Guides By Neighbourhood: West Side, Manhattan
“No urban night is like the night in New York City. Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the ether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.”
~ Ezra Pound
From the historic West Village to the bustling streets down by Columbus Circle, there are a multitude of places to visit and eat on the West Side. I loved walking down lanes lined with gorgeous brownstone apartments on the upper West side and stopping by Magnolia Bakery on my way to Central Park. But there was also an undeniable energy in Hell’s Kitchen; the groups in restaurants, lingering over a glass of wine, or grabbing a quick drink before hurrying off to the next event. And all this with the backdrop of gleaming skyscrapers, twinkling with lights, and the constant blare of horns from yellow cabs piled onto streets, drivers sticking their heads out of the windows to yell down the road. It was a restless energy, contained and only made distinctive, maybe even so far as personal, in the restaurants, cafes, and bars around the area. Here are just a few places that I read about and/or visited on Manhattan’s West Side:
1. Left Bank Books
Perks: This bookstore offers first editions, rare or collectible copies of fiction, classics, and poetry. Regular Sunday-night poetry readings also are offered.
Find it: 17 8th Ave between 12th and Jane St.
2. Three Lives & Company
Perks: This neighbourhood bookshop features fiction, poetry, art monographs, and travel guides.
Find it: 154 W. 10th St., NY 10014
3. Westsider Rare & Used Books
Perks: This cozy used book and music store offers everything from old records to photo collections and cookbooks.
Find it: 2246 Broadway, NY 10024
1. The Rusty Knot
Perks: Enjoy this bar’s down-to-earth vibe and no-nonsense drinks with a view of the Statue of Liberty in the distance
Find it: 425 West St. NY 10014
2. Vanguard Wine Bar
Perks: One of the quieter spots tucked away on Amsterdam Ave., this spot offers a wide selection of wonderful wines from around the world. We lucked out and secured a cozy booth in the corner that was perfect for catching up and dreaming.
Find it: 189 Amsterdam Ave., NY 10023
3. Ardesia Wine Bar
Perks: Classy and cool, this sleek space offers a wide selection of wines by the glass.
Order: 510 W. 52nd St. NY 10019
4. Pocket Bar
Perks: The cutest bar ever, I would’ve walked right by this unassuming space hiding away on W. 48th St. I loved the little sign outside suggesting cooling off with a glass of sangria.
Find it: 455 W. 48th St., NY 10019
5. Flaming Saddles Saloon
Perks: For a completely different experience, hit up this Wild West-themed gay bar to see bartenders dance on tables to anything from Lady Gaga to Carrie Underwood. It’s Nashville meets NYC in the very best way possible.
Tip: It’s cash only!
Find it: 793 9th Ave., NY 10019
6. Blue & Seafood Bar
Perks: Happy hour is from 2-7pm, and then again from 11pm-close (as are a lot of the bars in Hell’s Kitchen). We went around 11:15pm and sat at the bar for a glass of white wine.
Find it: 856 9th Ave., NY 10019
7. The White Horse Tavern
Perks: Frequented by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Jim Morrison, this tavern is reportedly the place where poet Dylan Thomas downed 18 shots of whiskey shortly before his death a few days later at the Chelsea Hotel.
Tip: It’s cash only!
Find it: 567 Hudson St., NY 10014
Order: The matcha latte & avocado toast.
Find it: 1216 Broadway, NY 10001
2. Irving Farm Roasters
Order: The iced latte
Also Try: The Pie Hole Special, which offers a slice of pie and a cup of coffee for $6
Find it: 56 7th Ave. near 14th St.
3. The Bean Coffee & Tea
Order: The cheapest cup of coffee on the map, ringing in at $1.25
Find it: 446 6th St. near 10th Ave.
4. Boule & Cherié
Perks: This lovely light-filled coffee shop is one of my favourites in the city. The one I frequented on the way to the 72nd St. Station was on Amsterdam Ave. and offered a wide selection of pastries and sandwiches as well.
Order: A cappuccino and a berry muffin
Find it: 170 Amsterdam Ave.
1. Breads Bakery ($)
Perks: Located right by Lincoln Center, this space offers both indoor and outdoor seating, and is the perfect pick-me-up or breakfast spot before heading to the American Museum of Natural History.
Order: The marzipan rugelach
Also Try: The Banana Bread
2. Tartine ($$)
Perks: Relatively inexpensive, very delicious simple dishes
Find it: 253 W. 11th St. NYC
Bonus: Magnolia Bakery is right down the street!
3. Café Gitane at The Jane Hotel ($$)
Order: Avocado toast with chili flakes and the vegetarian cous cous
Find it: 113 Jane St.
4. Bouchon Bakery ($$)
Perks: The famed Bouchon Bakery, first opened in California alongside Thomas Keller’s renowned restaurant Per Se, is known for its Bouchon brownies, TKO’s (a twist on the American Oreo cookie), and the Madeleines. Just off of the entrance to Central Park, and across from the Trump International Hotel, this Bouchon location is on the top floor of the shopping center at Columbus Circle.
Order: The TKO and a latte made with Stumptown coffee beans
Find it: Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Center
1. Parm ($)
Perks: Quick and easy Italian-American eats
Find it: 235 Columbus Ave, between 70th and 71st
2. Indus Valley ($$)
Perks: On 100th St, this Indian restaurant offers a wonderful and relatively inexpensive lunch-time buffet with many vegetarian options. The outdoor enclosed patio is lovely, light-filled, and looks out onto the busy street.
Order: Vegetarian Jalfrezi and Mango Lassi.
Find it: 2636 Broadway, NY 10025
3. Hummus Place ($)
Order: Well, the hummus
Find it: 305 Amsterdam Ave.
4. Maison Kayser ($$)
Perks: Located around the city, this bakery offers a wide selection of pastries, breads, and lunch-time options.
Order: The financiers
Find it: Columbus Circle at 58th St. or the Upper West Side at 76th St.
5. Don Antonio ($)
Perks: Go for the lunchtime special where you can get a $5-9 Naples-style pizza fresh from the oven.
Order: Anything with fresh mozzarella
Also Try: Pizza with walnut cream, zucchini, and smoked mozzarella
Find it: 309 West 50th Street (at 8th Ave.), NY 10019
6. Dojo ($)
Order: The tofu burgers and other vegetarian options
Find it: 14 W. 4th St. at Mercer
7. Annabel ($$)
Perks: Also the sign for this place makes it appear touristy, the restaurant itself has a neighbourhood vibe and offers window seating that’s perfect in the summer.
Order: Margherita Pizza
Also Try: Their wide craft beer selection
Find it: 809 9th Ave. between 53rd and 54th St.
8. Hudson Clearwater ($$$)
Perks: This secret restaurant is hidden behind an unmarked green door in a brick wall. Walk around the corner and down the street, through the green door, and walk through the garden.
Find it: 447 Hudson Street, 10014
9. Café Cluny ($$)
Perks: The cozy dining room makes this space perfect for that One Night in NYC
Find it: 284 West 12th St. NYC
1. Magnolia Bakery ($$)
Perks: The famous Magnolia Bakery now has several locations around the city, with the original location on Bleecker St. in the West Village, but the beautiful space on West 69th St. offers window seating (if you can snag a table) and views of the brownstone apartments on the West Side.
Order: The chocolate banana pudding
Also Try: A slice of the Hummingbird Cake
Find it: W. 69th St and Columbus Ave., 401 Bleecker St., and 1000 3rd Ave.
2. Victory Garden
Order: Garden fresh goat milk soft serve
Find it: 31 Carmine Street between Bleecker and Bedford Streets in the West Village