If you want to eat your way around New York City in a few short blocks, this Lower East Side walk is for you. While the three street stroll will hardly burn enough calories to justify what you’re about to consume, I argue that one of the best ways to get to know a city is by visiting those local tried-and-true foodie establishments that have become neighborhood staples, for very good reason. So grab your walking shoes, a bottle of Tums, and meet me on Houston Street.
Take the F train to the 2nd Avenue stop, and walk East on Houston Street until you arrive at your starting point, 137 E. Houston Street, the home of Yonah Schimmel Knishery. Not gonna lie, this walk brought me into this historic NYC institution for the first time, and also delighted my mouth with my very first taste of a knish. If you’re on a non-carb diet this might not be the best place for you, as a knish is a (in this case) giant dumpling of dough (we’re talking the size of a man’s fist!) that is stuffed with your filling of choice and then baked or fried…amazing stuff, indeed. I boldly went for the Jalapeno and Cheddar flavor, a wise decision if you appreciate a kick to your knish. Grab it to go and continue walking east along Houston.
Next door you’ll spot the Sunshine Cinema, one of the best places to watch an independent film in the city. One unique thing I love about this theater is that they do Friday and Saturday midnight movie screenings, bringing old classics back to life on the big screen for $10 a show. (And yes, there is popcorn!)
At 179 E. Houston you’ll spy another Lower East Side staple, Russ & Daughters. These folks are purveyors of smoked fish and caviar, and have been around since 1914. Stop in for a look around, but save your appetite…
…because at 205 E. Houston, you’ll be at the famous restaurant Katz’s Delicatessen. Many of you will recognize this joint from a myriad of Food Network shows featuring ginormous pastrami sandwiches, but my favorite memory of it is from the scene in the movie “When Harry Met Sally”, when Meg Ryan enjoyed her orgasmic sammy, leaving the old lady saying, “I’ll have what she’s having.” (Relive the magic here!)
If you’re not completely stuffed, a stop next door to the il laboratorio del gelato is definitely mandatory. I had the Honey Lavender and my friend went with the Earl Gray, both of which were simply heavenly.
Turning right onto Clinton Street, stroll south until you hit Rivington, taking a right. Get one of the happiest cupcakes in NYC at Sugar Sweet Sunshine (the Sunshine are my favorite, but they have tons of fun flavors to choose from!)
You’ll be able to pop into a few of the small LES galleries, including OneTwentyEight and Envoy Enterprises, and get up close and personal with the art work and gallery workers. Don’t worry, the buttercream cupcake will totally mask the pastrami on your breath!
A stop into Economy Candy at 108 Rivington is an absolute must…we’re talking floor to ceiling candy! All your Willy Wonka fantasies will come gushing out, as you’re surrounded by old school favorites such as candy cigarettes and candy necklaces…European chocolates…and every color gummy bear you can possibly imagine. My favorite were the turquoise ones!
Our ending point on this foodie-centirc walking tour is Teany, an adorable vegan cafe and tea house created by the musician Moby. I was feeling a bit pumpkin-centric on the day of the walk, and went with a slice of vegan pumpkin cheesecake (surprisingly good and creamy, considering it lacked such a key ingredient!), and the pumpkin cream tea. Crack open a book, lean back, and stay awhile.