New York City’s best wine bars are on the Lower East Side
In recent years, an outstanding landscape of wine lists has blossomed in New York City’s bustling Lower East Side, and this past summer it exploded. “The wine scene on the Lower East Side didn’t just appear out of nowhere, but has expanded tremendously and rapidly since the early days of Ten Bells,” says Eben Lillie, owner of Skin Contact, an intimate wine bar on Orchard Street with limit drawer bottles.
Ten Bells, the neighborhood’s long-established natural wine and tapas bar, was ahead of the curve when it opened in 2008, and the others have slowly been coming since. However, from a resident’s perspective, it feels like it happened overnight. Now you can’t walk a block without finding a great place to quickly linger for a pint at the bar or a bottle with friends — and you won’t find another neighborhood with as many carefully curated lists in the entire city. Whether you’re craving a familiar, juicy red or the joy of discovering something entirely new, there’s no better place to sip wine in New York City right now. (It doesn’t hurt that the LES, in short, is also home to the super-cool Nine Orchard Hotel, located on the cluster of bars, restaurants, and shops known as Dimes Square.)
Whether you’re looking for Parisian-style wine bars, packed restaurants with exquisite bottle lists, or even a movie theater with a wine show, read on for the best New York City wine bars on the Lower East Side.
Le Dive is inspired by Parisian tobacco products.
Most of Le Dive’s wines come from European producers and are relatively affordable.
Le Dive is one of the latest projects from Jon Neidich and Golden Age Hospitality, who are responsible for other downtown hotspots like Acme and The Nines. From the moment it opened, it had that same busy see-and-be-seen vibe that Neidich is known for.
Le Dive aims to recreate the classic Parisian tobacco experience: a lively space with a long zinc bar, neon tube lights, and cafe tables with wine glasses and simple jambon beurre. In the warmer months, if you snag a table on the sidewalk, order a bottle and a mushroom pie or steak tartare, you could almost believe you were on the Canal St. Martin. As for the wine list, it’s an appealing selection from mostly European producers and relatively affordable, with glasses starting at $13 and bottles starting at $42. There are few better places from which to soak up the Dimes Square scene.
The most intimate of the bunch, tucked away on an unassuming block of Broome Street, best known for laundromats and bodegas, Gem Wine is the laid-back little sibling of Gem, a New Nordic tasting menu restaurant just around the corner. The bar hails from self-proclaimed former teen chef Fynn McGarry, who has performed at restaurants like Noma and Eleven Madison Park. His sister Paris McGarry is responsible for the wine program.
To keep it very French, you won’t find a wine list here, just a wall full of bottles and four wines by the glass – there’s red, white, orange or sparkling alongside a wide selection of bottles from hot young producers. If you’re not an expert, don’t worry — the waiters are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and happy to help (another fail-safe method here is to order something French). Gem Wine doesn’t take reservations, but the bar can fill up with a line once the doors open at 5 p.m. It’s worth the wait. Once seated, order a snack from the ever-changing menu of artful small plates like grilled chicory with bagna cauda or a boiled artichoke with gribiche.
Run by sommelier Grant Reynold, Parcelle is a new addition to Division Street.
In addition to a wine list and upscale bar snacks, Parcelle offers weekly wine classes.
One of the newcomers to the Lower East Side’s wine scene is Parcelle, a formerly online-only wine retailer that put down roots with a tiny bar on Division Street last summer. Run by sommelier Grant Reynolds, the bar doesn’t just offer great wines (with everything from natural Chardonnays from young Canadian winemakers to classic old-world Barolos from Italy). They run weekly wine classes on Thursday evenings, which you can – and should – book in advance, although walk-in customers are welcome. The space feels like the fanciest living room in the world, with Panton chairs and plush De Sede sofas. Sit back, share a bottle with a friend from the extensive list and order from a menu of upscale bar snacks such as (There’s also a small dinner menu and a few real tables for those craving a proper meal.)
Skin Contact was opened in 2020 by New York wine veteran Eben Lillie, whose father was one of the founders of Chamber Street Wines in Tribeca and a pioneer of the natural/low-invasive wine movement in the United States. Lillie grew up in his father’s business and that background of expertise shines in this new shop he runs on Orchard Street with business partner Stefanie Djie.