Hand-picked cafés ripe for crisp fall days
by Cathryn Salamone (Actor/Musician)
Fall is well underway, and with the expected cold front coming in, it's time to move our mobile offices from outdoor parks to toasty, cozy cafés. If you're anything like me, you'd rather steer clear of Starbucks and set up camp at an independent coffee shop. Here are a handful of recommendations to spend your afternoons pondering and puttering over a steamy latté.
If you're feeling bougie...
Neighborhood: Lower East Side
I came here on a date in January, so it was the perfect New York weather for a hot chocolate (i.e. cold, blustery, and miserable). It's nestled in the LES on Clinton Street, and is the perfect size: not too big, but not elbow-to-elbow with fellow customers. I ordered the French Hot Chocolate, which is dark hot chocolate mixed with Tawny Port, rimmed with dark chocolate shavings. It was a whopping $12, but worth every penny. After your spiked hot chocolate, pop over to Prohibition Bakery just down the street to grab some boozy cupcakes: they come in flavors like piña coolata, mulled wine, Irish car bomb, and pretzels & beer.
If you're feeling organic...
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
My friend introduced me to O Cafe, an adorable Brazilian café found on 6th Ave in the village. Most of the decor is constructed from retrieved wood materials and live plants. For fellow greenies out there, O Café composts and recycles most of its waste, with accordingly labeled bins. Beverage options span coffee and tea alike, with an array of organic sandwiches and pastries available to order as well.
I stumbled upon this place strolling in SoHo with my mom. The bright purple walls and the various pottery and artsy oddities on its shelves led us in. Vosges Haut-Chocolat is a higher-end chocolaterie that also has counter space to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Specialties of theirs includes bacon chocolate - something that I thought only existed at carnivals or as a rare listing in bacon-related Buzzfeed compilations. But no, Vosges indeed sells bacon chocolate, and they make it classy to boot.
If you're feeling touristy...
Neighborhood: Midtown East
Though we often scoff at tourist hives scattered around midtown, Serendipity 3 is at least a lot of fun. The place is huge, with offbeat deco differentiating the various rooms. I went here with a friend for dessert. The cappuccinos are huge, as to be expected, but the carrot cake I had was delicious.
If you'd rather tea...
This place is a hidden gem on the border of the FiDi and TriBeCa. Located on Murray Street, it is a Japanese bakery, filled with tasty treats along with an array of tea choices, including sencha, genmaicha, and hojicha. They also offer coffee and espresso beverages.
If you're hopelessly, tear-conjuringly poor...
CapitalOne 360 Café
Neighborhood: Midtown East
This place is 100% sterile and UNcozy, but the main draw is that coffee is only $1.00. Better news: if you're a CapitalOne bank member, you get 50% off all drinks. That's correct, my fellow poor artist friends, that's 50¢ for a coffee equivalent in size to a Starbucks grande. If you can stomach the buttoned-up businessmen clientele and the TVs tuned to the ticker-tape scrolling CNBC, get here to satisfy your caffeine cravings for two quarters.
CATHRYN SALAMONE is an actor, musician, and graphic designer based in New York City. She is a recent graduate of Pace University's BFA Musical Theatre program and co-vocalist of the pop duo Panhandle Poets. She also writes for the Glasgow-based women's collective TYCI. www.cathrynsalamone.com
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