Budget Neighborhood Guide: East Village

By Jessica Colley—

All New Yorkers long for a time before their favorite cheap restaurant or dive bar was replaced with something shiny (and maybe even a bit soulless). The East Village hasn’t escaped this fate—you’ll find expensive cocktails as frequently as cheap beers—but some affordable spots are still thriving.

St. Marks Hotel East Village

The St. Mark's Hotel puts you right in the middle of the action on the East Village's liveliest street.

These cheapo-friendly destinations contribute to the character of the neighborhood, providing gathering places for students, creative types, and all those in search of a meal or drink that won’t empty the wallet.

Where to Stay

East Village Bed & Coffee
110 Avenue C (between Seventh and Eighth Streets)
Doubles from $135

In the far reaches of the East Village on Avenue C is this full-of-character guesthouse. Rooms are private, bathrooms are shared, and amenities include kitchens, living rooms, free bikes, and free museum passes. Some rooms are surprisingly small, but all are comfortable and bright with a unique theme.

St. Mark’s Hotel
2 Saint Mark's Place (at Third Avenue)
Doubles from $ 120

For private bathrooms, check out the clean-and-simple St. Mark’s Hotel. The St. Mark’s Place location is a blessing and a curse: The lively neighborhood is on your doorstep, but bring earplugs to sleep. Nice touches include flat-panel TVs and a soothing color scheme (no ugly bedspreads here), but be prepared to pay a fee for Wi-Fi and note the hotel accepts cash only (or traveler’s checks).

The GEM Hotel
135 East Houston Street (at Forsyth Street)
Doubles from $139

Located on the edge of SoHo and the East Village, the GEM Hotel has 45 rooms with a bit of style (and a touch of luxury—toiletries are Gilchrist & Soames). Extra amenities include free Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations, and cozy down pillows. Beware of the rooms on the basement level—ask for a room on a higher floor.

Burger at Veselka East Village

Veselka offers up appetizing—and affordable—Ukranian fare in the East Village. Photo: Adam Kuban.

Where to Eat

Porchetta
110 East Seventh Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)

For a taste of street food Italy style, check out Porchetta, a neighborhood favorite known for its slow-roasted pork sandwiches. Crusty ciabatta rolls are stuffed with free-range, highly seasoned, melt-in-your-mouth pork with its crispy skin or “cracklin”. Don’t expect condiments here—the sandwich is perfect as is.

Veselka
144 Second Avenue (at Ninth Street) and 9 East First Street (between Bowery and Second Avenue)

Open 24-hours and serving big portions of Ukranian soul food is Veselka, now with two locations in the East Village. Locals are devoted to the pierogi (with fillings like potato or spinach and cheese), blintzes, potato pancakes, and soups. Even big appetites will find satisfaction here in the hearty fare and affordable prices.

Xi’an Famous Foods
81 Saint Mark's Place (near First Avenue)

Burgers at a Chinese place? It’s true at Xi’an Famous Foods, a cheapo favorite that serves up a type of regional Chinese food you might not be familiar with. Order up a spicy cumin lamb burger on the side of your hand-pulled noodles for the full experience.

Baohaus
238 East 14th Street (near Second Avenue)

Serving up Taiwanese street food is Baohaus, where bao, or steamed buns, are stuffed with a variety of ingredients from pork belly to fried chicken. If you like to try a range of flavors during a meal, this is your spot: Each bao only costs between $2.99 and $3.90.

International Bar Exterior

A classic East Village dive, the International Bar offers up well-worn décor, a local crowd and, most notably, cheap drinks. Photo: ZagatBuzz.

Where to Drink

Coal Yard
102 First Avenue (near Sixth Street)

Dive bars are becoming increasingly rare across the city, making Coal Yard a refreshing spot to swill an affordable beer-and-whiskey-shot combo. With a small back patio for warm nights, this TV-free space is a classic watering hole for nights when the focus is conversation and affordable suds.

St. Dymphna’s
118 Saint Mark's Place (between First Avenue and Avenue A)

Skip the cheesy Irish bars with fake knick-knacks in favor of one that nails Irish hospitality: St. Dymphna’s. You might come for the daily happy hour—$4 pints from 12 to 8—but you’ll stay for the perfectly poured Guinness, cozy tables, and relaxed scene.

International Bar
120 1/2 First Avenue (near Seventh Street)

A narrow and dark drinking den where stools at the bar are highly coveted, the International Bar offers steals unheard of in other parts of the city—such as the $4 martini. This is a place to arrive early, snag a seat, and expect to chat to locals and bartenders for the night.

Bonus:

Russian & Turkish Baths
268 East 10th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)

One tradition that has survived in the East Village is the Russian & Turkish Baths. After a recent renovation, the baths are better than ever, welcoming weary locals and travelers alike that could use a good soak or massage for a fraction of the price of fancy spas. For a one-time $35/entry fee, take a plunge in the cold pool, sweat it out in one of the saunas, (and on a warm day) relax on the sun deck afterwards.


Want more? Check out our picks for each part of New York, starting with our Budget Neighborhood Guide to SoHo.


About the author: Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com.