City.”

RELAX HERE: “The community gardens in the East Village are very special; they are the vestiges of the suburban flight in the ’50s and the ’70s, and of the direct action that the community took with all of these abandoned rubble-strewn lots from when the owners torched the buildings to collect on the insurance. La Plaza Cultural (E 9th St at Ave C, laplazacultural.org) was saved from being developed upon in the early 1990s. It’s got a lovely lawn and a sandpit for children to play in, a little pond and Rolando Politi sculptures. It’s a really sweet spot.”

EAT HERE: “I go to Mogador (101 St. Marks Pl between First Ave and Ave A; 212-677-2226, cafemogador.com). They have an amazing lunch special: two courses of soup or salad, then a pasta or a chicken tagine ($9). It’s so good.”

SEE A SHOW HERE: “There’s a great theater community in the East Village. Theater for the New City (155 First Ave between 9th and 10th Sts; 212-254-1109, theaterforthenewcity.net) is in a former WPA building that was built to house pushcart peddlers in 1938 by Robert Moses. Very interesting things happen there for $10.”

NEXT Esko Poldvere, IT technician



Esko Poldvere


40, IT technician
“I came here from Talin, in Estonia, like a stupid idiot kid when I was 20 years old—no money, nothing, with a band which dissolved almost instantly. We did play Downtown Beirut and Cat Club; back in the day those were the main venues. As usual, all these cool places become condos or co-ops or Burger Kings. Then I switched to different local groups. I played with John and Roy from the punk band Nausea. I’ve always been lucky finding the awesome musicians that the city has to offer, although it’s difficult to fit in here. Live music has almost died out in Manhattan unless you play something college-friendly. You gotta find a bar with budget beer for punk rock; it’s never been about money.”

HEAR MUSIC HERE: “I end up in the basement of the Three of Cups (83 First Ave at 5th St; 212-388-0059, threeofcupsnyc.com) on weekdays when we [the locals] can avoid big crowds. This is the leftovers of the ’90s party animals; whoever is left from the people I knew at Coney Island High hides there now. There’s awesome DJs playing punk, heavy metal and things you don’t hear in the bars, and a weird ’90s crowd: punks in their thirties and forties who still march on.”

DRINK HERE: “If you want to put a landmark in the East Village, 7A (109 Ave A at 7th St, 212-673-6583) would be the place. It’s open 24/7, so you can be completely wasted and go there at 4 or 5am and get whatever the hell you desire. It’s awesome the way you can see all these crowds who have just left the party. Their makeup is ruined and their costumes are torn up, and then they get the munchies after partying all night.”

HANG HERE:Sophie’s (507 E 5th St between Aves A and B, 212-228-5680) is another bar that’s been around since Day One. It used to be a hangout for squatters, crusties, punks and the like. You could get a pint of Guinness for $2.50 [now $6]. If you didn’t have any money, sure enough you’re going to be there.”

NEXT Miguel Maldonado, former organizer of day laborers with the Center for Immigrant Rights



Miguel Maldonado


50, former organizer of day laborers with the Center for Immigrant Rights
“I was born in the Dominican Republic, and I’ve lived in the East Village for about 20 years. I came here to work for the Chinese Workers Association, and then the Center for Immigrant Rights. Latinos used to be the majority in this area, and suddenly we are less than 20 percent. I liked the East Village [back then], not because it was Latino, but because it was so integrated—very bohemian, a little artists, poets, painters, musicians, activists, Polish, Irish, Jewish, Arab, black. But nowadays it’s different: middle class and yuppies. That’s why the rent rockets, in my estimation.”

CHILL HERE: “I hang out wherever the few bodegas are in the neighborhood, like at Liz Grocery (226 E 7th St between Aves B and C, 212-253-1067), where I still have a few friends. All of these bodegas are disappearing because they can’t afford the rent anymore. We need to support them or they will disappear. Everything is a coffeehouse—and coffee is very expensive. The 50 cup of coffee is in the bodega!”

SEE LIVE MUSIC HERE: “I like La Rumba in Tompkins Square Park (Ave A between 7th and 10th Sts, nycgovparks.org). There are musicians on Sundays at the entrance on 8th Street and Avenue B. I dance sometimes—I dance with my wife. Sometimes I’m just there hanging out and talking to the musicians because I know all of them. I’ve been going there for a long time. I used to organize events around the community and hire local musicians to play. Some of them were forced to move out—they couldn’t afford their apartments and were forced to go to the Bronx and Queens, but they come back and play here.”

EAT HERE: “I go to Casa Adela (66 Ave C at 5th St, 212-473-1882); it’s a small place with pictures from local artists on one wall and a TV on another that shows Spanish soap operas after 6pm. At the counter they have fruit to make fresh juice ($4). I also like maduros, fried yellow banana ($2.50).”



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