Greenwich Village is New York’s original bohemian neighborhood, famous for its legacy as an artistic stronghold, counterculture enclave and the birthplace of the Pride movement. Explore its cobbled, tree-lined streets for some of the best music, bougie shopping and cozy restaurants in the city.
Take the 1 or 2 train to Christopher Street and walk over to The Elk. Owner Claire Chan hails from Vancouver and channels Pacific Northwest vibes at her low-key spot. Grab a coffee and settle yourself onto the bench outside. If you’ve got time for a meal, The Elk’s chef (who was a contestant on Top Chef) makes a mean breakfast (pulled jalapeño chicken with eggs, and a breakfast burrito with scrambled egg, avocado, chorizo and pico di gallo to name two) that’ll help you tackle the day.
Alternatively, snag a pistachio croissant twist from Amy’s Bread or arguably the best avocado toast in the city, courtesy of Australian café Bluestone Lane.
Bluestone Lane in the West Village offers a seasonal menu featuring progressivecafé food, combined with a tastefully designed aesthetic where you’ll find respite from the daily grind. Bluestone Lane’s menu reflects typical Australian café food, with a strong focus on dishes that are healthy and do not require heavy cooking. There are also gluten-free and vegan options for those with dietary restrictions.
The scent of baking wafts out the doors of Amy’s Bread – a popular café known for its freshly made carb-y delicacies. Grab a strong coffee and a pastry that makes you go weak at the knees (think cinnamon walnut scones, almond brioche toast, strawberry danish or glazed chocolate baked donut). If you’re more of a savory person, try one of Amy’s fresh loaves.
Invest in the finest scented candles and fragrances money can buy at Diptyque, get customized leather goods (think monogrammed or logoed bags and accessories) at The Daily Edited and pick up effortless Parisian style classics at Ba&sh.
Where Bleecker Street meets West 11th Street you’ll find Magnolia Bakery – a classic New York cupcake spot whose popularity exploded after it was briefly featured in season three of Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw fans can also visit the character’s famous brownstone stoop at nearby 64 Perry Street.
With six locations across NYC and many more globally, the word has spread: Magnolia Bakery is the place for a great cupcake. Pay a visit to the original Bleecker Street location, which has a cozy, vintage vibe. In addition to their classic cupcakes like vanilla, chocolate and red velvet, Magnolia also features a cupcake calendar with special flavors each day of the week, such as coconut, banana and caramel. But for those in the know, the banana pudding is the real star of the show.
While yes, you can get a $1 slice, you’re better off spending a few extra bucks for something better. NYC has tons of amazing slice shops serving up some of the best pizza in the world for $3-$4, and one of them is Joe’s. If you’re looking for that typical NYC slice that’s cheesy and oozing off a paper plate, it’s hard to beat Joe’s original slice.
Once the sun has set, head for Buvette for small plates in an intimate setting, Tacombi for crowd-pleasing tacos and margaritas or Miss Lily’s for Jamaican food and an unapologetic party atmosphere.
Buvette, New York
Bistro, Restaurant, Bar, Cafe, French, $$$
Buvette, New York | Courtesy of Buvette, credit: Felicia Jamieson
Make your way to Buvette for charming ambience and delectable food. Share tartines, veggies, seafood and meat dishes sourced from trusted farmers, bakers and cheesemongers from New York and the surrounding states. It doesn’t take reservations, but a seat in Buvette is well worth the wait.
Tacombi is one of the city’s most beloved Mexican restaurants. After starting out as a taco truck in the Yucatan, the company has gone on to open several locations around NYC. Order chips and guacamole, cups of Mexican corn and pitchers of spicy-sweet margarita, plus a platter of Tacombi’s specialty tacos. There are nine flavors, including battered fish, black bean-veggie, chorizo and marinated pork – a Mexico City classic.
Miss Lily’s is New York’s top destination for Caribbean food and vacation-style cocktails. The menu contains all the best Jamaican dishes – from artichoke and callaloo dip to jerk chicken and traditional curry goat stew served with a side of buttery roti bread. What’s more, the vibe is unbeatable. A playlist of reggae, dancehall and ska will have you dancing in your seat.
When night falls, the Village’s legacy as a jazz and blues neighborhood becomes apparent. Visit Café Wha?, a live music venue that kick-started the careers of many famous musicians, or catch a show at Terra Blues, a first-rate blues club. Underground spot Fat Cat is also a great place to catch up-and-coming jazz artists while playing a game of ping-pong or shuffleboard late into the night.
You’d never know it from the outside, but Café Wha? was an essential venue in Greenwich Village during the 1960s’ days of art, music and revolution. It helped launch the careers of Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan (to name a few). Bob Dylan even played his very first NYC show here in 1961. Although it’s changed over the years, Café Wha? is still a great place to hear music, or simply to feel the energy of its musical history.
A modern-day saloon in the heart of the West Village, Terra Blues offers an impressive line-up of local and international blues, jazz and rock bands who play nightly. Acoustic sets are played early in the evenings, while late nights are reserved for the rockers. A fine selection of whiskey, bourbon and scotch makes the two-drink minimum for a table a treat.