Like a strangely alluring amoeba, what is known as “The Lower East Side” has organically morphed over the Manhattan map, evolving over the decades by both definition of character and geographical designation. At times encompassing what is now referred to as the East Village and Alphabet City, the Lower East Side (L.E.S.), like any great neighborhood, has kept traces of all its eras, mixing in each new manifestation with enthusiasm. And, like any great neighborhood, the true depth of its nuance is impossible to grasp at first visit. The haunting of past tenement communities, the cultural remnants of the Eastern Europeans and, more recently, the Latinos, the vibrancy of the small, inventive boutiques, the swoon of the fantastic cuisine, and the thrill of an unmatchable nightlife—all point to a story far more profound than what meets the eye.
Cosmopolitan Rivington Street
To get more insight on this intriguing neighborhood, we caught up with resident and local DJ, Jeff Owens, who moved into his apartment on Clinton Street, just off Rivington, in 2003. Jeff was first drawn in by the mellow neighborhood vibe. “There is a distinctly independent vibe about the neighborhood and at the same time it is in the midst of Manhattan, convenient to everything.” Jeff loves that most of the stores are independently owned, creating a more eclectic experience and notes that even the local cinema, The Sunshine, is constantly playing a great selection of indie movies, from the totally obscure to some wider released films.
Some of the Lower East Side’s street art
“Living on Clinton Street in the L.E.S. was spoiling,” Jeff admits. Surrounded by restaurants and bars that draw people from across the city, Jeff could easily say that his favorite New York places were all just a stones throw away from his apartment. “It is a neighborhood where you can dine on haute cuisine or the best street style Punjabi.”
Take a seat at WD50
Or.. try the lamb
When prompted for suggestions on where to hit for a night out on the L.E.S., as expected, Jeff rattles off a sizeable list. Try 1492 for great tapas and Catalan food, and on balmy evenings, enjoy its quintessentially New York tiny back garden. The world class WD50, famous for pioneering molecular gastronomy, defies the term “fad” and is a great place to blow the minds of locals and out of town visitors. After dining, grabbing a drink has endless opportunities: wine bars like Inoteca; swanky hotel bars like CO-OP (which also has fantastic food); and, Jeff’s favorite, the really old school dive bars. Welcome to the Johnsons, is his particular haunt, but Jeff alludes to a wealth of other, unmarked locales “with just an address and the sweet smell of stale smoke and the previous evenings imbibing.”
This is a guest post from Ava Federov.Google+