The East Village  has traditionally been known for its cheap, Eastern European eateries, where the average main course costs $9–12. Two legendary 2nd Avenue spots are Veselka (144 2nd Ave., at 9th St., 212/228-9682), the place to go for borscht, pierogi, and scrumptious poppy-seed cake and Odessa (119 Ave. A, between 7th and 8th Sts., 212/253-1470), serving heaping platters of Ukrainian food.
The East Village is also known for its inexpensive Indian restaurants, most of which lie along 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. Panna II (93 1st Ave., 212/598-4610, $7) is one fabulously festive BYOB spot covered in Christmas and chili pepper lights.
Still going strong after many years is Angelika Kitchen (300 E. 12th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves., 212/228-2909, $11), serving the city’s best vegan fare.
Enormous portions and down-home comfort food warm the soul and fill the belly at Mama’s Food Shop (200 E. 3rd St., 212/777-4425, $12).
Two Boots (37 Ave. A, between 2nd and 3rd Sts., 212/505-2276, $11) is known for its first-rate pizza and other spicy fare from the lands shaped like “Two Boots”—Italy and Louisiana.
First (87 1st Ave., at 5th St., 212/674-3823, $18), lined with burnished steel and comfy gray booths, serves an eclectic international fare that’s part Asian, part Mexican, part Italian, and part French.
Creative American food with a Mediterranean flair is the specialty at Five Points (31 Great Jones St., between the Bowery and Lafayette St., 212/253-5700, $23), where the menu changes nightly.
One of the oldest pastry shops in the East Village  is the century-old Veniero’s (342 E. 11th St., near 1st Ave., 212/674-7070), featuring classic Italian treats. Across 1st Avenue is De Robertis (176 1st Ave., at 11th St., 212/674-7137), a cheery Italian shop with a handful of tables and wonderful window displays.
The large and friendly Telephone Bar & Grill (149 2nd Ave., between 9th and 10th Sts., 212/529-5000) sports bright red English-style phone booths out front. KGB (85 E. 4th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves., 212/505-3360) is a former speakeasy now filled with eclectic Soviet souvenirs. Especially popular among writers and editors, it hosts frequent readings and literary get-togethers.
McSorley’s Old Ale House (15 E. 7th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves., 212/473-9148) is one of New York’s oldest bars, and was once a hangout of New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, who wrote of the place in his book, McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon. Inside, find a potbellied stove, old gas lamps, a carved mahogany bar, and pressed tin ceilings.
The elegant Temple Bar (332 Lafayette St., between Bleecker and Houston Sts., 212/925-4242) is a lush hideaway with Oriental rugs and expensive drinks.