One-Block Roundup: St. Marks Place
Few street names evoke as strong a reaction as the East Village’s St. Marks Place. And while calling it charming might be a stretch, there is something undeniably New York about that funky little strip between Astor Place and Tompkins Square Park. With a rich and strange history, St. Marks is a vibrant, jam-packed street that’s worth exploring—yes, even if you’re not there for the two-for-one shots.
Fuel Up on Caffeine
Start the day with a coffee or tea from Porto Rico Importing Company, a city staple since 1907. We also suggest picking up a bag of high-end beans to go: The shop roasts daily and carries varietals from all over the world (propped up in burlap sacks that fill practically the entire space—needless to say, it smells amazing). If you’re on a matcha kick, skip over to Nohohon Matcha NYC, where the staff prepares its tea traditionally, from scratch, whether you prefer it straight-up or in a lavender-infused latte.
Sweat It Out
Work on your sun salutations at Yoga to the People, a (very) popular vinyasa spot with the goal of making yoga accessible to everyone: The entry fee is a mere $10 suggested donation. Need a one-on-one sesh? Head to Nimble Fitness and snag a solid workout from a personal trainer. And if you’re looking to try martial arts, check out the Abadá-Capoeira Academy, which specializes in the Afro-Brazilian practice that combines attack and evasion moves with elements of rhythm and dance.
Take a Door-to-Door Food Tour
Even amid the restaurant-packed East Village, St. Marks might have the most places to eat within a single half-mile stretch. Newcomer 886 is already drawing crowds for its modern Taiwanese eats like seaweed-dusted fries and the “sausage party” (pork sausage wrapped in sticky rice). For a grab-and-go bite, you can’t go wrong with Mamoun’s, which has been serving its legendary (and still dirt-cheap) falafel since the ’70s. End the night with the matcha lava cake at Spot Dessert Bar or a mango sundae with mochi at Mango Mango Dessert—or both.
Grab a (Chill) Drink
A St. Marks roundup wouldn’t be complete without a few watering holes, and contrary to popular belief, not every bar is overrun with hordes of college kids. Beer geeks will appreciate the uncommon brews at Proletariat, while those seeking cocktails, oysters or both should head to Goodnight Sonny. The nautical-themed William Barnacle Tavern, located inside a former speakeasy, feels out of another era entirely, right down to its specialty drink: absinthe.
Get Your Entertainment Fix
Part improv, part game show, BATSU! is easily one of the weirdest (and funniest) ways to spend an evening. The Japanese-style variety show takes place on the ground floor of Pan-Asian restaurant Jebon, so you can snack on sushi and drink sake while watching comics succeed or fail at crazy challenges. And if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending how you feel), you might be pulled up onstage to join in on a challenge, suffer the hilarious punishment and score some free beer. Want to support a local theater? Stop by Under St. Marks for everything from stand-up and storytelling to burlesque. If you’re looking to make your own entertainment, Sing Sing Karaoke is a neighborhood institution (to be clear, a divey institution—but it’s all part of the charm).
Snag Some New Body Art
Some say getting a tattoo on St. Marks is a rite of passage for a New Yorker, so if you’re looking to take the leap, do it right and head to Whatever Tattoo. For something a little less, um, permanent, have the expert artists at Elite Jewelry Co. add some adornment to your cartilage. If you do end up with some altered body parts, don’t worry—you definitely wouldn’t be the first to end your St. Marks crawl that way.