First and foremost, the neighborhood is experiencing one of the fastest transformations in all of the city. As areas like the East Village, Gramercy, and Murray Hill climb beyond price ranges of many potential renters, the Lower East Side has suddenly become a great option to fall back on. If you are looking for a summer sublet, a cheaper (by New York City standards) apartment, or simply a neighborhood is has yet to be heavily influenced materialism, this is the place for you.
Famous for being a melting pot of almost every New York City immigrant influx, the Lower East Side is primarily composed of small former tenement walk ups. There has been an increase of new construction as of late, however even the newer buildings rarely stand above 15-stories tall. The apartments tend to be on the smaller side as well. Size is juxtaposed by lower prices. (My two-bedroom apartment, while being pretty small, is $2,350/month!) The LES is one of the last pockets of affordability in all of Manhattan. To find a Manhattan neighborhood with similar affordability, you will need to travel 100+ blocks uptown into Harlem/Washington Heights. The LES is affordable even when compared to Brooklyn! Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, etc. are all pricier than my hood, not to mention the fact that they are in Brooklyn…
The feel of the Lower East Side is nothing short of cool. Hipsters walk alongside a large Chinese population that has spilled over from neighboring Chinatown to create an atmosphere only possible in a city like New York. These two groups are intermingled with a shrinking Latino population found on the eastern border of the neighborhood. Independently owned art galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants line streets like Orchard, Allen, and the Bowery, while new developments along Rivington and Stanton cement the neighborhood’s upscale transformation. Nightlife here is amazing. Whether you’re looking for a dive bar with $2.50 PBR’s, bottle service at The Box, or something in between, the Lower East Side (“Lower East Packing”) is quickly becoming a destination neighborhood.
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum (Delancey and Orchard) is a must see for anyone interested in the areas history. The museum explains how the neighborhood came to be and shows visitors into actual tenement apartments.
Katz’s Deli: Made famous by Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally,” this Jewish deli does NOT disappoint. Located on Houston and Ludlow, this is a great place to hit up if you want to see the more developed part of the Lower East Side.
Noodle Bar: (Stanton and Orchard) If you like Thai, eat here. The cash only restaurant features some of the spiciest, tangiest, and most appetizing entrees at very affordable prices.
Co-Op: By far one of the coolest spots on the LES. Located in Hotel Rivington (right off of Essex), this bar/restaurant is somewhat like a Lower East Side Standard Hotel. Endless drunk brunch on Sundays followed by swanky cocktail parties as day turns to night. Check this place out.
169 Bar: One of the best bars in New York City. Drinks are cheap, good, and the bar is never too busy. If you are looking for a fun place to chill, let lose, and eat some delicious $2 dumplings, this is your place.