With NYC back in business and outdoor dining better than ever, I figured it was time to venture into Manhattan. In spite of the fact that 2020 has been an unrelenting shitstorm, summer in New York is one of my favorite things in life. Particularly summer in the Village.
Greenwich Village is an area of Manhattan that has, in many ways and over the course of years and stories, turned to legend. Now it’s a lot of yuppies, overpriced restaurants and way overpriced apartments. But it was once the center of folk rock, where Bob Dylan came on the scene (or as Joan Baez said, “burst on the scene already a legend”) in the early 60s. It was also my college experience. Not just the backdrop for my college experience. Together with the East Village, GV defined my years at NYU and to a lesser degree the time since then. I have had so many amazing nights, terrible nights, days of work, beautiful memories, dangerous decisions, and whatever else comprises the essence of being a young not quite human life form in New York. I’ve stayed mostly in Brooklyn since coming back home, mostly mostly around my own neighborhood. So today was my first day back in Manhattan, and I decided to revisit several of my old NYU haunts. Rambled all around the parks, up and down Bleecker street and along the edges of the WV. Here are some of my favorite spots in the Village, new and old.
Little Prince: Technically just barely in Soho, but I’ll include it here because I went here all the time in college and this is basically my own personal tour. This place feels like Paris. I’ve never been to Paris, but I’ve been to Epcot’s World Showcase a lot. Pretty typical, breezy French bistro. For me, emblematic of summer / the feeling of being nineteen, unsatisfied, and kind of aimlessly wandering through school unsure of what I wanted to do. It’s nostalgic by nature…feels like it would bring everyone back to somewhere. They’re currently open at their sister restaurant, Lola at Prince and 6th. The streetfront setup is gorgeous and surrounded by flowers.
Morgenstern’s: One of my favorite ice cream shops, and there are a ridiculous number in the City. It’s got a very classic feel. I wish I could bottle the smell of this place. I’ve tried most flavors (over several years—there’s a huge selection). They also have pints, sold at various stores throughout the City.
Amorino: Another one of my favorite ice cream shops (I think it’s gelato actually)…notoriously beautiful rose shaped scoops, and the option to include 3-4 flavors even in a small cone.
Molly’s Cupcakes: Sweet little bakery at Bleecker and Sixth, with an ever-changing menu of huge cupcakes. Started my first day out in Manhattan since the pandemic here this weekend. I had their cupcakes for breakfast multiple days a week when I nannied in the Village in college. Seriously, they’re like a full meal.
The Grey Dog: A mix of various cuisines, in a cottage-esque café. I can’t decide if it’s pretentious or not, but I like it. I like their chicken sandwiches, pancakes, fries, hummus…everything except the nachos. I ordered them and overreacted to the fact that there was feta on them (95% sure it was not Cotija) and this obnoxious girl with ugly baby bangs laughed at me. Made me really mad because I dislike feta, and I dislike when people have bangs cut above their brow bone. But I’ve had mostly great experiences at The Grey Dog. It’s kind of a coffee shop too, so you can work there. Multiple locations.
Angel’s Share / Village Yokocho: Okay, this one is on the line between The EV and Greenwich Village. I place it on the NYU side of 3rd Ave though. Angel’s Share is my favorite speakeasy in the City––one of the only non-dive bars I frequented in college and still do. It’s not cheap. Not ridiculous, $15 or so for a cocktail. Since I’ve stopped drinking, I can go there and spend under thirty for a few mocktails with tip. They’re currently limited to takeout and delivery, but will be doing outdoor dining soon in collaboration with Village Yokocho, a little Japanese restaurant in which the bar is usually located. It’s hidden near the entrance (at 8 Stuyvesant St), behind a nondescript door, and there’s a second location at 14 Stuyvesant. I haven’t been since pre-pandemic, but will go as soon as they open for outdoor dine-in. As is the case with many of my favorite bars, the atmosphere is very witchy. Like a cosmopolitan witch from the 1920s. They have generous, *complex* drinks that aren’t too weird, and non-alcoholic drinks that don’t taste like they’re for kids. They usually have my favorite cheese plate ever. Currently the menu is different, with food from Village Yokocho, which is also amazing. Very authentic, and cheap. They have a huge menu. Great classics like chicken and rice for less adventurous eaters (me), in addition to stuff like cold octopus in spicy sauce. One time I ordered a dish with Bonito fish flakes on top, which apparently move when exposed to heat. I thought they were somehow alive and just silently stared at it in horror until one of my friends explained what they were. Big scare, but ultimately a wonderful meal.
Washington Mews: Just a picturesque stretch of cobblestone lined by colorful townhouses. It feels very European, and is an excellent place to take pictures. Between 8th St and Washington Square North.
Faicco’s: Actually an Italian market known for their sausages and cheese, but I love their sandwiches (meatball grinder in particular), which usually last me two meals. They’ve got a ton of housemade grocery items too—olive oil, meats, sauces, etc. Top top notch.
Strand: Best bookstore in the world. I can stay here all day. I could probably live here. Especially in the basement—Strand underground is a gigantic non-fiction section, and a maze of bookshelves with a ton of nooks and crannies to sit and read without interruption…occasional interruptions / people getting annoyed you’re in their way and staff telling you not to sit on the floor, but it’s an absolute dream. They famously have eighteen miles of books. You’re not currently allowed to stick around and read, unfortunately. They’re just open for shopping and curbside pickup for now.
Elephant and Castle: Classic Village brunch spot with beautiful, delicious everything. Both lunch and breakfast leaning menu items are equally wonderful, and the chatty, good-morning atmosphere always puts me in a better mood, except when I’m in a particularly bad mood, in which case it annoys the shit out of me.
Carbone: Stylish, retro, and reliably satisfying Italian…current outdoor dining feels like the Italian version of Little Prince. They have a small but varied menu, and prices are reasonable for New York though not particularly cheap. More of a special occasion dinner for me, but I could eat there every night if I had the money. It’s the kind of place I take out of town guests, specifically anyone willing to pay for my meal.
*Shoutout to basically every Bleecker Street Bar. Wicked Willy’s is a low point but can be fun when the band isn’t playing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, which they sometimes do. One time they were shooting an episode of Breaking Amish while I was there. Also, Three Sheets on West 4th is sometimes cool, although they did kick me out once and in this instance I don’t think I deserved it.