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, many (but not all) of which, indeed, are run by Australians. Is there a special visa for good-looking Australian coffee shop owners in New York? Someone look into this, please.
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.
There's coffee, there's toast, there are acai bowls, and there are matcha lattes (if you're a person who really likes Instagramming their food). Chalait is a matche latte specialist, but their food, rather than their $5 cups of green foam (no hate), are what we come for. In addition to the requisite avocado toast, Chalait has a miso-butter egg toast and a "muesli toast" that's topped with yogurt and granola, as well as some great sandwiches. Seating here is mostly bar-style, so we like it for a solo lunch excursion.
Maman feels sort of like a cross between a French bakery, a bed & breakfast upstate, and a "small town cafe" they would frequent on a 90s sitcom. During the week, they serve a selection of salads and sandwiches (and very good cookies) up front, while they serve a sit-down brunch on weekends. The wifi situation isn't reliable, but this is a great place to meet for coffee and a light meal. Or to write a novel by hand, or something.
Two Hands164 Mott St
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.
Gotan130 Franklin St
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.
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.
The Queens Kickshaw40-17 Broadway
If you spend time in Astoria, Queens Kickshaw is the place you want to post up. Largely because they have a whole menu of grilled cheeses. At night, they do a full dinner menu, but you're welcome to spend the day here drinking coffee and using the free wifi.
Little Collins667 Lexington Ave.
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.
Did you really think Williamsburg wasn't going to get its own avocado and granola-happy Australian cafe? One that also doubles as a graphic design studio? For all intents and purposes, Sweatshop is basically Two Hands East, that can also help you figure out your "brand strategy" and "digital identity." Kind of ingenious, actually.