5 Best Things I Ate (Drank?): Manhattan Coffee Shops

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I haven’t a clue how I’m going to make this series work for all of the things there are to eat and drink in New York City, but I’ll try. Starting with the caffeine here of course, because once you go cute coffee shops, you never go back.


Black Cat LES

Where to find: 172 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

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Coffee shops are not rare on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This one, however, is home to my favorite iced latte. Black Cat is a funky hole-in-the-wall that sits pretty deep on Rivington Street. It’s a little warm inside, which makes it perfect for a chilly day. If it’s too hot, go in anyway, and check out all of their décor. Look up too- all of the fun quotes and writing reaches the ceiling.


Ground Support

Where to find: 399 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012

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Raspberry. Pumpkim. Muffin. Photocredit: My sister 😉

The location is the selling point for Ground Support. It occupies the most precious corner of West Broadway, just steps from Laduree’s Downtown NYC location. It’s always crowded and the line is always out the door. If you catch it at a good time, take your pick, because everything on the menu looks good: breakfast sandwiches, artisan muffins (any of their muffins… seriously, any of them.), coffee creations, the works. There is a nice place to sit if the weather is cooperative next to the Eileen Fisher store.


Birch Coffee

Where to find: My favorite is their 13th Street location in Chelsea, but you can see their other locations here.

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A dinky, very hipster, no seats kind of place. Everyone who works there is cool and wears fedoras or bohemian jewelry unironically. Everyone who stops in is fabulous and probably brilliant and probably works somewhere really trendy. Go if you are fabulous. Go if you are not yet fabulous but are attempting to acquire fabulousness and brilliance by diffusion (Me…).


Ground Central

Where to find: View all Ground Central locations here.

 

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Reusing pictures here, but this never stops being relevant. Photocredit: 9two5 Fit

A different entity from the aforementioned Ground Support, Ground Central is an amped-up version of whatever fast-casual place you get your caffeine fix from every morning. They brew La Colombe coffee, which technically is another NYC coffee shop chain, but is also an outstandingly delicious brand of coffee beans. I’m not expert on different types of coffee beans, but if you asked me what type of coffee I want in my hand right now, it would be La Colombe with almond milk in a Ground Central cup.


Project Cozy

Where to find: 398 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

 

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I love places that make you want to stay forever.

Project Cozy is Soho’s newest coffee spot, having taken over a space just south of Houston St. that has rotated residents for the past year or so. They pride themselves upon being “Cozy as Fck,” which I think is an odd slogan that never stops being amazing. There’s ample seating, nice staff, and a fantastic view down Centre St. that definitely got all my creative gears going… except I totally didn’t have my laptop with me. Note for next time, because there will be a next time.

Bonus: They’re also a juice bar. Get the Kale Yeah smoothie.

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Waiting

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On a long line

of sleepy black coats

like every morning.

The man behind

the counter knows

my order.

The Wall St. men push

and shove,

curse and holler.

They have somewhere

important to be.

My friend knows

I always come in.

My coffee

is always waiting.

Back To School

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LIM College tends to get lost in the sauce in the Hunger Games-esque battle that is New York City universities. With major players like FIT and NYU, it’s easy for it to go unnoticed. I personally don’t know anyone who goes to LIM, but I did get well-acquainted with their resident café, Pickler & Co.

The small café is a sandwich counter and a coffee bar snuggled inside of one of LIM’s Midtown buildings. There’s one big table, about eight chairs, three stools facing the old-fashioned windows, a classic sandwich shop menu, and that’s it.

I ordered a Chicken Tender Wrap: lettuce, chicken fingers, cheddar, honey mustard and a whole wheat wrap. The three people ahead of me and the two behind me (All actual adults on their lunch breaks, for some more context…) ordered exactly the same thing. It was the same kind of sandwich my college best friend and I used to get after a particularly bad week or a tough exam. A kind of comfort food, I suppose, except most of the food in our college cafeteria was one step above, if not equivalent to literal plastic (Admittedly, some days the nostalgia takes hold and I actually miss it…?). Pickler & Co.’s was the real deal.

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I ate the other half before remembering to take a picture. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In the name of a real review, I ordered a coffee too (Really channeling my inner university student here because that would make it my second cup of the day, whoops?). Nothing crazy, just an iced coffee, but a good one. So good, in fact, that I entertained the idea of revamping my mini top coffee shop list. You have a choice to flavor it, if that kind of thing suits your fancy. I’ve been told September means pumpkin-flavored things are socially acceptable again. This one was Caramel…

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Thanks, Pickler & Co., for taking me back to my NYC student roots for a hot second. I can’t possibly think of a better use for my lunch breaks.


Pickler & Co.

216 E 45th St

New York, NY 10017

http://www.picklernyc.com/

The Remedy

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Lately I’ve been finding myself to be a little lost. Not the good kind of lost, more of an “I can’t figure out which way is up” kind of lost, and therefore in need of some love– which arrived just in time in the form of Sunday brunch.

The fix: A classic, wholesome, adorable corner eatery called Perla Café. At night their menu leans Italian, but their brunch is simply a small, quality menu with just a touch of fun. There’s a charming and inviting staff armed with an arsenal of recommendations. The first thing our waitress asked was if we had any allergies. Thankfully, we didn’t have anything too alarming to challenge the kitchen with, but it was obvious they were prepared to make changes and be accommodating.

It’s not a boozy brunch. Well, I guess technically you could make it boozy like you can do with most things in New York City, but why taint it? It balances perfectly somewhere in between healthy haven and artisanal masterpieces just as it is. Their coffee is to die for (Macchiato and Almond Milk Iced Latte pictured below). The iced latte was the perfect wake-up on a slightly-oppressively hot morning, and paired perfectly with my dish of choice: Parmesan biscuits, poached eggs, Italian sausage and a broccoli rabe pesto (Adjustable for my vegetarian friends, by the way!). The broccoli rabe is not at all broccoli-ish, the poached eggs don’t explode all over your whole life, and the biscuits and sausage are a great touch. You would think the four different ingredients would compete with one another for the top spot, but rather they do a well-choreographed little dance with every scoop, making my heart and my stomach very, very happy.

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Bring a friend to share the love with, or don’t and just feel the love yourself; it’s the best place for it. Whether you’ve got loads of catching up to do, or you’ve been finding yourself kind of down and hug isn’t so attainable (I understand, we New Yorkers tend not to be so friendly…), I can promise you one thing: Perla Café will do the trick.


Perla Cafe

234 West 4th Street

New York, NY 10014

http://www.perlanyc.com/

DC Eats

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My most recent bus ticket purchase sent me down to Washington D.C. to go exploring for the weekend. What can I say, I’m a sucker for really long bus rides… and trains… and airplanes, for that matter… (OK, I just really like transportation. There’s a potential that an eight-year-old boy lives inside my brain, though that is still to be determined.) Anyway, I got myself a wonderful tour guide (my cousin) who was also down to show me her favorite places to eat in this quirky, colorful city.

After napping for most of the ride, I almost literally rolled off the bus and into Tryst Café, so my cousin and I could appropriately caffeinate and catch up. It’s the kind of place I’d be spending lots of time in if I lived in the area. It’s cute, kitschy, and there’s lots of couches and chairs that intentionally don’t match; a nerdy, caffeinated college student’s dream, basically.

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The first priority was, as always, coffee. An iced latte with almond milk is pretty much my go-to, but Tryst’s is next level because they decorate the plate with animal crackers. My cousin and I were PUMPED.

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It’s just so pretty!

We’re both (trying to be) health nuts too, so we created our own salads for lunch. There were bean sprouts and it cost me several dollars less than it does in New York City. DC killin’ it already.

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My only complaint would be that the staff wasn’t too cool about how long my cousin and I were taking. Sorry guys, we weren’t ready to give up our corner spot- we had quite a few stories we had to catch up on!

A milkshake should always promptly follow a salad, because they totally balance each other out anyway (so you can see how well that whole healthy thing goes…). My cousin chose Ted’s Bulletin, a 1920’s-themed chain restaurant with a few different locations in DC and its surrounding suburbs. They are known for their homemade Pop Tarts and other sweet treats, all of which are displayed in the window and along the entrance. They have a full menu, but we went directly for the shakes.

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You have a choice: sweet or spiked. I went with spiked. My pick was a Peppermint Junior, which is a mint chocolate concoction with peppermint schnapps. It comes in an old-fashioned glass and they give you the excess in one of those antique-y metal cups.  Let’s play a quick game of Never Have I Ever: never have I ever been in a restaurant where they voluntarily give you extra milkshake (Also, my cousin and I were all “this is cool, but there’s no way we’ll still have room for this.” Needless to say, we ate the excess and those words, too.)

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I happily drank ALL of this. 

If only I were able to spend all my weekends munching my way through a new city…

Juicehead

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(Full disclosure: I googled “Juice Jokes” for about 20 minutes before starting this post.)

I have a pressed juice problem. It’s as bad, if not worse, than my coffee shop problem.

I know it’s really hipster, and that some of them aren’t all that healthy for you anyway, and that they don’t substitute for an actual meal (OK, neither does coffee, but hey, we absolutely all do that thing where we down a coffee on the run instead of real food). But to be fair, I genuinely enjoy trying different types of pressed juice, and not just because someone declared it trendy.

Enter Joe & The Juice, a juice shop I stumbled upon in Copenhagen Airport. I was fighting off a mild cold from the chilly Scandinavian weather, and went in searching for anything that was going to guarantee that my cold wasn’t going to get worse. I purchased an Immunity, which consists of red grapefruit, passion fruit, and apple. It was sticky and sweet and exactly what I needed before a rather choppy flight to Stockholm.

When a sign went up that Joe & The Juice was opening its first USA location in Soho, my favorite New York City neighborhood, I just about died. I then proceeded to scream and fangirl every time I walked by the sign (Very normal, obviously…).

It’s now open, and the vibe is incredible: coffee shop clientele with a gym-rat kind of menu, attractive people behind the counter, and pretty solid playlist played at a pretty solid volume. It’s unlike any juice place I’ve ever been in before.

The menu gets pretty earthy, but by some sorcery, very little of it actually tastes as nauseatingly green as it sounds. I went with a Joe’s Green Mile on my first (of what is soon to be many) NYC visits, which contains avocado, broccoli, apple, spinach, and lemon. I hate avocado and dared myself to try it. It’s the prettiest green color and it tastes like lemonade. I’m convinced it’s magic.

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Their coffees, which I’ve yet to try, are ordered by color as opposed to size, which is just about the cutest idea ever. No, the “pink latte” isn’t actually pink, which in all honesty is mildly disappointing, but it is the biggest size and the prettiest cup.

The only catch is that the cool vibe, color-coded coffee, and magic healthy juice is not at all cheap. But, if you crammed that many vegetables into something I actually want to drink, I’m still pretty much all about it.

Staying in Joe & The Juice forever, OK cool, bye.


Joe & The Juice

67 Spring St

New York, NY 10012

https://www.joejuice.com/

Search tool for all other international locations: https://www.joejuice.com/stores/

 

Two Thumbs Up For Two Hands

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Is an affinity for coffee shops and breakfast places something you automatically acquire when you’ve been living in NYC for almost four years? Because I most definitely have and it’s most definitely a problem.

Two Hands has been on my radar for basically ever, since I started seeing it pop up on multiple other food blogs. I followed them on Instagram as a continuous reminder to stop by (Fair warning, their Insta-game is strong, and you will want to eat or take a picture of everything. No judgment here, I promise my roommates and I left our coffees for longer than we should’ve just so we could get the perfect shot, and we weren’t the only ones doing it…). Today, my two amazing roommates and I decided to make a date of it, and got breakfast together.

The place is so many levels of cute. Get there early, because even at 9 AM on a Friday, only about an hour after they’ve officially opened, we snagged the very last table that could accommodate a party of more than two people. A little cafe with fairy lights strung across the ceiling, they have enough choices of fresh juice, coffee, milkshakes, and smoothies on the menu to sufficiently overwhelm you. The juices are all brightly-colored, and come in Mason jar mugs. The smoothies, too. However, full disclosure: I’m the biggest coffee drinker of the three of us, but all three of us intentionally ordered a hot cappuccino or latte just so we could get the pretty design on the top. It was a great choice though; they were amazing.

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Their food selection is not as expansive, but there pretty much isn’t a single thing on the menu that doesn’t sound fantastic. I chose the acai bowl, which is basically a deconstructed smoothie. I think my only suggestion would be a few less chia seeds, because there’s a lot of them. Other than that, the fruit, granola, seeds, coconut and chocolate combination was all I could ever want and then some.

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Clockwise from the top: Granola Bowl and latte, Avocado Toast and cappuccino, and my Acai Bowl and cappuccino

We were sorry to have to leave and return to our homework, especially after we made friends with one of the waiters and tried to make our coffees last as long as humanly possible so we could people-watch. Two thumbs up from us for Two Hands!


Two Hands

164 Mott St

New York, NY 10013

http://www.twohandsnyc.com/

And, if you really want to indulge in the breakfast food porn: https://instagram.com/twohandsnyc/?hl=en

It’s All Greek to Me

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There’s no shortage of absolutely precious breakfast places in Soho.

I found Greecologies while snooping around on one of my favorite blogs, Leopard For Breakfast. I’ve had the absolute pleasure of meeting the writer and hanging out with her for a bit; she’s an exceedingly cool Miami-to-NY transplant, and anywhere I’ve tried from her blog is nothing short of awesome.

So, I took her advice, and took my mom for breakfast. Greecologies sits on the border of Soho and Little Italy. It has big windows, plenty of seating, is very well lit, and is very relaxing.

My mom and I started sitting in the front window, and then moved to the back of the restaurant, where we had the cutest courtyard to ourselves. We got to catch up over our shared Butter Coffee, watching a woman from a nearby apartment building hang up all of her stuff to line dry. It looked like a picture, a cross between old New York and the hip, modern cafe that had just taken residence in the neighborhood (Nerdy writer moment, sorry…). I could’ve stayed in that one spot for the whole day and been the happiest person alive.

Not to mention that the Butter Coffee is the bomb, although it is very rich and you cannot get it iced. It’s a homemade butter that goes into the coffee, and if you get it iced, the butter gets funky and takes away from the unique flavor (I had to ask because my iced coffee obsession has gotten far too real…)

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Our (shared) coffee and our yogurt bowls!

For real though, how do you not feel cool scooping an entirely homemade meal out of one of these? It’s like having breakfast inside one of those fancy fashion blogger’s Instagram accounts. Anyway, I went with their traditional Greek yogurt, muesli and their specialty honey. The yogurt walks the really fine line between sweet and sour, and depending on what you put in it, tastes more like dessert then breakfast. I actually tried something similar in Denmark at my group’s hotel and ate it for five days straight, thinking I was never going to find anything quite so delicious. New York City proving me wrong again…

Not a yogurt fan? Go anyway. Do it for the ‘gram. Get a Butter Coffee because it’s great and you have to. And come say hi to me, because you’ll find me back there for sure.

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Greecologies

379 Broome St

New York, NY 10013

http://www.greecologies.com/

If Anyone Needs Me…

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…You can find me at Spider House Cafe for the next 3 months, OK bye.

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My quest for a fun spot to (unsuccessfully) finish my travel course paper resulted in a visit to Spider House Cafe. It was recommended to me by the UT (University of Texas at Austin) students I work with at my internship, and it was the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I don’t really have a better describing word for it besides Austin-y. It has a personality all its own, and eclectic customers to match. Hands down, the best place to order an iced coffee (and/or a Caesar Salad, which was also on point!), sit under the Christmas-lit trees, blast something through your headphones, and people watch.

There is a full lineup of events and performances set for the summer at both the cafe and their sister venue, Spider House Ballroom. I’m sure I’m the last person to discover how awesome this spot is, but now that I have, I’m hooked (University of Texas Longhorn reference? No? OK, I’ll get there…)!


Spider House Cafe

2906 Fruth St

Austin, TX 78705

https://spiderhouseaustin.com/cafe/

New Addiction

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So, I started drinking coffee.

This may have been a really bad decision or a really good decision, but I’m not sure yet (Will get back to you on that!). Regardless, my sister is thrilled to pieces, because now we get to have real coffee dates when I’m home, as opposed to her getting coffee and me ending up with some over-sweetened iced tea or a Slurpee…

I’m only home for a bit before literally and figuratively taking off for the summer, so today we had a sister date at Crazy Beans, a place that everyone in my hometown swears by. The cute retro-themed restaurant is surprisingly small, decked out in red, white and black, with funny signs about food hanging all over the walls and place-mats on every table that don’t match.

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My sister and I sat at the “bar”, with her place-mat Avenger –themed and mine with lists of major cities (So fitting!). We were instantly introduced to Crazy Beans’ menu, which comes complete with every flavor latte you could ever want, and a fabulous Steve Jobs quote on the front (Excuse me while I completely geek out, sorry I’m not sorry ‘bout it…).

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I then continued to lose my mind, this time over a cupcake-flavored iced latte, which everyone needs in their life all of the time.

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Cupcake iced latte, and my sister’s Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate iced latte

We also ordered a snack, choosing to split the smoked Gouda, green apple, and bacon grilled cheese. It was the most flawless grilled cheese I’ve ever gotten my hands on, and that’s saying a lot, because I live across the street from a Melt Shop in New York City. My sister and I stopped every few bites to nod in solidarity that there were very few sandwiches that would ever top the one we were devouring.

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There was another half, but my sister got a hold of it before I could snap a picture…

Stop by, take pictures, catch up with a friend (or your sister!), and order one of those grilled cheeses (I swear on my cupcake iced latte that you will not regret it). As if my new coffee addiction wasn’t enough, now my sister and I have established that we have to try all of everything on Crazy Beans’ menu… Oops?


 Crazy Beans

97 A Main St

Stony Brook, NY 11790

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crazy-Beans/763948576969008

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/crazy-beans-stony-brook-2