Written by: Max Vishnev, founder of CityRover Walks NY
Updated: January 19, 2018
This detailed guide on the 100 best coffee shops in New York City (by neighborhood) is all you’ll need to find a great cup of coffee when visiting Manhattan.
The main selection criteria for this list of great NYC coffee spots: Specialty coffee shops where a serious coffee drinker can get a proper espresso, cortado, flat white, or latte.
So whether you’re looking for a great cup of coffee near Central Park or the High Line, near Times Square or Wall Street, or while exploring beautiful neighborhoods like SoHo, Greenwhich Village, and the Upper West Side, this coffee guide will be your caffeine salvation.
Hi, I am Max, and I admit: I am a coffee addict.
Apparently, I am not the only one, because one question I get asked very often by NYC tourists I meet on CityRover walking tours is: “Hey Max, where can I get decent cup of coffee in New York?”
Usually, it’s a frustrated Aussie asking the question, after another Starbucks disappointment. The good news is:
New York City is full of great espresso bars – you just have to know where to look.
So fear not, dear Aussies (and other discerning coffee drinkers)!
This coffee guide is by no means exhaustive, since new coffee shops seem to be popping up like mushrooms after rain. It is mostly limited to the lower half of Manhattan (from Downtown to the Upper East & West Sides).
I’ve grouped them by neighborhood and included a map for each. The neighborhoods appear in the following order:
- Downtown/Financial District
- Lower East Side
- Greenwich Village/West Village
- East Village/Alphabet City
- Chelsea/Meatpacking District
- Midtown/Hell’s Kitchen
- Midtown East
- Upper West Side
- Upper East Side
Are you coming to New York for the first time? Be sure to also check out some of our other detailed articles and free guides:
- Suggested 1-day NYC Itinerary
- Top 10 Places to Visit in New York City
- NYC Subway Tips, Tricks, and Etiquette — A Beginner’s Guide
- Best Pizza in Greenwich Village
Now, let’s finally get to the best coffee shops in New York City, by neighborhood:
Best Coffee Shops in the Financial District and Downtown Manhattan
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- 100 Wall Street
- 42 Broadway
- 80 Broad Street
- 66 Pearl Street
- 52 Duane Street
La Colombe: 67 Wall Street (west of Pearl Street)
Bluestone Lane: 30 Broad Street (enter at New Street and Exchange Place)
The Wooly Daily: 11 Barclay Street (just west of Broadway on the side of Woolworth Building)
- A great hole-in-the-wall espresso bar with quirky vintage decor 2 minutes from a bench in City Hall Park (on a nice day) and a 5-minute walk to the pedestrian ramp leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Birch Coffee: 8 Spruce Street (enter from Beekman Street)
- An inviting cafe with great coffee options, some books to borrow, and a laid-back local vibe. Minutes from a scenic walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
While you’re Downtown:
If you’ve gotten your caffeine fix and your American history fix and are looking for a bite to eat and a pint to drink, head to Stone Street – the first paved road in New Amsterdam. It’s a little cobblestone street with no cars and long wooden communal tables flanked by bars and restaurants.
It might be hard to find, since it’s surrounded by skyscrapers, so use the map above as a reference (look for Ulysses’ Pub on the map, which is on Stone Street).
Or if you’re in the mood for a great NYC bagel, stop by Leo’s Bagels on Hanover Square, which is perpendicular to Stone Street.
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Best Coffee Shops in TriBeCa
FIKA: 450 Washington Street
Kaffe 1668: 275 Greenwich Street
Kaffe 1668: 401 Greenwich Street
La Colombe: 319 Church Street (corner of Lispenard Street)
TriBeCa, which stands for “Triangle Below Canal” (street) is just north of the World Trade Center. It is one of New York’s most expensive and trendiest neighborhoods, which still retains its industrial appearance thanks to its designation as a “Historic District” (indicated by brown street signs). Of course, the brick lofts now house celebrities and hedge fund types instead of storing butter, cheese, eggs, and other wholesale food items.
You can stroll along TriBeCa’s cobblestone streets, have a fancy lunch or dinner at one of many high-end restaurants, or have a drink at one or more popular neighborhood bars. If you want a drink or a bite at a lesser-known spot, check out a great “speakeasy” bar called Smith and Mills (see map). And who knows, maybe you’ll bump into Robert De Niro or Taylor Swift…
Smith & Mills: 71 North Moore Street (between Hudson Street and Greenwich Street)
Or on a nice day, head west towards the Hudson River and walk along the beautiful Esplanade. If you head south towards Battery Park City, the Irish Hunger Memorial is worth visiting. It recreates an Irish hillside and pays tribute to more than a million people who perished of starvation in Ireland in the late 1840s and early 1850s as a result of the Potato Famine. Many more escaped starvation and sailed to either New York or Boston.
If you continue walking south along the waterfront Esplanade, you will reach Brookfield Place (look for the dark glass atrium with some tables and chairs outside). Head inside and up to the 2nd level via the escalator. There, you will find a popular modern food court called Hudson Eats with more than a dozen great local food vendors and plenty of seating with Hudson River views (as well as clean bathrooms). A French food court on the first floor of the “Winter Garden” (look for palm trees) sit just below Hudson Eats and offers a wide variety of French-themed food options, from coffee to crepes to sandwiches to a wine bar. It’s called Le District.
Best Coffee Shops on the Lower East Side
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters: 88 Orchard Street
Café Grumpy: 13 Essex Street (between Canal and Hester St)
Two Hands Café: 164 Mott Street (between Grand Street and Broome Street)
Little Canal: 26 Canal Street (just off the F train stop at “East Broadway”)
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This section of Manhattan has been home to millions of immigrants over the last century and a half. It was often the first stop (and sometimes the only stop) for poor immigrants coming to America for a better life, or at least the possibility of one.
In the mid-to-late 19th century, it was home to huge communities of Irish and German immigrants. By the late 19th and early 20th century, the demographics had shifted, as record numbers of immigrants sailed to New York from southern Italy, Russia, and other countries in southern, central, and eastern Europe.
Between 1882 and 1924, nearly 2 million Russian Jews settled on the Lower East Side alone!
Today, the abundance of luxury condos and boutique hotels, as well as trendy restaurants and bars, makes it hard to imagine what life must have been like for the countless immigrant families for whom this neighborhood was the first stop in America.
So after getting your caffeine fix at Irving Farm Roasters at 88 Orchard (corner of Orchard and Broome streets), head north along Orchard to visit the Tenement Museum. You’ll get a rare glimpse into the lives of poor European immigrants living on Manhattan’s Lower East Side more than a century ago.
And while you’re on the Lower East Side, head to Kossar’s Bagels & Bialys on Grand and Essex streets if you want to try a traditional NYC bagel or bialy.
Best Coffee Shops in SoHo and NoHo
La Colombe: 75 Vandam Street (near Hudson Street)
La Colombe: 270 Lafayette Street (just north of Prince Street)
Everyman Espresso: 301 West Broadway (corner of Canal Street)
Gasoline Alley Coffee: 154 Grand Street (corner of Lafayette Street)
La Colombe: 400 Lafayette Street (corner of East 4th Street)
Gasoline Alley Coffee: 325 Lafayette Street (between Bleecker and Houston Street)
SoHo is one of New York’s most popular and expensive neighborhoods, but it wasn’t always so. It wasn’t until artists started to move into the area in the late 1960s and form artist cooperatives inside run-down old 19th century loft buildings that the area made it onto people’s radars – particularly those looking to check out the new art scene Downtown.
The acronym “SoHo”, which stands for “South of Houston Street” (pronounced “HOW-ston” not “Hew-ston”) was coined by these same artists. Little did they know that within a decade many of them would get priced out by escalating real estate prices, or that within a few decades “SoHo” would become a global lifestyle brand, as in “SoHo-style lofts” being marketing in China and other places around the world to the young well-to-do crowd.
Sidenote: “NoHo” or “North of Houston Street” was coined later as a way to capitalize on the popularity of “SoHo”.
SoHo is also one of New York’s most important historic districts, containing the largest concentration of cast-iron buildings in America. The buildings were mostly built between the 1850s and 1880s for light manufacturing and storage. But by the mid 20th century, most of the companies had either gone out of business or moved out and the area was labeled a “commercial wasteland” by New York’s so-called “Master Builder”, Robert Moses. Moses proposed tearing down most of the old cast-iron buildings in order to build a highway across Lower Manhattan (dubbed “LOMEX”).
A powerful local preservation movement halted the highway project, and by 1970, there was already a small but noticeable artist colony living in the newly named “SoHo”.
Today, while most of the artists may be gone and chain stores abound, you can still stroll the cobblestone streets and admire the beautifully restored facades of the 19th century industrial loft buildings.
For particularly great examples of the cast-iron architecture, take a stroll down Greene and Mercer streets, between Canal street and Houston street.
And if you’re fully caffeinated, check out these two great SoHo establishments for a meal and a drink:
Fanelli Café: 94 Prince Street (corner of Mercer Street)
Fanelli is one of New York’s oldest pubs. Check out the liquor licenses from the 1870s and 1880s in the back room. Enjoy the old-world charm and good pub fare, as well beer, wine, and liquor in a bustling setting.
Antique Garage: 41 Mercer Street (between Grand Street and Broome Street)
This former mechanic shop was converted into a beautifully designed restaurant, with exposed brick walls, chandeliers, great Medditeranean food and wine, and occasional live jazz. Antique Garage is an excellent choice for a glass of wine or a nice sit-down lunch/dinner.
Best Coffee Shops in Greenwich Village and West Village
Stumptown Coffee Roasters: 30 West 8th Street (corner of MacDougal st)
Joe: 37 East 8th Street (between University Place and Greene St)
Joe: 9 East 13th Street (between 5th Avenue and University Place)
Joe: 141 Waverly Place (corner of Gay Street)
Toby’s Estate Coffee: 44 Charles Street (corner of 7th Avenue South)
Third Rail Coffee: 240 Sullivan Street (near West 3rd Street)
Bluestone Lane: 55 Greenwich Avenue (corner of Perry Street)
Bluestone Lane: 30 Carmine Street (off Bleecker Street)
Birch Coffee: 56 7th Avenue (between west 13th and 14th Street)
Greenwich Village needs no introduction. It’s quaint old streets lined with matching red brick or brownstone rowhouses transport you to the 19th century when it was one of New York’s first “suburbs”. Today, Greenwich Village is one of NY’s largest historic districts (which means those beautiful brownstones are here to stay).
The “Village”, as we call it, has a couple of distinct sections. Washington Square is the most prominent public space and arguably the “heart of the Village”. It’s a bustling square full of NYU students, tourists, locals walking their dogs, and office workers catching some sun on their lunch break. Oh, and let’s not forget the buskers – bluegrass, jazz, drums, street performers, a pianist, a sand-painter – and that’s just naming a few.
If you head south of Washington Square (also known as the “South Village”), you’ll find a variety of small bars, cafes, and restaurants. MacDougal street is a very popular thoroughfare for eating, drinking, and live entertainment that lasts well into the wee hours.
Check out Comedy Cellar (one of the best, if not the best comedy club in NYC – call for reservations), Olive Tree Café above it, and Café Wha two doors down (Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix played here half a century ago). Be prepared to rub elbows though, as both Comedy Cellar and Café Wha are popular basement clubs that get filled up quickly.
If you head west of Washington Square (and cross 6th Avenue), you’ll find more restaurants, bars, and cafes. Check out charming Cornelia Street for a terrific variety of local restaurants. Cornelia Street is perpendicular to Bleecker Street, which features some of the best pizzerias in New York.
If you continue to head west (by crossing 7th Avenue South), you will end up in the West Village, which has some of the oldest rowhouses in the area. Here, you will really get a feel for what the Village must have been like in the 19th century, before it was “absorbed” by the city in the early 20th century.
By the way, TV fans can find the “Sex and the City brownstone” at 66 Perry Street, while fans of Friends can find the “Friends” apartment building on the corner of Bedford and Grove street (22 Grove St.).
Best Coffee Shops in the East Village and Alphabet City
Bluestone Lane Coffee: 51 Astor Place (between 3rd and 4th Avenue)
Third Rail Coffee: 159 Second Avenue (10th & Stuyvestant)
Ninth Street Espresso: 700 East 9th Street (between Avenue C and D)
Ninth Street Espresso: 341 East 10th Street (between Avenue A and B)
Everyman Espresso: 136 East 13th Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenue)
Abraço Espresso: 86 East 7th Street (west of 1st Avenue)
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream: 48 East 7th Street (east of 2nd Avenue)
Van Leeuwen is first and foremost an awesome ice cream shop, but they do make great coffee too. So after enjoying some cold deliciousness, you can follow up with a great shot of espresso.
The East Village was once part of the Lower East Side. In the mid-to-late 19th century, this area was home to one of the largest German-speaking communities outside of Germany or Austria. It was called “Kleindeutschland”. Remnants of “Little Germany” can still be found today. Take a walk down 2nd Avenue to check out two beautiful red-brick buildings off the corner of Saint Marks Place built in the 1880s as the German library and reading hall and the German medical clinic next door.
The German community largely dispersed after the tragic sinking of a steam boat called “General Slocum” in June of 1904. It was carrying hundreds of German women and children for a day of fun in the sun. A fire erupted on the boat, and it sank soon after, taking more than 1,000 lives.
As the surviving Germans moved out after this devastating event, Eastern European Jews began to fill the apartment buildings, as the Jewish Lower East Side extended north. Yiddish theaters sprouted along 2nd Avenue, and Yiddish began to replace German as the main language of what we call the East Village today.
In the mid-20th century, the area attracted a large number of Ukrainian immigrants (as well as Polish immigrants). That helps explain neighborhood staples like Veselka, which has been family-owned for 60 years. If you’re looking for some hearty borscht or stuffed cabbage, look no further (Veselka is open 24/7, in case you get a borscht craving after midnight).
In the 70s and 80s, when New York City was going through financial woes and crime was high, the East Village, and especially Alphabet City to the east, was a seedy run-down area, with a big drug problem. Today, boarded up store fronts have been replaced with trendy brunch spots, vegan juice bars, and expensive clothing stores. And many run-down old tenements have been replaced with glass and steel luxury condos.
While the East Village and Alphabet City may lack the “grit” of the seedy old days, as some long-time New Yorkers may lament, it is a diverse, bustling, and safe area today. You can explore the intertwined immigrant pasts, and eat and drink your way through a wide variety of popular local bars, cafes, and restaurants.
For a real trip back in time, be sure to stop by McSorley’s Old Ale House, New York’s oldest Irish pub (circa 1854). Women were not allowed until 1970, and you will still find sawdust on the wooden floor.
Best Coffee Shops Near the Flatiron District and Gramercy
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Stumptown Coffee Roasters: Ace Hotel at 18 West 29th Street (off Broadway)
Gregorys Coffee: 327 Park Avenue South
FIKA: 303 Park Avenue South (just north of 23rd Street)
FIKA: 407 Park Avenue South (at 28th Street)
Toby’s Estate Coffee: 160 5th Avenue (between 20th and 21st Street)
Birch Coffee: 21 East 27th Street (just west of Madison Avenue)
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters: 71 Irving Place (between 18th and 19th Street)
The Flatiron District is centered around the iconic Flatiron Building on 23rd street, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. Its distinctive triangular shape is the direct result of the triangular plot of land it was built on, which was, in turn, created by the “bowtie” formed by Broadway bisecting Fifth Avenue.
The Flatiron Building was originally called the Fuller Building (commissioned by the Fuller Company), but nobody called it that (to the great chagrin of the company that paid for its construction). When it opened in 1902, it quickly became known as the “Flatiron” Building, because if you looked at its “nose”, it looked like a giant flatiron people used to iron clothes with.
While it was never the tallest building in New York City, it remains one of our most iconic, due to its prominent location, triangular shape, and ornate exterior.
For a great photo opportunity, stand in the pedestrian island just north of the Flatiron Building, and if you look north, you’ll see the top half of the Empire State Building.
Just to the northeast of the Flatiron Building is Madison Square, one of New York’s most popular neighborhood parks. This beautifully restored public space showcases outdoor art installations and is home to the original Shake Shack location (tasty burgers and milk shakes).
Foodies will also enjoy a visit to Eataly, an all-Italian market and food hall. It is located directly northwest of the Flatiron Building at 200 Fifth Avenue. Eataly boasts two espresso bars, multiple restaurants, a wine bar, and even a rooftop beer garden!
“NoMad” is a fairly new real estate acronym, which stands for “North of Madison Square”. It’s an interesting combination of luxury apartments in new and converted old buildings, high-end boutique hotels, and cheap wholesale stores along Broadway.
Gramercy, a couple of blocks south and east of Madison Square and the Flatiron Building, is home to Manhattan’s only private park – Gramercy Park – created in the early 1830s. To get into this beautifully manicured and fenced off park you need a key. And to get a key, you need to be wealthy enough to live in one of the surrounding homes and to afford the associated fees.
That helps explain why Gramercy remains one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City. It offers relative quiet, old-world charm, and exclusivity in one of New York’s most beautifully and best-preserved historic districts, while being minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhattan.
If you end up checking out Gramercy Park, be sure to drop by Pete’s Tavern (circa 1864), one of New York’s oldest pubs, for a pint of beer and a burger.
Best Coffee Shops in Chelsea and Meatpacking DistrictHi
Intelligentsia Coffee: Inside the High Line Hotel at 180 10th Avenue (between 20th and 21st Street)
Gregorys: 874 Sixth Avenue (corner of 31st)
Gregorys: 356 7th Avenue (corner of 30th st)
FIKA: 555 6th Avenue (between 15th and 16th Street)
FIKA: 155 7th Avenue (between 19th and 20th Street)
FIKA: 180 9th Avenue (corner of 21st Street)
Joe: 405 West 23rd Street (just west of 9th Avenue)
Café Grumpy: 224 West 20th (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
La Colombe: 601 West 27th Street (corner of 11th Avenue)
Blue Bottle Coffee: 450 West 15th Street (just west of 10th Avenue and the High Line)
Ninth Street Espresso: 75 9th Avenue (between 15th and 16th Street, inside Chelsea Market)
Underline Coffee: 511 West 20th (under the High Line just west of 10th Avenue)
Terremoto Coffee: 328 West 15th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenue)
Kava Café: 803 Washington Street (just south of High Line terminus at Gansevoort Street)
West Chelsea and the neighboring Meatpacking District (just south of Chelsea) share a predominantly food-related industrial past. With dozens of piers built along the busy Hudson River waterfront, NY’s west side became lined with warehouses, factories, and tenements for workers and longshoremen. Large-scale refrigeration in the early 20th century also contributed to the growth of the wholesale meat industry.
Ships, docks, wagons, horses, freight trains, workers, sailors, and longshoremen all contributed to noise, crowding, traffic nightmares, and frequent injuries (sometimes fatal). It got to the point that 10th Avenue became known as “Death Avenue”.
By the 1960s, however, much of the shipping and industrial activity had disappeared, as bigger piers and more modern factories and warehouses were built in New Jersey. New York’s west side now became the “Wild Wild West” with drugs and prostitution taking on leading roles.
Over the last decade, though, West Chelsea and the Meatpacking District have experienced rapid gentrification, with great adaptive re-use conversions like Chelsea Market and the High Line attracting millions of visitors each year. Drug dealers and prostitutes have been replaced by fashionable tourists and diners, Google engineers, media executives, and multi-millionaire luxury condo buyers.
West Chelsea is also home to the greatest concentration of art galleries in NYC.
Best Coffee Shops in Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen
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Blue Bottle Coffee: Inside Gotham West Market at 600 11th Avenue (between 44th and 45th Street)
Gregorys Coffee: 520 8th Avenue (between West 36th and 37th st)
Gregorys Coffee: 551 7th Avenue (between West 39th and 40th st)
Gregorys Coffee: 58 West 44th st (between 6th and 5th Avenue)
FIKA: 566 10th Avenue (between West 41st and 42nd Street)
FIKA: 824 10th Avenue (at West 55th Street)
FIKA: 114 West 41st Street (between 6th Avenue and Broadway)
FIKA: 41 West 58th Street (between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue)
- A great coffee stop before heading to Central Park
Café Grumpy: 200 West 39th Street (and 7th Avenue)
Blue Bottle Coffee: 54 West 40th (south side of Bryant Park, between 5th and 6th Avenue)
Blue Bottle Coffee: Rockefeller Center Dining Concourse (not far from bathroom facilities)
Kava Café: 470 West 42nd (just east of 10th Avenue)
Zibetto: 1221 6th Avenue (between 48th and 49th Street)
Zibetto: 1385 6th Avenue (and 56th Street)
Bluestone Lane: 1114 6th Avenue (inside Grace Plaza glass pavilion on West 43rd Street)
Culture Espresso: 72 West 38th Street (near 6th Avenue)
Culture Espresso: 247 West 36th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
Midtown Manhattan is the commercial and tourism heart of New York City. Millions of office workers emerge from subways, commuter trains, express buses, and ferries and hurry their way through the throng of other commuters to get to their desk on time.
Skyscrapers, theaters, a constant flow of yellow cabs, pedicabs, fast walkers (locals), slow walkers (tourists), ticket sellers, bums, Elmos, Mickeys. People walking on a busy sidewalk while staring down at their phones. Tourists stopping on the same busy sidewalk to take a photo. No wonder some of us New Yorkers are often grouchy. You would be too if you had to commute to Midtown for work Monday through Friday.
The good news is, if you’re just visiting and not commuting every day, this square mile is packed with famous NY sights, buildings, landmarks, things to do, and places to visit. And while Starbucks is still on almost every other corner, great espresso bars have popped up in recent years, offering a nice alternative in Midtown for discerning coffee drinkers.
Places and landmarks to visit in Midtown:
- Times Square
- Rockefeller Center (and Top of the Rock)
- Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
- NY Public Library
- Bryant Park
- Empire State Building
- Museum of Modern Art
Words of advice from a New Yorker and tour guide:
Do not waste your time and money eating at Bubba Gump, Hard Rock Café, or Olive Garden in Times Square. You didn’t come to New York City to eat at a chain restaurant probably available in your home town, but for triple the price.
If you’re hungry before or after a Broadway show, head west of Times Square to Hell’s Kitchen.
While the name of this neighborhood may be off-putting to some, you have nothing to fear. The 19th century Irish gangs are long gone, and the neighborhood (like most of NYC) has been gentrified. The origins of the name are unclear and different explanations exist.
Here is the most popular version:
In the late 19th century, this area was one of the poorest, filthiest, and most violent in New York City. Murders, gang violence, and rioting was commonplace. One day, a veteran police officer is watching a small riot on West 39th street near 10th avenue and his rookie partner says: “This place is hell itself!” To which his experienced partner replies: “Hell is a mild climate. This is Hell’s Kitchen.”
Once you cross 8th Avenue, you will notice that the landscape changes from skyscrapers to mostly 5-and-6-story tenements. The farther west you go, the less touristy the places become (as you move away from Times Square and the theater district).
You’ll find lots of restaurants and bars along 8th, 9th, and 10th Avenues, as well as the blocks between them (especially between 42nd and 55th street). Check out Time Out NY’s guide to the best bars in Hell’s Kitchen and this Yelp page for highly-rated restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen.
And if you don’t mind going all the way to 11th Avenue, check out the modern food court called Gotham West Market, which features a nice variety of great local purveyors, featuring foods from around the world.
Gotham West Market: 600 11th Avenue (between 44th and 45th street)
Best Coffee Shops in Midtown East
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters: Grand Central Terminal Dining Concourse (lower level)
Joe: Grand Central Terminal, Graybar Passage
Café Grumpy: Grand Central Terminal, Lexington Avenue side (across from Chrysler Building)
Gregorys Coffee: 20 East 40th st (between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue)
Gregorys Coffee: 12 East 46th st (between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue)
Gregorys Coffee: 551 Madison Avenue (between 55th and 56th Street)
FIKA: 10 Park Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
FIKA: 380 Lexington Avenue (and 41st Street)
FIKA: 600 Lexington Avenue (and 52nd Street)
Ninth Street Espresso: 109 East 56th Street (next to the Lombardy Hotel, between Park and Lexington Ave.)
Zibetto: 501 5th Avenue (and 42nd Street)
Bluestone Lane: 805 3rd Avenue (between 49th and 50th Street)
This area went through a tremendous development phase a century ago after Grand Central Terminal was completed in 1913. Luxury hotels, apartment buildings, and office buildings were built around the Terminal earning the area the moniker “Terminal City”.
Today, Grand Central still holds center stage but is surrounded almost entirely by skyscrapers. 750,000 people visit the terminal each day. This includes commuters from the suburbs, tourists, day-trippers, and office workers getting lunch or coffee in the lower-level Dining Concourse.
The iconic Art Deco Chrysler Building just east of Grand Central Terminal on Lexington Avenue and 42nd street, and the UN Headquarters is a 15-min walk east to the edge of Manhattan. They offer 1-hr guided tours on weekdays.
If you want to explore the area with an expert local guide on a private tour, check out our 3-hr walking tour of Grand Central, Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, and more!
Best Coffee Shops on the Upper West Side
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters: 224 West 79th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave)
- This popular coffee shop is a 10-15 minute walk from the Natural History Museum and Central Park
FIKA: 2211 Broadway (at West 78th Street)
Joe: 514 Columbus Avenue (corner of 85th Street)
Joe: 187 Columbus Avenue (between 68th and 69th Street)
- Both of the above Joe Coffee locations are one block west of Central Park
Tarallucci e Vino: 475 Columbus Avenue (corner of West 83d Street)
- This popular Italian cafe and wine bar is just one block west of Central Park as well
Piccolo Café: 313 Amsterdam Avenue (between West 74th and 75th Street)
Birch Coffee: 750 Columbus Avenue (corner of 96th Street)
West of Central Park and north of 59th street lies the Upper West Side, home to Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History, the New-York Historical Society, and block after block of beautiful century-old rowhouses. It’s also home to some of New York’s most exclusive pre-war luxury apartment buildings along Central Park West, including the famous Dakota Apartments.
This popular neighborhood is full of great restaurants, bars, and cafes, mostly along Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues (as well as some along Broadway). So if you’re visiting Central Park or the Museum of Natural History, don’t rush back to Midtown. Instead, head west and explore this beautiful historic neighborhood and all the great dining options it offers. There is also no shortage of great coffee shops.
Check out these other popular local establishments:
Zabar’s: 2245 Broadway (between 80th and 81st)
Famous Upper West Side store and cafe (more than 80 years at this location!) serving all kinds of smoked fish, hundreds of cheeses, as well as pickles, olives, bread, coffee, rugelach, and fresh bagels.
Westside Rare Books: 2246 Broadway (across from Zabar’s)
Bibliophiles rejoice! This is the opposite of a chain book store. The second you step in, you the smell of old books hits you. The small narrow shop is full of books on all subjects, and if you like browsing used book stores, you can spend an afternoon here. With enough effort, you might find some rare out-of-print gems for $10!
Café Lalo: 201 West 83rd street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)
This retro-style café is a must for anyone who loves dessert. The biggest problem is choosing one, since they have a head-spinning variety of cakes, pies, and tarts. The café gained some fame after You’ve Got Mail came out (they filmed a scene here where Tom Hanks is supposed to meet Meg Ryan for the first time).
Barney Greengrass: 541 Amsterdam Avenue (between 86th and 87th street)
Another Upper West Side staple (circa 1908) specializing in NY deli sandwiches, smoked fish, and fresh bagels. Stop by for a pastrami sandwich or a fresh bagel with lox and cream cheese. This spot may be well known to locals but is not on most tourists’ radars.
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Best Coffee Shops on the Upper East Side
Gregorys Coffee: 878 Lexington Avenue (between 65th and 66th Street)
Gregorys Coffee: 1273 First Avenue (between 68th and 69th Street)
This Gregorys location is very close to one of the best bagel shops in NYC — Bagel Works — which is on 1st Avenue between 66th and 67th street.
FIKA: 1331 Lexington Avenue (between East 88th and 89th Street)
Joe: 1045 Lexington Avenue (between 74th and 75th Street)
Bluestone Lane: 2 East 90th Street (across from Central Park on 5th Avenue, next to Church of Heavenly Rest)
- A great coffee option right near Central Park and the Guggenheim Museum
Birch Coffee: 134 ½ East 62nd Street (between Lexington and 3rd Avenue)
Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue – two famous Upper East Side thoroughfares – complete with Central Park West for status and exclusivity.
Fifth Avenue, facing Central Park, is also known as “Museum Mile”, since several great New York museums can be found here (nestled among super-luxury pre-war apartment buildings).
The flagship one, of course, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but other important institutions include the Frick Collection, Neue Galerie, Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, and the Guggenheim Museum (see map). Some of these museums are housed in “Gilded Age” mansions, like those of Andrew Carnegie (Cooper-Hewitt) and Henry Clay Frick (Frick Collection). They are worth a visit just to see how these so-called “Robber Barons” lived.
Generally speaking, the farther east you go (east of Park Avenue), the more affordable the Upper East Side becomes. You’ll find lots of restaurants and bars along 2nd and 3rd Avenues, many of which won’t break the bank. There are also some new additions to the coffee scene, which finally provide an alternative to Starbucks.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]