I’ve decided to start a photo series and commentary centered around the neighborhoods and cities I’ve visited. To kick off this passion project, I’ll begin with one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York – East Village.
A Cultural Melting Pot of Art, History and Good Food
I moved to the East Village last September. Over the past 6 months, I’ve enjoyed exploring all this eclectic neighborhood has to offer. The more I discover, the deeper my fascination.
The East Village — the blocks east of the Bowery between Houston and 14th Streets, was once considered to be part of the Lower East Side, but began to develop its own unique identity and culture in the late 1960s, when a flurry of artists, musicians, students and hippies began to move into the area.
The neighborhood has since emerged as a center of the counterculture in New York, and is regarded as the birthplace of several artistic movements, including punk rock and the Nuyorican literary movement. It has also been the site of protests and riots. Although in recent decades it has been argued that gentrification has transformed the character of the neighborhood, East Village is still known for its diverse community, vibrant nightlife (boasting the highest concentration of bars in the city) and artistic charm. Recent years have seen an influx of trendy bars, street art, boutique shops while an abundance of affordable eateries has made the East Village, the mecca for budget-minded foodies.
Here is a list of my favorite spots in the neighborhood:
- Cafe Orlin: Cafe Orlin is a charming cafe serving American & Middle Eastern food. I recommend the hummus with mushrooms and avocado toast (pictured below). These mouthwatering appetizers will leave you craving for more.
- Kenka: Located on the lively St. Marks strip, Kenka serves tasty Japanese street-style food and beer at a reasonable price. It’s quirky and risqué décor make for an interesting culinary and cultural experience. Don’t forget the cotton candy machine on your way out. Upon receiving your check, you’ll be given a small cup of pink sugar that you can spin into your very own cotton candy (pictured below).
- Spot Dessert Bar: Spot is an innovative dessert parlor that serves delectable Asian-inspired desserts. The line is usually long but it’s always worth the wait! My personal favorites are the honey toast and green tea lava cake.
- Jules Bistro: Jules Bistro is a charming, intimate French restaurant located on 8th street, between 1st and 2nd avenue. The warm cosy ambience, live jazz music and delicious food make for a great date spot or a fun night out with friends.
- Bean Cafe: The Bean is the quintessential East Village coffee shop. The staff, décor, food and beverages as well as music are inspired by the vibe and personality of East Village. It’s a popular spot for students, entrepreneurs, creatives and neighborhood residents who want to get some work done while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
- Box Kite: This cosy little coffee shop is a neighborhood favorite for East Village residents. Come here to enjoy a cup of quality coffee and soak up the low-key ambience. House, hip hop and experimental music is often blasted through the speakers, giving this neighborhood coffee shop an edgy and modern feel.
- Tompkins Square Park: This popular park in the middle of the East Village is a perfect centerpiece for the eclectic neighborhood (pictured below). It is where the lives of artists, musicians, families, students and old neighborhood residents intersect.
Despite its grit and grime, East Village is a fascinating, lively and trendy neighborhood with a cult following. It’s culturally diverse community, plethora of food options, dynamic nightlife and artistic allure make it one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York, and quite possibly, the entire world.