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Lack of nice cafes in NYC

Other than Starbucks or corner delis, NYC lacks nice cafes like the ones in most European cities.
I wonder if this is because of the high rent NYC but then isn't rent very high in Paris?

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  1. There are three nice one on the UES: Sicaffe at Lex & 70th...Payard at Lex & 74th...Via Quadronno at Madison & 73...one other, too, it's Italian but I can't come up with the name right now! Will repost if it comes to me...

    3 Replies
    1. re: fauchon

      Via Quadronno immediately came to mind, as well as their sister restaurant (in the front) Bottega del Vino. But, these aren't so much the linger forever places that cafes in Paris can be.

      1. re: fauchon

        Payard - bad service and creepy sandwiches...i would not recommend

        1. re: fauchon

          Sant Ambroeus is molto pricey, but the espresso is good, they have pastries, gelato and wine, served at close tables — but still modest sound levels — and decent autentico food, beyond molto….

        2. Depends on where you live. I have 2 on my block alone.

          2 Replies
          1. re: KTinNYC

            Would you care to share the names?

            1. re: MMRuth

              Tarallucci e Vino and Cafe Centosette. The former for sitting, drinking coffee, and talking. The latter more for brunch.

          2. I am particularly fond of Café Sabarsky and it definitely reminds me of Vienna/Europe.

            1 Reply
            1. re: livetotravel

              Could not agree more--Sabarsky is such a classy place. Superb coffee and desserts, and their Austrian wines are dynamite.

            2. I think there are tons of nice cafes in NYC, more than there ever have been. What exactly are you looking for in a cafe though?

              1. downtown has a lot of cafes that might fit your criteria...but as others have said, it depends what you're looking for.

                here are a bunch (in no particular order):

                -the bourgeois pig (e. 7th st, e. village)
                -palacinka (grand st, soho)
                -tarallucci e vino (agreeing w/the other poster; 1st ave/10th st, e. village)
                -cafe gitane (during off-hours; mott st, nolita)
                -caffe dante and caffe reggio (2 touristy places on macdougal st in the village)
                -caffe vivaldi (jones st, w. village; usually not as crowded as the more touristy village cafes)
                -doma (perry st @ waverly pl, w. village)
                -dt-ut (2nd ave, upper east side)
                -88 orchard (orchard/broome sts, lower east side)
                -the grey dog's coffee (carmine st, w. village)
                -grounded (jane st, w. village)
                -snice (8th ave/w. 4th st, w. village)
                -la bergamote (9th ave, chesea; great french pastries)
                -le gamin cafe (multiple downtown locations)
                -71 irving place (irving pl, gramercy park)
                -think coffee (mercer st, noho)
                -theeee coffee chamber (bleecker st, noho)

                1. On the UWS - Patisserie Margot - in the Ansonia, 74th Street west of Broadway. Among other things they have excellent croissants and a few tables where you can sit and sip your coffee, or eat a light lunch. Definitely overpriced, but I'd rather give it to them than Starbucks.

                  1. No-one has mentioned Sant' Ambreous, both on the UES (opposite the Carlyle Hotel) and in the VIllage (on Bleeker?)

                    Both serve great coffee, although I have to say that the baristas uptown are a cut above their village colleagues, and I'm not just talking about cuteness!

                    - Sean

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sean Dell

                      Thank you!!! I couldn't remember the name for my post above & it's been driving me crazy!!!

                    2. Quick Post Script to my previous.

                      Les Deux Gamins is also a good early morning coffee spot in the Village. And the barista there, tall, beautiful and French , is so gorgeous that I'm in danger of becoming a coffee-holic, just to hear her say 'would you like anuzzer?'

                      - Sean

                      1. Also the two cafe Angeliues, one on Bleeker East of Broadway, the other on Bleeker between 7th and Grove St.

                        1. If you're talking about coffee shops, New York has the most cafes it has ever had, with more opening all the time. If you're talking French-style, brasserie-type places where you can linger over coffee, a snack, or even a meal for hours, again, New York has added quite a few of those places in the last five years or so. I can't remotely relate to people that say we don't have a coffee bar scene here. That was true 10 years ago or so, when practically the only place in the east village was Limbo, now sadly departed.

                          Not an exhaustive list:
                          71 Irving
                          88 Orchard
                          Aroma Espresso Bar
                          Billy's Bakery
                          Blue Spoon Coffee Co
                          Bouchon Bakery
                          Bouley Bakery (in the summer, when you can sit outside)
                          Bourgeois Pig (two branches)
                          Brown Cup
                          Buttercup Bake Shop (two branches)
                          Dean & Deluca
                          Cafe Angelius (two branches)
                          Cafe Cafe
                          Cafe Collage
                          Cafe Condesa
                          Cafe Gitane
                          Cafe Orlin
                          Cafe Pick Me Up
                          Cafe Rafaella (two branches)
                          Cafe Sabarsky
                          Cafe Vivaldi
                          Casablanca Tea Room
                          Casa Cupcake
                          Ceci Cela
                          Cha An
                          Chelsea Coffee Company
                          The Coffee Pot
                          Connecticut Muffin
                          Drink Me
                          Esperanto Cafe
                          Full City Coffee
                          Grey Dog
                          Higher Ground
                          Hiroko's Place
                          Housing Works Cafe
                          Hungarian Pastry Shop
                          ING Cafe
                          Ini Ani
                          Inoteca (Rivington branch)
                          Jack's Stir Brew
                          Java Boy
                          Knit New York
                          La Bergamote
                          Le Gamin (many branches)
                          Le Pain Quotidien (many branches)
                          Lotus Club
                          Marquet Cafe
                          McNally Robinson
                          Mud Spot
                          Ninth Street Espresso
                          Once Upon a Tart
                          Patisserie Claude
                          Patisserie Margot
                          Payard Patisserie
                          Sant Ambroeus
                          Schiller's Liquor Bar (off hours)
                          Sugar Sweet Sunshine
                          Sunrise Mart
                          Taralluci-e Vino
                          Tasti Delite (great cocoa/coffee shop hidden inside the branch on 9th between 44th & 45th)
                          Tea Salon
                          The Adore
                          Theee Coffee Chamber

                          Blue Sky Bakery
                          Cafe Capri
                          Cafe Grumpy
                          Cafe Regular
                          Cheek's Bakery
                          Chocolate Cafe
                          Colson Patisserie
                          Connecticut Muffin
                          The General Store
                          Gimme Coffee
                          Gorilla Coffee
                          Has Beans
                          Heights Coffee (not in the Heights)
                          Hope & Union
                          Joyce Bakeshop
                          Le Petit Cafe
                          Milk & Cookies Bakery
                          Muddy Waters
                          Naidre's (two branches)
                          Oslo (two branches)
                          Outpost Lounge
                          Ozzie's (two branches)
                          Pillow Cafe
                          The Read
                          Red Horse Cafe
                          St Helens
                          Sweet Melissa (two branches)
                          Tea Lounge (two branches)
                          Two Little Red Hens
                          Verb Cafe

                          Brasil Coffee House
                          The Grind
                          Queen's Court

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                            wow, thanks, Peter for a quite comprehensive list. Have you personally tried coffee at all places? As much as I hate going to Starbucks, the thing is their coffee is pretty consistent any time of the day. There are a lot of places that you can get dependable coffee in the morning, but in the afternoon and evenings their coffee gets spotty. I'm going to print out your list and carry it in my wallet though. You can also add to your list Cosi, Oren's Daily Roast and Teresa's cafe. And in Queens - Aubergine cafe.

                            1. re: welle

                              Well, I didn't think we were talking only about coffee but also about the cafe experience -- places where you could linger, read, snack or what have you. I'm not a Starbucks fan -- I don't care for their coffee, although some of their branches are good for hanging. I've personally been to about 2/3 of the places on the list.

                          2. I think one thing that European Cafes seem to have in addition to coffee and pastries is real food. In Paris, you can get tartines, and some light classic bistro fare at most cafes. Spain has tapas. In New York, it seems you either go to a diner which generally has mediocre food and coffee or a bakery/cafe which as coffee and limited food. There are no places that satisfy both. I think le Pain Quotidien comes close, but the food is really mediocre. I, too, want a place where I can have a real, light meal but also linger over coffee. In NYC, it does not exist.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: AndyNYC

                              Untrue. There are many places such as Cafe Gitane, Bouchon Bakery, Bouley Bakery, Balthazar where you can both linger over coffee, unrushed by the staff, and also get good to great food. There are so many other places, but I don't have the time to go into it right now.

                              1. re: Peter Cuce

                                Yeah...go into bathazar or bouchon bakery and order just a cup of coffee and watch the look on the server's face, especially at lunch or dinner. They are restaurants, not cafes. My point was that in Europe, a cafe is a place where you can get decent, light food and also linger over a cup of coffee. The places you named do not fit that bill.

                                1. re: AndyNYC

                                  Yeah, this isn't Paris, and we're not going to match it in every way, but if you go to Balthazar in the morning on a weekday, they'll let you sit there for hours and hours on a cup of coffee -- I've done it plenty of times. Lots of other places will too.

                                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                                    ditto that for my experience too, i've done it many times. in fact the same is is true for BALTHAZARS cousins PASTIS and SCHILLERS. they dont care at all what you order or how long you sit there during off hours, try to do that during dinner rush is another story and sure you will get a 'look from the server,' just as you will in european cafes.

                              2. re: AndyNYC

                                Cafe Henri on Bedford St (used to be Le Gamin) has light fare & I've lingered there for hours. Same for Grey Dog on Carmine Street. I'd bet the remaining Le Gamin's around town are still the same, too.

                              3. I happen to hate Starbuck's. Yes, their coffee has more flavor than the local diner or Korean market swill, and yes it's consistant, but it's also burnt. Feh!

                                Also .... there are many cafes here, people have already listed the ones I'd name, though I will add Cafe Henri on Bedford in the West Village. However, there were more. Starbuck's has put many locals out of business. That's part of their business model, rather like Duane Reade & CVS. I try not to support them. Phooey!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kittyboots

                                  Some coffee shops may have gone out of business, but this is the most there have been in NYC in recent history. I feel that Starbucks, regardless of how you feel about its coffee, has raised peoples' coffee consciousness in general.

                                2. To find cafés, try this link:

                                  There are some repeat entries, but it's a great starting point.

                                  1. Peter's list is fabulous, thank you!

                                    I'm amused by the idea of nursing a cuppa Joe at Balthazar during their lunchtime rush. Try that at les Deux Magots in St Germain and watch the look on the waiter's face!

                                    On the other hand, I've lingered for many an hour over coffee in Balthazar, during off hours in the morning and afternoon. It's one of the great rooms in the city. And the waitstaff not only don't rush you, chances are they'll engage in flirtatious banter all the while.

                                    - Sean

                                    1. Peter's list is excellent(actually I am very impressed!) but again, most of these are restaurants and not cafes, though they name themselves cafe.
                                      I understand I am not in Europe but that's the whole point of asking this question here.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Monica

                                        Sorry Monica, but the vast majority of those are coffee houses, not restaurants.

                                      2. For me, the mis-en-scene that is missing is not so much the food - Balthazar is a great restaurant and you can spend time there, but the lack of the boulevard and wide sidewalk. In Paris, dining outside of the cafe still puts you far enough away from the traffic, whereas in Manhattan ( I cannot speak to the outer boros) if you are outside, you are right in the thick of things. Cafe Deville on 3rd Avenue makes a nice stab at it with the wide open doors in the nicer weather.

                                        I have also had good luck at Joe on 13th Street, where the Baristas are masterful.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Caillerets

                                          for that try PASTIS during off hours.