New York City Specialty
1434 Dekalb Ave., Bushwick
In this part of Bushwick, Dweebs (on the corner of Dekalb and Wilson) acts as the neighborhood’s communal office, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a small, flower-filled patio to draw in the area’s creative minds. There are outlets everywhere and a printer that actually works. And as any local will tell you: The bagels and coffee are the best you’ll find off the Jefferson L train stop. Photo courtesy of Bridget Kenny.
Citizens of Gramercy
362 2nd Ave., Gramercy
Like so many of the city’s best new cafés, this Gramercy spot was opened by a team of Aussies in a neighborhood that could do with a couple more stellar cafés (there’s another in Chelsea). The food skews healthy, and we love the all-day breakfast—especially the smoked salmon eggs, which come with a roasted beet labneh. The coffee house scene transitions to wine and cocktails at night, so after working for a few hours during the day, you won’t have to go far to unwind with a different sort of beverage.
69 Grand St., Williamsburg
A massive roaster occupies the front half of this vast Williamsburg café, adding an industrial vibe to this otherwise cheerful, sunlight-flooded brick space near the East River. Arrive early to snag a seat (this is freelancer HQ for the surrounding blocks, and tables go quickly), but once you’re in, there’s strong Wi-Fi and stronger coffee. We especially appreciate the daily newspapers and magazines available for catching up on the news the old-school way.
120 Rivington Street, Lower East Side
Exotic pastries are the specialty at this Lower East Side bakery, where owner and baker Ry Stephen dreams up unexpected croissant pairings. Favorites include the NYC, filled with lox, cream cheese, and capers, and the Spinach Pie Twice Baked, with spinach, olive-oil-baked broccoli rabe, sautéed onion, chili, béchamel, and cheddar cheese. There are plenty of sweet creations, too, like the rhubarb, strawberry, and basil cruffin (a croissant-muffin hybrid), or the spiced peach-apple pie brioche doughnut, filled with peach-and-apple pie filling and whipped cream, topped with piecrust crumbs and white chocolate. Even pastry obsessives can usually find something here they’ve never seen before.
150 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg
A tiny café in the heart of Williamsburg, Bakeri is one of the original neighborhood hangouts in this ever-evolving slice of Brooklyn. All of the bread and pastries are made in-house, but locals also swear by the breakfast items, like organic eggs Provençal, baked in tomato sauce and served with a side of sourdough rye, and the lunch salads, like grapefruit avocado with kale, red onion, fennel, pepitas, and sea salt. Most people take their food to go, but the main dining room is small, cozy, and highly recommended in winter, while the backyard is a shady, cool escape in the middle of hot, humid NYC summers. There are also outposts in Greenpoint and the East Village in Manhattan.
89 E 42nd St., Midtown
One of Cobble Hill’s favorite artisanal bakeries, Bien Cuit recently opened shop in Manhattan’s Grand Central Market. Husband and wife Zachary Golper and Kate Wheatcroft offer the same hits they do in Brooklyn, including the apple cardamom Danish (puréed apple, vanilla pastry cream, cardamom-almond streusel) and the orange, coriander and olive oil pound cake, made with fresh orange juice and ground coriander. After you’ve picked up a few baguettes to save for later, stroll around the market, stop by Murray’s Cheese and Spices and Tease (an Italian-American specialty spice shop), and remind yourself that yes, in fact, you are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world.
Bellocq Tea Atelier
104 West St., Greenpoint
An industrial swath of Greenpoint isn’t the first place you’d think to find this charming curiosity shop dedicated to specialty teas, but the hidden, unexpected location is part of the fun (ring the doorbell for entry). Once inside, you’ll find a quiet retreat, with plants hanging from the ceiling and large canisters lining the purple-painted walls, filled with whole-leaf organic teas from everywhere far away: China, Japan, India, Nepal, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Malawi. The staff is passionate and knowledgeable about any tea-related question, and aside from tea itself, there are a handful of accessories for sale—sticks of Japanese sandalwood incense, Bellocq’s own line of candles inspired by various tea blends, and all thing tea-related.
232 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg
Australian cafés have been popping up all over Manhattan in the past several years (Two Hands and Ruby’s being two of our favorites). Now Brooklyn is getting a few of its own—including Sweatshop, which was opened on a busy stretch of Williamsburg’s Metropolitan Avenue in 2014 by Melbourne natives Luke Woodard and Ryan De Remer. The menu is full of Aussie classics (including a killer flat white and Vegemite-enhanced sandwiches), and their version of avocado toast is done with chunks of ripe avocado mixed with feta, citrus, and herb oil on a thick slab of sourdough, topped with flaky sea salt and chili flakes.
Hot Bread Kitchen
1590 Park Avenue, East Harlem
Hot Bread Kitchen isn’t your—or anyone else’s—average bakery. Its founder, Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez (her background is in social justice and public policy) and has made hiring immigrant women a priority since opening in 2007. In fact, several have since moved on to higher-level roles in the NYC food world. The handmade baked goods coming from the kitchen reflect the countries of the women who work here, ranging from Moroccan msemen (a traditional flatbread) to Mexican heritage corn tortillas. Rodriguez also runs HBK Incubates, which provides commercial kitchen and market access and business development support to food start-ups.
111 N 12th St., Williamsburg
Inside a 1970s Airstream trailer at the William Vale hotel, Andrew Carmellini (of Locanda Verde, the Dutch, and Lafayette fame) and team keep the vibe loose and delicious by churning out a simple menu of the ultimate comfort food. The burgers, wrapped in a wax paper sleeve, come with a mix of cheese and a special tangy-sweet sauce on a potato bun. (All the burgers are available as singles or doubles.) There's also a veggie burger, made of black beans and mushrooms, and waffle fries. Don't leave without a soft serve—especially the Berry Gibbs, with strawberry, Nilla wafer, and sweet cream, which lives up to all the hype. And yes, there’s a lot of hype.
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