The perfect day in LES and Chinatown
If you were going to start your day with a visit to the Tenement Museum on the LES, and you wanted to chow your way through the LES towards Chinatown, what would be your must top locations? I know that before the day is over, I must visit Pomme Frites (in the area, no?) and The Dumpling House on Eldridge. Any other advise to create the perfect strolling day for out of state visitors? Thanks!
You might want to consider taking my (in)famous Lower East Side eating tour, which includes a stop at the Tenement Museum (though not at the beginning). Pommes Frites and the Dumpling House are not included though you can easily fit them in. In case you're interested, here it is:
Lower East Side Food Excursion
For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front. It's cash only. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.
When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.
After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.
Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.
When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).
Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.
Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour there will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. (www.tenement.org
Once you have finished that tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.
If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.
Note: It’s best not to take this tour on a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance.
Dumpling House is located on Eldredge St., b/t Broome and Grand Sts., so you can do it before you do the Orchard St. stops. Pommes Frites is in the East Village, on 2nd Av., b/t 7th St. & St. Mark's Pl. You can either start there before heading to the LES, or you can tack it on at the end. On the same street as Pommes Frites is another place to get a first-rate egg cream, Gem Spa, which is on the corner of 2nd & St. Mark's Pl.
Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!
pommes frites and chickpea are not exactly convienant after a tenement museum visit. Unless, of course, you start in that area and move your way downtown towards Orchard St. Il laboratorio is definately worth a visit.If you want something sweet that isn't as cold, i would go to sugar sweet sinshine for cupcakes. The red velvet is particularly good. If you're looking for a good coffeehouse to warm up in, then Ini Ani on Stanton between Rivington and Essex is a great place to go as well. While Katz's is great if you want the old time deli experiance, ZoZo on stanton is also a very good, quick sandwich place.
Not everybody agrees that Dumpling House is the place to go. I'm in the camp that prefers Prosperity Dumpling at 46 Eldridge. Then there are all the noodle soup places in the same vicinity--such as Super Taste at 26 Eldridge, Young City Fish Balls at 21 Eldridge and Eastern Noodles at 28 Forsyth, just to name a few that are in the same two block area.
If you're in Chinatown, you can't miss the soup dumplings: perfect for a winter day. "Joe's Shanghai" on Pell betw Bowery and Mott is the best written about, but recently a friend of mine took me to "Shanghai Cuisine"on Bayard at Mulberry which also has excellent soup dumplings PLUS a good entree menu. At "Joe's", the mix of crab and pork is yum and at "Shanghai Cuisine" I preferred the pork over the shrimp soup dumping.
It's cold now, but if you have any thoughts of ice cream, Il Laboratorio di Gelato is excellent, and it's on the same block as the Tenement Museum. And right around the block, on Allen just south of Delancey, is Congee Village, the delicious restaurant that the Tenement Museum tried and failed to evict through attempted abuse of eminent domain laws.
The two best sandwiches I know of in the area are the aforementioned Katz's (pastrami!) and Banh Mi Saigon Bakery on Mott St. between Grand and Hester, which serves delicious Vietnamese sandwiches (if you go there, go for lunch, as they close at 6 P.M., I believe).
If you're going to go to Bahn Mi Saigon - which I would heartily suggest - you should also walk a couple blocks to Despana on Broome. Get a sandwich at the counter in the back, enjoy some samples, etc.
certainly some of these are repeats, but for the LES, my stops generally include the Doughnut Plant (which has its detractors but I am a huge fan, try the tres leches cake donut), kossar's next door for a bialy (although you may want to save it for later if you'll be eating a lot), the pickle guys just down the block for pickles (better than guss' i think), prosperity dumpling for dumplings and for a sesame pancake with beef. definitely pick up some fish at russ & daughters, either to eat right then or to eat later.