Once upon a time (approximately three years ago), eating in a coffee shop typically meant a stale croissant and possibly a panini made with supermarket prosciutto.
Today it means drinking a flat white and eating an avocado toast prepared by an attractive Australian.
A lot of coffee shops are still basically one step up from the Au Bon Pain at LaGuardia, but there are also a big handful of new places serving delicious food. Whether you need a place to set up shop with your laptop throughout the day, plan a low-key meeting, or have a moderately priced lunch by yourself, these are our favorite coffee shops with great food.
Chalait specializes in matcha. If you don’t know what that is, we’re impressed. You must spend very little time on Instagram, and that’s probably good for your brain. Just know that it’s a powdered green tea that you can make lattes out of it. Get one here, and it will both look and taste very good. You can also get some avocado toast, a cauliflower quinoa bowl, or some muesli here. All of these things should make you feel better about your other dietary habits.
Officially one of the least terrible places in Midtown, you can stop by Taylor St. and get a coffee to go or you can sit for a quick meal on their low-key second floor. They even have some surprisingly real food like “6-hour lamb shoulder.” If you aren’t looking to eat a lamb’s shoulder in the middle of your day, however, you can get a sandwich or a salad. Oh, and this place is Australian, so that’s an affirmative on avocado toast.
Kos Kaffe has a good number of windows, so you can hang out here in the daytime and not feel like a shut-in. It’s a pleasant place to sit at a little table, plus they have some killer granola, good salads and sandwiches, and an iced-tea lemonade that tastes like liquid gummy bears. You can also bring your laptop, just know that there are restrictions at peak hours.
These days, the first thing a new coffee shop has to do is pick a color scheme. Citizens of Chelsea went with a nice shade of turquoise, and it’s pretty soothing. This place is made even more pleasant by the fact that the employees are Australian. That’s a fun accent. Come here and get a quinoa bowl that’s better than most other quinoa bowls. If health isn’t a priority, we suggest you add bacon.
The Commons Chelsea is a tiny coffee shop with a surprisingly large menu and a decent amount of seating (for how tiny it is). If you live or work in the area, it’s good for a quick breakfast or lunch, or even a glass of wine at night. This place is open late on weekdays, and there’s also some nice outdoor seating in summer. Do a low-maintenance brunch here. On weekends, they even make French toast.
Lincoln Station is a nice place to casually hang out and eat some uncomplicated food. Sit down and have a sandwich, a burger, or some kind of vegetable side. You can even bring your laptop (plenty of people do). Think of this as your home base in Prospect Heights. And if you don’t like coffee, have a beer.
Hungry Ghost is a well-designed coffee shop with a few comfy armchairs in the window. They’ll be taken when you get there, but at least there are some other wooden chairs and stools and even a banquette. When’s the last time you had coffee in a leather banquette? Don’t kid yourself, probably never. Come by hot sandwich with bacon and smoked gouda. It’s a good place for a casual meeting when you want the option of snacking.
Not all coffee shops in New York are Australian. We know it seems that way, but there are few other kinds. O Cafe, for example, is Brazilian. And you can stop here and eat a Brazilian baked good like their pao de queijo. It’s a traditional gluten-free cheese bread, and you’ll want to have several. If you need something more substantial, they also have some good, fresh salads, toasts, and sandwiches. This place is on the smaller side, but it’s pretty low-key and you can usually find a seat.
Life is uncertain. You never know when you’re going to get hungry. So if you need to sit somewhere and get some work done, but you aren’t sure if you’re going to need to eat, come here. Toby’s Estate is a coffee shop/roastery in Williamsburg, and it has both wifi and a selection of breakfast/lunch foods. You might have to fight a young person for a seat, but just spill some coffee on their Macbook or spread a rumor about a new pop-up or something. As for the food, you’ll find all your modern-coffee-shop staples - eggs, smoked salmon toast, granola, etc.
It doesn’t look too impressive from the outside (or the inside), but you can get a very good egg sandwich here. Try the one with chorizo or merguez sausage. If it’s later in the day, you can have some curry or a bowl of pork belly and beans (we honestly aren’t sure what kind of cafe this is). The inside of this place is cool in a minimalist sort of way, and, if you come here, some of that cool might rub off on you. Bring a friend for a BEC at one of their little wooden tables, and you’ll gain more of their respect.
Handsome, vaguely Israeli, and located in a big space on Franklin Street in Tribeca, Gotan is unfortunately not your new boyfriend, but rather a great place for eating, working, and drinking coffee. There’s tons of table space, the scrambled egg biscuit and shakshuka are pretty glorious, and they’re happy to let you hang out here all day. You order at the counter, but a server brings your food to you and clears it, which is a nice touch. Plus, they have cool phone-charging pods at most of the seats now.
Two Hands essentially functions as the second conference room for The Infatuation. That’s partially because it’s around the corner, but this place also has all the boxes crossed off: excellent bowls and toasts, a welcoming vibe, friendly Australians, and coffee that could power a rocket. Lines do get insane on weekends, but during the week, there’s almost always a place to sit.
Bluestone Lane was one of the first coffee shop/cafes in New York to blow up on Instagram, and it did so because the gluten free friendly food is both pretty and pretty damn good, and the room is bright and pleasant. You’ll find other Bluestone Lane locations around town that serve great coffee, but this is the main destination for food. Hit it on a weekday morning for best results.
On a block of Lexington characterized by a fairly sad Just Salad, an off-brand smoothie shop, and a TGI Friday’s, Little Collins is a true diamond in the rough. The really rough. Little Collins is (another) Australian coffee shop serving excellent egg sandwiches and yes, avocado toast, but our favorite is the turkey confit sandwich, which might be the best $10 you can spend in Midtown. Things get hectic at lunchtime, so to-go is probably the move.
Early Coffee in Greenpoint makes truly artful breakfast sandwiches. Whether you go with a Kwa’son (eggs, goat cheese and avocado on croissant) or the BEC (on fluffy brioche) or with something lunch-ier like the Zappie (caramelized onion, mushroom, garlic, fontina, chives, and truffle oil), you’ll be happy with the best creations squished between bread in the neighborhood. It’s a small space, so it’s best for a solo coffee-and-sandwich trip, especially in the warmer months when you can enjoy them on the back patio.
Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and thought, “Hmm, that cookie looks good, but what I really want to eat is an urban-appropriate version of s’mores?” Enter Blank Slate, on 30th and Madison. In addition to great salads and sandwiches, Blank Slate serves a s’mores dip, which involves a lot of marshmallows in a cast iron pan. Things can get busy mid-day, so it’s not the quietest spot, but you can definitely feel free to bring your laptop.
Greecologies is a coffee shop in Nolita that sells $8 yogurt and coffee with butter (it’s a thing). Did we lose you? Sorry. If not, know that Greecologies is actually great. The various seating options (and wifi) are nice, and there’s a pretty stellar garden in the back. That yogurt, by the way? It’s excellent - get it with sour cherries and walnuts.
Another “cute” West Village street, another “cute” coffee shop selling tasty food and assorted “general store” items like candles and artisan soaps. We do often wonder who the people are who buy artisan soaps in coffee shops, but we also think you shouldn’t worry about it too much. Focus on your cappuccino and your market rice bowl. Laptops welcome.