As I announced last Thursday, I have finally wrapped around my head nearly four years living in New York City and all the amazing food and drinks that came along with it. I've sent massive recommendations lists to friends visiting or moving to the city, but it was always a rambling mess. For the blog, I knew I wanted to narrow it down as much as I could, while keeping it informative and well organized. So, of course, I started with my favorite neighborhood – West Village. I know what you're thinking… this is narrowed down? Yes, it is!
Where To Drink
For the speakeasy experience:
- Employees Only – This retro, prohibition-style speakeasy makes you feel like you've been transported to another era. It looks like nothing from the outside, but once you get past the security guard and through the curtains, you're there to stay. I recommend their steak tartare and Amelia cocktail!
- The Garret – This speakeasy bar is located above Five Guys, and you have to go inside of Five Guys to get in. They serve great cocktails in a hipster vibes, exposed brick space. I recommend going early if you're in a group, though you are better off going with one other person to truly get comfortable, and maybe even score a 2-person booth along the windows.
- Slowly Shirley – This 1940's Hollywood-themed cocktail bar beneath The Happiest Hour bar has a fun atmosphere, upbeat music and creative cocktails. It's a perfect spot before/after dinner at Rosemary's (see below).
- The Otheroom – Although it is not technically a speakeasy, this intimate bar serving cocktails, wine, and craft beer is tucked away with a candlelit, romantic vibe.
For groups and events:
- Fat Cat – It's easy to get bored of bar hopping, even in NYC. Fat Cat has so many games – ping pong, pool, board games, …you name it. It's perfect for "wasting time" and doing something other than going from bar stool to bar stool. It's underground and massive, so it's fairly reliable in the sense of capacity/options. Perfect for the young and the young at heart.
- Houston Hall – This massive beer hall serves craft beer and brew bites in an industrial-chic setting. Unlike The Garret, it's perfect for groups of any size! Therefore, it can get very loud and very crowded.
- Wilfie & Nell – Reliable, convenient, rustic and comfortable are words I would use to describe this small local bar. It was a place that I frequented not because of something they served that was fantastic, but because the atmosphere was as date appropriate or as casual as I wanted it to be. It is a younger crowd I will admit, but not a rowdy one. The location is prime, in the middle of the village, yet slightly tucked away feeling.
Where To Eat
For catching up with a friend:
- Cafe Cluny – This bright neighborhood bistro has a welcoming vibe that I loved going to for breakfast/brunch. All of the food is familiar but done very well.
- Jeffrey's Grocery – One of my favorite oysters spots in the city for it's homey neighborhood feel. It's located across from Joseph Leonard, which is very similar but I preferred here (based on my personal experience). They never used to take reservations, and it was always busy, but now they do for lunch!
- Pearl Oyster Bar – In addition to their fresh selection of oysters, the lobster roll is one of the best I've ever had! Great food made even better by the fact that it's not fancy at all, and you feel like you're in a beach town.
- Rosemary's – Somewhere I went often for any meal of the day, the environment, location and food cannot be beat. Their truffle focaccia bread is out of this world amazing, but if that's not your thing, they have nice healthy options too. Every time I've been here, it's been with a visitor or a friend who loved it just as much as me. They don't take reservations for tables under 8 people, but you can put your name down at the hostess desk and they'll call you when your table is ready (see above Slowly Shirley; night only).
For delicious small plates:
- Alta – My best friend and I discovered this hidden, Mediterranean-inspired gem, down a few steps with no sign outside. Well, not one that is clearly visible. There is a bar area as you walk in, if you want to grab a quick bite and a glass of their sangria. Their dining room is a cool design, with the second floor seating wrapping around and looking down on the dimly lit first floor seating. My favorite dish was the fried goat cheese with wild lavender honey! It's important to note that they accept cash and American Express only!
- Buvette – This quaint-as-can-be bistro is sexy and buzz-y all at the same time. It's very small – tiny tables and squeezed in chairs too. But it's popularity withstands the test of time because of their amazing food and drinks. From a perfectly constructed meat and cheese platter to a hot mulled wine or a bees knees cocktail, you truly cannot go wrong with anything here, at any time of day.
For a comforting, cozy meal:
- Hakata Tonton – Preparing and serving fresh and delicious hot pots directly on your table is not only fun to watch, but it's the ultimate cure to a cold winter. Make sure to book a reservation in advance (otherwise there is a line out the door), and order the gyoza too!
- Hudson Clearwater – Every time I went here, I never wanted to leave. For brunch, their lavender hot tea paired with the cornflake crusted french toast was the best. In the evening, it was a perfect place for a nice cheese board and a glass of wine. On a warm day, the back patio is so exclusive. But even on a snowy day, the view out the big windows with candles burning inside was so warm and cozy.
- Palma – Speaking of back patios, the ivy-covered garden area in the back of Palma is picture-perfect. In the winter, it's a charming space to enjoy friendly Italian waiters and a comforting hot meal starting with the Cavolfiore Palma, followed by the fresh spinach and ricotta agnolotti, or ravioli cacio e pepe.
Where To Shop
- McNulty's Tea & Coffee – Open since 1895, this local shop on Christopher Street serves coffee and tea to-go or by the bag. At least one hundred loose leaf teas are displayed in glass apothecary jars. I loved walking around, lifting the glass lids to smell the teas and use my nose for my purchasing decisions.
- Murray's Cheese – This cheese-lovers mecca offers an array of fine cheeses plus breads, cured meats, olives and other deli items. Although their cheese can be found in other places, they also have a small restaurant serving every cheesy dish you can think of. One of their cheese boards is a great introduction to their cheeses if you're a first-timer.
- Aedes Perfumerie – This luxurious perfume shop showcases beautiful displays of fragrances and candles, many of which are from Europe or are niche brands.
Where To Find Entertainment
I loved going to jazz clubs in New York City, something I never did back home in Florida. After visiting quite a few, my all-time favorite was Small's Jazz Club in West Village. I much preferred it to Village Vanguard, personally. It's an underground, small, no-frills spot for good music and a good time. It's $20 admission and they do not serve food. See above for where to grab a bite before the show!
Where are your favorite places in West Village? Any new spots I need to try next time I visit the city?