In My Neighborhood: Danny Bowien’s Guide to Lower Manhattan

portrait of danny bowien standing against a concrete wall

Danny Bowien has lived in New York City for 10 years, and for all of them—which excludes a brief stint in Bushwick—he has lived in Lower Manhattan. His first memories of coming to New York are scattered around the Lower East Side: he recalls being 17, still living in Oklahoma, walking down Broadway thinking that he’d “made it.” Bowien’s first New York Mission Chinese Food opened in 2013, tucked in a small take-out spot on Orchard Street, then moved to East Broadway in 2018 before closing during the pandemic.

He explains, “New York offers a great intersection of all different types of people, but that’s especially true of Lower Manhattan. I love being close to Chinatown and Little Italy. My first apartment was on Mulberry and Grand, and it’s still my favorite area. It’s very touristy, but I love it.”

Here are Bowien’s all-time, go-to spots for dumplings, noodles, pizza, and more.

SOS Chefs

SOS Chefs is insane. Atef and Adam, the owners, are amazing people. I’m slightly biased because my son Mino is best friends with one of their sons, and, over the years, I’ve gotten really close with them. Atef is an amazing salesperson. It’s like when you’re leaving IKEA and you have way too much stuff already, and then you end up buying way more stuff. Imagine that feeling as a person. Every time I go in there, she introduces me to a new favorite thing. I get my humongous tub of salt from there.

Congee Village

Congee Village is on Allen street, and Congee Dim Sum House is around the corner on Bowery. It used to be another Congee Village, but they went through a couple of different concepts before landing on the Dim Sum spot. Their dim sum is incredible, really incredible. My friend Sandy Liang’s dad owns Congee Village. She has a store down here too, and I find myself kind of going by there and hanging out, kind of bugging her.

Scarr’s

I’m blessed to have really amazing pizza down here. It goes without saying, Scarr’s is one of the greatest. Again, I’m biased, I love the owners. They do an amazing job. I feel like, if you’re going to wait in line, you might as well get a whole pie because then you can hook your friends up. You know, when I used to live in San Francisco, I would always go to Tartine Bakery and wait in line. I would always overbuy because then I could give a whole loaf of bread to the next person I saw. That’s how I am at Scarr’s. I have a little routine where I’ll run by Sandy’s, get a pie from Scarr’s, and then share it with the girls at Coming Soon, a cool homeware store. I like to get a tomato pie with garlic and oregano, and a little bit of chili. Also, their vegan caesar. I’m sure everyone knows about this, but if you don’t, it is so good. I put the salad on the pie and eat it like it’s a pizza-salad-sandwich.

BonBon – A Swedish Candy Co.

I live very close to a Swedish candy company. They have hotdogs on Sundays, vegan ones too. It’s dangerous living so close because you just find yourself popping in. They have candy by the pound, and, if you ask, they always have 40 different types that aren’t on display in the back. I think that’s the best gift to give because it’s shelf stable. Just go make a custom candy mix for someone.

Gelateria Gentile

There’s a bunch of locations around NYC, and they have an amazing gelato-sorbet-granita situation. Their banana sorbet is vegan and it’s amazing. The chocolate sorbet is amazing. I always go there. If you ever have a bad day, or you have a great day and you want to treat yourself, they deliver. I won’t even bother making desserts at home when I have people over, because I’ll just order some gelato.

Spicy Village

This is a really small restaurant, and the owners are really amazing, beautiful people. They focus on food from the Henan province in China, and it’s incredible. They do these amazing hand pulled noodles there, and these little wheat pancakes that are great. That’s one of the places that I hit quite a lot.

North Dumpling

Everyone always asks for my favorite dumpling place. North Dumpling has incredible vegetarian dumplings. To me, the best part of an egg roll is all the cabbage, and these dumplings are full of densely packed cabbage with a little bit of fresh ginger in there. I always get the veggie dumplings, steamed. When we lived over there, Mino and I would eat there once or twice a week. They have good black bean sauce noodles, too. Their veggie spring rolls are also really good, really crispy. You can buy their dumplings frozen, too! That place is special.

Ramen Ishida

I’m surprised there’s not a line here all the time. It’s the best. I’ve had their regular ramen, but I really love their vegan shoyu ramen so much. Mino loves Ichiran, I think because of the isolation booths, and he loves that style of ramen. But I really love Ramen Ishida, it’s my favorite.