My Favorite New York City Cafés for Writing & Working
full disclosure: i have yet to find . . . the one.
the holy grail of new york city writing cafés.
the place with the wi-fi and the cute wallpaper and the pastries and the outlets as far as they eye can see and the not-blaring indie soundtrack.
it eludes me. always has. quite possibly always will.
“but i know just the place, rebekah!” you might be thinking excitedly. “it’s down the block and to the left.”
riddle me this, internet person: does your so-called “perfect writing café” really fulfill every aspect of the trifecta of perfect writing cafés? does it have (1) an acceptable noise level, (2) high-speed wi-fi and outlets, and (3) delicious food and drink? not to mention the bonus fourth element of general cuteness and/or delicate-looking french people wearing turtlenecks?
because, sure, it might boast one of these things. or even two. in fact, odds are it does. (a café, after all, typically has to have at least one of these items ticked off in order to be considered a café.)
but the true trifecta — that holier-than-holy intersection of chai lattes and verizon fios and silence — remains but an impossible mystery.
so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the just kidding. what we do is, we simply go to a very-nearly-perfect café and we deal.
i’ve compiled my favorites below.
1. gotan tribeca
if you’re hoping to write the next great american novel, gotan miiiight not be the place for you. by which i mean that it’s not exactly the sistine chapel. by which i mean that it’s just fine. and even sort of lovely! it’s just, you know, a bustling, normal café with normal café sights and normal café sounds.
for less serious writing pursuits, though . . . and as far as the trifecta is concerned . . . gotan’s a winner. really good food, fast wi-fi, and an almost-obnoxious outlet-to-customer ratio.
*cue hallelujah chorus.*
also, for what it’s worth, this place always plays the best music (albeit loudly). and it’s laptop central, which means you’ll at least be in good company as you type out that mediocre novel of yours.
p.s. get the tuna salad with the poached egg and never look back.
maman is distressingly, painfully adorable. i’m talking floral blue wallpaper, a logo so hip it’s barely legible, pastries fit for american girl dolls, honey lavender this, crimsonberry that, the whole shebang.
i love it.
there are a bunch of locations in manhattan, and (apparently) a few in brooklyn, too. i’ve really only spent time in the tribeca, nomad, and soho locations, though. between the three of them, i’d say your best bet is to head to tribeca or nomad.
unfortunately, there are, like, a total of 3 outlets at the tribeca one. but, see, you didn’t come to maman for the outlets, did you? you came to maman for the experience. the ambiance.
at least, that’s what you can tell yourself when your macbook dies and you’re left crying into your crimsonberry flat white.
that elusive trifecta, man. what’d i tell ya?
3. new york public library for the performing arts
the lincoln center library (aka the new york public library for the performing arts, if you want to be official about it) is pretty perfect. really. it’s very, very quiet — because, you know, it’s a library. and you’re surrounded by the ghosts of ballet’s best. broadway’s best. what could be more inspiring? you’re mere minutes from the opera. from the landmark lincoln center fountain. from yellow taxis whizzing by and the whoosh-whoosh of the upper west side and the practice rooms of juilliard. and within the library, there’s always some sort of fun, performance-centric exhibit to go stare at, should you require a writing break.
(let it be known that lincoln center happens to be my favorite place on the planet times twelve, so . . . you might wanna take my opinion with a grain of salt.)
(let it also be known i may be experiencing my first bout of homesickness as i write this post.)
(lincoln center is really amazing.)
there’s just one problem with this spot, especially if you intend to partake in an all-day writing spree: you can’t bring outside food or drink. it’s strictly forbidden. which, for the record, totally makes sense to me, since this place is home to every great recording of every great performance ever and is also just a sanctuary of perfection.
there is a lovely library café downstairs where you can purchase all things amy’s bread. but you have to eat them there, down at the café.
4. devocion williamsburg
In all honesty, this place is probably a little too hip for me. don’t get me wrong: it’s gorgeous beyond gorgeous and it’s a tried-and-tested fave. that’s why it’s on the very-nearly-perfect café list! i just don’t drink coffee, so i’m not sure i’m the right demographic for a place that prides itself on being the only farm-to-table coffee roaster in the world. apparently these guys work with farmers to FedEx coffee beans overnight.
is that not the hippest thing you ever heard of.
if you’re a coffee aficionado, though, you’ll probably love that. you coffee people, you. and it’s also just a beautiful space complete with a lush vertical garden and an enormous skylight. many outlets, Wi-Fi . . . all things even us uncaffeinated noobs can appreciate.
5. caprices by sophie
imagine sitting down to write in a gorgeous outdoor garden . . . with a plate of cream puffs by your side. right in the heart of new york. okay, the heart of brooklyn. but. just. imagine.
because that’s caprices by sophie in a nutshell.
it’s a seriously cute spot. yes, you’ll have to make your way to brooklyn (assuming you don’t already live there), but you’ll be rewarded with the closest thing to the trifecta on this list. besides having the world’s most delightful name, caprices serves equally delightful baked goods including “merveilleux” (a very delicious, very airy, meringue pastry) and, yes, lots of cream puff varieties. it is delightful. there are also more than enough outlets to go around, so you can charge up inside and then go sit in the garden out back, where it’s practically silent.
have any other places to add to this list? leave me a comment or DM me over on instagram! in the meantime...happy friday & happy writing! xx