Hole in the Wall Cafe
If you have a dog, then you and your pet can plop down on the casual outdoor seating at Hole in the Wall Cafe. Inside, the restaurant decor is shabby-chic, with exposed Edison bulbs, a neon sign welcoming guests with “Hello Gorgeous,” abstract framed photos and pothos plants dangling from a peg board. The venue serves favorites including avocado toast, a pulled pork Benedict, chili scrambled eggs and whipped waffles with salted caramel.
BTW: If you go for breakfast on the weekends, try to arrive before 9:30 a.m., as the neighborhood starts to wake up around then and tables can book up fast.
Hole in the Wall Cafe, 15 Cliff St. New York, N.Y. 10038
A casual, music-themed spot with old trombones and record players mounted on the walls, this Morningside Heights venue serves brunch on the weekends with fun items like huevos pizza and waffles with Nutella and vanilla ice cream. On a sunny day, the entire restaurant storefront is open and you can catch a breeze and people watch. Much of the staff is from Italy, and you may hear your waiter’s accent.
BTW: To burn off some of those calories, take a stroll around the corner to the 30-acre Morningside Park, which has craggy rock outcroppings thought to be around 30 million years old.
Bar 314, 1260 Amsterdam Ave. New York, N.Y. 10027
Bourke Street Bakery
Jessica Grynberg opened Bourke Street Bakery to bring a fusion of cuisines into a warmly lit 50-seat venue. Grynberg was inspired by the multiculturalism of the people from her hometown of Sydney, and because of the diversity in the menu, you’ll often see locals in line outside waiting to take away items like lox sandwiches, fennel-infused pork shoulder sandwiches and fattoush salads. If you return for the after-4 p.m. menu, you’ll find natural wines.
BTW: A couple of blocks away, the Ace Hotel is a great spot to sip a coffee in the design-focused lobby, popular with locals getting things done on their laptops or catching up after work.
Bourke Street Bakery, 15 E. 28th St. New York, N.Y. 10016
Find this standing-room-only corner storefront for a cheap slice of pizza ($3-$5) but with higher-end ingredients than the usual New York pizza joint. The place is owned by Noam Grossman, who partnered with Eli and Oren Halali, the guys behind the 2 Bros. Pizza chain known for its $1 slices around New York. The organic ingredients include sourdough wild yeast starter and mozzarella stretched from curd every day.
BTW: There is always one seasonally rotating pie.
Upside Pizza, 598 Eighth Ave. New York, N.Y. 10018
Ed’s Lobster Bar
A 35-foot-long bar takes up most of the New England-style oyster bar, with a few seats in the back of the narrow, railroad-style restaurant. The decor is mostly white brick and white walls, evoking a seaside restaurant rather than a city joint. The long, communal bar invites conversation between locals and owner Ed McFarland, who is usually behind the bar overseeing the oyster-shucking and lobster-roll-making, while fish plates come from the kitchen.
BTW: The staff share responsibilities in bartending, serving food and playing host. Make eye contact with someone behind the bar so that you get seated quickly.
Ed’s Lobster Bar, 222 Lafayette St., New York N.Y. 10012
Located on the ground floor of an apartment building in Sugar Hill, you can eat and drink Ethiopian food and beer inside the cozy restaurant or in the little backyard. Pick from dishes that longtime Harlem residents love, like doro wat, mushroom tibs, and the smoked salmon and avocado salad. Be sure to try the injera, a flatbread commonly served with Ethiopian dishes, and tej, an Ethiopian honey wine that is popular at North African weddings.
BTW: A few doors down, visit the Harlem Natural Hair Salon on the second floor of a brownstone. It specializes in locs, twists and blowouts in a historical architectural setting.
Tsion Cafe, 763 St. Nicholas Ave. New York, N.Y. 10031
Dublin House is a classic dive bar. The Irish-owned Dublin House was a popular spot frequented by sailors docking at the 79th Street Boat Basin in the 1930s. Now, it’s a hangout for Upper West Side residents. It attracts those looking for cheap drinks, like the Dublin House ale or a standard selection of beers from Coors to Bud Light. Catching an NFL game here is a normal occurrence, as are the bros playing darts.
BTW: If the bar looks familiar, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” filmed scenes here for its period setting.
Dublin House, 225 W. 79th St. New York, N.Y. 10024
In the Radio Wave Building, where Nikola Tesla lived and did experiments, there is now a coffee shop. At night, a hidden door disguised as a large menu opens into a hallway lit by candles to reveal a speakeasy. Seating is first come, first served in the Tesla-themed bar, where you sip cocktails called “The ’Twain,” “Light Me Up” and “Hit By a Taxi.” There is even a taxidermy pigeon hanging from the ceiling; Tesla had an obsession with the bird.
BTW: Seating is limited and reservations are not accepted, so your best strategy is to go with a small group or on a date.
Patent Pending, 49 W. 27th St. New York, N.Y. 10001