New York City’s rebel spirit is alive and well in the West Village. Here’s what to see, do and eat in the neighborhood known for its activism, bohemianism and art.
The West Village has a long history of human rights advocacy. In 1969, The Stonewall Inn was the site of the Stonewall Riots, a clash between bar patrons and the New York Police Department. This wasn’t the first gay rights protest in the city, but it did help ignite a global LGBTQ rights movement. Right outside the inn’s door, you’ll find Christopher Park, home of George Segal’s Gay Liberation Monument, which depicts two same-sex couples in white-coated bronze.
This Italian café has one impressive claim to fame: it was the first place in America to serve a cappuccino. Opened in 1927, Caffe Reggio serves nonna-style Italian comfort food, including penne pasta with pesto, velvety ricotta cheesecake and melt-in-the-mouth cannolis, plus Italian wines and coffees to wash the feast down. With its European-inspired sidewalk seating and homey interior, this historical spot allows you to explore the culinary offerings of Italy without ever leaving New York.
At Sticky’s Finger Joint, fried and grilled chicken tenders, a favorite kid’s menu staple, gets a grown-up twist with inventive flavors such as salted caramel with pretzel salt, and the spicy Vampire Killer. The menu also contains six spins on fries, including the sweet s’more fries topped with marshmallow sauce, chocolate sauce, crushed graham crackers and mini marshmallows. Sticky’s late-night hours and nostalgic dishes make it a go-to when you need a midnight nibble.
This petite, renegade bookstore has existed at 34 Carmine Street for over 25 years. Owner Jim Drougas, a hat-wearing lit fan, scoops up ‘remainders’ – overstocked titles sold by publishers – he deems important, worthwhile and likely to have a positive impact on readers and the world. Although Drougas doesn’t consider himself an ideologue, his stock does suggest a certain sensibility. You won’t find Ayn Rand on the shelves at Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, but you will find William Shakespeare, Allen Ginsberg and Sufi poet Rumi.
The IFC Center is where New York’s film buffs go to catch foreign, indie and documentary films, and a smattering of cult classics. The theater runs a monthly program selected by LGBTQ guest curators, and each November hosts DOC NYC, the country’s largest and most celebrated documentary festival. Keep an eye out for upcoming live Q&As with industry folk, and don’t forget to try the popcorn – it’s organic and smothered in melted natural butter.