The Lower East Side is the up and coming place to be. Houston Street hosts NYC Jewish classics like Katz Delicatessen, Russ and Daughter's Bagels, and Yonah Schimmel's Knishery. Sara D. Roosevelt Park contains M'Finda Kalunga Garden and outdoor courts for every sport ever played. At night, the streets are packed with young adults bar hopping from 169 to Pianos to Home Sweet Home. However, the LES also contains one of the best strips of restaurants in the city, Clinton Street.
Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant
Residing on the corner of Houston and Clinton, the Clinton Street Baking Company is known for their brunch-all-day menu. They only take reservations for dinner, so make sure you get there 20 minutes before opening for brunch. If you get there right on time, the line of 20 people will fill the first seating before you even have a chance to pay your taxi fare.
You have without a doubt seen their notorious pancakes on Instagram. They have three types: Wild Maine Blueberry, Banana Walnut, and Chocolate Chunk. Do yourself a favor and order the blueberry. If the pancakes alone aren't indulgent enough for you, instead of maple syrup they serve a warm maple butter to pour over top. Get a side of sugar bacon for the table and your brunch meal is set.
If you happen to visit during February, you will get to experience pancake month. About 15 different types of pancakes are featured throughout the month, so plan accordingly to which week you go. See the schedule here.
If you are not a pancake person, fear not! The Eggs Benedict (crab cake special is the BEST), Chicken and Waffles, and Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich are all great decisions too.
Check it out at 4 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Whether you heard of this ramen shop from watching Netflix's Chef Table or just happened to stumble upon it, you'll be happy to indulge in Ivan Orkin's famous rendition of the Japanese noodle dish.
Orkin opened up two locations in to New York after becoming famous in Japan as the Jewish Gaijin who could make ramen.
But Orkin doesn't just try to recreate traditional ramen, he puts his own spin on things. He is most well known for the use of chicken instead of pork, rye instead of pure wheat noodles, and roasted tomatoes and egg yolks for toppings. His super fatty broth mixed with creative noodles and toppings differentiates his ramen from the million other shops in the city.
Surrounded by manga-inspired artwork and never ending counter space, the experience of eating a bowl of Ivan Ramen is well worth the hype.
Check it out at 25 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Pig and Khao
If you are in need of an asian fusion, lively, J. Cole playing family style restaurant with artistic boar murals on the walls, Pig and Khao is the spot for you.
Immediately when you walk in, P&K's atmosphere makes you wish you were a regular at this spot. Whether you sit at the bar, inside, or on the back patio, your guests are guaranteed to ask you how you found this spot.
Make sure everyone in your party is willing to share, since you will want to try every single one of their "small" and "main" dishes. The highlights are the Grilled Pork Jowl, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Half Hainanese Duck, and a side of the coconut rice. (I know I have poor quality photos, but that just proves that I loved the place too much to care).
I have taken both my college friends and my parents here, and everyone has loved it. Although its get loud and the service can get a little questionable, the food and the vibes make up for it. I have never tried brunch here, but I hear the sizzling sisig and longonissa sausage is a great way to start the day.
Check it out at 68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Kings County Imperial
It all started with a dumpling class. I first discovered this restaurant when I signed up for a cooking class taught in the kitchen at King's Co. We learned how to make three types of dumpling, then feasted on all of their mains after. This is was the first of many trips back to the hip, American Chinese spot that I would eventually bring all my friends to.
The must try dish is the Mock eel. Fried, sweet and salty mushrooms cut to resemble eel. Easily the best thing on the menu. The noodle, meat, and dumpling dishes are perfect to share, but I'd maybe stay away from the soup dumplings. Save that for Joe's.
You will want a booth at Kings Co's to become your friend group's equivalent to the one in How I Met Your Mother. Order drinks from the extensive bar, sit in your cosy horseshoe-shaped booth, and eat some happy hour dumplings with your squad. I don't know about you, but that is my dream 20s.
Check it out at 168 1/2 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002
I still have more places on Clinton to try, but for now, people need to know about these spots. So jump on the F Train and head to the most underrated food spot in town.