When Joel Russ immigrated to New York from Polish Galicia in the early twentieth century, he started selling his herring from a barrel on Orchard Street—humble beginnings for what would evolve into beloved appetizing institution Russ & Daughters. A century later, the fourth-generation owners have signed a lease for a new café on the same street, a thoroughfare that Russ would barely recognize today. Orchard and its environs have gone from cramped tenements to high-rise hotels, from bustling immigrant enclave to drug zone to raucous nightlife hub. And now the arrival of serious chefs (among them Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien, who’s opening a second spot up the street) heralds a new, more grown-up culinary era, with some twenty food-and-drink establishments that have either opened since last year or plan to soon. Here, the latest developments, from locavore sandwiches to nouvelle tasting menus.
1. Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya
187 Orchard St., nr. E. Houston St.; 212-466-0404
The Bromberg brothers’ 150-seat Japanese eatery offers an expansive menu (a large sushi selection, beef marrow with teriyaki, a burger) in the Thompson LES hotel.
2. Whynot Coffee
175 Orchard St., nr. Stanton St.; 646-682-9065; opens Oct. 31
The second location of a West Village coffee shop will exhibit rising artists, but you can still get Blue Bottle coffee and Mille-feuille pastries.
3. New Danny Bowien Project, a.k.a. Mission Cantina
172 Orchard St., at Stanton St.; no phone yet
The tight-lipped chef hasn’t confirmed, but a liquor-license application suggests the corner will soon be home to throngs waiting for Bowien’s take on tacos.
4. Tiny Fork
167 Orchard St., at Stanton St.; 212-777-8469
Windowed doors open to the street in this bright space from the owner of Fat Baby and Spitzer’s Corner. Oysters and the requisite kale Caesar are on the menu; décor is haute lobster shack.
5. Todd’s Mill
162 Orchard St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-995-0300
This late-night alternative for the grown-up but still whiskey-craving set often serves as a holding pen for nearby Mission Chinese Food. The post-midnight burrito special changes nightly ($8).
146 Orchard St., nr. Rivington St.; no phone yet; opens Jan. 2014
This Mexican venture from Food Network’s Aarón Sánchez (who designed Tacombi’s menu) marks his return to the LES—he was the chef-owner of Ludlow Street’s now-closed Paladar.
7. Sweet Buttons Desserts
84 Rivington St., at Orchard St.; 212-253-8484
A pastry shop from a former wedding-cake baker and FCI grad who specializes in under-$3 miniature treats like a Nutella cupcake.
8. Mi Casa Es Su Casa
140 Orchard St., nr. Rivington St.; 646-861-2377
A Spanish and Pan-Latin menu from an Ecuadoran chef who serves seafood paella, tostones rellenos, and the like.
10. Black Tree
131 Orchard St., nr. Delancey St.; 212-533-4684
Local spirits and hefty sandwiches with similarly sourced ingredients. Try the Fall Pig: pork belly braised in Sixpoint beer with quince preserves, Cheddar, and chocolate mint ($13).
11. Russ & Daughters Café
127 Orchard St., nr. Delancey St.; no phone yet; Feb. 2014
Niki Russ Federman and her cousin and partner, Joshua Russ Tupper, will pair vodka with caviar and aquavit with herring at the 65-seat outpost; at night, the space will host private events.
12. Cafe Dancer
96 Orchard St., nr. Delancey St.; cafedancer.com
A narrow and dark bar popular with the art-gallery crowd, serving affordable food (a $6 grilled cheese; a $10 hummus plate) and drink (cocktails start at $10).
14. Irving Farm
88 Orchard St., at Broome St.; 212-228-8880
Long-running coffeehouse 88 Orchard closed in August, then was renovated and reopened by the Hudson Valley roastery.
15. Cafe Katja
79 Orchard St., nr. Broome St.; 212-219-9545
The Austrian spot’s long been loved by neighborhood types for schnitzel and sausages, but especially so after a recent expansion doubled the dining-room size and added lunch.
16. Norman’s Cay
74 Orchard St., nr. Grand St.; 646-481-1229
The owners of the Nantucket-themed Grey Lady look this time to the Bahamas for island-style inspiration, which comes in the form of rum drinks, red-snapper ceviche, and, oddly, the fuselage of a small plane as décor.
17. Fung Tu
22 Orchard St., nr. Canal St.; no phone yet; mid-Nov.
A modern-Chinese restaurant from chef Jonathan Wu, a Per Se veteran, and Nom Wah Tea Parlor owner Wilson Tang; expect plates like wheat noodles in pumpkin-seed sauce.
18. The Leadbelly
14 Orchard St., nr. Canal St.; 646-596-9142
A sibling to the Fat Radish across the street, the bar sets oysters to live music most nights. A $6-cocktail happy hour attracts early crowds that keep going late into the night.
*This article originally appeared in the November 4, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.