Writing spot in Lower Manhattan or upper Brooklyn
March 31, 2013 3:35 PM   Subscribe

When I lived in Chicago, there was a great late-night coffee shop called New Wave Cafe in Logan Square that was perfect for after-work writing. I've been having a hard time finding a similar spot since moving to NYC. It doesn't need to be a coffee shop, but it does need to be well-lit enough that I can read, and calm enough that I won't be seen as preventing the establishment from doing business. Bonus points if the place has a neighborhood-y feel with a friendly staff. I live in Greenpoint, work in SoHo, and usually commute via bicycle over the Williamsburg Bridge. Any suggestions, Metafilter?
posted by eustacescrubb to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I had a writing practice in Brooklyn, I'd hang out at this little wine bar/bistro in my neighborhood called Cafe Abigail (this was Prospect/Crown Heights). I found that the matrix of an ideal writing spot is the opposite of what would attract me to a place to eat a meal. Is it dead? Does it have shit customer service? Is it mediocre and forgettable? Count me in!

I'd suggest Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint, but I think they close at 7. If you can get in time, though, there's probably an empty table with your name on it.

Veselka in the East Village might be an option (brightly lit, open late), though it's a bit out of your way and can get crowded at times (so I don't know that you could hog a table unless you write in very short blocks and/or are willing to eat a full meal there).

Maybe Radegast, if you like writing on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. It's a bit dim inside, though. There's a bar across the street from there called The Levee which is usually dead, as a backup. They have multiple rooms, too, so if you find that the bar itself is crowded/loud/dark, you might be able to work in the back room.

For a long time there was a perfect spot on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg called Blackbird... something. Blackbird Morning? Blackbird Bistro? Blackbird Parlor? Combination bar/cafe/restaurant, never crowded, completely oblivious staff. I think I noticed they had closed the last time I was on Bedford, though. That's the problem with good writing places. The forgettableness, inattentive service, and lack of crowds eventually catches up with them.

Ooooooh, I thought of a place. Milady's on... Prince Street? in SoHo. It's this weird little dive where time stopped in approximately 1991. I'm consistently amazed that this place still exists, and hasn't upscalified itself, or become a scene somehow. There are tables. It's well lit enough for reading, even after dark thanks to the copious neon and the brass-and-green lamp over the pool table (if you can make it there in daylight there'll be sunshine pouring in the front windows). Everyone there is super friendly, and somehow it manages to be both low key and just raucous enough to make you feel human. Prices are reasonable, and they serve decent enough pub food.
posted by Sara C. at 4:16 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thought of another Greenpoint option, which used to fit my "forgettable" qualifier to a T when I hung out there a couple years ago, but which might have become cool in the post-Girls era. TBD Beer Garden. Or maybe it's called TBA? (Definitely not DBA, which is in Williamsburg and is not a good candidate for numerous reasons.) One of those, and nondescript enough that I've forgotten the specific name of it.
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 PM on March 31, 2013

I was at this place Brooklyn Label in Greenpoint that might fit your needs.

Not sure how crowded it gets. I was there around 8 on a Friday and it wasn't bad at all.
posted by sweetkid at 4:22 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tea Lounge in Park Slope is great! I practically lived there...very homey..

PS I've been to New Wave Coffee...and played Mario there...and I've searched in vain for a similar place in nyc...
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 4:44 PM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Think Coffee locations on both Bowery and Mercer are open until 11/midnight.
Housing Works Cafe on Crosby is open until 9.
Bluestockings Cafe & Bookstore is open until 11.
Cake Shop is open until 2am.
posted by the jam at 4:58 PM on March 31, 2013

Cake Shop is dark.

Isn't this the whole point of the millions of 24 hour diners everywhere in New York?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:53 PM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Try the Randolph on Broome. I usually go to the coffee/cocktail bar, but they also have a beer place next door. Nice place to work. Not sure how crowded it gets in the after-work hours, but I don't think it's too bad.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:54 PM on March 31, 2013

Response by poster: Some good suggestions so far. I suppose I ought to have mentioned that work ends for me at 6:30 PM, so "after work" means 7-11ish or later.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:06 PM on March 31, 2013

Burp Castle is a Belgian beer bar in the East Village. It's not too busy on weeknights, very friendly, and yet also quiet (it's a gimmick -- the bartenders are dressed up as monks and will shush the place if it gets loud enough that you have to raise your voice to have a conversation. Yeah this seems silly but it works). Bonus points, 6:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays they order free fries for the bar from Pommes Frites around the corner. The only downside is that the beer is on the pricey side.

There are lots of quiet and relatively-well-lit bars and coffee shops in Park Slope but if you live in Greenpoint that's probably not going to work out so well.
posted by goingonit at 7:38 PM on March 31, 2013

From 7-11 PM even on a weeknight Milady's will be too hectic to work. So will most anywhere in SoHo, better luck in Brooklyn.
posted by nicwolff at 7:40 PM on March 31, 2013

Hi from Logan Square - New Wave is down the block from me. :)

Before I moved to Chicago, I lived in Sunnyside, on 42nd & Skillman. Last time I went to NY, I went to visit the old neighborhood and stumbled upon this lovely cafe on Skillman Ave in Woodside called Aubergine and ended up hanging out there for a few hours.

According to their website, they are open till 11, so if you are open to crossing Queens Blvd, this could be your place. It isn't as big as New Wave, but I was there from about 5-7PM on the day I visited and there was plenty of space.
posted by deliciae at 12:03 AM on April 1, 2013

Not a coffee shop, but a friend writes regularly (most mornings) at the Brooklyn Writers Space. May or may not be your style, but could be helpful.
posted by naturalog at 12:35 AM on April 3, 2013

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