I am sitting at one of those flimsy green tables in a small park by the corner of W. 11th Street and Bleeker in Manhattan’s West Village. It is one of those idyllic New York afternoons that people swoon over and dream of when they think of this city. The leaves above me are starting to change from green to orange and the sweltering heat has been replaced with a welcoming cool breeze. Across the street sits the iconic Magnolia Bakery with its buttercream cupcakes and pastries made fresh on the spot. I just ate a vanilla bean cupcake and washed it down with a cool apple cider–my first one of the season–and think of it as my toast to autumn.
I’m alone although in a city like New York are you ever really alone? Couples walk by with high end strollers, tourists eagerly shuffle down nearby Perry Street to pose in front of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, kids run around in the playground in front of me as I sit here torn between enjoying and capturing the moment (the plight of every travel writer, I suppose). I love the West Village, it is perhaps my favorite area in Manhattan because of how classic “New York” it is. Walking the streets of this neighborhood feels like you’re stepping onto the scene of every New York film and TV show you’ve ever admired. It’s not dirty, not crowded and not loud (like many other areas in the city) instead you have families and friends eating cupcakes, brownstones lined up against quaint streets and way out of budget boutiques positioned just so to entice all who walk by to enter. It’s the New York of my dreams and here I share a few of my favorite places in the neighborhood to visit!
Tucked away on the corner of Waverly Street and Gay Street is JOE Coffee, a coffee shop that serves up foamy cappuccinos and delicious pastries. Although you can find JOE Coffee around the city, the West Village location has a certain charm to it and seems to be more spacious than its counterparts.
If you’re a visitor to New York City, chances are you already have Magnolia Bakery as one of the top items to check off your NYC bucket list. The bakery has been featured in Sex & the City, shown in Saturday Night Live, The Devil Wears Prada and a slew of other New York-based films and shows. The bakery is best known for their cupcakes, which are made fresh and have a wonderful buttercream icing that makes the treats simply indulgent. Now I’ll confess something here, I’m not a cake or cupcake girl. In fact, every year for my birthday, since I was a little girl, I have had an apple pie instead of a cake because I find frosting to be too sweet. I’m incredible picky when it comes to desserts so to find a bakery that doesn’t have me wrinkling up my nose is quite an accomplishment and Magnolia Bakery does the trick.
Three Lives & Company Book Store
I love bookstores, there is something sort of magical about wandering into a corner bookstore and roaming the old wooden shelves where novel after novel promises fantastic tales, memoirs and adventures in its pages. Everywhere I go–be it Paris and the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore on the Left Bank, Buenos Aires and their hidden bookstores in Palermo or here in New York City–I love wandering into book shops. I recently came across Three Lives Books and fell in love with its cozy decor, low lighting, wooden shelves and selection of novels. It’s a lovely spot that is nestled on the corner of W 10th and Waverly Place.
If you spot people huddled around a small pizza shop with folded slices in hand and sipping cold beers, chances are you’ve stumbled upon Artichoke Pizza on MacDougal Street on the edge of the West Village and Greenwich Village. Although Artichoke has locations around NYC, my favorite one remains this spot on MacDougal where you can grab a delicious slice and eat it on the steps of a brownstone across the street–in typical New York fashion.
Nestled on Bleeker St. is Grom–a gelateria and frozen ice cream spot that uses seasonal fruits & high-end imported ingredients to create their delicious treats. Sticking to its Italian roots, Grom serves classic flavors that are made wonderful by the simplicity in which they’re made and the quality of the ingredients used. I recommend going for the Crema de Grom, which pairs pastry cream with Colombian sourced chocolate chips and crumbled meliga cookies. Get your cone to go and stroll down Bleeker towards Washington Square Park for a charming walk through this lively neighborhood.
If you haven’t gathered it by now, I’m a foodie and one of my favorite types of cuisine is Mexican. I love the spices and flavors that go into traditional Mexican dishes and when the cuisine is done right, it is nothing short of fantastic. I recently tried Horchata for the first time and was blown away by how wonderful this little hole-in-the-wall place is. From the Mexican glasses to the traditional Mexican decor details to the menu and freshly baked tortilla chips and homemade salsa, Horchata is phenomenal.
Beyond Perry’s Street significance in the hit show Sex and the City, I love Perry Street because of its prime location in the heart of the West Village and how it looks almost like a movie set. The brownstones, the tree lined street, the little shops on the corners–Perry Street is just around the corner from Magnolia Bakery and a lovely little park (where I just so happen to have wrote this post) where you can take in the beauty and charm of the West Village.
Have you been to New York? What’s your favorite part of the city? Share your comments, questions and feedback below!