My idea of the ideal café is one that’s fairly quiet and empty, super cozy, relatively hidden, has a unique décor/ambiance and some good snacks along with great coffee! If it has free WiFi too, then it’s an absolute winner! The best kind of cafés are the ones that make you feel like you’ve escaped from all the city chaos! Here are 5 NYC cafés that make it to my list of favorites:
1. House of Small Wonder
Where: Brooklyn | Cost: $$ | Free Wifi: No
This café is really, really hidden – I walked around the corner that Google Maps claimed this spot was at about 3 times, before I finally realized the thing that looked like some construction was actually the entrance!
This café makes you feel like you’re in the outdoors – a tiny little space with 5-6 wooden tables, a giant tree growing right in the middle of the café, teal green walls, and a greenhouse-type glass ceiling so you get lots of natural light. It’s run by a few Japanese folks, so in addition to some really good sandwiches, the menu also boasts of Udon noodles and the likes!
A very peaceful (and unique) spot to get some breakfast, lunch or an afternoon coffee!
2. Tea & Sympathy
Where: West Village | Cost: $$ | Free Wifi: No
If you love scones and tea, this is the best place to get it! I’ve had scones at a lot of places in the US, but after trying these, I can safely say those were pretty Americanized. This British-run café serves authentic scones and tea in adorably over-the-top English crockery.
They also serve breakfast and brunch, with some English classics like baked beans and porridge! Great little hidden gem in one of the cutest neighborhoods in New York!
3. Piccolo Café
Where: Gramercy | Cost: $ | Free Wifi: Yes
A really REALLY tiny, cutely-lit café in the quiet neighborhood of Gramercy – this is the kind of cozy spot you need for a quiet early morning breakfast or coffee, with a book or laptop (free WiFi!).
They’ve got great fresh fruit, yogurt and granola, and also delicious paninis and pastas if you want to stop for lunch or dinner.
4. Caffé Bene
Where: Theater District | Cost: $$ | Free Wifi: Yes
This one doesn’t fit a lot of the criteria the other cafés on this list do: it’s a pretty big chain, it’s definitely not hidden, and each café is fairly huge. Yet, the Times Square location has an adorably cozy library décor and some very quiet sections, that completely take you away from the hustle and bustle of what’s happening outdoors. They also serve bubble teas, smoothies, and a variety of different flavored waffles!
The lighting and the library-feel make it a great spot for a late night coffee on a winter night.
5. Bee’s Knees
Where: Gramercy | Cost: $ | Free WiFi: Yes
This is a great place to sit at for hours, because it’s got lots of comfortable seating, and free WiFi. The space is cutely decorated yet very airy, and in a quiet neighborhood! I spent a couple of early jetlagged mornings working from this café, with a large bowl of yogurt and granola, and realized this spot is definitely a student favorite. Lot of college kids spend time getting their assignments done here, making it a quiet spot to get work done, without having to worry about chatty tourists!
Here’s a map to help you navigate yourself:
There are so many more amazing cafés New York has to offer – this list is in no way a comprehensive one, but definitely helps you sample some of the best if you’re visiting for a few days! If you have any favorite coffee shops, leave a note in the comments below!