The East Village restaurant and bar scene has always been diverse, inclusive and a welcomed escape. Hospitality is at the center of who we are as New Yorkers, and luckily Phase 2 of reopening New York City allows for socially distanced outdoor dining. As a resident of the East Village, I took a good look around so that I could share what’s open In the East Village now. A note of caution: When you do decide to go on an adventure to some of the most talked about spots in the East village and Alphabet City, please remember to be respectful. The virus is far from being eradicated, and we would hate to undo all the hard work we, and the health care community, did in order to keep our fellow New Yorkers safe.
Khiladi serves an elevated South Indian cuisine and some appetizing street market staples. While I can’t get enough of their take-out, I look forward to sitting down at a table and enjoying a meal at this Avenue B restaurant. I am told genuinely homemade South Indian food is a rarity in this city, and that makes this place a gem. The menu consists of South Indian and Traditional Indian options, service is excellent, and their Frozen Popsicle Rose cocktail is a summer day must-have. Owner, Sruthi Chowdary, describes the excitement of reopening: “We are excited to finally serve food on actual plates, not plastic containers. Our neighborhood is the best anyone could ask for. The locals show us that all hope is not lost in humanity and come together as a community. These are things that give me hope for the future, even though we’ve been through the most any new business can in the first year.”
PHOTO: Khiladi’s Frozen Popsicle Rose Cocktail is pretty and strong. South Indian cuisine, made from homemade family recipes, at Khiladi.
Veselka’s food and drink menu is extensive, but the new menu also lists ways we can dine outdoors and feel comfortable doing so. They limit dining to 60 minutes per party, you must wear a protective face covering at all times (except when seated at table), and respect all posted signage. I highly recommend you order the red borscht, pierogies, potato pancakes and for a refreshing treat, the prosecco cocktail. As a central European, I come here for taste of home, but the popular Ukranian diner is a New York City classic. It is here to stay.
PHOTOS: Veselka’s Potato Pancakes, served with sour cream and apple sauce. Veselka’s outdoor dining, on their second day of New York’s phase 2 of reopening.
Bistro-style place in the East Village, Pardon My French, has been serving cocktails to-go (as seen in the photo at the top of this post). Pardon My French is where you want to be to meet other French expats or francophiles. The quaint Parisian-style bistro serves an unforgettable brunch and craft cocktails. The bar is located near Tompkins Square Park, making your visit to this bar a no-brainer. The best part is their fun, upbeat music. Visiting here makes you forget you’re in New York City. Their cocktails are wonderfully balanced and sophisticated.
PHOTO: Editor, Paulina Kajankova, with Pardon My French cocktail in hand, the Cocktail No. 3: Cachaca, Watermelon, Giffard Pamplemousse, Apertivo Select, Lime Juice and Paprika Sea Salt. Right, the Cocktail No. 4: London Dry Gin, Giffard Ginger of the Indies, Lime Juice, Thomas Henry Ginger Beer and fresh ginger. The bar has a welcoming, and a cool foreign, but cozy vibe.
The Wayland is yet another escape from the city’s bustling energy. Think of it as your country cabin escape, with professional cocktails. The bar opened in 2011 and its popularity remains strong. Since its opening in 2011, the owners expanded the bar and opened additional bars in the neighborhood (look up Goodnight Sonny and Lost Lady). I recommend the Garden Variety Margarita and Pernil Romero, a Berkshire pork shoulder slow cooked in sour orange, garlic, and rosemary.
PHOTOS: The Wayland opened its doors, and windows, back up in late May. The Wayland’s bartender mixes and serves cocktails to loyal patrons.
The Hard Swallow is a fun rock and roll joint, and they are open for business doing street cocktails. The bar’s name comes from their seriously-strong over proof drinks and it is reflective of what New York City is, tough on the outside, soft on the inside. This is the spot to stop if you want to get right to the point. Can’t wait to keep coming back.
Since Club Cumming started serving cocktails to-go (order the Super Gay Punch), they made sure to keep their patrons safe. This bar is a haven for the LGBTQ community and I think they are doing social distancing correctly. You won’t see any overcrowding here, but you will enjoy the usual fun and familiar faces. Club Clumming is owned by Alan Cumming, but the spotlight is on performance and talent. To support them stop by for a drink or buy their merchandise online. I can’t wait to see what they planned next for Phase 2 and 3 of reopening… rumors of outdoor performances may be in store.
It used to be that getting a cocktail at Please Don’t Tell (PDT) meant waiting by the phone for hours. The speakeasy is not an easy place to get into. Since the pandemic, they took things above ground and served their to-go cocktails in the usual style. Fancy but incognito. Find their big cooler by Crif Dogs, you can’t miss the big Eat me Sign, and treat yourself to a specialty bottled cocktail.
PHOTO: Lit Juice, is one of PDT’s bottled to-go cocktails: Suntory Hatu Vodka, Granny Smith Apple, lemon, mint, and soda. Grab one while you can, Ellen Swandiak did.
Please Don’t Tell bottled cocktails sitting pretty in an ice box, great for grab-and-go. Criff Dog’s Eat me sign is your first clue that you’ve arrived at PDT.
[sadly, this place has since closed] Porsena is loved by many in the East Village. The artisanal pasta-focused menu and fresh ingredients make this place memorable. There is a family atmosphere, and they have been very careful over the course of the pandemic. As with my places in the city, its faith seemed uncertain, but they opened back up over the course of last week and that makes me hopeful. If you love Italian food, run, don’t walk to get some things off the menu.
On a final note, New York City has been through a lot in the last few months. There are better days ahead—we always overcome and recover. As Hard Swallow’s owner Leroy Lloyd emphasized, “we are New York tough”. When you visit a neighborhood, treat it with the same respect you would treat your own home, possibly better. Wear a mask, strive to keep that 6 ft physical distance from others, leave the neighborhood clean, and have fun. We hope you all keep staying safe and healthy!