Cafes of Manhattan: From Quiet to Incredible

Cafes of Manhattan: From Quiet to Incredible

The word “café” can be a little confusing, as it has come to describe many different types of eateries around the world.

Its origins can be traced back to 18th century France (according to when it literally meant “coffee.” Café’s meaning has expanded over time to describe everything from coffeeshops, to small bistros, to upscale restaurants.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of café—“a usually small and informal establishment serving various refreshments (such as coffee); broadly: RESTAURANT—falls short of definitively clarifying its definition.

There are many eating establishments in New York City that describe themselves as cafés. Read on to discover a few that are as diverse as the city itself—from savoring “historical” cappuccino in old world charm, to enjoying America’s most expensive cup of coffee, to experiencing a literal “breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Caffee Reggio

For a little history with your coffee, take a step back in time at Caffee Reggio. In the heart of Greenwich Village, this European-style café holds the distinction of serving America’s first cappuccino in the early 1920s.

Along with a full menu of Italian specialties, the décor is rich, warm and full of enough Italian artwork to make you feel like you’re in the Old Country. Caffee Reggio has been a favorite filming location for movies such as Godfather II, Inside Llewyn Davis, Shaft, Serpico, and more.


Buvette, a French café in the West Village, is a delightful spot one critic calls “at once welcoming and elegant.” It’s easy to spot with a cute little bicycle permanently parked outside.

Once inside, you’ll be charmed both by the charming décor, the extensive European wines, the fabulous crusty breads, delicious espresso, and homey French delicacies you would expect such as coq au vin, mussels, steak tartare and more.


The name Epistrophy was chosen as “a nod to great jazz and artful living.” This is a theme lovingly executed at this unpretentious Italian café in Nolita. Serving food inspired by their Sardinian heritage—and prepared with local, organic ingredients—is the labor of love for owners Luca, Georgia and Nico.

The delicious traditional food available throughout the day and evening is paired with unique cocktails (try a “Pimpinella”), and rivaled only by the live Jazz they feature every Sunday.

Dominche Extraction Lab

Although it’s not on the island of Manhattan, Alpha Dominche Extraction Lab is definitely worth a mention here. For those who crave to taste what some might say is the perfect cup of coffee, it’s worth the subway ride over to Brooklyn.

At $18 a cup, proprietor Thomas Perez’s luxury coffee is the most expensive in the United States. Like any fine wine, chocolate, or foie gras, there is a precise harvesting and preparation process necessary to serve the perfect cup of coffee.

At the Extraction Lab, customers get to customize and watch their innovative coffee or tea experience unfold. Every aspect of their beverage is hand-picked from bean origin to roasting method to processing method. Not sure what you want? Opt for a truly unique coffee tasting.


To experience the Japanese-American “kissaten” tradition, Hi-Collar in the East Village fits the bill.  As a “high-tech Japanese coffee bar by day and sake den by night,” customers can enjoy the pleasures of a traditional Japanese tea room, with American coffee beverages, sandwiches, pasta, and lighter lunch items.

The theme is very East meets West, with an organically hi-tech, cool décor. Let the expert baristas guide you to your perfectly-matched brewed beverage. The sake flows in the evening, and the menu switches over to more Japanese tapas fare.

Coffee Project

Deconstructing lattes is Coffee Project‘s specialty in Greenwich Village (close to Tompkins Square Park). In this “memory game for the palate,” customers experience the taste of a latte broken down into its core elements, served in various forms over multiple courses.

This thoroughly inspired and new take on coffee is not to be missed—nor is the other specialty of the house, nitro coffee. Through a process that takes cold brew from a keg mixed with nitrogen, the end result is smooth, creamy and delicious—with zero dairy products. Served in a Pilsner glass, you might think you’re in an Irish Pub sipping a tall glass of Murphy’s with a creamy head.

The Blue Box Café

Everyone remembers that scene from the movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s that inspired its title. Today, Audrey Hepburn would no longer be stuck eating a cruller and sipping a cup of coffee while longingly gazing into the window, thanks to Tiffany & Co. opening their Blue Box Café.

With their own signature style and elegance, Tiffany reimagines American classic cuisine in this sophisticated café located on their 4th floor. Featuring a rotating menu based on regionally sourced ingredients, the menu is creative, chic, and so 5th Avenue.

A Café To Satisfy Every Definition

From cozy to chic, old-fashioned to hi-tech, Manhattan’s cafés are defined only by each proprietor’s creativity and talent. What’s in a name, anyway?

Look for next week’s blog, “Yoga and Meditation Studios: Where to Get Away.”