After graduation, moving to New York was the obvious choice. I had a job offer at a Tribeca-based consulting startup, was single, and had plenty of friends in the city. Despite having no apartment and limited experience living in cities, I was beyond excited to start living the American Dream.
I packed my bags and moved from the Midwest to the city. For my first month, I crashed at a friend’s place on the Lower East Side. It was a cramped apartment and my suitcase took up a generous portion of the living room. Despite being small, that apartment felt like home. My friend Keni and I would hang out on the roof, wander around “the neighborhood”, and eat leftover pastries her brother would bring home from work. I felt like a modern day less grungy Pattie Smith, finding myself in the lower east side.
Part of what made that month so exciting was the endless array of stores, restaurants, and boutiques. We loved exploring all of the trendy boutiques on Ludlow, Orchard, and Rivington. Some of our favorites were Yumi Kim, Frankie, Reformation, and Assembly. I loved finding unusual & vintage inspired clothes that contrasted the typical “high street” styles.
The restaurants in the neighborhood were also some of my favorites in the city. Epstein’s always had great brunch/dinner deals, and I went more than a few times. For a quick dinner, Georgia’s Eastside BBQ was the perfect spot. They had the most amazing fried green tomatoes and cheesy grits. And as for Mexican Food, I would argue that Mission Cantina has some of the best in the city.
The bar scene in the Lower East Side is also hard to top. One of my favorite places to start the night is Le French Diner. It’s a small place (about 15 seats) with amazing appetizers, wine, and beer. I love starting my night out there before moving on to Pianos, Hair of the Dog, No Fun, Miss Lily's, and/or Fat Baby. No matter where you end up, the atmosphere is always unique and fun.
Although I only spent a month on the Lower East Side, I find myself constantly coming back. For me, there’s something so cool about wandering around that neighborhood, rediscovering old favorites, and stumbling onto something new. I love watching the neighborhood change but hope it always keeps its grungy yet vibrant charm.