8 Great New York Cafés Slideshows
Sant Ambroeus, Upper East Side
Home to a host of New York landmarks — including The Met and "the Park" (Central, that is) — the Upper East Side is one of the most fabulous neighborhoods in the city. Walk down Madison Avenue and stop into Sant Ambroeus, a true Upper East Side haunt, where beautiful people dine on homemade pasta served by impeccably dressed Italian men. For people-watching, sit in the front "café" section and enjoy Italian-style cappuccinos along with decadent sweets. Their fruit tart is flaky and delicious.
1000 Madison Avenue (between 77th & 78th Sts.)
Bottega del Vino, Midtown
Midtown is one big frenzy of tourists flocking to the shopping and sites. Bottega del Vino, a popular spot with the Midtown suits for its authentic Northern Italian fare, is a lovely place to sit and rest one's feet. Their barista, Sammi, was hailed by Martha Stewart as the best in New York City. Though I may have to disagree with Ms. Stewart, the cappuccinos are nevertheless good, and beautiful — Sammi can make just about anything in latte art. A freshly baked apricot cornetti pairs well with the espresso.
7 E.59th Street (at 5th Ave.)
Café Grumpy, Chelsea
Cross into Chelsea and the downtown vibes start to emanate from the pavement. This famous neighborhood is still home to many of the city's art galleries and eclectic locals. At once gentrified and gritty, Café Grumpy fits the paradox of cheery cafe with a "Grumpy" name. Choose from any of their roasts by the cup, ethically sourced and roasted in Brooklyn. They pour fantastic cappuccinos that are creamy and perfectly balanced. The "no laptops allowed" policy makes for a scene that is more than backs of computer screens.
224 W. 20th Street (between 7th & 8th Aves.)
Joe Coffee, West Village
Joe is situated on the corner of a crooked street in the West Village — a neighborhood of Sex and the City-esque brownstones and tree-lined streets. Joe is as quaint as the 'hood, with a locals-only vibe (think Friends' Central Perk). This is no ordinary Joe, though — they sell and use their own roasts via Ecco Caffe, and the baristas are serious about their task. Cappuccinos are creamy, espressos are satisfying, and the coffee selection is extensive. After a cup, it's fun to get lost in the area, perhaps wind up at Magnolia Bakery for after-coffee cupcakes.
141 Waverly Place (at Gay St.)
Abraço, East Village
I was once told that this coffee will "make your hair grow." That information has not been validated, but this espresso does seem magical (as does the house-made food). They serve a sinfully good olive oil cake, which is not too sweet and perfect with a cortado. Staying true to the neighborhood, Abraço is low on the frill and skimps on the extras — including space. A true espresso bar, you can pack about five to seven people in, and you're still be a little close for comfort. If you get your coffee to-go they'll serve it in my favorite New York Greek-inspired coffee cup, which has become kind of iconic to carry.
86 E. 7th Street (between 1st & 2nd Aves.)
La Colombe, SoHo
Narrow with high ceilings, La Colombe's large windows and beautiful, long wooden seats are perfect for checking out the scene. Locals, tourists, artists, and coffee lovers all pack into the space and there is often a long line. The espresso drinks are reminiscent of what you would find in Italy and are served in gorgeous hand-painted black and white ceramics. The staff is friendly and welcoming, so no need to feel intimidated by their coffee expertise.
270 Lafayette Street (between Prince St. & Houston)
Bluebird Coffee, Lower East Side [UPDATE: CLOSED]
On a picturesque street is a little nook you might miss if you aren't looking for it: Bluebird Coffee. The space is small, but is so comfy and peaceful that one can sit for hours, staring out of the large windows at the sun shining through. OK, so the sun might not always be shining, but this place is somehow never dreary — it might have to do with the amazing coffee and heavenly, baked-on-site treats. The cardamom doughnut is a favorite (not too sweet and quite light), as well as the ginger cookie with white pepper (a little spicy). They make coffee to order in the Clever Coffee Dripper, and also have a brewed coffee on hand. Espresso is Counter Culture and the baristas are hailed as some of the best in the city.
72 E. 1st Street (between 1st & 2nd Aves.)
Bubby's is reason enough to venture this far downtown, as they serve delicious Southern-style food: homemade biscuits and jam, pancakes, and eggs with a side cheddar grits. The fantastic brunches are accompanied by incredible coffee selections and espresso drinks. One can sit at the bar for a bottomless coffee (as well as pour-over options) or head into the open, sun-filled dining room to feast and drink like a Southern king or queen. Open 24-hours, it is also a nice place to grab an after-theater coffee, with a slice of their homemade pie.
120 Hudson Street (at N. Moore St.)