the quaint neighbourhood of little australia.. i mean, the west village..
Hudson River to 6th Avenue to West 14th Street to West Houston | MAP IT
Otherwise known as ‘Little Australia’, (actually, it's not, I just call it that because literally every Australian I know that lives in New York lives here!), the West Village is an intimate and diverse neighbourhood that certainly doesn’t disappoint on the cafe culture. A boho vibe with designer stores and leafy cobblestone streets, this area of NYC is quite irresistible and a great spot for lazy brunches, indulgent lunches or mid-week dinner and drinks.
If it's shopping you're after, the village has got you covered on that too. Hit Bleeker Street for the likes of INTERMIX, JAMES PERSE and RAG AND BONE or say hi to my friend Sunni at her summer-all-year-round store, APRÈS SEA, looking out for the super fun POOLSIDE BAGS while you're there, also made by a friend of mine!
One thing you must do while in this hood is indulge in a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery, it's a NYC institution. I'm a chocolate on chocolate girl myself. I’m also one of those people that eats the entire thing before I even leave the store… and then complain the entire way home that I feel sick and shouldn’t have eaten it (insert shrugging emoji here). haha. Enjoy!
BLUESTONE LANE- greenwich and carmine
Let’s be honest, a good flat white can be difficult to come across when you’re an Australian abroad. But this little gem of a café (one of many around the city) brings the best of Australian coffee to New York and is giving Starbucks a good run for their money. Grab a side of avo toast, indulge in the Bondi-esque interiors and just for a moment transport yourself back into that laid back Aussie vibe that we all love.
Dedicated to the art and enjoyment of good food and design, this cosy bistro-come-bar brings a touch bit of Paris to the little West Village. Part of its charm is the ability to walk in at any hour of the day and be welcomed with a different atmosphere – a long brunch in the sunshine or a late night cocktail surrounded by bustling nightlife. Buvette sources local and organic ingredients as much as possible, so from farm to the table your dollar is supporting local business here.
BYO wine is possibly the next best thing since French bread. Luckily, Tartine has both! If you’re willing to join the line that often extends around the corner, you’ll be met with a delight of senses. Tuck into a sweet or savoury tartine (the perfectly French version of toasted bread with toppings) and perhaps a glass or two of wine on the side. This petite 20-seat restaurant is perfect for a sunny Sunday morning brunch on the sidewalk.
There was a time when i was completely addicted to Jack’s organic coffee and apple cider donuts. How could I not be when the coffee is smooth and rich and the donuts are vegan? The coffee is brewed via Jack’s exclusive ‘stir brew’ method which reduces the acidity of the beans and keeps you coming back for more. It’s also the perfect local spot where the baristas actually know their customers – the type of charm you can only find in the West Village.
The Elk is a haven for lovers of healthy bites, aesthetic décor and sustainability. The tiny café offers everything from granola to soba noodle bowls and avocado bahn mi sandwiches – all sourced locally, of course. Attached to the cute café is a boutique selling home and lifestyle items, including organic coffee beans so you can indulge at home, too.
This repurposed garage is now home to one of the best Italian restaurants in the village. The menu is classic; filled with fresh, simple, good quality food. My personal favourite time to visit is a sunny day when the floor-to-ceiling glass doors are open and you can dine in the afternoon light. If you’re there on a cold day, however, dine near the homey atmosphere of the open-plan kitchen for a unique experience. It’s a must visit when you’re in the area.
Farm to table is taken to a new level at Rosemary’s. It’s a bar and eatery where produce is freshly picked from their rooftop garden. Sitting by the tall windows at lunchtime and people watching is a perfect way to spend a slow afternoon. There are a variety of garden salads for the kale enthusiasts and an even bigger array of indulgent pastas to match the extensive wine list. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, you can’t go past the garden tomatoes topped with fresh basil and mozzarella.
JACKS WIFE FRIEDA
The sister restaurant to their Soho flagship delivers some of the cosiest food in New York. It’s hearty, fresh and satisfying – the best combination. The owners are a husband and wife duo who have mastered the art of combining soul food from South Africa and Israel to create a good atmosphere and even better food. It’s an eclectic mix that will make you feel at home.
When I made New York my home 12 years ago, this was one of my favourite places to eat. The Mediterranean inspired menu attracts people from all over the city, but it’s truly a local treasure. The produce is fresh, the recipes inventive, and the prices are reasonable. The grilled fish with truffle vinaigrette is best enjoyed on the sidewalk tables with a side or two of rosé, of course.
FOR DINNER AND DRINKS
Blue Hill boasts farm to table with a focus on quality, seasonal produce. When I worked at their sister restaurant located on the working farm Stone Barns, 30 miles north of Manhattan, I was blessed with first hand knowledge of where the produce is sourced – wether it be from field, forest or pasture. It’s satisfying to know the food you’re eating is sustainably sourced and treated with passion. At Blue Hill, you can choose from the four course tasting menu or spoil your tastebuds with the six course ‘Farmer’s Feast’. If that’s not enough, maybe the vast list of cocktails, wine and beer will persuade you. The price is higher than some surrounding restaurants, but trust me, it’s well worth the splurge.
If you’re up for the drive to the farm location, it’s a menu-free feast delivering the best produce of the day. Otherwise, pop in to the Blue Hill Market and treat yourself to some country-inspired homewares or a farm-fresh latte from the café.
Set on a bustling west village corner, Bar Sardine is the perfect local hangout. Wether you’re sipping wine on a summer afternoon (with a bar snack close by, if you’re like me) or hiding from the winter chill with a cocktail in hand, this one has something for everyone. The food menu is market-driven and accompanied by a comprehensive list of old-world wines and innovative cocktails. What more could you ask for when the food is fresh and the drinks are delicious?
Comfort food meets creativity at this local Italian eatery. While Italian isn’t my first cuisine choice (see the following Japanese section for some food I would die for), L’artusi’s menu has some delicious options. The plates are designed to share, but if you’re anything like me then skip the sharing and just order two dishes for yourself. There is even a dedicated cheese counter if that takes your fancy. In the mood for something lighter and more intimate? Visit their sister bar Dell’amina for a cosy night of quality wine.
When the chef turns a pasta dish into a quinoa-infused tagliatelle topped with beet greens and maitake mushrooms, it’s bound to be an good experience. Café Clover is all about putting a spin on healthy, simple market ingredients and turning them into flavoursome meals (note: the cauliflower steak is also worth a try). The charming café has indoor and outdoor seating; perfect for a light dinner or a night of cocktails at the bar. Just a few doors down, the newly opened Clover Grocery is an offset to the restaurant, offering local and organic produce alongside gourmet health and wellness supplies. Together, they’re the perfect combination for any health lover to indulge in.
THE WAVERLY INN
One of my favourite spots in the city. More so in winter because of its cozy, secret, speakeasy club kinda vibe. I wouldn't call the food light, it's pretty much American comfort food, but what you really go for is the scene. Part owned by the editor of Vanity Fair, you are bound to spot a celeb or two tucked into a corner, chowing down on one of their classic dishes like the chicken pot pie, with a side of martini or two of course. A tough reservation to get, but so worth it.
FOR SUPER HEALTHY
This dedicated vegetarian restaurant celebrates all things healthy, fresh and local. It’s a food fare of green brunches, gluten-free lunches and vegan share plates. Their menu practically gives you a reason to come any time of day – especially with their new list of cold-pressed cocktails. Their locations in the West Village and Nolita have Bondi-inspired interiors, which is perhaps another reason to love it.
Fast food is made healthy at this juice joint. There’s everything from fresh, green juices to açai bowls and pumpkin protein muffins. It’s perfect for the 3pm pick-me-up or during a lunch-time stroll out of the office.
I love their range of made-to-order smoothies, juices and açai bowls. Not to mention the fact that the almond and hemp milk is homemade! It’s a health enthusiasts’ delight!
LIFE THYME MARKET
Verging on the cousin of About Life here in Australia, LifeThyme is an organic food haven. Their raw bar serves up superfood salads which you can wash down with a sweet from the vegan bakery (note: the bakery prepares wedding cakes to order, if you’re so inclined). But it’s the lines of colourful, organic produce that makes it one of my favourite places to shop. There’s also an array of vitamins, supplements and health tonics to spice up your pantry and your health.
Healthy living means harmony between the body, mind and spirit. This is exactly what Integral Yoga promote. They provide high quality supplements, natural foods and organic care products, which is perfect for a healthy lifestyle. The isles are lined with organic fruit and veggies alongside bulk supplies of nuts, seeds, teas and granolas – do you understand why I’m obsessed? There’s also a juice bar which caters to all kinds of tastes with seasonal ingredients. All their products are free from artificial ingredients and GMOs – trust me, your body will thank you later.
*WORTH THE SPLURGE
I am a self-confessed sushi snob. After living in Japan and being incredibly fortunate enough to experience some of both Tokyo and New York’s top end sushi restaurants, I can tell you that the below list is certainly worth saving up for. These restaurants are definitely expensive but will blow. your. mind.
Delicacies of salmon, sea scallops, snapper, crab and sea urchin grace the menu; but except changes depending on what the fishermen have hand picked for the chef. Sushi is prepared fresh in front of the bar, and served with the rice still warm. Chef Nakazawa worked under 90-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono (who starred in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, for those sushi-documentary enthusiasts), so it’s understandable the food is to die for. This place is hard to book, but if you’re lucky enough to score one of the 35 seats, enjoy the meal with the matching wine tasting for a perfectly divine evening.
Possibly one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in the city, this little gem seats only a lucky few people at the bar in one seating and is seriously some of the most delicious sushi you will ever taste. Paired with a bottle (or two) of crisp, cold sake and you are seriously winning! Save up for this one. It's worth it.
A quainter approach to sushi tasting can be found at this Greenwich hideaway. You can choose a la cart items, or indulge the senses in a omakase tasting menu and experience the chef’s flavour inspirations. Small dishes range from Szechuan spiced salmon with bonito flakes and daikon pickles, to a Peking duck with foie gras and cucumber. There’s also an entire section dedicated to vegetable rolls, making it easier to dine your vegetarian friends (how could you resist a grilled maitake mushroom roll scattered with black truffle?).
Photos shot in the West Village, NYC by Morgan Ione Yeager