Today the Lower East Side is crammed with bars, clubs and trendy restaurants. But if you know where to look, you can find very edible remnants of its intriguing past. The neighborhood was once home to many of the city’s new immigrants and the old-school food of the area still reflects this.
So come hungry for this fun 3-hour small-group tour, where you’ll munch on the sample some of the best snacks and learn a lot about the history of the Lower East Side. Start off with some stroopwafel, which is Dutch for ‘syrup waffle,” a couple of small waffles layered with caramel.
Indulge in knishes, representative of the Jewish immigrants who once populated the area, at some of the bakeries that are still sprinkled around here. Munch on mozzarella in nearby Little Italy, today just part of Mulberry Street, but once a bustling part of town with thousands of immigrants from southern Italy.
And learn about the history of the place from your local guide. From Poles to Jews to Italians, many people of come through the Lower East Side and they’ve all left their mark.
Go to the Essex Street Market, basically an active food hall where you can try everything from tacos to pancakes. Learn about the erstwhile African burial ground, where Africans, both enslaved and free, were put to rest through most of the 18th century. Visit the very popular Lower East Side Tenement Museum to get a sense of how people really lived in the neighborhood a century ago.
Finally, step into chaotic Chinatown, where steamed pork buns and succulent soup dumplings compete for your taste buds.
The tour finishes back on the Lower East Side, so you can continue to do some exploring on your own.
It’s advisable to wear or bring clothing that is weather appropriate depending on the season, as you’ll be outside for at least 3 hours. It’s also recommended you book the tour at least 48 hours before.