West Village

(A little food tour) It’s a beautiful thing to come to New York City for Christmas, but there is just so much Rockefeller Center and Saks Fifth that a person can take on. The first four years that I lived in New York City I got the shakes if I went more than 4 blocks above 14th street. I like downtown. It’s lower, it’s calmer, and there is plenty of snacks. Take the 4, 5 or 6 train to Union Square. As soon as you get out, there is a fantastic open market full of stuff for shoppers set up for the holidays that you could shop for days in if you are into that kind of thing. I go right for the food. Get yourself onto 13th street and head West. The` Adore`has beautiful little pastries, sandwiches, a wide tea selection and an espresso machine with a little loft upstairs that looks out onto the street. Further down on the right you have Joe, the art of coffee–very west coast, very serious looking coffee clientel and darn good looking bagels. Plenty of whole milk, but soy as well, and as those vegans are always craving sugar, they have a mean vegan gingersnap and espresso bean caramels. A must if you like climbing up a three foot ladder to sit in your own little coffee cubbyhole.

If you need some of the most beautiful wrapping in the city, make a stop at Kate’s Pappier. I don’t know how to spell it, but the paper is gorgeous.

Take a break like a true New Yorker and watch a movie at the Quad Cinema, also on 13th street, and when you come out, keep walking towards 6th Avenue and make a quick left to Murray’s Bagels. The best. I know I might be running into the possibility of “PENALTY, OVERSHARING!!”, but after I gave birth to Ferdinand, Jonathan went to Murray’s to get me a sesame bagel with cream cheese and a freshly squeezed orange juice–best breakfast I ever had.

Keep walking West on 13th until you get to 7th Avenue, and make a right to get to 14th. On the corner is Papaya King with a lot of counter to lean on and a very New York hot dog and papaya drink for under 5 bucks. I can’t say it’s top quality, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do for the experience.
West of 7th Avenue and on the north side of 14th, is my favorite donut shop, called the Donut Pub. Quintesssential (can’t spell that either) black and white cookies and fantastic donuts. Keep walking west on 14th. When you get to 8th Avenue, between 14th and 15th Streets, you will see Taza d’oro. Excellent Puerto Rican Cafe con leche. Pulled me through a lot of 3 am-to-work mornings when I was cooking like  crazy in the meat packing district. The oatmeal is pretty good there as well, and the beans and rice are a deal.

Forget Balducci’s across the street. It’s ridiculous. Or go in, see how ridiculous it is for yourself, and then walk out. I think a quart of milk was $15.99. For fancy food markets, you are better off going to Jefferson Market on 6th Avenue or even Dean and Deluca, also on 6th Avenue (both around 10th street) which are expensive, but at least Jefferson is very neighborhoody and D&D has stuff you might not see anywhere else. Chelsea Market is close by at 9th Avenue and 15th street with all the ingredients prepared or raw that you could possibly need for a party.
Start walking south on 8th Avenue. S’nice is very nice at West 4th. I like it. There is a big table in the front window where about 8 friends or strangers could sit together, and window in the back that looks out onto colorful graffiti. If you are feeling private, sit at your own table and order from the early 80’s blackboard chock full of sandwiches (“Sesame chicken wrap”, “Leftover Thanksgiving”) or a big, heavy baked item like a cupcake. They were playing my favorite Michael Jackson tune, which is a necessary to wiggle to every 20 years without having to own the album. Across the street is Chocolate Bar. Good hot cocoa, but be ready to pay for it. Also everything else chocolate.

Keep walking South on West 4th. Just keep going all the way to 6th Avenue for the experience. It’s a classic Village Street. Nice place called Corner Bistro on Jane and 4th for a dark bar and a beer and a juicy burger. Then back track a bit West onto Cornelia–cute cafe’s–onto Bleeker for Murray’s Cheese and a couple of other chi chi food bites, or for my favorite, cross 6th Avenue on West 4th, heading East, staying on West 4th until you are about halfway across the park. You will see a cart that says N.Y. Dosa–the winner of the FAYEFOOD award for everything. Best food, best price, best service and best really nice guy making them who gives you a little of that “life is worth living” kind of smile with your dosa.

It is a beautiful, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside dosa (very much like a crepe), stuffed with a to order level of spiciness potato filling, and alongside a coconut sauce side and a tiny cup of vegetable/lentil kind of dahl, but more like a soup. All for 5 dollars. It doesn’t come better.

Have fun!

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