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Sharon's Neighborhood Guidebook

Sharon

Sharon's Neighborhood Guidebook

The Food Scene
Our top spots to nosh, brunch, or dine. All walkable
Contra is a Lower East Side trendy New American dinner-only fixed-price tasting menu restaurant with adventurous food that actually tastes great. Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske (also of Wildair) are striving to create and define a new food identity specific to New York City alone. *Michelin Starred.
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Contra
138 Orchard Street
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Contra is a Lower East Side trendy New American dinner-only fixed-price tasting menu restaurant with adventurous food that actually tastes great. Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske (also of Wildair) are striving to create and define a new food identity specific to New York City alone. *Michelin Starred.
Chef duo Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske Valtierra of Contra opened a more casual wine-bar-meets-restaurant spot on Orchard Street which has proven to be an LES standout. All of the seating is at high-top, communal tables, and it's walk-in only. The wine list is first-rate, but this isn't just a spot for drinks, so come hungry and attempt to order as many of the very shareable plates as you can.
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Wildair
142 Orchard Street
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Chef duo Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske Valtierra of Contra opened a more casual wine-bar-meets-restaurant spot on Orchard Street which has proven to be an LES standout. All of the seating is at high-top, communal tables, and it's walk-in only. The wine list is first-rate, but this isn't just a spot for drinks, so come hungry and attempt to order as many of the very shareable plates as you can.
This relaxed, affordable Italian place in East Village has a menu that reads like a greatest hits list of Italian classics. Definitely one of the best Italian food in downtown NY.
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Supper
156 East 2nd Street
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This relaxed, affordable Italian place in East Village has a menu that reads like a greatest hits list of Italian classics. Definitely one of the best Italian food in downtown NY.
LES local's favoite Vietnamese restaurant’s pho and banh mi is worth a visit. Start with made-to-order salad rolls in six varieties (like shrimp and tofu or sesame tofu and shiitake), followed by a pho and banh mi combo so you can dip your delightfully toasted sandwich into the fragrant broth. An Choi also excels at vegetarian fare.
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An Choi
85 Orchard Street
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LES local's favoite Vietnamese restaurant’s pho and banh mi is worth a visit. Start with made-to-order salad rolls in six varieties (like shrimp and tofu or sesame tofu and shiitake), followed by a pho and banh mi combo so you can dip your delightfully toasted sandwich into the fragrant broth. An Choi also excels at vegetarian fare.
While take-out from the 1914 original on East Houston is an unparalleled New York City experience, the new, wonderfully turned-out, old-world café is about a ten minute walk from the mothership. We heartily recommend the classic open-face sandwich, the super heebster nosh with wasabi roe, and matzo ball soup. Chocolate babka french toast, along with their potato pancakes, which are topped with Gaspe Nova smoked salmon and a sunny side up egg.
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Russ & Daughters Cafe
127 Orchard Street
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While take-out from the 1914 original on East Houston is an unparalleled New York City experience, the new, wonderfully turned-out, old-world café is about a ten minute walk from the mothership. We heartily recommend the classic open-face sandwich, the super heebster nosh with wasabi roe, and matzo ball soup. Chocolate babka french toast, along with their potato pancakes, which are topped with Gaspe Nova smoked salmon and a sunny side up egg.
There are often lines around the corner to get in but it's worth it for the legendary pancakes. Plus, take-out is always available if you don’t have time to wait for a seat. They take reservations for dinner only.
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Clinton St. Baking Company
4 Clinton Street
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There are often lines around the corner to get in but it's worth it for the legendary pancakes. Plus, take-out is always available if you don’t have time to wait for a seat. They take reservations for dinner only.
This is definitely one of the best Japanese soba joints in the city. The place is bright and lively, and the menu is covered in manga characters extolling the health benefits of soba. The dipping soba options are our favorite, partially because they’re also the most fun. You get to cook your noodles and concoct a soup after. The noodles are packed with flavor, chewy, and perfectly al- dente.
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Cocoron
16 Delancey Street
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This is definitely one of the best Japanese soba joints in the city. The place is bright and lively, and the menu is covered in manga characters extolling the health benefits of soba. The dipping soba options are our favorite, partially because they’re also the most fun. You get to cook your noodles and concoct a soup after. The noodles are packed with flavor, chewy, and perfectly al- dente.
Created as an all-day gathering for locals and visitors alike, Sonnyboy is a vibrant space that serves a seasonally stylish menu but without the fuss. The focus is on great food + drinks, from morning brunch to late nights at the bar where the staff are so charming you’ll probably let them join your party.
Sonnyboy
65 Rivington St
Created as an all-day gathering for locals and visitors alike, Sonnyboy is a vibrant space that serves a seasonally stylish menu but without the fuss. The focus is on great food + drinks, from morning brunch to late nights at the bar where the staff are so charming you’ll probably let them join your party.
Nestled in a back alley that's decorated overhead with twinkle lights and on the sides with greenery, Freeman’s classically hipster interior (taxidermied animals and velvet floral couches abound) is dark and cozy, making it best suited to warm winter meals. Food-wise, the menu is simple but never boring, with options like a cracked wheat salad, house-made pork and fennel sausage, and seriously good Ipswich clam fritters. Sitting in the private wine room, tucked away in the back, feels a bit like eating a meal in a family member's kitchen.
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Freemans
Freeman Alley
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Nestled in a back alley that's decorated overhead with twinkle lights and on the sides with greenery, Freeman’s classically hipster interior (taxidermied animals and velvet floral couches abound) is dark and cozy, making it best suited to warm winter meals. Food-wise, the menu is simple but never boring, with options like a cracked wheat salad, house-made pork and fennel sausage, and seriously good Ipswich clam fritters. Sitting in the private wine room, tucked away in the back, feels a bit like eating a meal in a family member's kitchen.
As its name suggests, Rich Torris's restaurant, Dirty French, does re-imagined classic french dishes.The thing to order is definitely the mille-feuille, but the whole menu—and, by the way, wine list—is excellent. The quirky décor is imbued in every part of the experience, from Bruce High Quality Foundation sculptures to frilly antique serving trays, which gets really dolled up around the holidays.
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Dirty French
180 Ludlow Street
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As its name suggests, Rich Torris's restaurant, Dirty French, does re-imagined classic french dishes.The thing to order is definitely the mille-feuille, but the whole menu—and, by the way, wine list—is excellent. The quirky décor is imbued in every part of the experience, from Bruce High Quality Foundation sculptures to frilly antique serving trays, which gets really dolled up around the holidays.
The city-owned 79-year-old market/food hall is a newly renovated state-of-the-art, award- winning-architect-designed space that has floor-to-ceiling windows, an high sloped ceiling, and all-new kitchens and stalls. The 37,000-square-foot space houses Shopsin’s, tons of legacy food vendors, butchers, spice shops, fishmongers, and groceries and more. Must visit!
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Essex Market
120 Essex St
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The city-owned 79-year-old market/food hall is a newly renovated state-of-the-art, award- winning-architect-designed space that has floor-to-ceiling windows, an high sloped ceiling, and all-new kitchens and stalls. The 37,000-square-foot space houses Shopsin’s, tons of legacy food vendors, butchers, spice shops, fishmongers, and groceries and more. Must visit!
Nearby Parks with a View
Two of these daytime friendly parks are across the river for breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. The East River Park is wonderful for a waterfront jog and a mere 15 minutes away by foot
This expansive waterfront park is home to the best views of Manhattan. Stretching up from John Street Park all the way down to the sixth pier, Brooklyn Bridge Park is one you should not miss. Whether it is to visit the Pier 1 Playground or the Roller Rink on Pier 2, make sure to walk or bike the Greenway all the way through to visit each of the unique piers and take in everything the park has to offer.
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Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman St
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This expansive waterfront park is home to the best views of Manhattan. Stretching up from John Street Park all the way down to the sixth pier, Brooklyn Bridge Park is one you should not miss. Whether it is to visit the Pier 1 Playground or the Roller Rink on Pier 2, make sure to walk or bike the Greenway all the way through to visit each of the unique piers and take in everything the park has to offer.
This park in Williamsburg is named after the original Domino Sugar Factory because, well it was literally right there. Actually, the factory is still there, but isn’t running anymore. It’s NYC’s newest park and is beautiful with great views and a lot of places to chill and rest. Domino Park is located right on the East River and invites you to play volleyball, picnic and go for a walk. The view of Manhattan is terrific. Our tip: come during sunset.
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Domino Park
300 Kent Ave
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This park in Williamsburg is named after the original Domino Sugar Factory because, well it was literally right there. Actually, the factory is still there, but isn’t running anymore. It’s NYC’s newest park and is beautiful with great views and a lot of places to chill and rest. Domino Park is located right on the East River and invites you to play volleyball, picnic and go for a walk. The view of Manhattan is terrific. Our tip: come during sunset.
More commonly known for Smorgasburg, America’s largest weekly open-air food market (which is family-friendly!), on Saturdays and Sundays during the warmer months, the park is open seven days a week, year-round. Come to this Williamsburg park to enjoy a picnic, walk out onto Hurricane Point, watch live music, play soccer in Bushwick Inlet Park, fly a kite in the open green space, or simply relax—all with a view of Manhattan.
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East River State Park
90 Kent Avenue
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More commonly known for Smorgasburg, America’s largest weekly open-air food market (which is family-friendly!), on Saturdays and Sundays during the warmer months, the park is open seven days a week, year-round. Come to this Williamsburg park to enjoy a picnic, walk out onto Hurricane Point, watch live music, play soccer in Bushwick Inlet Park, fly a kite in the open green space, or simply relax—all with a view of Manhattan. 
Must-See Sightseeing
If you have a free afternoon, the recently completely elevated park known as the High Line is a must see and can be accessed from various points from the Meatpacking neighborhood up to the all new Hudson Yards. 40 minutes away by foot
This elevated public park that runs from the Meatpacking District all the way to Midtown is perhaps the best thing to happen to the city’s landscape in decades. Set on abandoned railway tracks suspended above the city streets, the restoration project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in conjunction with James Corner Field Operations began in 2006 and continues to this day, now focused on a huge development in the original Rail Yards at the end of the line in the west 30’s. Boasting views of the Hudson river, a seasonal landscaping program, and art installations throughout, the High Line draws crowds of city-dwellers and tourists looking for a little respite from the streets below.
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High Line
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This elevated public park that runs from the Meatpacking District all the way to Midtown is perhaps the best thing to happen to the city’s landscape in decades. Set on abandoned railway tracks suspended above the city streets, the restoration project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in conjunction with James Corner Field Operations began in 2006 and continues to this day, now focused on a huge development in the original Rail Yards at the end of the line in the west 30’s. Boasting views of the Hudson river, a seasonal landscaping program, and art installations throughout, the High Line draws crowds of city-dwellers and tourists looking for a little respite from the streets below.
Nearby Museums
The New Museum is dedicated to modern art and is literally around the corner (and can be seen from our patio). The Tenement Museum is also nearby and on Ludlow Street. The gargantuan, second Whitney Museum was recently completed in the nearby Meatpacking neighborhood, a 35 minute walk
As the only contemporary art museum in Manhattan, the New Museum prides itself on its mission of showcasing new art and new ideas created by artists from around the world. Founded in 1977 by Marcia Tucker, a former curator at the Whitney Museum of Art, the eight-level museum is a work of art itself. The structure looks like a tower of white stacked boxes right on Bowery and is hard to miss.
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New Museum of Contemporary Art
235 Bowery
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As the only contemporary art museum in Manhattan, the New Museum prides itself on its mission of showcasing new art and new ideas created by artists from around the world. Founded in 1977 by Marcia Tucker, a former curator at the Whitney Museum of Art, the eight-level museum is a work of art itself. The structure looks like a tower of white stacked boxes right on Bowery and is hard to miss.
Here you can learn about NYC’s urban immigrant history. Find out the different challenges immigrants had to face and how they overcame them.
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Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site
103 Orchard Street
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Here you can learn about NYC’s urban immigrant history. Find out the different challenges immigrants had to face and how they overcame them.
The brand new Whitney sits in a Renzo Piano–designed building at the southern end of the High Line. The uptown Whitney decamped because of space constrictions, a situation that's now eased by its 200,000 square feet. Bonus: It's open until 10 p.m. on the weekends.
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Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
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The brand new Whitney sits in a Renzo Piano–designed building at the southern end of the High Line. The uptown Whitney decamped because of space constrictions, a situation that's now eased by its 200,000 square feet. Bonus: It's open until 10 p.m. on the weekends.
Top FREE Art Galleries Near and Far
Bowery / Lower East Side is known for its assortment of small but influential international art galleries free to the public; the Chelsea neighborhood offers even more
Just a few doors down from the New Museum is Sperone Westwater’s grand Foster + Partners designed building.  A visit to the gargantuan space alone is gratifying enough, though so are Andrew Sendor’s impossibly photorealistic paintings of an imaginary esoteric shop.
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Sperone Westwater
257 Bowery
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Just a few doors down from the New Museum is Sperone Westwater’s grand Foster + Partners designed building.  A visit to the gargantuan space alone is gratifying enough, though so are Andrew Sendor’s impossibly photorealistic paintings of an imaginary esoteric shop.
With two LES gallery spaces as of 2014, Miguel Abreu’s program is one of the most dynamic, with a constant stream of openings, readings, performances and book presentations (he also runs Sequence press) throughout the year. The current show is inspired by the artist’s vacuum cleaner: Through paintings, drawings, and a video, Pieter Schoolwerth explores the idea of a space-less place.  The show is presented in both of Abreu’s galleries—including the sprawling new space on Eldridge.
Miguel Abreu Gallery
88 Eldridge Street
With two LES gallery spaces as of 2014, Miguel Abreu’s program is one of the most dynamic, with a constant stream of openings, readings, performances and book presentations (he also runs Sequence press) throughout the year. The current show is inspired by the artist’s vacuum cleaner: Through paintings, drawings, and a video, Pieter Schoolwerth explores the idea of a space-less place.  The show is presented in both of Abreu’s galleries—including the sprawling new space on Eldridge.
Along with running the gallery, Nicelle Beauchene is also the president of the New Art Dealer’s Alliance (NADA), with fairs in New York, Miami and Cologne, where many emerging galleries and artists show, making Nicelle one of the most influential figures on the scene.  Currently on view at the gallery is Owen Kydd’s work which lies somewhere between photography and video, and questions the line between the two.  His video works are mounted flat on the walls much like a traditional photograph, except the video loops reveal the subtlest of movements and changes in lighting.
Beauchene Gallery
327 Broome St
Along with running the gallery, Nicelle Beauchene is also the president of the New Art Dealer’s Alliance (NADA), with fairs in New York, Miami and Cologne, where many emerging galleries and artists show, making Nicelle one of the most influential figures on the scene.  Currently on view at the gallery is Owen Kydd’s work which lies somewhere between photography and video, and questions the line between the two.  His video works are mounted flat on the walls much like a traditional photograph, except the video loops reveal the subtlest of movements and changes in lighting.
The inaugural exhibition at champagne-heir Richard Taittinger’s shiny new space aims to unpick the Lacanian term “sinthome” through the works of several international artists.  Heady stuff.
Richard Taittinger Gallery
154 Ludlow St
The inaugural exhibition at champagne-heir Richard Taittinger’s shiny new space aims to unpick the Lacanian term “sinthome” through the works of several international artists.  Heady stuff.
The jewel of Larry Gagosian's gallery empire is a gargantuan, museum-standard center in Chelsea: The space alone is worth a visit for its sheer monumentality. And fittingly, the stable of artists displayed there consists of the art world's heavyweights from Ed Ruscha, to Taryn Simon and Jeff Koons. There are multiple outposts in the city (including a second location on 21st street) along with galleries around the world.
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Gagosian
555 West 24th Street
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The jewel of Larry Gagosian's gallery empire is a gargantuan, museum-standard center in Chelsea: The space alone is worth a visit for its sheer monumentality. And fittingly, the stable of artists displayed there consists of the art world's heavyweights from Ed Ruscha, to Taryn Simon and Jeff Koons. There are multiple outposts in the city (including a second location on 21st street) along with galleries around the world.
Founded in 1985 by co-owners Lawrence R. Luhring and Roland J. Augustine, this Chelsea gallery focuses on representing an international group of contemporary painters, sculptors, photographers, and multimedia artists. The roster is a roll-call for some of the world's most celebrated artists from Larry Clark to Joel Sternfeld, Pipilotti Rist, Janine Antoni, and more. There's also a location in Bushwick for larger scale projects.
Luhring Augustine Gallery
531 W 24th St
Founded in 1985 by co-owners Lawrence R. Luhring and Roland J. Augustine, this Chelsea gallery focuses on representing an international group of contemporary painters, sculptors, photographers, and multimedia artists. The roster is a roll-call for some of the world's most celebrated artists from Larry Clark to Joel Sternfeld, Pipilotti Rist, Janine Antoni, and more. There's also a location in Bushwick for larger scale projects.
Neighborhood Specialities
Delectables unique to the Lower East Side
The best bagels. The hand-rolled, wood-fired bagel sandwiches at Black Seed are actually easy to eat (they’re much smaller than their brethren), and for the most part, they’re great—particularly for those times when the only thing that will satisfy is a bagel sandwich. Favorites include: beet-cured gravlax, a basic tuna salad, Tobiko spread, and the egg salad.
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Black Seed
170 Elizabeth Street
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The best bagels. The hand-rolled, wood-fired bagel sandwiches at Black Seed are actually easy to eat (they’re much smaller than their brethren), and for the most part, they’re great—particularly for those times when the only thing that will satisfy is a bagel sandwich. Favorites include: beet-cured gravlax, a basic tuna salad, Tobiko spread, and the egg salad.
This ice cream place is run by Nicholas Morgenstern, a classically trained pastry chef (he was formerly head pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern) who turned out to be a whiz at crafting elevated flavors. Using only the highest quality ingredients, if you're craving a creamy and non-processed—treat, this is the spot. Beyond the scoops, the shop on Rivington is incredibly charming: The exterior is painted royal blue and the inside is set up like an old-fashioned parlor with counter seats and a window ledge. Note: It's cash-only here.
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Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream
2 Rivington Street
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This ice cream place is run by Nicholas Morgenstern, a classically trained pastry chef (he was formerly head pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern) who turned out to be a whiz at crafting elevated flavors. Using only the highest quality ingredients, if you're craving a creamy and non-processed—treat, this is the spot. Beyond the scoops, the shop on Rivington is incredibly charming: The exterior is painted royal blue and the inside is set up like an old-fashioned parlor with counter seats and a window ledge. Note: It's cash-only here.
For many years Mark Israel’s plain glazed doughnut recipe was enough to draw crowds to this Lower East Side foodie destination, but more recent additions, like Mexican churros, house-made jelly filled doughnuts, and cake doughnuts have made Doughnut Plant legitimately legendary.
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Doughnut Plant
379 Grand Street
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For many years Mark Israel’s plain glazed doughnut recipe was enough to draw crowds to this Lower East Side foodie destination, but more recent additions, like Mexican churros, house-made jelly filled doughnuts, and cake doughnuts have made Doughnut Plant legitimately legendary.
Katz Deli is one of the most iconic delis in all of New York City. There’s no other place like it and has been operating since 1888.
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Katz's Delicatessen
205 East Houston Street
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Katz Deli is one of the most iconic delis in all of New York City. There’s no other place like it and has been operating since 1888.
Delectable Cafés
Coffee coffee & more coffee
The best coffee to go. Seriously
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Caffè Vita
124 Ludlow St
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The best coffee to go. Seriously
Hip and trendy coffee shop with selection of healthy bites.
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Ludlow Coffee Supply
176 Ludlow St
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Hip and trendy coffee shop with selection of healthy bites.
The in-house beans are some of New York City's best, and the café itself is serene and beautiful. Locations vary in size (some have tables where you could totally pull out a laptop), and you can usually find a place to at least perch for a bit.
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La Colombe Coffee Roasters
270 Lafayette Street
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The in-house beans are some of New York City's best, and the café itself is serene and beautiful. Locations vary in size (some have tables where you could totally pull out a laptop), and you can usually find a place to at least perch for a bit.