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New York City, City Secrets: Lower East Side

04.19.2010

Immigrant enclave turned rock and roll art hub, the Lower East Side, sandwiched between Chinatown and the East Village in lower Manhattan, was recently named New York magazine?s #2 Best Neighborhood to live in. It?s come a long way from its seedy roots, but a unique edginess still prevails. Old tenement buildings house some of the city?s coolest boutiques, bars and eateries. Come watch the cool kids, pick up a few things you won?t find anywhere else, and fall in love.

Immigrant enclave turned rock and roll art hub, the Lower East Side, sandwiched between Chinatown and the East Village in lower Manhattan, was recently named New York magazine?s #2 Best Neighborhood to live in. It?s come a long way from its seedy roots, but a unique edginess still prevails. Old tenement buildings house some of the city?s coolest boutiques, bars and eateries. Come watch the cool kids, pick up a few things you won?t find anywhere else, and fall in love.

 
 
SHOP
 
Daha Vintage
175 Orchard St., New York, NY 10002
212-388-1176
Daha has what other vintage stores don?t ? open white space, high ceilings and plenty of light. Perfect for browsing, not burrowing. Daha may just be the most tempting of the LES? vintage depots, a one-stop shop where you?ll find trenches, furs, sequins, florals, costume jewelry and an endless selection of bags (some Gucci) and shoes ? Daha?s specialty. Charles Jourdan?s and Ferragamo?s are frequently sighted here ? all clearly marked by shoe size. A helpful detail that reflects Daha?s all-around approach to making fashion actually friendly.  ?I focus on cute, wearable clothes,? says Daha?s curator/shop owner Susan Daha. ?A lot of my shoes are from the ?80s and made in Italy ? and that usually means they?re the kind of quality you don?t see anymore.?
 
 
Pixie Market
100 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002
212-253-0953
Pixie Market may be small ? 3 racks and a bargain bin ? but it?s had a huge impact on the local and international fashion landscape. Its wares, from international, independent and up-and-coming designers, have been lauded the world over. Pixie Market has a knack for carrying clothes that sell out like hot cakes ? eclectic, one-of-a-kind pieces for the early adopter. One visit to Pixie Market and you?ll be equipped with a crystal ball for the next year of trends.
 
 
Some Odd Rubies
51 Ludlow Street, New York, NY
212-353-1736 
?We zipped before everyone else zipped!? says Some Odd Rubies shop owner, Ruby, referring to today?s exposed zipper trend. Fact: She did it in 2008. Excellent intuition must be the reward for good karma. Ruby gives new life to oldies but goodies, mixing straight vintage clothing with reconstructed vintage and new pieces made from vintage fabrics, the latter of which comprises her SOR line of statement pieces and delicate dresses and tops in uncommon prints. Peek inside and you?ll see that the SOR label reads: ?I wanted to keep this for myself. ? Maybe I could borrow it sometime.? This concisely describes how you?ll feel: take it all home or, at least, try it all on. Serious shoppers have been known to spend upwards of an hour in the Southern-vanity-style fitting room.
 
 
Maryam Nassir Zadeh
123 Norfolk Street, New York, NY 10002
212-673-6405
Gallery or boutique? Maybe both. The lines between interior and fashion design are blurred at Maryam Nassir Zadeh -- or Exhibit A in the case of the Lower East Side gone upscale. Owners/gorgeous couple Maryam and Uday hail from Iran and India, respectively, and have backgrounds in art direction, and clothing, textile and graphic design. Their collective expertise is evident in the way both men?s and women?s attire and accessories are presented as works of art. You?ll feel the urge to treat everything with kid gloves: haute labels ? Vena Cava, Electric Feathers, All for the Mountain and Dieppa Restrepo, amongst others ? and high price tags have a home here.
 
TG-170
170 Ludlow St., New York, NY 10002
212-995-8660
TG-170 is a true Lower East Side original, surviving 18 long years on Ludlow Street. A lot has changed around , but TG-170 remains true to its original vision, continuing to showcase the work of New York?s local design geniuses, as well as stocking pieces from better-known names. Owner Terri Gilles was one of the first to carryDaryl K and Built by Wendy. Neighborhood artists/former employees have helped make the space what it is today, creating wallpapers, posters and fitting room murals ? small and large details that make the shopping experience all the more robust. TG-170 is at once darling, daring and ever-ahead of the curve. Be sure to keep an eye out for precious jewelry that will give you a serious case of the gimmes.
 
Marmalade
The bad news: 11-year vintage vet Marmalade has been priced out of its rent. The good news: It won?t go quietly. Marmalade will be setting up a perma-pop-up-shop this summer at neighboring TG-170. It may not exactly be happily ever after, but vintage fiends, including fashion-forward patrons like Zoe Kravitz, will still be able to get their wild blasts from the past. Marmalade is certainly not for the meek.
 
 
 
EAT/DRINK
 
Schillers Liquor Bar
131 Rivington St., New York, NY 10002  (across from Maryam Nassir Zadeh)
212-260-4555
Part of the Pastisse-Balthazar empire, Schillers is great for brunch and even better for cocktails served stiff ? though their selection of Cheap-Decent-Good wines will also do the trick. The food, American, Am?ricain or Americano is hearty and flavorful ? be it the moules frites, Cuban sandwich or mac n? cheese. No calorie will be spared. Fun and confusion lurk in the sublevel bathroom where the Men?s and Women?s entrance leads you to the same washroom. Conversation ensues.
 
 
'Inoteca
98 Rivington St., New York, NY 10002
212-614-0473
Expect an hour and half wait at ?Inoteca, an acclaimed Italian eatery that specializes in small plates, paninis and some enticing larger pasta piatti. Get there extra early during New York?s summery months -- the outdoor seating is coveted and limited (by 7 p.m. only those with zen-like patience will be rewarded). Synchronizing your watch will be worth it ? the people watching here, at the intersection of cool, or Ludlow and Rivington, is unmatched, as is their wine selection.
 
 
Bereket
187 E. Houston St., New York, NY 10002
212-475-7700
For all-night revelers or oops-I-just-spent-my-entire-paycheck gals that still have to feed themselves, there?s always Bereket, a Turkish kebab house that is one of the most affordable, reliable and delicious eats in the LES. Most people don?t see the inside of this place before 2 a.m., but they?re open 24 hours. Stop in for the lentil soup and spicy chicken pita ? and paintings by Lower East Side mural artist Marco.
 
 
Russ & Daughters
179 E. Houston St., New York, NY 10002
212-475-4880
Russ & Daughters is nearly a national monument ? and most definitely the be all and end all of Eastern European Jewish fare. It was there before the Lower East Side was, opening and remaining in the same location since 1914. Bagels with horseradish cream cheese are the perfect way to start your morning. Other shmears and smoked salmon are top sellers. No need to brush up on your Yiddish ? but don?t forget the rugelach!
 
Max Fish
178 Ludlow St., New York, NY 10002
212-529-3959 
It may be a tad too rock and roll and dive-y for most ? dare not enter the bathroom without hand sanitizer ? but ?. Max Fish is just that ? a testament to the original Lower East Side of art, angst and all-night-long. Supermodels like Erin Wasson and Lily Cole have been spotted here during Fashion Week. Hipsters flock to it all year ?round.
 
 
Chloe 81
81 Ludlow St., New York, NY 10002
212-677-0067
Good music and a firm hand at the door make Chloe 81, an unmarked basement bacchanal on the cusp of the Lower East and Chinatown, one of the city?s best (and most secretive) destinations for the in-crowd. Go during the week ? Wednesday is the new Thursday, Thursday is the new Saturday, to avoid the barrage of non-regulars. Dress to make others feel inadequate. Live to tell the story.