Hi! I’m Hilary. I'm a law student at NYU. I live on the Lower East Side, right below Alphabet City. But I spend most of time just a little north of here in the East Village. Every morning I begin my day with an iced coffee, so that's exactly what we're going to do (laughs).
Pause Café: One of the best deals for a coffee and $5 sandwich.
Heaven's Hot Bagels: PSA there are *no* *lines* *here* *ever.*
Poco: There's a free comedy show in the basement. Go.
BiBi: Really great for people watching and my favorite cheeseplate in the city.
Miss Lily's. Come here for your birthday, read below to find out why.
Clinton Street Baking Company: February is their Superbowl, a new pancake flavor every day for the whole month.
FIND A PLACE THAT FEELS LIKE YOUR LIVING ROOM
We are starting this tour at Pause Café, which is the best coffee shop in the neighborhood. It’s owned by these Moroccan guys, and it looks like a living room. It's tiny. It’s the best. They got a really good iced coffee. They also have a lot of smoothies, and acai bowls so clearly this place is on trend (laughs). The sandwiches are really good and the best thing about their menu is you can get a half sandwich for five dollars. That's just a very good deal. And they're always playing light moroccan music. This plays just feels very comfortable. And they know how I take my coffee- with only a little bit of milk.
There used to be this other café where I would do my work. It had so many outlets, which is really important if you want to spend a couple hours in one place. And they had avocado toast. But it closed the week after I found it. I was so sad (laughs). It's just too bad. There was so much space, and all the tables were for two people and they all had outlets. So sad (laughs).
THE SECRET BAGEL SPOT YOU WALK BY ALL THE TIME
I found out about this place from my roommates who told me it was good. They’ve lived here for four years so they know the neighborhood. A couple blocks west on Houston is Russ and Daughters which is really famous and they have good smoked salmon. But the real spot to go to is this place, Heaven's Hot Bagels. They have great bagels and there is never a line. So its much better. Its funny because I'll walk down this street past Heaven’s Hot Bagels and the only people in here will be policemen. I bet they always know the best spots because they're always in the neighborhood. And then you go a couple blocks further and Russ and Daughters has a line with a half an hour wait.
I get a raisin bagel with scallion cream cheese, it’s a little sweet, a little savory. A friend once called me out for that order though, he called it so non-traditional. I was like, that’s fine (laughs).
THE HIDDEN (AND FREE!) COMEDY CLUB
So we’re walking up Avenue B. There’s a cool art gallery here called Karma on 2nd street.
Just past it is Poco, a Spanish restaurant with a fun happy hour. They have a basement and on Wednesdays they host a free comedy show. It’s pretty funny. Sometimes they’ll have people from Comedy Central. And not too many people know about it so its not hard to get a table.
ON HOW TO FIND NEW PLACES
When I walk around this neighborhood I tend to go to places I already have in mind. But when I do explore this neighborhood I try to walk down different streets on my way to and from school. Like I really got into 2nd Street for awhile, and then I was like, okay, this has become boring, lets go down 3rd. But that really only gets me up to 4th street (laughs) because its as far north as I have to go. I usually will walk for 20, 25 minutes, plenty of time to duck my head into a shop I haven't been to and note it for later.
I do a lot of googling whenever I'm in the mood for something (laughs), or I'll depend a lot on word of mouth recommendations. I really like The Infatuation. It’s a website for short reviews and they’ll categorize restaurants by every situation you can imagine, 'good for when your parents are in town', 'good for first dates,' things like that. The site started in New York and now its in a couple different cities.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD BARTENDER
My absolute favorite place in this area is BiBi. This place has the best happy hour. It goes to 8 pm. We split a bottle of wine for 12 dollars, and then we got all of the cheeses they have. They have this amazing cheese plate. Every cheese comes paired with a honey, a jam, or an oil, or something. And they have bonus olives and nuts. That's always a pleasant surprise because its not listed on the menu (laughs). And the bartender is really nice, she’s so friendly and into cheese. She'll walk you through everything on the cheeseboard and always makes sure you'll have enough dunking bread. So I've had some great times at this place. Its also a really good first date bar, if you're into that. Or first date watching.
Honestly, the one thing that is a little sparse in this neighborhood is grocery stores. There's a Key Foods, but its pretty much the only grocery here. The East Village Key Foods also happens to be my least favorite Key Foods, I always have a weird time when I'm in there. The only other real grocery store option is on Houston and Avenue A but it's really bougie and basically just a smaller version of Whole Foods.
So we’re going up Avenue A and I’m going to take you to 7th Street. This little strip has some cool stores – book stores, fancy stuff stores.
THE BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE YOUR BIRTHDAY
Next we’re going to Miss Lily's. The thing to know about Miss Lily's is it’s a Jamaican restaurant: great food, great brunch. And at night it turns into the most fun dance party. They have delicious jerk chicken, which isn't super common in Manhattan.
The first time I found this place, my friend was visiting. It was late at night and we were bar hopping and we ended up there. It had like the best music and the best vibe. And theres another location right by NYU. It’s also the home to Melvin’s Juice Box! If its your birthday and you come here, they’ll put a candle in your cake and they’ll play Rihanna's 'Cake' and all the waitresses dance around you. It is so fun.
HOW I SPEND MY WEEKENDS
I actually don’t really have much of a set routine. On weekends I'll get brunch. I live right next to the Clinton Street Baking Company which has the best brunch. They are famous for their pancakes. Every day in February they have a different flavor of pancakes. Theres a lot of really good brunch places near me. If its nice out I'll go running by the East River.
HAVING A FRIENDLY WINE SHOP
There's a wine shop on Avenue B just a bit north of Houston that is absolutely great. It's called Discovery Wines. They're independently owned and the people who work there are so nice. The reason I like them is because one time we bought a bottle of wine there and it had gone bad. It tasted like vinegar. So I brought it back, and they were so cool about it! They gave us another bottle. This had never happened to me before. It was just such good service.
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