Orchard Street: The Creative Cradle in the Heart of LES

For some months now, Orchard Street has proved to be Manhattan’s most exciting street; here’s our review of what makes it hype: restaurants, shops, coffeehouses…

My-street’s-the-best championship is a national sport in all major cities worldwide. And perhaps even more in NYC. Although, quite often, choosing a street to live in is mainly determined by financial considerations more so than anything else, it is clear that living on Orchard means getting out of your building every morning and remembering how lucky you are to reside in this area of Manhattan. I was this lucky for two months – a period that allowed me to grasp what turns this street into one of the most treasured of Lower Manhattan.

If everyone currently complains about high rents it is because the area is in full blossom

Orchard Street spans eight blocks between Division Street, to the south, and East Houston Street, to the north. If everyone currently complains about its high rents – and particularly its pioneering inhabitants, that some try to expel from their apartment at all cost – it is because the area is in full blossom. When I say ‘some’ I point at the owners or property management companies that do not hesitate to resolutely offer tenants whose rents are the lowest big checks, in the endeavor to persuade them to leave. It is disgusting … yet, what do you expect … that’s the law of the jungle. Sad to say but investors possess a real know-how to spot highly valuable areas. So, why is this street different from others?

Stylish Coffeehouses

Lower East Side is surely Manhattan’s area with most freelance workers. And well … we know exactly freelancers’ favorite fuel: namely coffee. Taken-away or drank on site in a relaxed atmosphere where it is possible to Skype without bothering your neighbors, and where no one is suspicious if you arrive at work circa 10:45 a.m.

Independent workers are there glued to their MacBook Air

On Orchard, the two most popular cafes are Whynot Coffee and Irving Farm. The first has a wooden atmosphere, with individual tables and independent workers glued to their MacBook Air. The place is quite large, and you won’t have trouble finding a spot. You can also go to Irving Farm where finding a free space to put your new iPhone 6S Plus will be a tougher challenge, or to Roasting Plant, where coffee is probably at its best but has to be consumed almost exclusively as a take-away. We can break the rule – and be slightly disloyal to Orchard – by heading to El Rey on Stanton for a coffee in a friendlier atmosphere.

A Night Out on the Street

Many will assert that Rudolph Giuliani has done much harm to Manhattan’s nightlife. Nightlife is more supervised than ever and it is demanding to find places in Manhattan that exude the 80s’ extravagance. New York is clearly no longer a party town. In these circumstances, Orchard is a blessing that most party-goers will not hesitate to venture.

A stripper confessed to me she also had her habits at Max Fish

Last week I was listening to a podcast by the rappers Run the Jewels, the two musicians talked about their trip to Max Fish with Statik Selektah, another rapper well known to specialists. A few weeks before that, a stripper confessed to me, in her strip club, she also had her habits at Max Fish, which led her to celebrate her last birthday there. Take a guess! Max Fish is on Orchard. Definitely do not expect a fancy bar where you will be greeted like a prince. Max Fish is a bar where everyone is in the same boat; people sway their hips around the bar to carefully selected 90s’ hip-hop beats, and one can get down the cellar to keep crashing the party.

It’s always better when it’s free!

But Orchard is not only Max Fish; plenty of bars await you to enjoy cocktails from around the world. We recommend Casa Mezcal, facing An Choi, between Grand and Broome. Mexico versus Vietnam doesn’t sound like a World Cup play-off, but it is a first choice in terms of cocktails. Excuse my French offers a French atmosphere with a US touch, which is quite satisfactory, close to Top Hops Beer Shop thanks to whose beer choice you will leave the bar smiling and reeling, with a tremendous need to pee. If you wish to turn on the power, you can also take your date to MrPurple, Hotel Indigo’s rooftop outstandingly overlooking all of Manhattan.

 

And what better opportunity than to enjoy free openings and their corollary of alcohol at the street’s mosaic of art galleries. It’s always better when it’s free!

Shopping and Sunday Pedestrian Street

On Sunday, the upper part of Orchard, between Delancey and East Houston Street, becomes pedestrian. You should know that historically Orchard is a street famous for its clearance stores. You can still find some between Stanton St. and Rivington St., as well as between Grand St. and Hester St.

Otherwise, if you prefer to buy your clothes full price, we suggest Reed Space where you can complete your streetwear wardrobe or Shut Skateboarding where you can buy a new board. Askan is also worth a visit. For home furnishings and the crème of design, head to Coming Soon.

International Restaurants

If drinking on Orchard is never an issue, eating very well should not be a problem either. If the UN decided to promote international food, there are few doubts that Orchard would be selected as a control sample street.

A 500 meters round the world trip

From north to south of the street, you can eat Japanese at Blue Ribbon; lobster at Claw Daddy’s NYC; pizza galore just about everywhere even if we prefer Scarr’s Pizza to Pizza Beach Club; cookies at Insomnia Cookies where you can satisfy your lower food urges regardless of the time of day or night; Russ & Daughters Cafe for a Deli experience kilometers above the tourist Katz’s nearby; Black Tree if you want to eat only local products grown in the region of New York; Dudley’s the Australian; An Choi to taste Vietnamese specialties in a relaxed atmosphere to-die-for; The Fat Radish a self-proclaimed British restaurant, Cafe Katja for Austrian specialities or Kikki’s to enjoy Greek food. A 500 meters round the world trip, and I have listed for you only the spots that are worth it.

A Rebellious Spirit

Defining Orchard Street through this list only is not enough; to understand what it is we need to evoke the spirit that prevails there: a creative, nonconformist and free spirit that finds its expression both through its residents’ habits and the crowd of skaters who do not hesitate to appropriate the street – to the delight of photographers, as well as through the graffiti and street art covering its buildings’ walls.

This spirit is not new, and if today the majority of attacks are directed against Donald Trump, Orchard has always been a place of protest. If you are fond of history, we highly recommend visiting the Tenement Museum that exposes the life of the first immigrants who settled on Orchard. This area has always been a haven of refuge for newcomers to NYC, and this is also what Orchard has been for me when I arrived in Manhattan. Years pass but traditions remain, that is what makes Orchard a special street. Hoping it remains that way.

Find out all the places listed in this article below on the map.

Dudley's

85 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

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Max Fish

120 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

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Reed Space

151 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

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Russ & Daughter Cafe

127 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

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Whynot Coffee

Whynot Coffee, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Casa Mezcal

Casa Mezcal, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Irving Farm

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Roasting Plant

Roasting Plant, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

El Rey

El Rey, Stanton Street, NYC, État de New York, États-Unis

An Choi

An Choi, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Excuse my French

Excuse My French, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Top Hops Beer Shop

Top Hops Beer Shop, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Mr. Purple

Mr. Purple, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Sixty LES

SIXTY LES Hotel, Allen Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Shut Skateboarding

SHUT, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Askan

Askan, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Coming Soon

Coming Soon, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Tictail Market

Tictail Market, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Blue Ribbon

Blue Ribbon, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Claw Daddy's

Claw Daddy's NYC, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Scarr's Pizza

Scarr's Pizza, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Pizza Beach

Pizza Beach LES, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Black Tree

Black Tree, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

The Fat Radish

The Fat Radish, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Cafe Katja

Cafe Katja, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Kiki's

Kiki's, Division Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Wallplay

Wallplay, Orchard Street, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

Julien Lacheray Founder of HEREYOUARE, he loves dollar pizza, especially after a night spent on a rooftop or in a basement, always up for a bike race in the city before going back home.
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