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

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, too.

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Ground Support

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

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.

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Raspberry. Pumpkim. Muffin. Photocredit: My sister 😉


Birch Coffee

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

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…).

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Ground Central

Where to find: View all Ground Central locations here.

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.

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


Project Cozy

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

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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Very Bad Blogging

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In my struggle effort to reach the coveted title of “semi-functioning adult,” I realized I’ve fallen into this hole of forgetting to carve out time for food adventures. Neglecting the blog and all of the wonderful things there are to eat in this world is the last thing I want to be doing, so I offer you some notes on three Manhattan spots that have taken the internet by storm. Let’s raise our desserts to making time to do what you love.


Milk & Cream Cereal BarLittle Italy

My old roommate and I actually stumbled upon Milk & Cream by accident, on a gray Saturday afternoon in May. It plays upon the success of Momofuku’s infamous and ever Instagram-worthy cereal milk ice cream, but on a major sugar high. If you go traditional, you’ll be allowed one cereal choice to blend into your ice cream and one topping, all in a cup or in a The Konery cone (As a heads up, the Birthday Cake Konery cone is pretty but is not a good choice.) If you’re fancier, go for a Signature Blend. No worries about the size of the line, the staff is totally on it!

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Personal fav: Vanilla ice cream with Cinnamon Toast Crunch blended in, topped with chocolate chips *drools*.


DOGreenwich Village

DO now has adorable storefront Greenwich Village, after churning out edible, egg-less cookie dough from a kitchen in Kips Bay for quite a few years.

It’s sugary, creative, and actually feels kind of naughty… like you should be eating all of whatever you order before whomever used to bake cookies with you comes back to scold you for sticking your fingers in the raw dough and give you a lecture on the dangers of eating uncooked eggs. However, just like back in the day, one scoop is probably all you need, even without the raw eggs; it’s very dense. Prepare yourself for a minor food comatose shortly following.


EgglooChinatown

When my friend Kendra comes to town, all we do is eat. So when she told me she wanted to find Eggloo, I knew it was going to be good.

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And it was. It’s not fancy, just fun. You have your choice of bubble waffle and your choice of ice cream. Oh, and your topping limit is uncapped. Smother your whole life in mini M & M’s and chocolate Pocky while you can.

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/

Throwback Thursday: This Happened

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I lowkey cried when this came out but I was (and still am) very, very proud.

Since I started working with The Turn It Around Project in February 2016, I’ve been afforded a few awesome opportunities to share my story and hear others share theirs. The most unique and humbling of those, however, was the chance to be in this video!

The video was shot in mid-June in Tompkins Square Park as part of a project with HooplaHa, a website that pushes out only positive and uplifting content on all of their platforms, which I believe is so necessary in the world we live in today. Together with Turn It Around’s founder, Abbe, and two incredibly fun members of the HooplaHa team, we spent the day chatting away and doing a substantial amount of giggling.

I don’t really talk about being bullied as a teenager or about my social anxiety because I prefer to try not to use it as an excuse for my actions, if possible. When I started university in 2012, I made it a quiet, personal project of mine to get comfortable talking about things I struggle with and being who I am. It’s a project I am still working on today: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Thanks to The Turn It Around Project, I am that much closer to being the person I have always wanted to be. I am part of a community that is proud of progress in general. It will always be a privilege to be a part of the team, and the video is something I will cherish forever. Read the full story on HooplaHa here, and come join the movement with us here!

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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/

All That & A Breakdancing Bunny

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A New York take on street food and street art from around the world? Sign me up. Immediately.

Vandal New York is the newest addition to Chef Chris Santos’s repertoire of fun restaurants. It exploded onto the scene with a frenzy of media attention, including a star-studded opening party. Naturally that would lead one to believe that the restaurant is geared solely for the pretentious New York partygoer types, but Vandal is so much more of a hidden gem than expected.

Foremost, I would have to say that Vandal’s menu is far tastier than that of its siblings, The Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex. All three of the restaurants do some version of the shared tapas-style dishes with a twist, but Vandal’s menu reigns supreme. The clientele, atmosphere, and staff are also incredibly laid back. The servers are wearing Converse and sensible black wedges, and welcome you with a smile instead of scanning your outfit.

Take your pick; everything is great. Vandal is most famous for the Crispy Bao Buns. I say the Knish Reubens should be their claim to fame, because how do you even get corned beef to taste that good? Also the Cacio E Pepe Arancini, because it’s a ball of fried pasta with Parmesan sauce. The skirt steak with spicy chorizo fried rice was the table favorite. Although you might not want to, remember that it’s intended to be shared. Eat the spicy rice last. It burns your tastebuds but it’ll hurt so good.

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Crispy Bao Buns

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Knish Reubens

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Clockwise from the left: Thai Papaya Rolls, Sticky Rice Buns, Fish Tacos, Arancini

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Skirt Steak & Spicy Chorizo Rice

As for dessert: Tell them it’s your birthday because free chocolate cupcake (with delicious pretty icing). Order one of everything, except for the Irish coffee milkshake- order that for yourself and don’t share it with anyone else. Order two because they’re adorable (or I could just take the extra off your hands for you, if that’s cool…).

There really aren’t any drawbacks, except maybe that drinks are expensive. But with all of this other incredible stuff happening, it doesn’t even matter.

And on your way out, take a peek at the infamous Vandal bunny. He’s eleven feet tall and has his own Instagram. Give him a kiss for me and tell him I’ll see him again real soon!


Vandal New York

199 Bowery

New York, NY 10002

http://www.vandalnewyork.com/

 

Vegan Burgers

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I know what you’re thinking.

Before you get your panties in a bunch over the potential that someone in New York City ruined burgers by making them out of vegetables and other strange healthy things, just hear me out.

Other bloggers rave about by CHLOE., a cafe in the West Village. The storefront is precious, and everything on the menu is vegan. In addition, nothing contains cholesterol, added preservatives and/or artificial flavors, and some menu items are gluten-free. My cousin, who is vegetarian, came to NYC for a visit, giving us both the best excuse to try it.

Like any typical burger joint, you order at the counter and then grab a seat to wait for your food to be ready. Seats are a hot commodity at by CHLOE., and the line is almost always out the door. I wanted to put their Classic Burger to the test, while my cousin went with the Internet’s favorite, the Guac Burger. We also tested the air-baked fries.

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The Classic Burger is a tempeh, lentil, chia and walnut conglomeration. It comes on a potato bun with pickles, onion, spinach and a ketchup made from beets. Though thinner than your typical burger, if you didn’t warn me that it wasn’t made out of meat, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. The only big difference was a strong flavor from the pickles, which was still great. The air-baked fries are not as crisp as your regular French fries, but they may actually taste better. Though they are a bit soft, we still found ourselves wondering how we finished all of our fries so fast…

No worries, old-fashioned burgers and fries have not been destroyed. In fact, the vegan versions very much do their counterparts justice. I’m intrigued, obsessed, and I need to go back for more. So basically, if you’re looking to switch it up and get a little adventurous, come with, because by CHLOE. is the place.


by CHLOE.

185 Bleecker St.

New York, NY 10012

http://bychefchloe.com/

Other People’s Picks

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Usually I’m not a huge fan of people who make better recommendations than I do, but this pick was just too good.

My friend decided that we were venturing out of Manhattan for dinner, and led me to Surf Bar. It’s quite literally a hole in the wall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, graffitied with stickers. Once you slip inside the tiny doorway, you are greeted by tiki lights and a sand-covered floor, suitable for removing your shoes and digging your toes into (I’m pretty sure actually removing your shoes is a no-go, but you get the point. Wear sandals if you’re really feeling it- I was!).

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Obsessed.

Drinks were first priority. I went with a regular mojito, while my friend got his blended. His was bright green, giving the illusion that he was drinking a green smoothie of sorts. Thumbs up from both of us, although I never got to taste his- he liked it so much he wasn’t down to share.

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And while you’re pretending that you’re knee-deep in the water somewhere, you’re good to go with any of their tropical dishes. All are (shockingly) reasonably priced. The fish burrito, though not quite picture-worthy, is the perfect complement to the over-sized mojito, as was my friend’s Mahi Mahi burger. The standout are the yucca fries (most of which I stole off of my friend’s plate). I’m still not clear on what yucca is, but when fried it tastes like giant steak fries. They are a must.

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Pre-me eating almost ALL of those fries that weren’t even technically mine…

Williamsburg may be home to every cool, Instagram-worthy hole-in-the-wall on the planet, but I will readily get behind a place that puts you on island time in the middle of the busiest city in the world. The place was eclectic, the food was quality, and I can’t afford to just jet off to the Caribbean as of yet, and this more than filled the void. Go.


Surf Bar

139 N. 6th St.

Brooklyn, NY 11222

http://brooklynsurfbar.com/

 

Gettin’ Down in Noodletown

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For the holidays I bought my dad a book titled 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die. At first it was kind of a gag until he actually wound up loving it, and now it lives in the kitchen at my parents’ house and has been referenced quite a few times. Of course, I thumbed through it before wrapping it up for him- a quick perusal of the New York section. Everything had 875,692 dollar signs next to it, a sure sign that I’d never come up with the money or get a reservation…except for Great New York Noodletown.

Months later I finally got my life organized enough to make time to try it, because c’mon, it’s called Noodletown. Upon further research, I found out that it’s an Anthony Bourdain favorite. Its around $7-8 per dish and their dishes are substantial, therefore costing less than potentially anything else Manhattan (Kidding, but still…). No reservations necessary. Roast Pork Wonton Soup fixes everything because it’s like a hug in a bowl. How could you possibly say no?!

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The meat is perfect. It tastes like a spare rib without the greasy artificial sauce, salty and drenched in broth. The wontons are shrimp (which is NOT CLARIFIED on the menu, please be careful if you have an allergy!), and they come with the tails removed, completely cooked and wrapped tightly. There’s also a boatload of thin, ramen-like noodles in the bottom, and no fork for you to tackle them with, so you’re just supposed to have at it with your chopsticks. Shovel and slurp to your heart’s content as long as your table has agreed that it’s a judgement-free zone.

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Dragged my roommate along with me, her fried rice was also amazing!

Nothing is greasy, nothing is dripping oil, and everything is authentic. It’s a no frills kind of place, but you’ll still feel right at home.


Great New York Noodletown

28 Bowery

New York, NY 10013

http://greatnynoodletown.com/

Foodie Fam

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I come home for hugs, doctors’ appointments, and good food.

My family is down to eat anything, anywhere, at any time, and I absolutely love it. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you first were introduced to my parents and their collective great taste in restaurants when I lived in Austin (the pun was completely intended) and even on Long Island, they absolutely never disappoint.

My parents chose Honu Kitchen & Cocktails for a Saturday night dinner. It was formerly a Hawaiian-esque restaurant called Blue Honu. They’ve stepped up their game and have a much more Manhattan vibe, despite the crowd still being pretty Long Island. They have also stepped up their playlist: all Classic Rock, all night long (so you can just Carpool Karaoke it out Elton John-style, with a smattering of Hall & Oates, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, and other greats).

Everyone waltzes around with one of Honu’s Coconut Martinis in hand. I actually chose a Winter Antioxidant, which was more of a berry situation. At first sip, it’s got some bite and may remind you faintly of Robitussin. Don’t let that discourage you: the longer you sip, the sweeter and better it gets.

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Clockwise from the top: Dad’s Coconut Martini, my Winter Antioxidant, and Mom’s Chardonnay because she felt left out 😛

For my sister and I, the best part of any meal is when the waiter confirms that they are, in fact, going to put a bread basket on the table. We really, really, really like bread. At Honu, they bring you an ENTIRE baguette, still in wrapped up in paper. You’re supposed to make a mess all over your table, just-casually-snacking-on-a-baguette-while-I-meander-along-the-Champs-Elysées style, and with an olive oil-garlic butter mixture to go with it.

When there’s Peking Duck on the menu, you just don’t say no to it. My dad and I unevenly shared the dish as an appetizer, meaning he let me eat 2/3 little pancakes because I liked it so much (Also because he’s the best…). Duck is an acquired texture, as is hoisin sauce. Honu has this dish down, and if you’ve never done duck before, Honu is certainly the place to start.

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*ignores salad and descends upon incredible duck*

For dinner, I chose Shrimp & Scallop risotto. What made it a winner for me was the scallops. The scallops in my already-amazing risotto were not at all squishy or slippery. They added an extra salty kick to the dish, too.

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As far as dessert: do not pass “Go”, do not collect $200, skip everything else and go straight to the Irish Coffee Creme Brûlée, I ate most of that, too, but not because anyone politely let me, but because I just kind of did. I’m going to dream about it in all its Bailey’s-infused splendor until I get more.

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And that, my friends, is how a Saturday night should be spent.


Honu Kitchen & Cocktails

363 New York Ave

Huntington, NY 11743

http://www.honukitchen.com/