Best Restaurants in the East Village

May 8, 2018
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by Zagat Staff

The hardest part about eating in East Village is choosing one place from the dozens of options. Next time you’re having trouble deciding, this list will help.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Asian · East Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.0

The “bold” dishes are always “a wow” at David Chang’s East Village Asian, which remains “as good as advertised” , especially if you get the “addictive” pork buns or “grab a few friends” for the large-format pork shoulder spread; predictably, groupies “can’t get enough” – presumably even more so now that the "bare-bones" set-up has received a post-Survey facelift and expansion (possibly outdating its Decor rating).
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Ramen · East Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

“Noodle bliss” awaits at this “lively” East Village American where “master” chef David Chang offers specialties like his “hallmark pork buns” and “complex” ramen bowls; “crammed” quarters and “long waits” detract, but the payoff is “awesome” eating “without breaking the bank.”
Lil' Frankie's
Italian · East Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

Really “solid” Italian fare “without frills” at an “affordable price” is the signature of this “casual” , cash-only East Villager, a sibling of Frank and Supper; it offers “standout” Neapolitan pizzas, late hours and a “garden room” , so it's no wonder it gets way- “crowded” at peak times.
Oiji
Korean · East Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

Specializing in “out-of-the-box” Korean fare, this East Villager matches “excellent renditions” of “modern” dishes (the “honey butter chips are a must” ) with “high-quality sojus” ; the “pint-sized” space is “tight” , but once you “cram yourself in” the food “speaks for itself.”
upstate craft beer & oyster bar
East Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

“Oyster fans” dig this “lively” East Village hangout for its “first-rate” seafood and “revolving” craft beer list; a no-rezzie rule and “ridiculously small” dimensions can make for “long waits” , but payoffs include “on-point” service and “fair prices.”
The Eddy
American · East Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.4

This “charming” East Village New American “nails it” with “exciting” plates “executed with perfect flavors” plus some of the “most creative” cocktails around; despite “expensive” tabs and an “itty-bitty” space that can feel a “bit tight” , most still “can't say enough great things.”
Cafe Mogador
Middle Eastern · East Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.9

“Everything is delicious” at these “popular” Moroccan “standbys” that are especially known for their “unbeatable” brunches; “tight seating” and “long waits” are part of the deal, but “gentle prices” help, and Williamsburg's “cute indoor garden” is especially “charming.”
Hearth
Italian · East Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“Given new life” after an update to its menu and space, Marco Canora's upscale East Villager still “delivers” via “gutsy” , “market-driven” Tuscan-American plates with a “more healthful” bent; the “subtly redone” room has the same “lively” vibe, complete with a “caring staff.”
Momofuku Ko
American · East Village · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

A “phenomenal experience” for an “open-minded foodie” , David Chang’s East Village “event” provides a “fascinating tour” of Asian-inspired American cuisine via “extraordinary” tasting menus crafted at a sleekly “comfortable” chef’s counter; the “steep” price tag is considered “well worth” it, so reservations are still as “tough” as “getting past heaven’s gates.”
Kyo Ya
East Village · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

At this East Village Japanese in a below-ground space, the Kyoto-style seasonal specialties are “as good as the finest in Tokyo” and the reservations-only kaiseki dinners are a “meal to remember” ; “wonderful” servers and calm surroundings are more reasons its admirers spend big and “leave satisfied.”
Prune
East Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.3

An “innovator that’s stood the test of time” , chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s East Village “standout” serves a “perfectly curated” menu of “exceptional” New American dishes in “unfailingly professional” style; the only drawbacks are a “toooo small” room with seating “on top of your neighbors” and long lines for the “fabulous brunch.”
Kanoyama
Japanese · East Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

The sushi is “always fresh” and “wonderful” at this no-frills East Village Japanese, where “unusual” specials and “excellent oysters” are other reasons to go; though not cheap, it’s considered a “pretty good value” given the “quality” – no wonder it’s “frequently full.”
Pylos
Greek · East Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.1

“Not your run-of-the-mill Greek” , this “more upscale” East Villager offers “unbeatable” cuisine that’s “lovingly prepared” and “well priced” for the quality; with a “wonderful” team overseeing a “memorable” space boasting a ceiling lined with terra cotta pots, it’s a “real find.”
Tuome
Asian · East Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.0

“Big” flavors arrive in “small” digs at this “inspired” East Village New American fielding a “progressive” , Asian-accented menu highlighted by its signature ‘Pig Out’, a “killer” pork belly dish for two; “pleasant” staffers and “spare” but “cozy” confines round out the “happy surprise.”
Sushi Dojo
Sushi · East Village · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.0

Though many “miss” founding chef David Bouhadana, this small East Village Japanese is still one of the “best omakase values in NYC” , offering “sublime” sushi made with “fresh” fish at “bang for the buck” pricing; the only downside are “underwhelming” digs.
Sobaya
Japanese · East Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

At this “low-key” East Village Japanese, the “perfectly made” soba combines “refreshing broths” with “delicious noodles” ; the no-reservations policy can cause “weekend waits” , but “affordable” price tags more than compensate.
Bowery Meat Company
Steakhouse · East Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

The team behind Burger & Barrel and Lure “bring innovation” to this Italian-influenced East Village steakhouse, offering “interesting” choices (duck lasagna is a “must” ) and “decadent” , “top-cut” chops; a retro '60s vibe gives the space an “inviting” feel, and while tabs are predictably “pricey” , there are many reasons to “return again and again.”
Fiaschetteria "Pistoia"
Italian · East Village · $$

An import from Pistoia, Italy, this East Village eatery serves pastas, prosciutto and other family-recipe Tuscan fare to go with Italian wines. The intimate space has sidewalk tables too.
Balade
Brunch · East Village · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

“Hidden away” in the East Village, this “traditional” Lebanese is lauded for “mouthwatering” meals (the “meze are a must” ) at “reasonable prices” ; with a “friendly” staff manning the “low-key” quarters, “addicted” followers keep “coming back.”
Takahachi
Sushi · East Village · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.1

“Creative sushi” and “excellent” Japanese home-cooking basics at a favorable “quality-to-price ratio” earn these neighborhood spots “favorite” status; a “helpful” staff adds warmth to the “nothing-fancy” setups, which “bustle” at prime times.
Somtum Der New York- East Village
Thai · East Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

“Nuanced” Thai flavors – from “subtle” to “bold” to “knock-your-socks-off spicy” – mark this “terrific” East Village offshoot of a Bangkok eatery, specializing in “authentic” dishes from the Isan region; with “reasonable” prices and a “lively” , “modern” interior, it's made for groups and “sharing lots of plates.”
Porsena
East Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.1

The “knowing hand” of chef-owner Sara Jenkins elevates the “heavenly pastas” and other “delicious, straightforward” Italian staples at this “friendly” East Villager; it works as a “down-to-earth” “date spot” , albeit a “busy” one.
Lavagna
Italian · East Village · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

This “intimate” Alphabet City “fave” delivers “value for the quality” with “delicious” , trattoria-style Tuscan fare set down by a “warm” staff; as it’s “consistently packed” ( “for good reason” ), followers only wish for “a tad more elbow room.”
Virginia's
American · East Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

“Original” and “well crafted” describes the fare at this “cozy” East Village bistro where the somewhat “limited” New American menu changes frequently for “memorable” results; the “subdued” space runs “tight” , but “great camaraderie” helps make it an overall “winner.”
Thursday Kitchen
Korean · East Village · $$

Chef Kyungmin Kay Hyun melds Korean cooking with French and Spanish influences to serve tapas-style plates (such as paella with caramelized kimchi) at this East Village neighborhood spot. Glowing cocktails served in clear squeeze-pouches add to the playful vibe.
Huertas
Spanish · East Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

“Impressive” Basque fare (including “inventive” tapas) and “creative” drinks make for an “exciting” meal at this “cool” East Village joint; the “helpful” staff “makes navigating the menu easy” , and while it “can get pricey” (gratuity is included), it’s a solid pick “with friends or a date.”
Han Dynasty
Chinese · Greenwich Village · $
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.7

“Hot in just the right way” , these “awesome Philly transplants” offer “unapologetically spicy” Sichuan dishes including “knockout” dan dan noodles; the Villager is “always crowded” while the UWS offshoot is much more “spacious” , and though both are “no-frills” , they're priced for “value" ; P.S. a third branch is set inside DeKalb Market Hall, complete with a bar and table service.
Supper
Brunch · East Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

This “unpretentious” East Villager from the Frank crew is a local “favorite” for “homestyle” Northern Italian fare; despite “tight” communal tables, “long waits” and a cash-only policy, the “rustic” digs are “always bustling.”
Motorino
Italian · East Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.7

These “effortlessly cool” parlors turn out “dynamite” Neapolitan-style pies that wed a “perfectly charred” , “wood smoke–kissed” crust to “top-of-the-line ingredients” (e.g. the “awesome” Brussels sprouts–pancetta version); “squeezed” seating and “minimal” service are the trade-offs.