My first stop on the LES was Hello Sari, which sells colorful saris, tunics, scarfs, shoes, jewelry, and other accessories from Pakistan, India, and Egypt. The owner is a belly dancing enthusiast, and she also sells belly dancing outfits. Everything in the store is between $5-$100 so you can find a lot of unique and affordable items. I have a tunic dress from Hello Sari (pictured below), and I receive compliments every time I wear it!
Down the block is 88 Orchard, which is a nice cafe with laid back atmosphere (and boardgames downstairs).
The Tenement Museum is a fun place to visit. They offer different theme tours (an Italian family’s apt, a Jewish family’s apt, etc.), so you can have different experiences, but if you’ve ever been to a tenement building in NYC then you basically know what you’re going to see. The tours are led by docents in character (it’s like the immigrant version of Colonial Williamsburg). If you’re planning a visit during the holidays I suggest buying tickets ahead of time because they sell out. I would also recommend going now because during the summer is it HOT HOT HOT, and they don’t use AC to give you the authenticate experience.
I LOVE the gift shop, which has a great selection of books and NYC memorabilia that isn’t too hooky.
Next to the Tenement Museum is Il Laboratorio del Gelato, which has excellent gelato. I considered getting some, but they don’t have a sit down area and it was snowing, so I opted for a sample instead.
I had actually never been to Economy Candy before (so it doesn’t belong on the favorites list), but it’s a well known store and the prices seem true to name. It could be a good store for buying small gifts because they have candy with pretty packaging.
One of my favorite bars in NYC is Verlaine (the location of my b-day this past year), which is located next door to Economy Candy. The bar has a French Vietnamese theme and has happy hour drink specials until 10 PM, 7 days a week (the famous lychee martinis and other drinks are $5., yuengling $3.).
Next door to Verlaine is Fat Baby, which is a lounge with good dance music. I haven’t been there recently, but I used to go there a lot and it was always fun. My only issue with Fat Baby is that it gets very crowded, so avoid it if you’re claustrophobic.
Unfortunately my camera battery died before I could complete the tour. I was also planning on photographing the following:
The Sunshine Cinema – this is my favorite indie film theater. It’s a historic building and they have a gourmet concession stand (although I would recommend buying snacks at the nicest Whole Foods in the city down the street instead). I’ve enjoyed most of the films I’ve seen here, but I guess that’s a combo of chance and the management/someone in distribution having good taste.
Russ and Daughters – this is the BEST place in NYC for lox. They catered my Bat Mitzvah, so clearly this is a quality shop for Jewish gourmet products…hehe.
There are a lot of other places that I like on the Lower East Side, but they are kind of random. I love the Clinton Street Bakery (restaurant famous for brunch). The Angel Orensanz Foundation is also one of my favorite buildings (it used to be a synagogue before it was bought and renovated by two artist brothers who turned it into an event space).
I hope the tour was informational and that I don’t sound like too much of a walking ad. They are just places I like a lot and I guarantee I’m not getting any sort of kickback…haha.