In the early 20th century, the Lower East Side teemed with immigrants arriving daily from Eastern Europe, Ireland, and Italy. At one point it was considered to be the densest place on earth.
Following decades of deterioration, this neighborhood is still filled with old-world tenement buildings and has been reborn as a mecca for trendy stores, cafes, galleries, and some of the best new restaurants in New York.
To make sure you see the best of the LES, be sure to split the day’s activities across morning, noon and night!
Start the day with coffee and a homemade croissant at the laid-back Black Cat LES, one of the last café-turned-hangout spots on Rivington Street before the block becomes residential. At the café, which feels like a cross between your grandparents’ 70’s basement and a college rec center, you’ll find people playing board games, working on laptops or quietly hanging out. On Friday nights, the café is open late and sometimes hosts free open-mic’s.
Down the block is St. Jerome’s, one of the bars Lady Gaga frequented and performed at before she became Lady Gaga. You won’t find a sign or plaque about her – it’s just an insider’s #FunFact!
For more history, head to the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street. Learn the stories and struggles of the immigrants who called the Lower East Side their new home by joining one of the tours at the museum. The walking tours will show you the evolution of the neighborhood.
Thirsty? Cross the street to Top Hops, a relaxing beer shop and tasting bar. There are more than 700 bottles and cans of craft beers to choose from! Take a seat at the bar, and ask for the flight of the day. They also offer a few cured meats and cheeses from the nearby Essex Street Market.
Of course, after a few brewskis, you’ll want to stretch your legs a bit. Walking East on Delancey Street, you’ll see the Williamsburg Bridge. This bridge is a favorite for walkers, joggers and bikers. Stroll over toward Brooklyn and back; it’s about one-hour round trip. While on the bridge, be sure to take a picture with One World Trade Center in the background.
For dinner back in the LES, head to Ariel’s Latin Bistro. The chicken chicharrónes with garlic-lemon sauce are delicious! There’s also a variety of tapas such as empanadas and potato croquettes. Don’t forget a tropical cocktail such as mojito, margarita or caipirinha to accompany the tapas!
For a laugh and a nightcap, head to Stay Classy New York – the one and only Will Ferrell themed bar! Sip on one of the drinks named after the comedian – from ‘You’re My Boy Blue’ (gin, blue curacao, sweet and sour, and pineapple juice) to ‘Frank the Tank’ (a pint of Guinness and a shot of whiskey). Pictures of the actor in character decorate the small bar, and a TV plays Ferrell classics.
Need more recommendations, or do you have more favorite hot spots and points of history in the LES? Tweet us @HiltonSuggests!
To access more information about local restaurants, unique attractions, and special offers in New York City, visit our Destination Guide, or explore Hilton properties in New York City below.