It takes a long time to really get to know a city. With one as transient as New York, a person will find themselves in a constant state of catch-up. However, there are shortcuts. To really get to the crux of a place, a person can experience what holds it together firsthand. And what’s a better way to get to know a city if not through the fundamental bone of its cultural vertebrae? In a city that never sleeps, one needs coffee to stay alive. America runs on Dunkin, New York City runs on fair trade brew with organic hemp milk. It’s as simple as that!
I love coffee. I don’t really need it, but I love the extra jolt it adds to my day. I’m unfussy and settle for whatever is nearby, even the corner bodega, for my daily sustenance. It wasn’t until my friend Sarah, hailing from Ireland and meeting me in Tokyo 4 years ago, moved to the big apple last year that my appreciation for a fine cup of coffee was imbued.
Sarah is an avid coffee drinker. The way one pores over unique, craft beers or waxes poetically over the robustness of wine, Sarah appreciates finely brewed and thoughtfully made cups of coffee. Her mission is simple, and that is to try each and every spot in New York that adds the character and charm to its cultural landscape that every Starbucks negates. She picked me up along the way and every week when we meet up to chat and relax, its pretty much a guarantee we are in a special coffee joint.
Last week’s location was Union Square’s very own City Bakery. It was a hot, steamy weekday, but a day can’t be warm enough to steer either of us away from a hot cupper. Established in 1990, this delectable little spot was one of the first to feature organic, local ingredients in their seasonal food and beverages. While their lunch counter, chocolate shop, and of course, incredible coffee has kept the place open for 25 years, it’s their pretzel croissant that has cemented The City Bakery’s status as a Manhattan staple. The New Yorker has a riveting little short that shows the process of creating these delicate puffs that left me mesmerized and craving a fresh croissant from my bed at 10 pm last night. I recommend you watch this video from your phone outside of The City Bakery tomorrow morning so as to not torture yourself.
Sarah enjoyed a hot cafe Americano with steamed milk while I slurped down a foamy cappuccino. From their seasonal cafeteria style food bar, I indulged in the summer wax beans with rosemary and mint. I was even lucky enough to receive a sample portion of the satisfyingly rich hot chocolate! Enjoy your fare from anywhere in this spacious, bi-level haven of goodness and experience a true taste of New York, you cultural connoisseur you.
The City Bakery is at 3 west 18th Street in the Flatiron District and open every day.