The best Lower East Side restaurants

This critic-approved guide to the best Lower East Side restaurants includes trusty favorites and the latest hot spots
Spicy red chili ramen at Ivan Ramen
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz Spicy red chili ramen at Ivan Ramen
By Jake Cohen, Christina Izzo and Time Out contributors |
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Just like the neighborhood itself—where Jewish tenements buddies up next to Hispanic pride, where Little Italy seamlessly melts into Chinatown—the culinary offerings available in the Lower East Side are a glorious mixed bag of delectable options. The LES is home to one of the best New York delis, slurpable ramen joints, Neopolitan pizza powerhouses and stellar ice cream shops. Take a bite out of the best Lower East Side restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to Lower East Side

Best Lower East Side restaurants

1
Wildair
Photograph: Liz Clayman
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Wildair

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

The 45-seat restaurant is a sister to chef Jeremiah Stone and pastry chef Fabian von Hauske’s avant-garde tasting-menu den, Contra, two doors down. Wildair is low-pressure, set with sardine-packed bar tables, a fuzzy midaughts soundtrack and neighborhood affability. Their snacky, à la carte menu is packed with low-key innovations.

2
Katz Delicatessen
Photograph: Courtesy Katz Delicatessen
Restaurants, Delis

Katz’s Delicatessen

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

This cavernous cafeteria is a repository of New York history—glossies of celebs spanning the past century crowd the walls, and the classic Jewish deli offerings are nonpareil. Flag down a meat cutter and order a legendary sandwich. The brisket sings with horseradish, and the thick-cut pastrami stacked high between slices of rye is the stuff of dreams.

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3
RUSS & DAUGHTERS CAFE interior
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Delis

Russ & Daughters Cafe

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Start your day off with a little something old and a little something new at this sit-down spin-off of iconic century-old appetizing store Russ & Daughters. All the classics are accounted for but repackaged as composed plates: silky smoked fish is best highlighted in bagel-and-schmear boards, and chocolate-webbed babka loaves are sliced and griddled as French toast.

4
morgensterns, salted caramel pretzel standard
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Ice cream parlors

Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

One of the best parts of Nicholas Morgenstern’s critics-darling parlor, aside from its far-flung flavors (banana-curry, salt-and-pepper–pine nut), is the late hours. Bustling until midnight on weekends, the scoop shop is a picture-perfect after-dinner retreat, with locals perched at spinning counter seats for behemoth banana splits.

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5
Shredded Pork Sushi with ume wasabi and roasted tomato relish at Ivan Ramen
Photograph: Daniel Krieger
Restaurants, Japanese

Ivan Ramen

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The mosaic-walled backyard of Ivan Orkin’s noodle den is primed for a lingering group. Soak in the fading warm temperatures over small plates like double-dredged chicken hearts and the wonderfully messy maple-and-apple-topped Lancaster okonomiyaki, a scrapple-waffle bridge from breakfast to lunch. Then, slurp up a beautiful bowl of ramen swimming in flavorful broth.

6
DIRTY FRENCH bouillabaisse noire
Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, French

Dirty French

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This Ludlow Hotel bistro blockbuster, from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, is serving some of the cleanest French fare in town. Among the ritzy brasserie items—zapped with Moroccan and New Orleans spices—are duck à l’orange dusted in North African ras el hanout and two sessions of côte de boeuf, as a ribeye and a char-grilled skewer with a fat cap.

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7
Una Pizza Napoletana
Photograph: Gabi Porter
Restaurants, Pizza

Una Pizza Napoletana

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Anthony Mangieri cranks out the pies, while  partners Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra, the chef-duo behind Wildair and Contra, provide the small plates and desserts. Small wood tables fill the heavily tiled room for a clean yet warm feel that is perfect for a casual meal. You’re here for the Neapolitan pies that rival Naples’ best.

8
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Filipino

Pig & Khao

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Run by former Top Chef contender Leah Cohen, the joint has a familiar setup, with plenty of canned beer, hot chilies and hip-hop. Chef Leah Cohen has been turning diners on to funky Southeast Asian flavors since 2012 with a pig-centric menu. Enclosed backyard seating is available year-round, and the restaurant prepares a traditional Filipino brunch on the weekends with bottomless mimosas.

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9
Pies ’n’ Thighs
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Soul and southern American

Pies ’n’ Thighs

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Already one of New York's most beloved destinations for fried bird since opening in 2006, Sarah Sanneh's down-home den is spread its Brooklyn wings and landed in Manhattan. The second location of the lunch-counter–style joint mirrors its Williamsburg sibling but also touts its new neighborhood,  with dishes like herb-chicken dumpling soup and a sweet-and-savory sourdough glazed doughnut. 

10
DIRT CANDY carrot waffles
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Vegetarian

Dirt Candy

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Chef Amanda Cohen is one of the most prominent champions of vegetarian cuisine, well before vegetable-forward was the gastro buzzword on every menu. Cohen bucks the hackneyed health-nut tenets of vegetarianism, shellacking her plants in butter and cream, and added a jolt of joy to an otherwise sober demographic.

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11
El Rey Luncheonette
Photocredit: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, American creative

El Rey Luncheonette

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

In the 15-seat space—featuring communal tables, globe lambs and a multiwood bar—find Vietnamese iced coffee on tap and pastries like plum-and-ginger Danishes and parsnip-and-cajeta toast for breakfast. Dinner dishes include duck-confit hand pies, winter falafel with minted cauliflower, and cashew grits with braised pork. 

12
Photograph: Daniel Krieger
Restaurants, Japanese

Cocoron

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This soba shop's name translates to "heartwarming," but it could also be dubbed heart-healthy for its fiber-rich, low-fat fare. Chef Yoshihito Kida, who owned a soba restaurant back in Japan, makes the buckwheat noodles in house, while Chef Mika Ohie focuses on sides and appetizers, like a cold house-made tofu with scallions, ginger and bonito.

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13
clintonstbakery2
Photograph: Juan Carlos Hernandez
Restaurants, American

Clinton St. Baking Company

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Whether you’re craving a seasonally flavored muffin or a cold treat from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, this stroller-friendly bakery-café has what you need. Fill up on soup, salad or a sandwich for lunch; a burger, fried chicken or catch of the day for dinner; and eggs Benedict during the popular (i.e., crowded) weekend brunch.

Looking for drinks on the Lower East Side?

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