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A True Literary Cafe Anywhere in New York??

lightstays May 10, 2010 02:01 PM

I am looking for the ephemeral Euro-style cafe that is actually Euro-style and does not just pay homage to a cafe experience that even New Yorkers seem genetically incapable of having. Does it exist?

Here's how it will go: I will order my coffee (I don't give a hoot if it's cafe au lait, Japanese-pressed or made from ground unicorn antlers, as long as it's strong and I pay less than $3.00). I will find my sunny table by a window or on a velvet divan not encrusted in brownie crumbs. There will be NO or VERY LOW music playing. I will open my Richard Ford novel and read for the next hour. NO STAFF will bother me in the next hour. They will not ask me if I want something else, if am feeling peckish, if I'm okay, etc, etc. NO PATRONS will talk on the their cell phones or have overly loud conversations about their roommates. NO ONE will tweet anyone else. Preferably I could smoke at some point but I know that likely impossible without legal recourse.

I'm looking for all of this to happen in an unpretentious setting, hopefully below 14th Street or Bklyn.

  1. s
    simetrias May 10, 2010 06:17 PM

    Ultimate irony: the closest to this fantasy is Starbucks. Try the ones on lower Broadway.

    1. i
      InSearchOfTacos May 10, 2010 07:11 PM

      i like the housingworks bookstore cafe in soho- it gets crowded and sometimes it can be loud...theres music playing, but you can sit all day and nurse a cup of coffee if you want to.

      ceci cela in soho is also fantastic- the back room is usually not crowded, coffee is fine but the pastries are divine and you can definitely spend an hour or two sitting and reading. i see people do it all the time, and ive done it myself...although when it gets busy i feel badly hogging a table

      1. q
        Quimbombo May 10, 2010 07:57 PM

        THAT is one of the things that makes Europe so enjoyable. The slow pace, having a good coffee <or 2 or 3> at leisure and stay at a table reading or people watch.

        I agree with simetrias Starbucks is about the only place like that in NYC.

        Either that of take your coffee to a park, sit on a bench and enjoy the fresh air. It's not as bad as it sounds.

        1. s
          small h May 11, 2010 04:35 AM

          <NO PATRONS will talk on the their cell phones or have overly loud conversations about their roommates. NO ONE will tweet anyone else. >

          Let me know when you find that time machine. You can sit around forever in Cosi and no one will bother you. Sometimes they don't even ask if you want anything to eat or drink. It's that laid back!

          1. q
            quandros May 11, 2010 09:08 AM

            It's out of the area you specified, but I love the Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam avenue btwn 110th and 111th. The downside is it's often crowded with Columbia students, but this time of year it shouldn't be too bad. Free refills on coffee and tea, and the pastries and cookies are great.

            Hungarian Pastry Shop
            1030 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

            1. princeofpork May 11, 2010 11:08 AM

              All kidding aside, you can get what you want in most Barnes and Nobel

              1. n
                noob May 11, 2010 01:03 PM

                Mcnally Jackson Books in Soho. Great bookstore, good cafe.

                1. u
                  usbchinita May 12, 2010 12:18 PM

                  There are several places in Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill in Brooklyn that fit your criteria. Tazza Cafe at 311 Henry St. (btwn State St. and Atlantic Ave.), with a no cellphone policy, carries great pastries and coffee, it's also a wine bar. Around the corner on Atlantic Ave. between Henry and Clinton, there's an antique shop recently converted into a cafe (sorry can't remember the name, but it's the only place with rocks outside of their door), serving what my hubby calls "strong coffee" (I don't drink coffee myself but he drinks at least a cup a day), sandwiches, and pastries baked by the owner. Cafe Pedlar at 210 Court St. (corner of Court and Warren) serves Stump Town coffee I think, hubby also says "strong coffee" with indoor (table) seating with two benches in front of the shop. Tasty pastries too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: usbchinita
                    lightstays May 12, 2010 01:52 PM

                    Thanks, all. Noob, special appreciation for the Brooklyn rec's though I've tried Cafe Peddlar and it fails in a number of categories: overpriced, blatant indie rock at all hours, blaring toddlers. It certainly LOOKS like the veritable continental cafe, but, as with so many places in the city, seeing is not believing.

                  2. o
                    oliver_selwyn May 13, 2010 08:11 AM

                    I can't believe that no one has mentioned Alphabet City. I like Cafe Pick Me Up on Ave A & 9th... more for the atmosphere than coffee quality. Also, you could try B Cup on 13th and - B

                    Cafe Pick Me Up
                    145 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: oliver_selwyn
                      princeofpork May 13, 2010 08:24 AM

                      Based on the criteria of the OP "not encrusted in brownie crumbs. There will be NO or VERY LOW music playing." I think the Alphabet City places will not make the cut.

                      1. re: princeofpork
                        lightstays May 27, 2010 05:25 PM

                        Tried Hungarian Pastry Shop and it's the real deal. Satisfies pretty much criteria. Thanks, all

                        Hungarian Pastry Shop
                        1030 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

                        1. re: lightstays
                          uwsister May 29, 2010 03:14 PM

                          Yep, Hungarian Pastry Shop definitely fits the bill. Some of my friends practically wrote every paper there in my college days. Just wish their pastries were better!

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