A Day in Alphabet City

Things are vastly different in this New York City neighborhood than in any other part of the city, because Alphabet City is… quiet. Its history is equally… large. The neighborhood was named after the letters of the alphabet that were used to name its avenues. For most of the 19th Century, Alphabet City was a hotbed for the city’s immigrants, with Germans leading the way at one time, and Puerto Ricans at another.

9th Street Community Garden Park

The best thing about living in the city are its many community gardens that allow residents to come together and grow greenery and vegetables. In Alphabet City, you’ll have access to one of the best in the city: 9th Street Community Garden Park. This green community is one of the largest of its kind in NYC. So, without haste, visit your spot to plant your tomatoes or roses or maybe some fresh basil. Your first days in the neighborhood just officially got better.


Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space

New York City is home to museums of all kinds — both large and small. A veritable Alphabet City treat, Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space is one of the more unique museums you will have an opportunity to visit in the Big Apple. The museum tells the story of the growth of the greater Lower East Side. The story is told through a series of photographs and exhibits that highlight the evolution of the neighborhood. The showcase exhibit is “Reclaiming Space: Squats,” which focuses on the 1970s housing crisis, activists and homelessness, relating the past with the present and exploring solutions.


Exit 9 Emporium

Alphabet City is home to many unheralded shopping gems. Today, you decide to take a quick peek at a great little bookstore by the name of Mast Books. After a quick stop, you’re on your way to the specialty knick-knack spot known as Exit 9 Emporium. You don’t feel like leaving and end up spending a few hours, exploring some quite unique and interesting finds. You go for the ostrich pillow, which wraps around your eyes and head to block out light and provide a cushiony sleep setup. You also opt for a great-sounding ding dog doorbell, and the homemade gin kit.

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The mornings in Alphabet City could be a challenge in terms of finding great eats. But with the likes of POST in the neighborhood, you will have no worries trying to wake your senses. The tiny, unpretentious spot has been churning up some home cooked breakfast that’s difficult to tire from. There are several types of biscuit dishes to delight the palate, including the sausage biscuit (homemade chicken sausage, cheese, fried egg), avocado biscuit (avocado, tomato, parmesan, fried egg), pork biscuit (Carolina pulled BBQ pork with cole slaw) and, lastly – biscuits and gravy.


Sunny & Annie’s

The stomach has begun to rumble... and that means that you need to make a trip to Sunny & Annie’s. Yes, a gourmet deli, rather than a restaurant. This place is legendary for its sandwiches. They offer some original eats like the P.H.O. Real, the deli’s take on the Vietnamese hoagie with a mixture of roast beef, bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, avocado, hoisin sauce and sriracha aioli. There’s also the Biden, a combination of chicken cutlet, muenster cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and French dressing on a toasted croissant. Yum.

A Night in Alphabet City


Panna II Garden

Dinner in Alphabet City isn’t as elaborate of an affair as it may be in other parts of the city. But there’s one little gem that you may remember seeing on shows like Master of None or Orange is the New Black. The experience at Panna II Garden is eye-opening — literally. The Indian restaurant has become famous for its vibrant atmosphere and abundance of red Christmas lights that are plastered all over the entire ceiling. The food itself is pretty good. There’s traditional Indian favorites like chicken tikka masala and saag paneer. You indulge in the authentic bites, mesmerized by the lights.


Ace Bar

There’s definitely no shortage of bars in Alphabet City. There’s the popular craft cocktail bar Amor y Amargo. Also popular are The Wayland and Mace. But the star of the neighborhood is Ace Bar. The dive sports bar has become a popular hangout for college kids and residents for its abundance of bar games. They carry a number of arcade games and skee ball machine, and – goes without saying – a pool table and dart board for the lover of the classic bar experience. Pair that with plenty of great cheap beers, and you’ll know why the accolades.

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Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Just like the nearby Public Theater, there’s one performance arts gem that has dominated Alphabet City: Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. The comedy club complex is one part comedy school, one part theater. The stage gained popularity in the last decade by launching the career of Amy Poehler. The nights include a long list of skits from up-and-coming comedians. Tonight, you decide to take a class in long-form improv and sketch writing.


Sing Sing Avenue A

The night ends at with a bang. Everyone knows the best karaoke places are in Koreatown near 34th Street. But Sing Sing Avenue A has become a local staple and popular karaoke spot in the greater Lower East Side. The digs are pretty basic and rooms are spacious. The secluded and subdued atmosphere makes it great if you aren’t the best singer. The karaoke spot has also been a cradle for celebs — Elijah Wood was a regular for quite some time.

Words by Arte Vincent

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