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Jun 9, 2013 12:26 AM

Best place for coffe/pastry

I will be staying at the Affina 50. I am looking for a place to eat breakfast. I ate at a restaurant in Chicago and they had a unique breakfast velvet pancakes...many other delicious almost like desert dishes.

I am also looking for the best pastries shops around....I love pastries and sweets. Also, I am looking for a good coffee shop. One near the hotel plus some that are just the best in New York City.

Last but not least, some family restaurants that are not really expensive. I am bringing my mother for her 75 birthday, my older son and my teen daughter. Not sure what to budget for food. Is twenty dollars per person for dinner good? Lunch 12 to 15? I have no idea what to expect so any help would be appreciated.

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  1. Sweet Revenge has a Red Velvet waffle.

    Peels has a baked goods case to compliment a full standard brunch menu.

    Birdbath/City Bakery has a pretzel croissant that's really good and pretty unique.

    Closer to your hotel, specifically, there's Demarco for coffee, then Momofuko Milk Bar, Macaron Cafe, and a Le Pan Quotidien chain location, and then at Grand Central, there's a Magnolia, and a Joe's Coffee, with Rize Coffee close by. A little farther away, there's Stumptown at the Ace.

    12 Replies
      1. re: sugartoof

        If you're at City Bakery on a weekend morning, grab a piece of their delicious caramelized french toast for breakfast. Then a pretzel croissant to go, alongside a baker's muffin (which is made out of leftover muffins/scones/croissant/etc pieces).

        1. re: kathryn

          @ City Bakery The carmelized French Toast is a cosmic experience. It's sold by weight and very filling. Don't overdo it. Also try the hot chocolate with house made marshmallow. Also very filling so get the small size.

        2. re: sugartoof

          There's a new shop called Pennylane on 45th between 1st and 2nd. I haven't been yet so can't comment on the quality of what they're doing, but they are using Stumptown.

          I wouldn't recommend Demarco to anybody. Nice people, but over-roasted bitter coffee. Momofuku doesn't make coffee particularly well, but they do use Stumptown. I'm not sure if you're recommending LPQ for coffee or sweets, but their coffee is pretty bad and their sweets are nothing to write home about either. Joe The Art of Coffee is usually good and Rize, across the street, is another Stumptown shop, but usually does a good job. Kathryn recommend Blue Bottle in Rockefeller Center. That's another good choice nearby.

          If you're going to Bryant Park, visit Culture Espresso on 38th east of 6th. They're serious about coffee and rotate through different coffee roasters - they might be using Heart Roasters now.

          Overall for coffee in Manhattan, off the top of my head, I would make sure to visit one of Cafe Grumpy's two extant branches, Third Rail Coffee near Washington Square Park, the aforementioned Culture, Ports Coffee & Tea on 23rd, and the new Stumptown on W 8th St.

          btw, Cafe Grumpy has its own baker and is producing some delicious, unheralded items.

          1. re: Peter Cuce

            For whatever reason, I find the Momofuku Milk Bar on W56th's Stumptown to be too light/weak, in comparison to Stumptown on 29th.

            The new Brew Bar in the back of the Stumptown on 8th St is pretty cool, too. No seating on that side, though.

            1. re: kathryn

              That's because they don't make the coffee well. It's not something they care about.

              1. re: Peter Cuce

                Just to reiterate, it doesn't matter what coffee roaster you use, if you don't make the coffee correctly, whether it be espresso, Fetco, pourover or iced.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  You don't think it matters at all if they start with a roaster known for fresh roasted, quality beans?

            2. re: Peter Cuce

              Rize closed about a week ago with no warning (shame because I had 9 of 10 punches on my get a free coffee card). Not surprised though, was never impressed with the place, just liked that it was in my building.

            3. re: sugartoof

              And the Joe's Art of Coffee carries several different Doughnut Plant donuts each day.

              Bouchon Bakery at Rockefeller Centre has some interesting pastries.

              Agree with other posters that Blue Bottle in the Rockefeller concourse has great coffee.

              Fika on W 58th also has good coffee and pastries (recommended to me by foodwhisperer here: )

              1. re: prima

                I'm not a fan of Fika for coffee - the beans they use are old and they don't make it particularly well. They do have some good northern European sweets.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  Really? I had found their cappuccino a little too milky for my taste, in Feb, but I didn't detect any staleness. The coffee the day I was there seemed quite similar to the coffee I enjoy in Germany and Austria.

                  I do trust your taste in coffee. Thanks for the heads up.

            4. Sounds like you are referring to the Bongo Room in Chicago. We don't have much like that here--tons of super sweet, unusual pancakes--except for Shopsin's. Maybe the dessert brunch bar at Benoit.

              If you are open to other options and willing to go downtown, then I would suggest the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.

              Best bakeries

              Best French pastry

              For coffee, you're kind of in a dead zone... Better options will require a bit of a walk. You can walk to the Blue Bottle in Rockefeller Center, or Simon Sips.

              $20pp for a sit down restaurant before tax, tip, wine/drinks, for dinner, is "cheap eats," in most of Manhattan. Not really nice enough for a birthday celebration.

              $12pp for lunch is good for takeout, food trucks, etc. and places with lunch specials. Dinner is much harder.

              16 Replies
              1. re: kathryn

                It might have been the Bongo room we did eat there but I guess I was thinking it was somewhere else....we ate at so many places I couldn't keep them straight.
                As for the dinners..I wasn't very clear, we will be there for nine days so I was looking for budget friendly meals for dinner and lunch. Maybe a nice place for dinner two nights. For my moms birthday we were thinking of a tea room. My mom wouldn't like formal...more cozy, sweet and girly

                Thanks for all the ideas on places for coffee and pastries. We will be all around the city so I don't mind traveling for coffee and pastry shops.

                1. re: dawnmccloud

                  There are a few places in Chicago that specialize in creative/dessert-like pancakes, Bongo Room is probably the most famous.

                  When is your trip? Party of four people, correct?

                  What is your budget, per person, for food only then?

                  Around $20pp all in is still going to be tough especially if you want cozy/sweet/girly.

                  Check out the menus on for cozy, sweet, girly restaurants like Alice's Tea Cup, Penelope, Popover Cafe, Kitchenette, Sarabeth's, Good Enough to Eat, Doma Na Rohu. Not sure where you are from, but you may experience sticker shock at $15 salads and sandwiches.

                  Favorite cuisines? Avoids? Allergies? Picky eaters?

                  The biggest issue will be that the cheaper places (like pizza, BBQ, burgers, Chinese, Thai, etc) tend not to take reservations. I don't know how long you'd be willing to wait for a table with Mom.

                  If you're here for 9 days, try to schedule the more popular places for lunch or Sun-Weds. And make reservations for Friday night and Saturday night for sure.

                  Best high / afternoon tea:

                  If you love sweets and girly things, definitely stop for some macarons somewhere -- Lafayette, Laduree, Bosie Tea Parlor, Bisous Ciao.

                  Lafayette ones might make a nice surprise as they are adorable (blue and white), AND they also make a "birthday cake" flavor.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Good list overall but I don't know that I'd recommend Good Enough to Eat to anybody. I call it Almost Good Enough to Eat. And Doma Na Rohu? What's girly about that? Do they make good stuff? I've tried a couple things and didn't think anything special about it.

                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                      Doma Na Rohu I guess isn't that girly any more, the original Doma felt more girly to me.

                      1. re: Peter Cuce

                        All Good Things Marketplace ( Franklin St.)serves Blue Bottle Coffee. But it takes them forever to make a cup of coffee. If there are several people waiting, you can go up the street to Pecan get a cup of coffee and come back, and your coffee still wouldn't be ready.
                        They do have a Tasting Menu in the restaurant downstairs, that is interesting. Not great, but has potential.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          Just to pick a nit, the stall in All Good Things doesn't just serve Blue Bottle, they ARE a Blue Bottle location.

                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                            Yes, you are correct. Only a few of the stalls are actually owned by and run by All Good Things.
                            As long as we are picking nits, Blue Bottle's drip method and the barristas are way too slow.
                            I do agree with what you said in a previous post that it is not just the coffee quality that counts, the way it is prepared makes a major difference. I believe Sugartoof misinterpreted what you meant.

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              I didn't misinterpret anything. The way it's prepared does count, of course... but starting with quality beans does too. Some roasters beans, and some varietals will stand up somewhat better then others to common mishandling from a bad barista, and a good barista still needs a good bean to work with.

                              Blue Bottle requires the slow pour over method in every* retail setting that serves their coffee as a single cup.

                              A proper pour over method is meant to be fairly slow to get a proper extraction. Imagine the equivalent of waiting for a French Press to brew. It's possible the barista made it excessively slow, but the problem is usually they make it too fast, and rush the coffee to the customer, defeating the point of using the pour over method. I will say, that particular Blue Bottle location is the slowest I've experienced anywhere.... because it was done properly.

                              *I know of one place that sold a premade drip out of an urn, but they've since removed that option.

                      2. re: kathryn

                        Yes, there are four of us. We arrive on Sunday June 30th. My mother and teen daughter will leave on Friday July 5th. My son and I will stay until Tuesday., July 9th.

                        I was just guessing on the food budget. My daughter wants to eat hotdogs one day at coney island and her all time wish...a food truck. My son wants to try a couple of pizza places. My mother wants to try some deli's as that is one of her favorite memories when she visited New York with her Dad. So, that is how I came up with 15 dollars for lunch. Not to mention that we plan to sample food as we go so I am not sure how hungry we will be.

                        As for dinner, I was not including drinks or tip. I just didn't want to pay 50+dollars per person every night. Also, my mother likes casual places. I should mention , we are staying in a suite with a kitchen. I read a trip report from one couple, that bought dinner a couple nights at the grocery store across from their hotel....i believe it had a cafe in it...and took it back to their suite. I was thinking that we should keep that idea in mind as my mother is 75 and will be tired in the evening.

                        After they leave my son(who is 30) wants to try some of the more hipper places (if that is the correct term for "not family style") I do not have a budget in mind but i am sure his budget is limited.

                        Thanks for the recommendations on the tea shop. I do expect to pay more then 20 per person here. I just want a place my mom will love.

                        Thanks for all the coffee and pastry reviews. I plan to map the mentioned coffee shops so that as we tour I will know where to get a cup of coffee. We will all enjoy trying the pastries.

                        1. re: dawnmccloud

                          It is a long way to Coney Island just to eat a hot dog, so I hope it is not your only reason for going and you want to take in the sights, etc. Luckily your trip seems fairly long so you'll have a good amount of time to squeeze it in; just remember to be flexible regarding the weather. It will probably be packed on the 4th of July due to the hot dog eating contest.

                          Some discussions of food trucks:

                          You might also want to dig into the Vendy award winners, too:

                          Best NY style pizza (FYI there are multiple kinds of NY style):

                          I would also suggest reading this NYC Pizza Primer:

                          For delis, I assume your mother wants something like Katz's Deli or 2nd Avenue Deli. Unfortunately, Sarge's is still renovating after a fire and is currently closed. Depends what items she misses from her childhood, we can help steer her in the right direction (pastrami vs matzoh ball soup, etc). Each deli has its strengths and weaknesses. Also 2nd Ave is quite a bit more expensive because it is kosher as well.

                          BTW, just saying that your mom likes "casual places" does not really narrow it down that much in Manhattan. Even loud, crowded, boisterous places without white tablecloths & where people are dressed casually (i.e. you don't have to wear a jacket or even a button down shirt) can easily go over $50pp.

                          A budget of around $50pp is more like "moderate" or the upper end of "moderate" these days in Manhattan.

                          It is difficult to give further recommendations without a firmer sense of budget (naming a dollar figure) and what other cuisines you may be looking for. Staying around $20pp per meal will keep you in the cheap eats/inexpensive category more often than not.

                          Getting takeout or groceries is a great idea. If you let us know where you are staying, we can help steer you to some stores. Also you could grab something from a food truck and take it back to the hotel room.

                          Or pick something up from a wonderful food store like Murray's Cheese, Eataly, Despana, or a nearby Greenmarket.

                          This thread may help: cheap eats for 1st time visitor from NZ:

                          And this site:

                          I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:

                          Not sure what you mean by "not family style" being equivalent to the "more hipper places." To me "family style" means a sit-down meal where there are common dishes that diners serve themselves; in other words, not each person gets their own entree.

                          You can do hip and cheap, but you may have a long wait to eat. This would be places that don't take reservations at all, like Momofuku Noodle Bar, Mission Chinese Food, Parm, Meatball Shop, Pok Pok Phat Thai, etc.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            We are staying at the affina 50. Is there grocery stores around there

                            1. re: dawnmccloud

                              Try looking on Yelp or Google Mps, there's probably a location of a local NYC supermarket chain nearby. There's also usually lots of little corner stores with groceries.

                        2. re: kathryn

                          Alice's tea cup looks perfect. I looked at their website and its a little confusing. Do I need a reservation for 3 on a weekday?

                          Can't wait to try Lafayette....more then once by looking at their menu

                          1. re: dawnmccloud

                            Depends which one, I guess -- best to call and ask.

                      3. re: kathryn

                        I'll second (or third) the Blue Bottle suggestion. It's some of the best if not the very best coffee midtown. They have some good cookies from their own recipes (Safron snickerdoodles, etc.) but it's not in the immediate area of the OP's hotel, which opens up a whole world of the best coffee/pastries in the city.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          Thanks for the links. Just what I was looking for

                        2. Here is a rough itinerary for part of the trip with my mother. From reading different post I realize it is easier to ask for advice on places to eat based on an itinerary.

                          Sunday either TOTR or times square. (Anyone know the hours of the m&m store).

                          Monday. GMA...then coney island.....early evening which ever we didn't get Sunday night..TOTR or times square.

                          Tuesday. Nine am 9/11 memorial. Saint Paul's afterwards. Wall street. Back to hotel to rest. Grand central station.. walk and pics of Chrysler building and empire state building.

                          Wednesday....tenement musuem...RGR LES walk....east village stroll

                          thrusday...statue of then somewhere to watch fireworks.

                          Friday....Saint John the Devine or St Patrick . Airport by one for my mothers flight.

                          Not sure if this is a realistic itoneray so I may need to change some things. Any suggestions are appreciated.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: dawnmccloud

                            Looks like Monday and Tuesday are long days...other than that, you only mention one destination for food (The LES tour), which is probably why you came to this forum for advice.

                            Where are you planning to eat?

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              My son wants pizza. My daughter..hotdog at Nathan's and a food truck. I want coffee and I love sweets. My mom who is 75..wants to eat at some delis.

                              We like casual places. Here in Kansas city we like to eat at a few places that are family owned...a couple that are new small restaurants in our arts is is Italian. But.. we really want to experience New York. If that makes sense

                              1. re: dawnmccloud

                                If you like sweets you must go to Economy Candy on rivington street- the best candy store in NY. Not 'fine' chocolates, but a candy emporium-the size of a barn stuffed with all kinds of fabulous goodies. then,quite nearby on Hester Street-The Sweet Life. it's just the opposite-small, beautifully crafted,delicious..

                                1. re: pammi

                                  I had economy candy on mylist...but I am adding sweet life now. Thank you

                                2. re: dawnmccloud

                                  Did anything in the many links I posted above appeal?

                                  Again, what is your budget in terms of dollars? Can you name a figure?

                                  Also, what other cuisines are you interested in?

                                  Food trucks is vague and covers many different cuisines. You'll be able to find a lot of them near TOTR and Times Square like the Biryani Cart, Trini Pak, Halal Guys, etc.

                                  At Coney Island, eat pizza at Totonno's and hot dogs at Nathan's, and that will satisfy those two requests.

                                  RGR's tour will take you to Katz's, satisfying your mom.

                                  If you want to go to another deli, 2nd ave isn't too far from the Empire State Building.

                                  In the East Village, you can have more pizza at Motorino (Naples style). Or a slice at South Brooklyn or Joe's.

                                  You haven't really given a lot to go on for the other meals. Do you also want French, Mexican, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, burgers, steak, Korean, etc?

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    I appreciated the links The links really answered my questions. I just posted my itinerary for suggestions of places in the area we will visiting.

                                    As for the food truck ,it really doesn't matter what kind of cuisine... My daughter just has that as her top three "must do" in new york.

                                    We are picky on cusinie for places to eat. Just looking to experience New York. Budget is flexible. Trying to keep inexpensive most meals. Mainly because we want to snack and sample lots of different places. With two out of the five nights at a nicer resturant.

                                    1. re: dawnmccloud

                                      I assume you meant you ARE NOT picky, which is good!

                                      > Sunday either TOTR or times square. (Anyone know the hours of the m&m store).

                                      > Monday. GMA...then coney island.....early evening which ever we didn't get Sunday night..TOTR or times square.

                                      Near Top of the Rock, get some baked goods/sweets from Jacques Torres, Magnolia Bakery (skip the cupcakes for icebox cake or banana pudding), La Maison du Chocolat, wichcraft, and/or walk to Momofuku Milk Bar.

                                      And definitely try the Blue Bottle in Rock Center for coffee. Simon Sips, too, is good and on 6th Ave between 46th and 47th. Check out also the Scoop application from the NY Times if you have an iPhone. Lots of coffee recs and a nice map that can tell you what's nearby.

                                      For food trucks near Top of the Rock, Biryani Cart, Kwik Meal, Halal Guys (53rd & 6th), the Desi Food Truck, or try the new Midtown location of Xi'an Famous Foods.

                                      Near Times Square, we usually eat at Szechuan Gourmet if we're in the neighborhood. Your pizza obsessed son may want to visit Don Antonio, which is known for its fried pizzas. There's also a Shake Shack nearby, for burgers.

                                      And of course Nathan's for hot dogs when you're at Coney Island and then Totonno's for pizza.

                                      > Tuesday. Nine am 9/11 memorial. Saint Paul's afterwards. Wall street. Back to hotel to rest. Grand central station.. walk and pics of Chrysler building and empire state building.

                                      Near the 9/11 Memorial there isn't a whole lot of notable food but go north and cross the bridge/highway for North End Grill, Shake Shack, Blue Smoke. NEG will probably be too expensive for you, but they have great baked goods. Blue Smoke also has a "bake shop" inside the restaurant. These 3 restaurants are all in the same complex. It's not terribly close, but also not too far a walk, though there will be stairs involved as the escalators are currently out (at least they were this past weekend).

                                      There's a Luke's Lobster near Wall Street, which could be fun, since I assume Kansas City doesn't really get into the whole lobster roll thing. It's not super expensive, but the sandwiches do run a little small.

                                      If you feel like walking over to South Seaport, Smorgasbar (an off shoot of Smorgasburg) could be worth a look. That will probably have the most options to explore in one place.

                                      Near Grand Central, you could grab lunch at the Midtown location of Num Pang, a Cambodian sandwich shop. Then grab some croissants and doughnuts and coffee at Joe's the Art of Coffee inside of Grand Central.

                                      Post-Empire State Building might be a good night to do dinner at 2nd Ave Deli or Penelope.

                                      > Wednesday....tenement musuem...RGR LES walk....east village stroll

                                      Great activities, love the Tenement Museum, and RGR's LES tour will fill you right up.

                                      If you get hungry again in the EV, stop by the pizza options I outlined above (Motorino for sit down, Joe's or South Brooklyn for slices/standing up).

                                      Another fun place might be Crif Dogs (it's a bit of a dive, they do deep fried no batter hot dogs). Or grab some pretzels at Sigmund (reopening after renovations on Jun 25 they say), take out arepas at Caracas Arepas Bar, ice cream at Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, cupcakes at Butter Lane, roast beef at This Little Piggy, etc.

                                      > thrusday...statue of then somewhere to watch fireworks.

                                      Hope you have tickets/reservations already for the Statue, as it's the first day it's opening back up to the public since Hurricane Sandy. IIRC there's one or two concession stands on Liberty Island and they are only OK. Save your appetite for Chinatown.

                                      Here's scoopG's Chinatown walking tour:

                                      The best place to watch the Hudson River fireworks is from the comfort of your hotel room, unless you fancy playing a lot of money for some riverside or rooftop bar ($100+) or being in a wall-to-wall herd of people on 12th Ave or the West Side Highway (nearest subway will be at least 3/4 mile away).

                                      The NYPD will close off the highway and sidewalks. Then set up tons of sidewalk barricades and herd pedestrian traffic. Usually they will make lanes going only in one direction, so you may have to go a little out of your way to reach your destination. Even if the official viewing location you end up in doesn't seem crowded, the streets getting there and back will be. You'd need to get there early (maybe 3pm?) to get a good spot.

                                      > Friday....Saint John the Devine or St Patrick . Airport by one for my mothers flight.

                                      I assume you're staying in Midtown. St Patrick's will be closer, as it is right by Rockefeller Center. Actually, you could probably visit it earlier on in your trip.

                                      However if you're near St John's the Divine, you'll be near the uptown location of Kitchenette. It's about 10 blocks away.

                                      1. re: kathryn

                                        Thank you for the links and the detailed information about places to eat based on our itinerary. It is just what I was looking for. I feel more organized now and not so overwhelmed. I really appreciate your time and help

                            2. I love Balthazar's sticky bun. I usually get a coffee and a Balthazar's sticky bun at the Dean and Deluca Rockefeller Cafe, which isn't too far from your hotel. Dean and Deluca also carries Doughnut Plant donuts. Ordering the sticky bun as part of breakfast at Balthazar in SoHo is probably even better than having it at Dean and Deluca, since Balthazar has a neat space, but I've never been for breakfast.

                              I'm guessing someone mentioned Milk Bar on W56th above. I find their pastries too sweet, but they are worth trying once, if you like unusual pastries.

                              Another place I like for European coffee and pastries (more specifically cakes, tortes and strudel) is the Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie on the Upper East Side. Beautiful view if you get a window seat.

                              Also, check out these earlier threads
                              Restaurants settled! Now, need recommendations for Best French Pastry and Gourmet Food Stores!:

                              Good coffee in midtown, within a 10 minute walk of 52nd & Madison:

                              If you're looking for sweet, somewhat unusual and decadent breakfasts along the lines of red velvet pancakes, consider Sarabeth's on Central Park South and Norma's in the Parker Meridien. Norma's and Sarabeth's aren't popular with local Chowhounds, probably because they are geared toward tourists (tourist traps) and expensive relative to favourite breakfast and brunch places outside of midtown. That being said, Norma's and Sarabeth's are convenient if you're staying in midtown, and both take reservations through . I found the food to be decent at both Norma's and Sarabeth's. The food isn't as good as I'd find at some of my favourite places that would require a taxi or a 30 minute walk, but the food was better than what I've come to expect at most hotel restaurants. I thought Sarabeth's offered slightly better value than Norma's, but Norma's has some creative sweet breakfasts you won't see elsewhere. Both places serve massive portions, so I'd recommend sharing the breakfast dishes. I could only finish about half my breakfast, and most of the sweet breakfasts looked like they most likely contain 1800+ calories.

                              Sarabeth's on Central Park South


                              For a NYC coffee shop (the type of coffee shop that is similar to a diner), I like Viand on Madison at 61st, where breakfast is cash-only, no reservations and around $10/person. Mostly 2 top tables or at the counter seats. No red velvet waffles- think basic breakfasts of bacon and eggs, omelettes or French toast.

                              For coffee shops (the type similar to a diner) on the Upper East Side, near the museums, I like 3 Guys (960 Madison, convenient to the Whitney and the Frick), and Lexington Candy Shop (1226 Lexington at 83rd). Closer to $15-$20/person for breakfast.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: prima

                                Great suggestions! thank you so much.

                              2. Thank you to everyone for not only great suggestions but for an education in coffee! I enjoyed the discussion and learned a lot. I have made a list of all the coffee shops and pastry shops. I plan to visit many of them. I cant wait to get there and I will post about the places I visit....hopefully as I go. Thanks again