Think you know everything about the Lower East Side neighborhood food scene? If your first thoughts are Katz’s, Meatball Shop, Beauty & Essex, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Barrio Chino, Essex’s brunch, you are just like everyone else. However, Jolie Warbet aka Lady of Grand knows her stuff. Born and raised on Grand Street, she has created a unique and entertaining two- hour walking tour showing all the hidden food spots. She has a passion for the neighborhood and is a certified tour guide, so this chick is legit. Not only does she take you to places you’ve never been to, but the whole day is interactive and we met tons of people. Who would have thought we would have met a street artist, the owner of an East Village restaurant or a chill San Francisco band on tour while exploring. Making friends was one of the most fun parts of the day, and I loved seeing a side of New York City I would have never been exposed to without the Lady of Grand. See below for all of the food stops!
- NI JAPANESE DELICACIES: The tour begins in the infamous Essex Street Market full of food vendors and groceries. Jolie who is petite and edgy will greet you with a bottle of Perrier (gotta stay classy and hydrated) and take you to Ni Japanese Delicacies. Japanese specialty items include: brown rice onigiri bals, soups and sandwiches. You’ll chow down on Grilled Octopus Rice Balls with Scallion, Bonito Flakes and Nori.
- BROOKLYN TACO COMPANY: This was one of my favorite places. The Guaco Taco is one of the best tacos I’ve ever had and there isn’t even any meat in it. It includes chunky avocado, raw sweet corn, tomatoes, red onion, cheese, crema and hot sauce. It is also sold at Hester Street Fair, but I’m pretty confident they will need to open up a brick and mortar store one day down the road.
- TOP HOPS: With over 700 beers and 20 on tap, Top Hops is a low key beer mecca for brew lovers. Definitely a must see and my favorite beer on the flight of four was “Magic Hat Elder Betty” which is an American Wheat Beer. All of the beers are local and the small snack menu includes local purveyors such as cheese from around the LES hood.
- CHEEKY’S SANDWICH SHOP: Cheeky Sandwiches was the only spot Jolie guided us to that I had ever heard of. It’s a small, easy-going, hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop serving up all things delicious under $10. The Fried Shrimp Poboy hints to you that these guys are in fact from Louisiana. Once the Fried Chicken Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich touched my lips, I knew I would be indebted to the Lady of Grand. LOVED this place.
- MELT BAKERY: Jolie’s original plan of ending at a chocolate shop was deterred since it was randomly closed, so we ventured over to the Hester Street Fair where we devoured some ice cream sandwiches. The chocolate chip walnut and vanilla was the best. While it was a bit hard, it didn’t fall apart which is tough on a hot summer day, but it did taste like something you could just buy at your local grocery store. Pass.
This tour is casual, laid back and you can make whatever you want out of it. It’s something new and different to do on a quiet weekend day or a great thing to take visitors or a date on. Groups are usually small and intimate. To purchase tickets, use the following link: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5690075168/ladyofgrand1/2984756056. Enjoy!