LES Pigout

An East Village eating tour  
Knishes from Yonah Shimmel. A "deluxe" with Cole Slaw and Pickle
  Above: knishes




New York has quite a lot of unusual goodies that you don't find in many other cities.  I missed out on some of the best because I am rarely out during the day.  Lately I have been trying to get out more and sample some of the things that make this city great.  Since I'm always hungry I decided to see just how many food products I could cram in an East Village/Lower East Side pig out/walking tour.  Some stops are for carnivores, but vegetarians can enjoy many of these stores too.

For the best results try this early to mid-morning, Tuesday to Friday.  Saturdays some of the stores are closed.

Start by taking the F train to the East Broadway stop in Manhattan.   Get out on the Essex street exit.  It can be confusing go out the other exit.  Walk up Essex Street where Chinatown starts to give way to many Jewish business.  You will find things you never knew existed, such as Menorah wholesalers.

At 49 Essex Street, you will find the Pickle Guys (212) 656-9739 (Open Mon–Thu, Sun 9am–6pm; Fri 9am–3:30pm. Closed Saturday)  Since its morning,I wouldn't really recommend this as a first stop, but its a great place to buy many types of pickled tomatoes, and if its open you could pick some up for later.

Continue further up Essex Street where it crosses Grand Street.  Near this corner you will find the Donut Plant, home of Gigantic, chewy gourmet donuts, and Kossars Bialystok, where you will find amazingly fresh Bialys, grandfather of the bagel filled with garlic or onion.  There is another bakery next to Kossars that makes a pretty good Challah, great for making french toast and only $2.00 a loaf.

The Doughnut Plant-379 Grand St between Essex and Norfolk Sts (212-505-1493). Tue–Sun 7am till they are sold out.  Donuts $1.50-$2.00.  Kossar's Bialystoker Bakery-367 Grand St at Essex St (212-473-4810). 24hrs, except closed 3pm Fri–10pm Sat.  Bialys 50 cents each.

Full of starch, continue up Essex Street until you hit Delancey Street.  You will see the Delancey Street F train and a McDonalds.  Across the street from McDonalds and near the F Train exit on that side of the street, you will see the Essex Street Market.  Inside, you will find many stalls selling all kinds of fruits and Vegetables, Meats and Ethnic specialties.  It is hard to notice unless you know its there.

Also nearby, at the corner of Delancey and Allen Streets is Fried Dumpling, 99 Allen Street.  They have 8 things on the menu, including of the best fried dumplings I have had ever.  And its only a dollar for 5!!!!  They also have vegetarian eggrolls and congee.

Continue up Essex Street one block, turn left onto Rivington Street and you will find Economy Candy at 108 Rivington Street between Essex and Ludlow. (212) 254-1531, an old fashioned candy store filled to the ceiling with goodies.  You can also visit their website.  Sunday – Friday 830:AM to 5:30:PM, Saturday 10:AM to 5:PM.

Overwhelmed by choices and no doubt loaded down by sugar, head to Ludlow Street and turn right, heading up Ludlow Street to Houston.  This is one of the best areas to hang out in at night, with Darkroom and Pianos.  Also nearby you will find Arlene Grocery and Mercury Lounge, 2 great live music spots and the brighly lit pick up joint Max Fish.  Since its during the day, you can turn left on Ludlow and Stanton Street and go around the block turning down Orchard Street, where you will find many odd clothing shops mixed with upscale boutiques.

You will laugh, but now is a good time to stop for lunch if you can manage it.  You can try crepes or walk up to the Pink Pony for coffee and tea or at least a quick bathroom break, have a great cupcake at Cakeshop, or you can stuff yourself with Pastrami at Katz Deli on the corner of Houston and Ludlow.  (212) 254-2246-8 am – 10 pm daily, sometimes later.

Now at the Corner of Houston Street and Ludlow, turn left at Katz's, heading in opposite direction of the big clock on the building.  At the corner of Orchard and Ludlow is Bereket Turkish Kebab House-187 E. Houston Street  New York  (212) 475-7700 where they have one of the best, though no longer the cheapests, bowls of Lentil soup anywhere.  Its $3 bucks a bowl, served with a lemon wedge and flatbread, but save it for when you go out drinking later when the other restaurants are closed.  Cross Orchard and keep going to Russ & Daughters at
179 E. Houston Street  (212) 475-4880. (Mon-Wed 9am-6pm, Thu-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 8am-6pm.)  Gaze upon  vast quantities of Smoked Salmon, whitefish and Caviar.  Get some for your Bialy (remember them?).   You can also go further west down Houston to Yonah Schimmel's Knishes Bakery 137 E Houston St, (212) 477-2858 for different types of Knishes.

Swaggering with Salmon, cross Ludlow Street and walk north up First Avenue.  (North of Houston the Street is called First Avenue, south of Houston it is called Allen Street for visitors).  Around 7th Street you will see Kurowycky Meat Products, 124 First Avenue (212) 477-0344 on the right hand side of the street.  They are open Mon-Sat 8:00am- 6:00pm and have the best Kielbasa anywhere, which they make and smoke themselved.  There is the regular Kielbasa and they also have a thin dried version that is great for snacking, preferable dipped in  horseradish.  They also have all kinds of other meat products.  The garlic smell will follow you everywhere.

On the last leg of our journey, turn left on St. Marks Place and walk down to Third Avenue.  Turn right and continue around the block.  Where the block changes directions is known as Stuyvestant Street and is loaded with Japanese goods and goodies.  First, you will see an elevator that will take you into Sunrise Mart, a good sized Japanese market where you can load up on Japanese Candy.  Then at 10 Stuyvestant Street, you will find Panya, a Japanese Bakery that on the outside looks pretty much like a generic upscale coffee bar but inside has Giant Japanese bread and pastries filled with custards, tuna or fruit. 212-777-1930.

Continue down Stuyvestant Street which becomes 9th Street and you will get to the last place on our journey, Otafuko, 236 E. Ninth St., 212-353-8503, a tiny hole in the wall that serves Japanese octopus ballsor takoyaki, and okonomiyaki which are a sort of cabbage pancake.  Very different.

Our tour is pretty much done here, though you could hit the nearby french fry place on 2nd Avenue between St. Marks and 7th Street or the East Village Cheese Shop at 40 3rd Ave.  (212) 477-2601  That is of course, if you're still hungry.

Other NYC food tours from other sources-
Chinatown or Asia in NY