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It’s a sad fact that as college gets further and further away from me, it gets increasingly harder to arrange a good girl’s night out. Either my friends are moving to Brooklyn, moving in with their boyfriends, or moving away. So when a ladies night comes around, you best grab it and hold on.

This past weekend I did it up Lower East Side-style for a friend’s 25th birthday. The LES (as the cool kids call it) is one of NYC’s great enigmas. It’s not easily accessible, but somehow it has flourished into one of the greatest off-kilter enclaves in the entire city. This is the only neighborhood where you can grab a $2.50 PBR at one bar (that happens to look like your grandmother’s basement), and then hit a freak show around the corner. It’s where hipsters, chic-elite, riffraff, and posers all go to commingle on graffiti-stained sidewalks where the craft beers flow freely.

For your next trip to the LES, here are my recs:

The Meatball Shop – Okay, I realize I’m a little late to this party, but This LES outpost of the Williamsburg favorite opened up earlier this year serving up the same deliciousness that Brooklynites have come to know and love. There are six types of meatballs, six types of sauces, and an infinite number of ways to enjoy them all. I ordered four meatball sliders and a side of mashed potatoes. Tip: The spicy pork lives up to its name and one was NOT enough. Note: It is typically over an hour wait to get a table. Put down your name and give the hostess your cell phone number. She will text you 15 minutes before your table is ready. While you wait head over to…

Beauty & Essex – When I walk into what is supposed to be a bar and I find a jewelry store, my “hidden New York” radar starts to beep. A green door behind the register gives way to one of the swankiest NYC scenes I’ve ever beheld. Picture dimly lit dining areas, a sweeping spiral staircase lined with animal fur and glitzy crystal chandeliers and a ladies’ bathroom that serves complimentary pink champagne. All of this hidden behind a tiny 12×14 storefront. This is a perfect spot for a girls’ night out, romantic date night or where to kick off a bachelorette party.