One of the blessings of the continued development of real estate in lower Manhattan is the concomitant growth in high quality dining options available throughout the area, not only within the ever-growing collection of boutique hotels that appear every year, but also stand-alone establishments which serve a residential population drawn to the increasing number of sleek rental buildings which parallel the hotels. An annual opportunity to sample a wide array of these fine cuisines is Grand Street Settlement’s Taste of the Lower East Side™ charity event, which will once again be held at the 82 Mercer Street event space in Soho, and take place on April 26th this year.

Founded in 1916, Grand Street Settlement is a multi-service agency dedicated to providing essential programs for members of the Lower Eastside of Manhattan and Bushwick, Brooklyn communities, ranging from free or low-cost early childhood and day care services, after-school programs, and support for adults and senior citizens. Their variety of educational, cultural and other programs assist more than 10,000 area residents of all ages annually, and Taste of the Lower East Side™, now in its 12th year, has greatly assisted in furthering these efforts.

Over 50 local restaurants will be taking part, and guests will be able to slake their thirst at an opulent open bar including specialty cocktails; the evening will also feature a silent auction and live raffle prizes on offer, and music will be provided by Nick Pattakos.

Highlights for me last year included the pork belly on crispy apple by Mulberry Project, Cool Pea Soup with Wood Sorrel and poached rhubarb by VanDaag, chili Relleno and pork poblano meatballs with jalapeno and chipotle sauces by The Meatball Shop, lamb sausage with mint yogurt and pickled raisins by Northern Spy Food Co., crostini with crushed pea pesto and herb ricotta copa by Little Giant, fried oysters with quinoa crust by rayuela, yellow tomato gazpacho with shrimp by Gemma, prosciutto and mortadella meatballs with broccoli rabe by Morini, Thai spiced baby back ribs by Stanton Social, and Goat Sausage by Goat Town.

The event on April 26th will kick off with a VIP Henriot Champagne reception at 5:30 PM, followed by a 6:30 PM tasting preview, with general admission running from 7-10 PM; tickets are $500, $225 and $175 respectively, and can be obtained by logging onto http://tasteofthelowereastside.charityhappenings.org.

There are five Sponsorship levels for the event, with details available on the website. Participating restaurants this year include the following:

Alias • barrio chino • The Beagle • Beauty & Essex • The Bowery Diner • Café Cortadito • Clinton St. Baking Co. • CO-OP Food & Drink • DBGB Kitchen & Bar • Edi & The Wolf • Ed’s Lobster Bar Annex • Family Recipe • The Fat Radish • Fatta Cuckoo • Gemma • Goat Town • Hecho en Dumbo • il laboratorio del gelato • ‘inoteca •Kuma Inn •Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten • Macondo • Maharlika • Masak • The Meatball Shop • Mercadito • Mexicue • Mulberry Project • Northern Spy Food Co. • Osteria Morini • Peels • Pok Pok Wing • Porchetta • Pulino’s • Rayuela • Russ & Daughters • Schiller’s • Sons of Essex • The Stanton Social • Sugar Sweet Sunshine • Think Coffee • Tre • Vandaag • Veselka • wd-50 • The Wren • Yerba Buena • Zoë