I moved to the Lower East Side a little over a year ago. To be more exact, I moved closer to the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side at the corner of Essex and Canal. While the Lower East Side north of Delancey is being infiltrated by frat stars and state school grads, the Lower East Side below Delancey is seeing a rebirth of creative, unique, and amazing stores, galleries, and my favorite, restaurants. If you ever find yourself hungry and near the East Broadway F stop, take your tastebuds over to one of these restaurants.
It seems essential that every twenty-something living in New York has a go-to restaurant or bar within walking distance of their apartment. For me, Forgetmenot is just that and so much more. Located at 138 Division Street, this unassuming restaurant recently doubled its size, most likely to keep up with growing demand. In fact, many of my neighbors asked that I do NOT write about Forgetmenot in hopes of keeping this place local and undiscovered. The restaurant is covered in a mixture of bumper stickers, graffiti, and plenty of '80s/'90s collectibles. I am slightly reminded of T.G.I Friday's, but in a non-commercial, non-pieces of flare, kind of way. Forgetmenot offers good American food at affordable prices. I recommend the chicken served with spinach and mashed potatoes, or the hanger steak. Bring a date, bring friend, or just yourself to this hidden gem! Hit this place up next time you're in the hood and be sure to look for a few Hansky pieces along the way. Don't wear a suit.
A very close second in terms of go-to restaurants, and an overall great spot for brunch, lunch or dinner, Cafe Petisco fills the second spot in my arsenal of must-eats. Most meals will set you back a reasonable $10-$15 and be more than enough to keep you full. The pitas are my go-to while my cousin usually opts for a burger. The ambiance of this restaurant is truly what wins me over. Petisco is on the south side of Seward Park, 138 East Broadway to be exact, and is truly a neighborhood joint. The sidewalk cafe provides the perfect opportunity to watch the traffic inside and out. You'll see a mix of families, tourists, yuppies, starving artists all coming together in the beautiful space. Plan ahead, Cafe Petisco is cash only.
Skal is a little on the dressier side of things when compared to the other two restaurants. This cocktail bar/restaurant opened up at 37 Canal (on the corner of Ludlow) almost a year ago and has been a huge success ever since. Skal serves Scandinavian cuisine, with my personal favorite being duck wings to start and monkfish for my main. Floor-to-ceiling windows slide open during the warmer months to create a beautiful space that pours right into the neighborhood it calls home. Skal is open for dinner during the week and brunch during the weekend. I strongly recommend going in the early evening for drinks with a candlelit dinner to follow. Meals usually range between 20-30 bucks before drinks. This is a restaurant you should get a little dressy for, but keep things on the casual side.
Rosette is located catty-corner from Skal at 171 East Broadway and is probably the dressiest of the two. That address may sound familiar to a few who used to frequent B.East seeing that this restaurant took over after the club closed up shop three years ago. My oh my how things can change in just a few years. I frequent Rosette for dinner more so than brunch, although both meals are great. Try the wood-fired chicken wings for starters and dive into the lamb for two (or possibly more) or the wagyu sirloin for a hearty meal. Be sure to try one of the refreshing cocktails as well! Rosette is gaining quite a lot of popularity, so try to book a reservation if you can. Dress up for this restaurant, make it fun.
88 Orchard / Irving Farm
And they say they save the best for last... This is possibly the quintessential Lower East Side regarding coffee. Located on the corner of Broome and Orchard, Irving Farm serves up a slammin' breakfast burrito, strong coffee, and delectable pastries. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up on nice days to create an open-air cafe, while exposed brick and the original tin ceiling make this a cozy place to relax at on a cold winter's day. The food is a little on the pricier side for a coffee shop, but it's clean, well-prepared, and totally worth it. This is the perfect spot for a relaxing lunch or a mellow breakfast. I haven't been for dinner, but see a large crowd lingering into the evening hours. Contrary to most coffee shops in New York City, there is no Wi-Fi. I come here for the food, for the atmosphere, and for the strong strong coffee. Irving Farm, eat there or don't eat anywhere.