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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Mad for Molly’s

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I believe we’re at a point in our relationship in which I can introduce you to my first true love; its time we had a serious talk about Molly’s Cupcakes.

Molly’s came into my life when I moved to New York as a freshmen at university. My cousin Jamie took me there in her quest to properly introduce me to the city (She succeeded. Some of my most favorite places in Manhattan are ones we’ve visited together!). Now, I take literally everyone to Molly’s. Friends, family, visitors from out of state or other countries… I even send random people there if they look lost on the street.

Why so great, you ask? It’s a West Village cupcake shop, just on the outskirts of Soho, right before you hit all the NYU madness. There’s only one in the whole entirety of New York (and a handful in the midwest United States, but I digress).

Most of their cupcakes are filled, meaning that if you stab right through the top of one with a fork, something delicious will ooze out all over the place. What they’re filled with all depends on what you get. There are endless options stuffed with cream, Nutella, peanut butter, chocolate, fruit preserve, icing, and even cake batter or “raw” cookie dough.

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It’s literally dripping cake batter. 

There are a few seats along the counter that are actually playground swings, and the rest of the room is reminiscent of elementary school. It’s complete with board games and card games for you to play with, like the ones you weren’t allowed to play with unless it was recess. They’re all yours to enjoy here!

I’d highly recommend that those games are best paired with a Birthday Cake or Boston Cream cupcake, and maybe a cappuccino in a mug the size of your face… but you’ll just have to meet Molly’s and see how easy it is to unconditionally adore it.


Molly’s Cupcakes

228 Bleecker St.

New York, NY 10014

http://www.mollyscupcakes.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/

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/

 

I Might’ve Cried

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I might’ve cried over this cocktail, but before you jump to any conclusions, feast your eyes upon it and allow me to further explain:

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Someone told me about Mulberry Project when I was 17 years old and had just moved to New York City. I then became obsessed with it because in my brain it epitomized New York coolness like no other bar could, and then I waited my entire college career to be old enough to go. On Saturday night, I got to cross it off my New York City Bucket List (Which doesn’t actually exist in physical form, might I add, but if it did, Mulberry Project would’ve been at the top…)

An “underground” mixology bar and restaurant, Mulberry Project is identifiable solely by its bright red door with a red light hanging over it. Open the door and you’re greeted by a lively crowd and a fantastic playlist (Saturday’s consisted mostly of the Arctic Monkeys and The Killers).

Cocktails are pricey. However, nothing beats getting to tell one of the bartenders something to the effect of “I like tequila, things that are really sour, and none of that weird jalapeno stuff that makes my drink burn in the back of my throat. Otherwise, have at it.”

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The result was the pretty orange/yellow drink- tequila, clementine, ginger, and an egg white. It was frothy and sour and fun. I almost wanted to challenge the bartender for another concoction.

And there’s snacks to boot. My friends and I did tapas-style (This is a trend with me, by the way, if you haven’t yet noticed. Food is more fun shared, anyway!) and ordered the Mulberry Fries, the Whipped Ricotta, and the Apple Salad. The salad was light and lovely. Thumbs down on the whipped ricotta- we thought it was a dip, and were disappointed when it was actually a very overpowering spread.

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I could, however, do an entire post just on those fries. They’re seasoned fries, which already makes them awesome, but then they are dusted with a powdered vinegar and something else, making them basically irresistible. We ordered two plates of them. All of the people in the bar judged us. We inhaled them with a deliberate disregard for all table manners.

There’s only one dessert item on the menu, but they’re irresistible too. You may now commence drooling over the doughnuts-that-tasted-like-churros-and-had-a-salted-caramel-dipping-sauce-that-we-basically-publicly-drank.

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Case in point, all of it was so, so worth the four-year wait.


 

Mulberry Project

149 Mulberry St

New York, NY 10013

http://mulberryproject.com/

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/

Late to the Party @ Social Media Week

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Apparently it’s Social Media Week in NYC?

Actually, by the time this goes up, it will be over, so allow me to correct that statement: Apparently, this past week was Social Media Week in New York City. And I found this out on Friday afternoon at approximately 4 PM.

Not like I could afford the $400 student pass to all of the events, but I don’t know, maybe I would’ve tried to pull some strings somewhere or something. I actually think social media is super cool, and it’s so interesting how it affects the way consumers think of brand. Our world is so connected. It makes it easier for brands to connect personally with their consumers, and hard for them to conceal their mistakes. It takes marketing and customer service to a totally new level.

A classmate of mine even went to a panel on cult branding (How freaking cool is that?!) and the VP of Marketing for SoulCycle was on it, so there’s that too.

Case in point, I’m super bummed I missed it.

Just before leaving work on Friday afternoon, I decided to check to see if there were any last-minute events going on before Social Media Week moved on to another city. It turns out there were two closing events on Friday night! The first was to be held at Highline Ballroom, and was for event pass-holders only (See the fourth sentence of this post… Yeah, no.). The other was open to the public, free, and seemed smaller. It took place at Mister H, inside The Mondrian Hotel in Soho, and was a “last hurrah” panel on the impact of social media in travel. Literally perfect.

I brought Monica along with me (You might’ve met her here) to the super cool space on Crosby St. After inadvertently walking through the hotel to the completely wrong entrance, we went into Mister H just in time for the panel.

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Hard to see, but we are getting better at actually taking pictures!

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The panel was sponsored by [wherever] magazine and Travel + SocialGood. It was moderated by Mary von Aue, who is a contributor to [wherever] magazine, and featured Shirine Saad, Mark Lakin and Kelley Louise. Shirine is a lifestyle writer, Kelley is a travel blogger, and Mark is a tour operator and photographer. Shirine was the most traditional of all three, while Kelley and Mark were a little more receptive to modern travel and social media practices. They were asked about everything from “voluntourism” to the impact of Instagram on travel destinations (How awesome is this? Who even thinks of this stuff?!). Because they come from three different realms in terms of job function and social media presence, they each had a different take on every question, and it was so interesting to hear their perspectives.

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After the panel, the space remained closed to outside guests, and everyone was able to mingle and network. Though Monica and I didn’t quite network, we talked travel, met some quirky people and had a few good laughs.

It was an absolutely fabulous, unexpected night!