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The Best of the East Village

From the coolest places to hang out with coworkers to the neighborhood's best-kept secrets.

April 27, 2016 | by Haley Walker

For companies who call the East Village home, or those that soon will, we’ve picked out the best-of-the-best establishments in the area to help you ensure that you’re making the most of your neighborhood. We’ve covered everything from coffee shops to workouts, so be sure to keep reading if the East Village is where you dwell.

Best Lunch – Caracas Arepa Bar

What started three years ago as a broom-closet space in the East Village has quickly gained a loyal following and since expanded into one of the best lunch spots in the East Village. As the name would suggest, Caracas Arepa Bar serves up crispy, golden arepas stuffed in over a dozen different ways. The ‘Muchacho’ impresses with mozzarella cheese, pickled jalapenos, and spicy chorizo, while the ‘La Del Gato’ features Guayanes cheese, fried plantains, and creamy, ripe avocado slices. Aside from the arepas, Caracas’ menu also includes other standout items including the Guasacaca, a Venezuelan-style guacamole that is creamy and addictive. For a quick and cultured meal, look no further than this East Village arepa bar.

Best Company Outing – Ace Bar

Every once in a while, your employees need a way to kick back, relax, and have a fun time getting to know their coworkers. If you want to be the cool boss that facilitates this gathering, consider taking your team to Ace Bar. Over the years, the bar has created a “no pretense, no fuss, just fun” atmosphere, complete with classic games such as pool, darts, pinball, Big Buck Hunter, and skeeball. The bar itself spans through two large rooms, allowing for ample seating space and standing room, even for large parties. Employees will have a fun time challenging each other to the various bar games across the establishment, and nostalgia is sure to hit while admiring the old-school tin lunch boxes that are displayed along one of the walls.

Location: 531 E. 5th Street

Best Coffee – Abraco

If you’re looking for a coffee shop where you can settle in for a while to catch up on work or read a book, then the East Village’s Abraco is certainly NOT the place for you. With enough standing room to accommodate maybe five or six people, and not a chair or table in sight, Abraco is a neighborhood institution that’s won its acclaim based on its coffee and edible offerings alone. Their cappuccino perfectly balances a deep and full-bodied espresso with a light foam, and the drip coffee that other espresso bars often neglect is thoughtfully and skillfully created with Counter Culture Coffee beans ground to order. To accompany your drink, try a bit of Abraco’s standout food. The menu includes a simple, warm, and light frittata, a no-knife-needed pain perdu, and a highly praised olive oil loaf that is dense, moist, and, despite the name, not the least bit greasy.

Location: 86 E. 7th Street

Best Workout – Punk Rope

Punk Rope is a workout that is much more challenging than meets the eye. Classes are just under an hour long and certainly not your average middle school recess-level jump roping. The regulars are instantly welcoming and, despite the inevitable awkwardness you’ll feel as you try to learn the ropes (pun intended), no one will judge you if you get a bit tangled up and need to restart. You’ll be sweating in a matter of minutes and the routines focus on improving your balance, coordination, strength, and, most noticeably, cardio. Classes are kept fun with wacky themes for people to dress up to and music playlists to match. For anyone who wants to add a bit of fun to their fitness, Punk Rope may be the perfect solution!

Location: 344 E. 14th Street

Best Event Space – Webster Hall

Webster Hall is an ideal space for any type of event or celebration. While unassuming from the outside, once you step through the door you are transported into a magnificent concert hall. If the size of the massive venue is overwhelming, renters have the option of securing any combination of the five individual rooms, which range in size from the Sports Bar with a capacity of 150 people, to the Main Ballroom which is about 10 times the size. Each room is equipped with state-of-the-art amenities, including stages, top quality audio/video/lighting options, and Fiber internet connection. With countless options and endless opportunities, this flexible space can easily be transformed into the venue of your dreams.

Location: 125 E. 11th Street

Best Happy Hour – Keybar

Keybar may not be the largest bar you ever visit, but what it lacks in square feet it makes up in creatively concocted drinks. Specialty martinis include the Bloody Orange Zygo and the Huckleberry Sin, while the Rolo shot is a particularly powerful must-have. Catchy music keeps the crowd happy and dancing, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting, complete with a wood-burning fireplace that is perfect for the winter months. Happy hour is also impressively long, lasting from 4-10pm Tuesday through Saturday and 4pm-4am on Sunday and Monday. The two-for-one deal is not something to scoff at either. When you buy a drink during happy hour, you get a never-expiring coupon for a free drink of equal or lesser value that can be redeemed at any time, even months later, and not just during happy hour.

Location: 432 E. 13th Street

Best Place to Relax – Elsewhere Espresso

In stark contrast to the aforementioned Abraco coffee shop, Elsewhere Espresso invites you in with witty signage and a tantalizing aroma. Once inside, the space gives you a great opportunity to linger and unwind. Nicely crafted wooden furniture plays well against the exposed brick and small paintings, and serves as a welcomed retreat from the concrete jungle that is New York City. The atmosphere exceeds expectations with baristas who are friendly and attentive, and patrons who are respectful and busy with work. Other than the low-playing music, the cafe is nearly silent, allowing you to focus on whatever it is you may be working on. As an added bonus, the coffee is nothing less than superb, with their namesake espresso being described as tasting “like purity and sin at the same time.”

Location: 335 E. 6th Street

Best-Kept Secret – New York Theater Workshop

New York Theater Workshop is a creative theater that draws in outstanding new playwrights and directors and encourages them to create and develop new works. Throughout the year, visitors are able to enjoy five to seven new productions, over 80 staged readings, and numerous workshop productions. Perhaps most notably, the theater was once home to Jonathan Larson’s Rent, where it was developed over the course of two years. The production then continued on to Broadway where it won a Tony for Best Musical in 1996, as well as a Pulitzer Prize in Drama. While Broadway performances can be expensive and hit-or-miss, you can’t go wrong with a show at the New York Theater Workshop and if it eventually makes it to the big stage, you can brag to all of your friends and say that you saw the production first.

Location: 79 E. 4th Street

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