Lack of nice cafes in NYC
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
Aroma Espresso Bar
Blue Spoon Coffee Co
Bouley Bakery (in the summer, when you can sit outside)
Bourgeois Pig (two branches)
Buttercup Bake Shop (two branches)
Dean & Deluca
Cafe Angelius (two branches)
Cafe Pick Me Up
Cafe Rafaella (two branches)
Casablanca Tea Room
Chelsea Coffee Company
The Coffee Pot
Full City Coffee
Housing Works Cafe
Hungarian Pastry Shop
Inoteca (Rivington branch)
Jack's Stir Brew
Knit New York
Le Gamin (many branches)
Le Pain Quotidien (many branches)
Ninth Street Espresso
Once Upon a Tart
Schiller's Liquor Bar (off hours)
Sugar Sweet Sunshine
Tasti Delite (great cocoa/coffee shop hidden inside the branch on 9th between 44th & 45th)
Theee Coffee Chamber
Blue Sky Bakery
The General Store
Heights Coffee (not in the Heights)
Hope & Union
Le Petit Cafe
Milk & Cookies Bakery
Naidre's (two branches)
Oslo (two branches)
Ozzie's (two branches)
Red Horse Cafe
Sweet Melissa (two branches)
Tea Lounge (two branches)
Two Little Red Hens
Brasil Coffee House
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.
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.
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!
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)