7 Best Restaurants in East Village

When it comes to creative desserts in East Village, Momofuku Milk Bar‘s Compost Cookie and Macaron Parlour‘s Cheetos macaron reign supreme. In fact, if we could handle the sugar highs (and resist sampling everything, every day), we’d just live – ahem, eat – there for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert… daily (nevermind snacking in between). Fortunately, there are other options in the East Village to satisfy our stomachs, sans sweets overload. After getting pierced (or tatted) on St. Marks Place, post up at these palate pleasers for some perfect plates.

Root & Bone

Root & Bone Fried Chix, Photo Credit Lauren J. KaplanIf  Instagram is any indication, the shabby chic/country eatery isn’t just blowing up social media newsfeeds – though ours looks a lot like #RootandBone, #RootandBone, #eeeeeats, #RootandBone. On the app – and in person, of course – we’re salivating over the Fried Chicken half a bird, which is given a 24-hour bath in sweet tea prior to cooking. When it’s done soaking up the sweetness, it’s rolled in seasoned flour and cooked in a pressure fryer (which seals in the juices). But wait – there’s more. The chicken is tossed with a dehydrated lemon powder, post fryer ($16). The Lady J Ivory: Tito’s Vodka, Tangy Strawberry Shrub, lemon & celery ($12) isn’t a bad match, either. Can you say, #driiiiinks?

200 E. 3rd St., rootnbone.com 

Cienfuegos

CienfuegosAccording to Executive Chef, Andrew D’Ambrosi, the signature dish is The Short Rib Ropa Vieja: a red wine braised short rib with garlic, onion, chili, chicken stock, rosemary and thyme, served atop cauliflower puree and pickled sofrito, and finally garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, and crispy shallots ($14). Um, can Blue Apron please teach us how to make that? If not, we’ll be studying how to perfect this recipe… but first, let’s drink. The Cuban speakeasy serves a variety of rum based punches and a Zombie Cocktail ($20). Muchas gracias. Uno mas, por favor.

95 Ave. A, cienfuegosny.com

Ngam Restaurant

NGAM, New York, NYDon’t let Chef Hong’s pretty face fool you. The former model can whip up a feast – and then some. Her Pad Thai is offered three ways: traditional ($12) and shredded green papaya ($14) or zucchini noodles in place of rice noodles ($14). And while Phuket is known for it’s beaches, ocean view and epic caves (oh, did we mention the fresh seafood?), it might have some competition with a dish called A Wonderful Memory of Phuket: whole sea bass with turmeric, fried to crispy perfection and served with Thai seafood dipping sauce and apple salad ($34). Last (but not least), beef lovers will boast the Sai Oor Thai Burger, based on the flavors of Chiang Mai sausage, mixed with Sai Oor curry paste and topped with housemade cilantro-lime mayonnaise, green papaya kraut ($16). And don’t be embarrassed requesting a Thai Me Up ($12) – a cocktail, of course!- with Singha (beer), syrup, Champagne, and lime juice.

99 3rd Ave., ngamnyc.com

Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

BRFC_Chicken Pile 2_Credit Steve HillUltra crispy, ultra delicious and served with ultra exclusive signature sauces (like Wildflower Honey, Chipotle Honey, and BRBBQ Sauce), the matzo meal spiced exterior is Chefs’ Bruce and Eric Brombergs’ award-winning creation. It’s available per piece ($1.75-$5.50) or in a sandwich ($7-9). No hard booze here (though beer is available); Boylan’s Fountain Sodas ($2.50), and Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry shakes ($5) are served in the casual, fun spot frequented by families, students and late-night crowds (open until 2 a.m.).

28 East 1st St., blueribbonfriedchicken.com

Au Za’atar

Au Za'atar Grilled Platter Overhead lo by Michael TulipanCozy, rustic and romantic — this is not the Meatpacking district, people. Walls of exposed brick and recycled wood is used throughout the restaurant which has outdoor seating (while our nice weather lasts). Wines from Italy, Morocco, France and Spain ($9-$60) are best sipped while noshing on the Mixed Grill Platter. Made to share, the vegetarian mezzo includes cauliflower marinated in Lebanese herbs and spices then fried, or baba ghanoush, alongside a traditional North African sausage, grilled kebabs, and french fries ($37). And, it must be said: the complimentary pita bread makes us happy.

188 Avenue A, auzaatar.com

The Smith

Ricotta.Gnocchi.2A fan favorite is the Ricotta Gnocchi: toasted to create a slightly crispy exterior and fluffy interior, the little potato pieces tossed in a parmesan cream sauce and drizzled with truffle oil before being sprinkled with herbs ($21). Though you’ll have to travel uptown to the St. Regis for the original vodka and tomato juice combo, The Smith Bloody Mary is top of mind for the brunching set. At The Smith, Chef Glenn Harris uses his famous habanero vinegar and a secret mix ($13) for their version. The upbeat vibe and casual attitude in the brasserie finds repeat (cult like) customers, and a destination for large parties (…we’re dying to book a 60-person sit down dinner. Who’s in?!).

55 3rd Ave., thesmithnyc.com

The Black Ant

05_Black_Ant_Taco (1)Starting right now, we’re enforcing Taco Tuesday (Side note: Taco Thursday should be mandatory as well, but since it’s reserved for the adjective ‘Thirsty’, we digress). We propose that Tacos En Chapulinados: Shrimps Chapuline Crust, Tabiche aioli, avocado micro green salad ($14) will be celebrated on a weekly basis along with the Yum Kaax (named for the Mayan maize god): Mezcal  Joven, corn juice, citrus, agave, wild Mexican herbs, ant salt rim ($12). With a sleek stylish noir vibe, there are handpainted mural and handmade porcelain tiles and surreal photos within the sexy, fun, dark space (which also has an outdoor patio). Some dishes include ingredients like grasshoppers and black ants, but don’t let it bug you –not everything incorporates insects.

60 2nd Ave., blackantnyc.com

Sleeve tattoo or no ink at all — we each have a preference when it comes to art and eating, respectively. Did your favorite East Village eatery make our list? Should we feast elsewhere? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Hilary Sheinbaum is a University of Florida graduate and Writer/Reporter/Blogger/Person.

Hilary has contributed to dozens of publications including USA TODAY, Marie Claire magazine, ELLE.com, The Village Voice, amNew York and MensFitness.com. She writes about entertainment, food and beverage, love/dating and beauty.

She has been featured on FOX News, HuffPo Live, PIX11 News, StyleBlazer.com and People.com as a Lifestyle and Entertainment Expert.

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