Who knew the East Village would be such fun? OK, OK! NYU students and anyone else about 20 years younger than me, probably. But I have another excuse besides age. As a full-time working parent living on the UWS (that’s Upper West Side for the non-New Yorkers) for over 27 years, I rarely have had a reason or opportunity to spend time in the East Village, other than so many years ago for the Indian food on East 6th and the Theater 80 St. Marks where I learned the joys of classic movies before they could be bought on DVD or rented from Netflix or there were 700 cable channels never showing anything I want to see. But I digress…
So, I found myself on East 10th a few weeks ago for a hair consultation with a stylist in a tiny salon which was recommended as a possibility for a short haircut I plan to get as soon as I have enough hair to get rid of the two-tone thing on my head that we who are growing out gray hair have to transition through. I suppose that’s to make it such a relief when it’s done that I don’t faint from the sight of a head of gray hair or the short pixie cut I’m bound to end up with. But, again, I digress…
As I walked to Whistle that day, I peeked into adorable boutique after inviting tiny café after vegan bakery after vintage clothing store after…well, you get the picture. One after another, I wanted to investigate them all. And this was just ONE block, somewhat randomly selected due to the location of the hair salon! I just had to go back.
And last weekend, I did. First, I was tempted by the tiniest of designer consignment shops called Limited Supply at 273 E. 10th between First Avenue and Avenue A. Run by two extremely helpful young Russian expats, they know their inventory inside out and give good style advice, too. There’s just enough stock to not be overwhelming and they’re pretty selective about what they take, both seasonally and in terms of being designer brands. There’s some vintage in there as well - good finds at fair prices. The styles are not too trendy to be able to be worn all over the city, not just in that neighborhood. In fact, they had quite a selection of designer men’s ties that were in great shape from Hermès, Ferragamo, Versace and others; I was told by the proprietor that’s because they were consigned by men who moved to the East Village where ties would no longer be needed. Also, they sell designer handbags, sunglasses and some jewelry along with the women’s and men’s clothing. I ended up with a Céline sleeveless gray turtleneck sweater I never would have found (or thought of seeking) elsewhere.
After that, I needed to eat, so I got over to Momofuku Noodle Bar, just in time for the 5:30pm opening time on Sunday for dinner. (To avoid an otherwise long wait, it’s best to get there just before they reopen at dinner.) Their dishes are excellent, inventive and reasonably priced, no matter what you order. The place is lively and a bit noisy, so save the deep conversations for another time. And dining alone here is also a pleasure. Much of the room is a long bar, half of it in front of the cooking action, which is always a fun distraction and makes it hard to just order one item. The pork buns looked amazing. They serve wines by the glass, too, and desserts of interesting ice creams and shakes.
I decided to move a slight bit beyond 10th Street for my coffee and dessert. Ost is at the corner of First Avenue and 12th Street. Windows on both sides at the corner were perfect for enjoying the diminishing light of the day, as I sat on a big cushy armchair with a cortado and apple strudel. They even have poppyseed cake, which would make my parents so happy (along with the Prague Sokol vintage photos on the walls)! In the evenings, they also place little candles on the tables, serve wine, and disconnect the wifi, so computers after 7pm are a no-no. Mellow music and a nice atmosphere for conversation or reading, if you can read by candlelight.
Then it was time to walk back to the Union Square subway to head for home. However, on my way back, I passed by so many more places I want to check out that I’ll certainly be back to the East Village again very soon.
Two other food places I highly recommend on East 10th (clearly I went back already; there’s no way I could have eaten this much food in just one visit):