My first week in New York started off on the wrong foot. I had these daydreams of sipping coffee in cafés, writing, working and flipping through pages of self-discovery. Instead, I spent my days schlepping a heaving workbag around, blowing my nose every three minutes while writing proposals for clients. I had caught a terrible head cold, which put a major damper on my mood... until I met a guy named Marc.
I’m sure you’ve heard the gnarly rumors about New Yorkers: New Yorkers have a reputation for being mean. Now, having visited New York a few times and for extended periods of time, I can say with confidence, I believe they most definitely they are not deserving of this reputation. In fact, in my experience, they are super helpful. The difference is that they are direct with everything they do; right down to speed in which they traverse the city. As a younger entrepreneur put it to me last weekend, “New Yorkers have perfected the ability to run while looking as if they are walking.”
If you’ve ever worked with highly successful business people or stern art collectors, you learn quickly that directness is not a personal attack but more so, a survival tool. High functioning people don’t have time to skirt around the platitudes of everyday conversation. This direct and to-the-point attitude permeates New York City’s culture.
To give you an example of this helpful behavior, on my first day working in the New York City café, The Bean, two men sat down next to me. The Bean’s windows were filled with rows of café goers sitting elbow to elbow. It was hot and muggy; the way businesses get in extreme winter weather. And I was miserable. Marc, a savvy real-estate agent, unknowingly opened a pandora’s box of conversation with a casual remark. Many bloggers I read are self-proclaimed introverts, which is fine, I just can’t relate because there isn’t a shy bone in my body. So, after having spent all morning, isolated behind my computer, I welcomed the human interaction. Before I knew it I was telling Marc and his friend of my plans to take New York City on, one café at time. Lucky for me, he and his friend were kind enough to offer some suggestions.
I immediately took their suggestions to heart and in the days to follow, pondered from one google direction to the next.
Café Regio – A gothic, old world venue that is probably best for brunch. While they don’t seem to mind if people post up, they also don’t have any available outlets. When I popped in early one morning, there was a stylish gentleman reading the paper in one corner, a French couple sharing a croissant in the window, and a nerdy grad student studying furiously in the other corner. I later found out that Café Regio is known for their breakfast.
The Bowery Hotel – I have never felt more romanced in the city. This boutique hotel is nestled away on the brim of the east village. The doormen still wear their original uniforms, and its classic charm can be a little disorienting. My favorite part is the outdoor/indoor patio that made the biting winter cold seem slightly less sufferable. They serve their tea with traditional hardware. It’s on the pricier end but I noticed a bottle of wine wasn’t too expensive. Vino anyone?
Zinc Bar - I accidentally stumbled upon Zincs after Café Regio, they have plugs and are just up the street. It’s a sleepy café during the day, with… no joke, tables to play chess at! The coffee was served in antique mugs. The owner was so friendly and inviting. She’s from Western PA so we chatted a bit about the ‘burgh. The décor was perfectly art deco matching the speakeasy vibe. At night it is a jazz club
Café Lalo – To be fair, this is the one café I didn’t make it to but since all the others were a hit. I had to include it.
I'm sure there are some missing from my list. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.