Tag Archives: Manhattan

Irving Farms Coffee Roasters

Now that finals are upon us, I decided to try a coffee shop closer to campus so that I wouldn’t spend too much time away from my work. I wish I had known ahead of time that Irving Farms’ location on W. 79th St is the perfect place to study. The second I walked in, I noticed the comforting and trendy atmosphere as well as the multitude of tables. Unlike most coffee shops in Manhattan, which are extremely cramped, Irving Farms’ location on the Upper West Side is massive. This location has both a front room and a back room, each of which are larger than most New York coffee shops. Though it was quite crowded, I was still able to find a table because the shop was so large. I encountered numerous students who definitely had made Irving Farms their frequent coffee shop because they had come prepared with all of their studying materials.

The display case
The display case

In addition to the multitude of coffee options available, there is also a menu for those looking to have a meal while enjoying their coffee. I decided to take advantage of both. I ordered a medium vanilla latte and a caprese sandwich with Narragansett fresh mozzarella, slow- roasted tomatoes, and homemade seasonal pesto on a ciabatta. My latte was probably the best latte I have had in a long time. The sandwich was also delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary. Though both my latte and sandwich tasted delicious, honestly, they did not compliment each other. I still enjoyed both, but I would have enjoyed them more if I had tried each separately.

Medium vanilla latte
Medium vanilla latte
Caprese sandwich
Caprese sandwich

I definitely plan on going back to Irving Farms and next time, I will be sure to bring studying materials with me. It is definitely the perfect place to study during exams if you are looking for a calming atmosphere that isn’t too crowded (the exact opposite of Butler). I also look forward to trying another one of their many other locations in Manhattan. I would recommend this coffee shop to anyone looking for good coffee and/or food as well as students looking for a nice spot to study.

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Culture With a Side of Espresso

Nestled in the heart of the Garment District is an adorable little coffee shop that goes by the name of Culture Espresso. I would argue that the culture itself comes from the artistry in the coffee being served along with the decor.

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This picture does not do the coffee shop justice. Inside, it felt like a little oasis in the middle of Manhattan, somehow away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. While I sat looking out the window drinking my coffee, I felt, for just a little while, that I was no longer a part of the stressful and fast paced world of New York. Sitting looking out the window, I was just an onlooker, not a participant. Finally I had a break.

Vanilla latte
Vanilla latte

I decided to be boring this time around and order my usual drink, but there was something slightly different about this vanilla latte compared to most. The vanilla syrup that Culture Espresso uses is homemade, along with their maple syrup. I wish I could say that I tasted a difference between their homemade syrup and any run of the mill syrup that most coffee shops use, but I could not.

My latte definitely looked like a one of a kind masterpiece, but it did not taste like one. The espresso in my latte was very flavorful, but it was overshadowed by the amount of milk that was added to it. I honestly tasted the milk more than I tasted the espresso, which was very upsetting, especially considering I am not a big fan of milk to begin with.

Chocolate chip cookie
Chocolate chip cookie

I also ordered a chocolate chip cookie with my latte. I was hoping it would taste better than it looked, but sadly it did not overall. The cookie was very hard and crunchy, which is not something I ever want in a chocolate chip cookie. One redeeming factor was that the chocolate chips were melted inside the cookie, giving it a molten center, similar to that of a chocolate lava cake (my favorite dessert).

Ultimately, I would not recommend this coffee shop from my experience, but it does have excellent reviews, which make me want to give it another try at some point.

97th Street Greenmarket

Location: 97th Street

Travel Time from Columbia: 13 min

Directions from Columbia

Hours: Fridays- 8am to 2pm

Produce Quality: 4.75/5

Prices: 4/5

The 97th Street Greenmarket is not only a convenient subway trip away, but also it has a good collection of fresh fruits and veggies. Like most markets, the Greenmarket consists of a patchwork of smaller stalls where it’s easy to find a variety of regional produce, parts of which change with the growing seasons. Because the haze of Fall has descended for the moment, many of the stalls currently boast gourds, pumpkins, and at least thirty varieties of squash.

Beyond vegetables, there are also stalls devoted to seafood, where long, fine cuts of bass, salmon and other nautical creatures cool on ice. When I went, I didn’t spot any stalls with a similar set up for meat, but I will check again when I return (and return I will). The market also has several stalls with prettily, and sometimes not so prettily, wrapped baked goods and a new, interesting addition—a stall that sells only different types of mushrooms. There is something absolutely fascinating in seeing contrasting varieties laid out together, as any Biology majors would probably say.

Overall, the market is pleasant, but it has the highly curated feel of a market that aims to serve as a pretty compliment to regular store bought produce without usurping it. There were also few items that were interesting or experimental enough to hold my attention—except for the mushrooms—and if I was looking to branch out my palate, I probably wouldn’t find any particularly exciting ingredients here. It’s unequivocally “nice,” in a cookie cutter village way, but it lacks any kind of serendipitous “NYC edginess”.  Anna Wintour would not buy squash here, but your mom’s friends would.

Absolutely come if you…

…want your shopping experience to have that small town, neighborhood feel with the added anonymity of not being directly near Columbia

…are looking for good quality seafood that you might look at but probably won’t buy because one of your suite-mates is allergic to shellfish

…are trying to expand your curated Instagram collection of pictures of gourds by a massive amount

…need an excuse for a fast, fun trip downtown while listening Vanessa Carlton’s forever iconic “A Thousand Miles”

…have never gotten off at 96th Street despite always transferring trains there and want to convince your mom you’re still “exploring New York City”

…miss your grandmother’s tart, flaky baked goods as much as your grandmother herself

Squash and other Fall favorites for sale.
A view of the GrowNYC booth where help is available for those on food stamps to access fresh market produce.
A view of the market stalls stretching down 97th street.

Tiny Treats with a Big Heart

As soon as I stepped into Georgia and Aliou’s Tiny Treats Café, I sensed an immediate difference from every other bakery I have visited in New York City. This bakery truly felt like a local neighborhood spot, with regulars entering in a steady stream, their names and orders already known by the staff. One woman confided in me before she left, “This is the only place I go to buy my bread. I don’t go anywhere else.” This approval from a dedicated customer only intensified my excitement to sample from Tiny Treats’ wide selection of items. The display case was packed full with an arrangement of gorgeous floral cupcakes, French pastries, whimsical smiley face cake pops, breads, and so much more.

One view of the display case
One view of the display case

When I first entered, I was immediately drawn to a brioche cinnamon roll, generously topped with icing. Choosing to pair the pastry with a latte, I sat at a table by the window, observing both the passers-by outside and the constant flow of entering customers. The cinnamon roll had just the right amount of cinnamon filling without being overly sweet (though I didn’t like it as much compared to the other items I bought later). I normally add a fair amount of cream and sugar to my coffees, but this latte only needed one sugar packet for me to find it delicious.

My first orders: cinnamon roll and latte
My first orders: cinnamon roll and latte

The eating area was a cozy space with warm red walls and small tables, but with added touches of elegance, like a chandelier and gilded frames.  The atmosphere is best suited for an intimate breakfast/lunch date (due to the majority of two-person tables) or some alone time, a chance to catch up on reading emails or just relax.

All in the details
All in the details

After realizing I just couldn’t leave without trying one of the delicate and detailed desserts, I selected the Dacquoise, without really knowing what it was. I just knew that anything chocolate topped with toasted almonds was bound to be good, but my expectations were immediately surpassed after I took my first bite. The inside was filled with almond meringue and mocha buttercream, dotted with whole almonds, giving the pastry a different taste with every bite.

La Dacquoise
La Dacquoise

Yet again, I realized that it was now lunch time, and I couldn’t leave without selecting something from their additional menu of sandwiches and lunch dishes. For the low price of $7, I bought a quichette, filled with turkey, bacon, onions, and mozzarella, which came with a side salad. Though it looked small initially, the quichette turned out to be very filling, the perfect accompaniment to a day of resume editing.

Quiche, side salad, and olive oil dressing
Quiche, side salad, and olive oil dressing

Though Tiny Treats Café might not technically be in my neighborhood, I know that I will definitely be returning in the future, in the hopes of one day becoming a regular customer with a weekly bread order.

Toby’s Estate: Flatiron Espresso Bar

Just down the street from the Flatiron Building (Fifth Avenue between 20th and 21st St) is a tiny coffee shop nestled in between two clothing stores, Club Monaco and the Loft. Before walking inside, you would never guess that the two clothing stores were actually part of Toby’s Estate itself. Although the espresso bar is extremely tiny, it is a very open space because, in addition to the two clothing stores, it is also connected to a Strand Bookstore/Club Monaco partnership. What better than a chance to read and shop for books while enjoying your morning (or afternoon or nighttime) coffee?

The open doorway leads to first the Strand Bookstore and then the two clothing stores
The open doorway leads to the Strand Bookstore first and then to the two clothing stores
The Strand Bookstore connected to the espresso bar
The Strand Bookstore connected to the espresso bar (it also had a little flower shop)

When it was time for me to order, I figured I should try their version of my usual order but was surprised when I couldn’t find it. I am normally very boring when it comes to my coffee order and almost always get a vanilla latte. This time around, I was forced to try something new (definitely a good thing in this case). I asked the cashier for his recommendation and he suggested their maple sage latte; it sounded good so I figured, why not?

Medium maple sage latte
Medium maple sage latte

Although I was upset to see that the medium latte I had just paid $4.50 for was so tiny, I was pleasantly surprised by both the presentation (isn’t it pretty?) and also the flavor of the latte. It was probably one of the best lattes I have ever had due to the quality of the espresso itself and the maple sage flavoring. This flavor seemed to enhance the very taste of the espresso, making it the perfect choice.

Considering I went to the espresso bar around four o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday, it was surprisingly busy, unlike the Starbucks around the corner. As a result, I would say that this is a favorite spot for many and now also me. I will definitely be coming back to have another maple sage latte or maybe something new again.

For those who don’t normally venture down to this area of Manhattan, Toby’s Estate actually has three other locations, each of which are very diversified but of course all share the same amazing quality. They have one location in Brooklyn, and the other two are in Manhattan: Midtown East and the West Village. None of the other locations are connected to bookstores, which definitely sets this location apart from the rest.

Fort Washington Greenmarket

Location: 175th and Broadway

Directions from Columbia

Travel Time from Columbia: 20 min

Hours: Tuesdays- 8am to 4pm, June through November 22nd

Produce Quality: 4.5/5

Prices: 6/5

The Fort Washington Greenmarket is a good option for the local foodie interested in moving a little off of the beaten path. This isn’t a farmers market to visit for your first farmers market, but if you know what you’re looking for and come with a shopping list and some basic Spanish in hand, you can find organic, locally grown produce fresher than a lot of the more upscale, downtown markets at much more student-friendly prices.

For those of you who are already preparing to skip to the bottom of this article because you’re put off by the location, please reconsider. The market is far closer than most other options and is actually only blocks from the Columbia University Medical Center. The trip is a 13 minute subway ride on the 1 followed by an 8 minute walk down the thriving center of Broadway where you can pick up supplemental produce from street vendors.

The market itself is a bright mix of food and clothing stalls hawking paisley shirts, thick knitwear and long scarves for the coming chilly weather, and there is an energetic atmosphere that probably stems from it not being a weekend market. Among the food stalls, there are noticeable absences of the customary honey and bakery stalls and there isn’t a drum circle in sight. Instead, the produce is laid out efficiently, vegetables as well as unidentifiable roots, berries, and fruits. If you cook using unusual ingredients and are wondering where to find them, many of them are hidden here among larger crates of the customary apples and oranges. Some of the fruit does have scarring or small blemishes, but it’s not noticeably different from the offerings in our local Morton Williams. After some sight seeing, I walked away pleased with a grocery bag of pomegranates and avocados that I will leave to slowly ripe.

Absolutely come if you…

. . . are interested in great food, great prices and a convenient location

. . . don’t like having your morning ruined  by a vaguely cult-like drum circle in the midst of your market

. . . are searching for the perfect persimmon

. . . listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights without ever having been to Washington Heights

. . . are considering expanding your scarf collection

Huge avocados for $1.50, ten cent limes, and a bustling morning in NYC.
The market stalls from a distance. Notice that about half the market is conveniently devoted to stalls selling pashmina and silk scarves.
My haul for today: two avocados and three beautiful pomegranates for when the weather gets colder. Total: $6

The Cinnamon Snail: Vegan Food on Wheels

For my last blog post of the semester, I decided to try something a little different, and the Cinnamon Snail is definitely something out of the ordinary. The Cinnamon Snail is known for having vegan food trucks scattered throughout New York and New Jersey, but recently they opened a location in the Pennsy, a new food hall above Penn Station on the corner of 33rd street and 7th avenue. The food hall has numerous other options other than the Cinnamon Snail (and all of them looked great).

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Although their menu is limited, their food is truly spectacular. You will not regret visiting either their location at the Pennsy or one of their food trucks. I decided to order the Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich, which was made with roasted garlic aioli, marinated kale, tomato, onion, and of course, tempeh. They were very liberal with their use of garlic aioli along with all of the other ingredients used. The garlic aioli was delicious and tasted great with the maple marinated tempeh. This sandwich was filled to capacity and as a result, I left completely stuffed. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed this sandwich. All I can really say is that you must try this for yourself because you will not be disappointed!

Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich
Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich

Even though I was completely stuffed, I couldn’t resist trying their Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie because I could already tell from their display that it would taste good, but I didn’t realize just how good it would taste. It was probably one of the best brownies that I have ever had because the chocolate was very rich in flavor and the peanut butter cheesecake layer in the middle was utter perfection, especially with the contrast of the chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie

I’m so glad I got a chance to try the Cinnamon Snail because it is probably one of my favorite places I have tried thus far. There really is nothing quite like it in all of Manhattan. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a quick bite in a casual atmosphere (and of course great vegan food).

Village Natural: A Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant

When I walked into Village Natural, I was welcomed by a surprisingly casual and homey atmosphere, the type of atmosphere that is hard to find at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. Village Natural encompassed everything I was looking for into one: vegan and vegetarian food, a homey atmosphere, a short wait time, and excellent food! The restaurant is located at 46 Greenwich Avenue in the West Village.

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When I sat down and got handed the menu, I realized I was going to have a problem; there were so many options that all sounded amazing. After spending a lot of time going through the menu, I decided to get the Breathe Classic Smoothie and the Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana, which also came with a salad. The smoothie was vegan and was made with strawberries, bananas, and orange juice. I could not tell that it wasn’t made with diary!

Breathe Classic Smoothie
Breathe Classic Smoothie

Almost immediately after ordering, my salad arrived. I was very hungry when I arrived at the restaurant, so I was very happy to get my salad right away! The salad was the perfect size and tasted great with their homemade tahini sauce.

Salad
Salad

Right after finishing my salad, my entrée arrived, and I knew just from the smell that it would taste amazing. I ordered the Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana with cheese, but it is also available without diary cheese to make it vegan. My entrée came with pasta as well as broccoli, leaving me with a lot of food to take back with me! The Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana itself tasted very similar to chicken. One of my favorite meals before becoming a vegetarian was chicken parmigiana and if I wasn’t at a vegetarian restaurant, I would have thought that I was eating chicken.

Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana
Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana

I will definitely be going back to Village Natural sometime very soon. So far, this is one of my favorite restaurants I have been to in Manhattan and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for good food, even if they aren’t vegetarian or vegan.

Rockin’ Raw: Vegan Peruvian Creole Food

One of the things that I definitely take for granted since moving to the city is the opportunity to try so many different vegan restaurants. Even though all vegan restaurants only serve vegan food, they are all very different. On my most recent adventure to find a vegan restaurant, I stumbled upon Rockin’ Raw located at 171 Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village, which serves Peruvian Creole food that is both vegan and gluten free.

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Being that it is close to Washington Square Park, it is a great place to get takeout and eat in the park, now that it has gotten warmer outside. Although I would definitely recommend eating in the restaurant as well, because it is very nice and cozy inside. It is small though, so it definitely will get crowded.

I decided to try the lasagna and I also got a chocolate shake to go with it. For their shakes, you have the choice of either almond milk or coconut milk. I decided to try it with coconut milk. The taste of the coconut milk was very obvious in the shake, but it definitely gave it a unique flavor, and actually made it even sweeter. I would guess that with the almond milk, a customer probably couldn’t detect that diary milk wasn’t used. Ultimately, the shake was very good and definitely satisfied my chocolate craving. I would definitely recommend trying it!

Chocolate Shake
Chocolate Shake

The lasagna I had was excellent because it tasted amazing and also the portion size was quite big. I’m not sure how, but it definitely tasted like there was meat in the lasagna, which made it much better than most vegan lasagnas you will find at other vegan restaurants. The lasagna was made with layers and layers of zucchini, mushrooms, red bell peppers, marinara sauce, and sunflower ricotta cheese.

Lasagna
Lasagna

Before going to Rockin’ Raw I had pretty high expectations, but the meal I had was even better than what I expected it would be. I highly recommend trying Rockin’ Raw; you will not be disappointed!

Mouthwatering Vegan Cuisine, Made Possible at by CHLOE.

As I walked into by CHLOE. after having stood in a line out the door and down the street, I smelled something extraordinary. It didn’t smell like food that could be made in a vegan restaurant, it smelled too good, too flavorful, and definitely not something that could be vegan. I figured, perhaps the food just smelled good and didn’t actually taste quite as good as it smelled, because that couldn’t be possible. It turned out, I was very wrong; there was a long line for a reason. And might I add, the line moved very quickly and it only took a matter of minutes for my food to be made.

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The restaurant is basically a vegan fast food place, but the decor would suggest otherwise. While a customer does order and pay at the counter, the rest of the restaurant has the feel of a casual sit-down restaurant, making it the best of both worlds. It is located at 185 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, which is a little bit of a trek from Morningside Heights, but it is definitely worth it.

I ordered the Pesto Meatball Sandwich, which was so flavorful, and the vegan meatballs actually tasted like real meatballs. The combination of the pesto and the vegan meatballs, along with the marinara sauce and the various other ingredients had such an amazing and unique taste. I had never tasted anything quite like that before, but now that I have, I know I will be craving it very soon.

Pesto Meatball Sandwich
Pesto Meatball Sandwich

Out of all of the vegan restaurants that I have tried in Manhattan thus far, this is by far my favorite. Not only is the food spectacular, but all of their food is very inexpensive. Whether or not you are a vegan, by CHLOE. should be at the top of your list for restaurants that you want to try.