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East Village & Lower East Side

Go east!

With its characteristic low-rise buildings, colourful street art, hip restaurants and cafes and their oh-so-New York gables with their trademark fire escapes, southeast Manhattan is the place to be. Explore the east-side vibe!

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Text and photography
Iris van den Broek

Until recently, the southeast of Manhattan was rugged, edgy and dangerous. Real estate prices were low, and at night the streets were dangerous and deserted. Fast forward to today and the scene couldn't be more different.The East Village and Lower East Side are now the two hippest neighbourhoods in Manhattan.

The Lower East is formed by the streets east of Bowery between Canal Street and East Houston Street. The East Village begins north of Houston Street up to 14th Street, delineated on the east by 4th Avenue.

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Ivan Ramen

The best ramen in New York City

Noedelgoeroe Ivan Orkin inaugurated his ramen empire in 2014 on the Lower East Side. Hailing from Long Island, Orkin made his name in Japan where for many years he ran the best ramen places in Tokyo. Homesickness brought him back to Manhattan to the delight of New Yorkers who line up for his to-die-for ramen.

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Even the popular Netflix series, Chef’s Table, dedicated an episode to the inconspicuous eatery on 25 Clinton Street. Our recommendation? The triple pork triple garlic mazemen. Just make sure you don't have a date afterwards…

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The Ludlow Hotel

The neighbourhood in a nutshell

The Ludlow Hotel is inspired by the edgy charm of the Lower East Side. The hotel oozes a combination of ultra trendy and relaxed vibe that permeates the neighbourhood. The lobby is filled with sofas and chesterfields that invite guests to lounge around. The room breathes the same cosiness. Thanks to the surrounding low-rise buildings, the higher floor rooms offer an incredible view of the impressive skyline of downtown Manhattan.

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Locals flock to The Ludlow for its quirky restaurant, Dirty French. As the name says, the menu is inspired by French cuisine with global influences. During breakfast or dinner, the large windows have the perfect view of the eclectic crowd passing by.

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The Bean

Creative coffee

Not far from the Michael Jackson mural you will come across The Bean, another colourful fixture. This coffee bar boasts numerous locations in town, but the 1st Avenue cafe is the nicest with its hand-painted murals. Grab a spot and sample one of the creative coffees, such as the NutElla Fitzgerald: an espresso with Nutella and milk. Or sip a Mother te-REESE-a: a latte with Reese's peanut butter.

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The Strand

Eighteen miles of books

The Strand is a book lovers' paradise on the corner of East 12th Street in the East Village. This is the largest independent bookstore in New York City and even one of the largest in the world. ‘18 miles of books’ is printed on T-shirts, bags and stickers sold as souvenirs. But the books are the main attraction with new books as well as special collections and out-of-print books.

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Pedestrians peruse the stalls loaded with second-hand books that line the sidewalk along the store. In addition to its impressive collection, The Strand has expert staff. Employees must pass a challenging book quiz before they can join the sales team.

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Katz’s Deli

Legendary pastrami

For most New Yorkers a pastrami sandwich equals a trip to Katz’s Deli. This deli started in 1888 as a small family business and has grown into a New York institution. This is the spot where Meg Ryan experienced her legendary fake orgasm scene in the movie “When Harry met Sally”. The menu specialises in meat. Lots and lots of meat. From pastrami to hot dogs and from corned beef to cheeseburgers.

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East River Park

Sports in the park

The East River Park connects the Lower East Side to the East Village, a beautiful green route that runs between the two neighbourhoods. This stretched out park is one of the largest in the city and very popular with locals.

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The park offers baseball fields, tennis courts, bike trails and an outdoor gym. With a great view of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Brooklyn skyline, exercising here certainly isn't a chore.

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Finished exploring the Lower East Side? Cross the Williamsburg Bridge to trendy Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

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