Alphabet City is a unique sub section of Manhattan’s East Village. The neighborhood that spans North of Houston to 14th Street gets its name from its alphabetically lettered, east-to-west avenues marked A through D.
Alphabet City is an artistic and cultural melting pot. Loisaida, Spanish word play on “Lower East Side,” is how many of its Spanish-speaking, particularly Puerto Rican residents still refer to the neighborhood. You’ll find a “Loisaida Ave” sign on Avenue C paying homage to the once predominately Hispanic community.
This more affordable section of Manhattan is home to a mix of lifelong residents, artists, and twenty-somethings. In the heart of Alphabet City, you’ll find Tompkins Square Park, an urban oasis with the perfect balance of green and city grit.
Like its adjacent villages, Alphabet City has a vibrant food and drink scene. There’s no shortage of locally owned cocktail and wine bars, bustling bodegas, charming cafes, and unique restaurants.
Here are the seven Best Alphabet City Restaurants.
If you’re looking for some of the most serious southern fried chicken in Manhattan, look no further than BOBWHITE Counter. With just a few tables and its namesake counter, the tiny restaurant quickly fills up with eager guests.
For the real deal, order a two- or three-piece chicken and biscuit. Fried chicken sandwiches are a mouth-watering, boneless alternative. Level up your sandwich by adding pimento cheese dip.
Be sure to try some of their stellar southern sides like collard greens with black-eyed peas, coleslaw and of course, mac and cheese.
Nowon is a self-described Korean-American pocha, or drinking place. Named for Chef Jae Lee’s hometown, Nowon does a brilliant job of taking a Korean spin on some New York City classics. With a high-low approach, you’ll find dishes like crispy honey butter tater tots and chopped cheese rice cake alongside surf and turf tartare on the menu.
Nowon has rightfully received praise for its aptly named Legendary Burger; however, don’t sleep on the fried tofu sandwich.
Playful guests should try Nowon’s drinking game sets with beer and soju, Korea’s national drink, a spirit made from rice.
As for the space, hip hop and a graffitied exterior add to its fun urban vibe. Expect disco balls and tunes to be spinning as you enjoy your eclectic dinner.
Accidental Bar is a relatively new addition to the neighborhood. Following the growing sake trend, Accidental Bar carries a unique selection of sakes and small bites.
This pocket-sized establishment is the perfect spot for pairs or small groups to sip on a glass of Japanese rice wine as the well-versed staff walks you through its thoughtfully curated sake list.
Expand your culinary horizons and taste authentic sakes imported from Japan and even some brewed locally in Brooklyn. Order their tasting menu or choose your own adventure with a selection of small plates. Their sweet and savory Chili Crisp Corn is playfully plated to resemble the curve of an octopus a la plancha.
Although Superiority Burger technically is an East Village restaurant, it’s currently relocating around the corner to Avenue A—therefore making this the crown jewel of veg-forward burger joints in Alphabet City.
When ordering, you simply can’t skip out on Superiority’s outstanding homemade veggie patty, referred to as “SB” on its ever-changing menu of vegetarian and vegan options. Daily specials include seasonal sandwiches, salads, and creative vegetable sides like “burnt” broccoli salad. Feed the owner’s focaccia obsession by adding some of their perfectly airy Italian loaf to your order.
Reopening date TBA. For the most up-to-date menu visit their Instagram.
Owner and executive chef PriaVanda Chouhan founded Desi Galli with the hopes to create an Indian soul food experience in NYC. The first word in the restaurant’s name, Desi, is a Hindustani term for “the people, cultures, and product/services of the Indian subcontinent diaspora” while the term Galli means “alley” or “narrow street.”
Don’t be fooled by the casual interior; Chouhan specializes in high-quality, fast-casual Indian street food with a vegetable forward approach. She uses a combination of traditional vegetables and legumes, as well as Beyond meat in her dishes, making Desi Galli the perfect spot for adventurous vegan and vegetarians.
On the menu, there are over 10 different kathi rolls, or traditional Indian wraps, to choose from.
Be sure to sample a few chaats, or Indian snacks. While pakoras and samosas are classic, try their trademarked Desipoutine™, fries smothered in tikka sauce and topped with grated Paneer (an Indian cheese).
You can’t visit “Loisaida” without getting a taste of traditional Puerto Rican cuisine at Casa Adela. This neighborhood favorite has been keeping “Nuyoricans” happy serving up authentic dishes like pollo (chicken) and pernil (pork) asado, sanocho (a hearty soup), and rice and habichuelas (beans).
Adela’s tostones, or fried plantain chips, are wildly addictive. Order the house-favorite traditional side, mofongo, a mash of fried green plantains mixed with garlic and roast and fried pork.
Their homestyle approach and hospitality will please even the most discerning abuela (grandmother). Casa Adela is BYO, so be sure to grab a bottle of wine or beer from the great local shops just up the street on Loisaida Ave (Avenue C).
Ask any local for their go-to neighborhood Italian spot and surely Lavagna will top the list. Tin ceilings and exposed brick add to this trattoria’s charm. Lavagna is serving up simple and rustic Italian dishes from classic antipasti to outstanding pastas like their fresh pappardelle with braised rabbit.
Lavagna takes full advantage of its wood burning oven, firing up pizzettes, or small pizzas, as well as their signature whole roasted fish for two. Sit on their sidewalk café in warmer months to enjoy people watching as you peruse their extensive wine list.
Barbara Booras is a Boston native and freelance food & drink writer. She’s spent the last 7+ years in NYC eating her way through the five boroughs. Over the last decade she’s worked in a boutique wine shop, for a Mediterranean specialty food company, and even slung bottles of hot sauces at a New York City holiday market. In addition to being a lover of all things gastronomy, Barbara is an avid runner and recently completed her third marathon. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @favoritenoodle.