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the east village rut.

so i've become spoiled. having lived and dined out almost every night in the east village, i'm beginning to get to the point where, when i'm trying to decide where to go for dinner, i'm at a loss.

i know this is ridiculous because it's the east village, a glut of gustatory options. but the same places are always mentioned on this website, i frequent many of them, and i'm beginning to wonder if i'm missing out on hidden gems.

i'm looking for something new to throw some spice into my routine, something that's downscale enough to have a casual dinner (<$15/entree). i live on 5th and Ave A, but i'm willing to wander to Nolita/LES/union square too. generally i tend toward the healthier and am a pescatarian, though i'm open to anything as long as it has options. I love Italian, Latin, Asian, Middle Eastern, and American Nouveau.

my highly frequented spots:

Caracas Arepa Bar
Caffe Emilia
Atlas Cafe
Snack Dragon
Le Gamin
Cacio e Vino
Le Miu
Bagel Zone
Boca Chica
Cafe Mogador
Cafe Orlin
St Alps Tea House
Cha An
Clinton St. Baking Co
Lil Frankies
Yakitori Taisho

ideas, anyone? some inspiration would be lovely.

thanks chowhounds!

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  1. I prefer Cacio e Pepe to Cacio e Vino
    Mermaid Inn
    Barbone (haven't been recently)

    1 Reply
    1. Pylos, Tai Thai, Perbacco, The Nolita House, Mercadito, Lavagna

      2 Replies
      1. re: LeahBaila

        Ugh, Nolita House? When this place opened they had pretensions of being a good restaurant but these days it seems they are serving food just because it is a requirement of their liquor license. I think they'd rather just be a bar.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          I had a delish Croque Madame at Nolita House the other day. Everything else is hit or miss... mostly miss.

      2. Tides, the teensy fish/seafood "shack" on the LES. In my view, a definitely must for a pescatarian.


        4 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          ooh, tides! i forgot i'd been meaning to try that place. any rec's for what to order? i also do love mermaid inn, but can't afford to go there on a regular basis. also - lucia- what type of food is barbone?

          1. re: emilia

            Barbone is Italian. There have been a few posts on this board with experience more recent than mine.
            I'm not sure that the menu prices at Tides are much different from the ones at Mermaid Inn. Tides has a very limited menu, so anything you order should be a good bet. I like the fried oysters and clams as a starter.

            1. re: emilia

              I liked their lobster roll with sweet potato chips, the fried clams and oysters were also awesome.

              1. re: emilia

                Re: Tides. I agree with kayonyc that the lobster roll is delicious. The chips that came with it when we were there a couple of weeks ago were yucca, not sweet potato. We also had excellent scallops.

            2. minca
              rai rai ken,
              el Maguey y la tuna,
              Thai Tai and Kai kai,
              Itzocan cafe
              Falai Panetteria
              Le creperie,
              grand sichuan st marks

              1. barrio chino and (right across the street) little giant in LES
                Buenos Aires in EV

                1 Reply
                1. re: shisan

                  Barrio Chino is good but the margaritas can get pricey (especially grapefruit & jalapeno).

                2. Soba Koh on 5th is often overlooked. The room is serene and the soba is delicious.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    huge fan of soba koh...not just great soba, but all appetizers are great as well; blows soba ya out of the water

                  2. La Palapa
                    Soba ya
                    Sharaku (much improved recently but really i only ever get their Yakiniku Donburi)
                    menku tei
                    rai rai ken
                    the small place east of rai rai ken right next door. i can't ever remember the name of it but they have a fantastic dol sot bi bim bap.
                    Mingala (one of my favorites)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: claireness

                      Shabu Tatsu is the place i couldn't remember in the above post. Really (and this is a contentious subject i'm sure) one of the tastiest bi bim bap in the hood.

                      1. re: claireness

                        Shabu Tatsu sells bi bim bap?

                        I also am a fan of Lan.

                      2. re: claireness

                        I like Euzkadi for a basic night of dark lighting, a bottle of house red, and a steak frites. Great times! The SO refuses to go b/c his last meal there (oh...about 2002 - hehe) resulted in a breakup. But I had some great dates there, back in the day. : )

                      3. Man, I thought I was clever, because I was going to recommend bagel zone for their lovely oatmeal, but it's on your list! Moustache is one of my favorites, but you also have that covered. The other place that was in my EV rut when I lived there was Nicky's but I'm still traumatized by how many of those sandwiches I ate back in the day.

                        Zaragoza, more for the lovely staff than the chow per se.
                        Itzocan, for the huitlacoche souffle.
                        Momofuku Ssam and Setagaya, delicious despite all the hype.
                        Gruppo for thin crust pizza, especially the mushroom.
                        There's a new Iranian and fried food place (go figure) on Ave A and 10th or so called Mamani. The bulk of their menu is deep fried but they have a handful of homey Iranian dishes. I sampled my partner's estamboli polo leftovers--tomato-y rice with green beans. It was really promising (but I wonder if that's because it's the comfort food of my youth). It's cheap. If you try it, please report back.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: rose water

                          I totally second Momofuko - I actually go for the ramen, at least once a month, even though I live uptown. I just can't get enough, and it's pretty cheap!

                          1. re: rose water

                            Oops, missed that you're a pescatarian. Scratch momofuku and setagaya then.

                            1. re: rose water

                              You can still pull together a pretty good meal at Ssam Bar with the oysters, hamachi, scallops, pickles, squid salad, fried cauliflower, skate, mackerel...

                          2. Forgot:
                            Sachiko's on Clinton,
                            (there's a great tapas place down the street from Sachi's on the corner with a wood door I can't remember the name of because of my early onset alzheimers)
                            Pala--always good.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: claireness

                              The great tapas place you are thinking of is Tapeo 29 on Clinton and Stanton. Its great and inexpensive. I recommend the chorizo in red wine and the garlic shrimp, although most of the menu is good. I would stay away from the eggplant (and I love eggplant), but that's it.

                              1. re: jkeers

                                yes...that's it. (sad that i couldn't remember because i've been there several times.) I have to agree with the eggplant (not matter what the style, i'm still a sucker for lil frankie's eggplant, the gold standard for me). The rest of the menu is pretty consistently good.

                            2. Give Chiyono a try. This short-but-sweet thread pretty much captures it: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349645. P.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Polecat

                                Dude, you missed the cream of the crop with Kuma Inn and its BYOB to boot. This is a must for this weekend

                                1. re: princeofpork

                                  Kuma Inn is definitely great for a vegetarian, though maybe a little too far to walk from 5th. Pistahan makes a terrific tilapia steamed in banana leaves if you want to give Filipino a try.

                              2. Ditto Pylos, LaVagna (has a prix fixe and great wine list). I Coppi. Not a fan of Mermaid Inn but to be fair have only been once. If you want to venture to LES try Mole. Like Ukrainian National Home alot. There is a Moroccan place (Zerza?) with a $14.95 prix fixe I need to try. I think it's on 6th Street and ?. Casa Adela (C and ?) has the best baccalau (Puerto Rican style), cheap and NO ambience. We went to Barbone recently and it was good and reasonable (I think we posted a review if you want to do a search).

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                  Completely forgot. Cafecito for awesome Cuban food on Ave C and Royale for great burgers also on C

                                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                    I definitely second Pylos, Lavagna, and Barbone but I Coppi was the worst meal I have had in New York, so I would have to disagree there. I have heard good things on here so it must be hit or miss, but my experience was a colossal miss.

                                    1. re: jkeers

                                      I am surprised that you had a bad experience at I Coppi. We've been there twice, the last time during the summer, and both times our meals were delicious.

                                      1. re: jkeers

                                        Sorry to hear your experience was not good. We have had several good brunch experiences and recently went for dinner. Service can be relaxed. Sounds like consistency might be an issue?

                                        1. re: jkeers

                                          I also had an unforgivable meal at I Coppi a couple weeks ago. Diners who were had antipasta or salad as their main were served 30 minutes before anyone else received a plate of anything. Pizza took over an hour and two men were served theirs well before the lady. When she asked where her pizza was, the waiter made the excuse that the oven was too small to make 3 pizzas simultaneously. There were only 5 other parties in the whole restaurant and they couldn't handle 3 pizzas? What were they cooking with? An Easy Bake Oven?

                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            I'm not looking to be an apologist for I Coppi, but I must say that when we were there, there were two *very* large parties -- at least 12 in each. One was there when we arrived, and the other got seated while we were there. In addition, all other tables were occupied. (We were sitting in the garden.) Despite this, we had absolutely no problem getting our food in a very timely manner. Thus, it is puzzling why you had such a different experience. (Note: We did not have pizza.)

                                      2. Ebisu
                                        Village Yokocho
                                        Taralucci e Vino
                                        Kyo Ya
                                        TKettle (new pearl milk tea place on St Marks)
                                        Luzzo's (pizza, haven't had anything else there)
                                        Vinny Vincenz (great Silician slice)
                                        Mo Pitkins before it closes? (I'll miss their burger)
                                        2nding Mermaid Inn, Grand Sichuan St Marks, either of the Momofukus.

                                        Also: Belcourt just opened, isn't there going to be a new Thai place on E 5th and 2nd, too? So much plywood going on...New in the neighborhood is Graffiti on E 10th. Dieci.

                                        I'm also wracking my brain for the name of that Sri Lankan place by E 6th/Curry row.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          Not much more time to get to Mo Pitkin's. It's closing on Oct. 20th.

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            I'm curious to try Graffiti. How's the food? They serve dinner only, right?

                                          2. To add to everything mentioned already:

                                            - Little Poland
                                            - Kyo Ya
                                            - Hasaki (get their early special)
                                            - Kasadela
                                            - Zabb City
                                            - Mama's Food Shop
                                            - Thai Me Up
                                            - Banjara
                                            - Nicky's
                                            - Crif Dogs
                                            - Westville East
                                            - Maria Cafe
                                            - Birdies
                                            - Polonia

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: kobetobiko

                                              Great call on Westville East! I need to get over there more often.

                                              1. re: foodie71

                                                Need to try Zerza. Have you been to the Ethiopian place nearby?

                                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                  Awash, on 6th b/w 1st and 2nd. The downtown branch of a popular uptown one. i think their ethiopian is stellar, though it's a constant debate between Awash and Queen of Sheba (i'm not as big a fan of their injera). Either way, the downtown version is not AS good as the branch on 107th/Amsterdam, but still pretty damn good and worth trying out.

                                              2. Ginger
                                                Una Pizza Napolitano

                                                1. I like Tsampa on 9th. And totally inexpensive.
                                                  Probably one of my alltime favorite restaurants - consistently delicious, simple food, inexpensive, fun atmosphere, is Yakiniku West on 9th. The short rib meal is unbeatable, and if you add some appetizers, an extra soup, salad, and rice, it makes the ideal meal for two.

                                                  1. Azul Bistro for steak (LES)
                                                    Kuma Inn for BYOB Asian tapas (LES)
                                                    Kasadela for izakaya (EV)
                                                    Spitzers Corner for beer/gastropub food (although that latest report has me nervous) (LES)
                                                    Molly's for burgers (UnSq)

                                                    1. Here is my rotation:

                                                      Mexican - Mercadito, Vamos
                                                      American - Westville East, Freeman's, Prune
                                                      Italian - Barbone, Il Bagatto, Supper, Cafe Emilia
                                                      Sushi - Hiro (great delivery), Sapporo
                                                      Japanese BBQ - Gyu Kaku
                                                      Indian - Brick Lane
                                                      Seafood - Tides, Mermaid Inn
                                                      Greek - Pylos
                                                      Latin - Rayuela
                                                      Japanese/French - Nolia (it sounds crazy, but it is a great neighborhood spot)

                                                      Some places I want to try (not recommending, but all have gotten some dec reviews)
                                                      Pearl Bako
                                                      Belcourt (opens this weekend)

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: tatiana_nyc

                                                        How can Belcourt have gotten any good reviews when they haven't served a single meal?

                                                      2. wow..thanks chowhounders! there's so much i have left to try. here's to trying a new place every day this month...

                                                        1. Friend House

                                                          1. OG (Oriental Grill) on 6th between A and B serves up delicious morsels of an Asian-fusion nature. They have a wide array of dumplings with tangy/sweet sauces, great salads, and usually serve up some kind of fish special. The service is top notch. The menu is flexible enough that you can have a quality meal for a moderate amount of money. OG is truly a gem.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Rodrigo

                                                              I second this place- good stuff

                                                              1. re: Jel212

                                                                3rd! I've been recommending them on here lately too. You can get a full appetizer / entree meal, or just a bunch of dumplings. And they have a really nice variety of specials, which keeps the place interesting for me.

                                                            2. grape and grain / against the grain

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: howzit

                                                                Yes - their brunch is good, too.

                                                              2. One note about I coppi. We, too, have seen a decline there recently. On our last visit, we had to send a dish back because it was cold and soggy. I just read (and posted elsewhere) that two people from that restaurant are starting up their own place in the EV called Matilda and I can only assume that their departure has contributed to I coppi's decline. We're hoping to try the new place this weekend and will report back.

                                                                  1. re: alton

                                                                    Oh yeah! The kalbi is unbeatable. Same with the kim bab.

                                                                  2. you may like chubo, on clinton. i also don't see mercadito on that list - great little spanish spot on B and I believe 12th.

                                                                    1. Yes, we liked Mercadito as well. Also, check out Matilda on 11th and C.

                                                                      1. I'm kind of fond of Khyber Pass, the Afghan restaurant on St Mark's between 2nd and 3rd. Amazing pumpkin dishes!

                                                                        1. I just tried a new place, brand spankin' new, called Back Forty on Ave B and 11th street. Good veggie sides (a la Westville) and strong focus on organic and local.
                                                                          Also has anyone mentioned Kasadela? Great Japanese sake and small plates on 11th between B and C.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: picklesister

                                                                            I don't believe The Elephant has been mentioned yet - its fantastic. 1st between 1st ave and 2nd ave.

                                                                            1. I only wish I lived in an area with half the culinary treats that you are bored of - we could swap places for a month or so, and I can delight in the many cheap, delicious ethnic eats that the East Village offers. In exchange, I'm offering the safe and boring eats of Murray Hill.

                                                                              My fave EV eats: Menkuitei, Pommes Frites, Sobakoh. Skip Xunta, I had one of the worst and most overpriced meals ever there.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: windycity

                                                                                oh get the poutine at pommes frites...its good (ask for extra gravy)

                                                                              2. What a fantastic dicussion you have begun! Many of these I agree with, and many I've never heard of. This is a great EV resource.

                                                                                Asian: Kasadella similar to Kuma Inn - I think both are great
                                                                                Italian: Barbone and Perbacco
                                                                                Sushi: Shima
                                                                                Latin: Cafe Cortadita
                                                                                Splurge: Any of Jack's places - Luxury Oyster Bar, Jewel Bako, Degustation
                                                                                All time fave: Great Jones Cafe!

                                                                                1. It looks like there's a fan for almost every place in the East Village on these boards. I'll give my opinions about some of the already-mentioned places later, but I notice that Col Legno hasn't yet been mentioned. 9th St. between 2nd and 3rd. Very dependable, good Tuscan food and also decent wood-fired pizza. Most everything I've had there has been at least solidly good, but dishes I particularly recommend include Polenta con Salsa di Funghi, Carcioffi alla Giudia, Pappardelle al Cinghale (ground wild boar isn't for you, though, but never fear), Tagliatelle al Funghi, and any of the poultry, meat, or (especially in your case) whole fish dishes. Tiramisu' is their best dessert. Like most other Italian restaurants in the neighborhood, they offer half portions of most of the pastas (all except for the lasagna) for half price.