Ok, so I’ll admit it – I absolutely adore the West Village!
I feel like everyone says that and whilst I definitely want to show you some other, more underrated NYC neighborhoods that I love to spend time in, I have to tell you the West Village remains my top pick, every single time! There’s just so much to love about it! So I thought I’d take you on a whistle stop tour of the West Village and share some of my favourite finds!
The West Village, or simple the Village, is (unsurprisingly) located on the west side of Lower Manhattan, think 14th Street down to Houston St, and from the Hudson River/ Westside Highway to 6th Avenue. It sits just underneath Chelsea and the Meatpacking District and to the west of SoHo and NoHo – all great areas as well!
One of the reason’s I love it so much, is because it’s where the traditional NYC grid system ends. Think of Manhattan as a rectangle – most of the streets go from north to south (i.e. 116th St all the way up in Harlem) and the avenues go from east to west (i.e. 10th Avenue where I live is on the west). The grid system makes most of Manhattan look very straight/ uniform and it’s super easy to find your bearings.
But in the West Village, suddenly, you find yourself in a cute little pocket of New York where the streets don’t just run straight up and down, left and right, they crisscross each other and they all have proper names rather than numbers (I’m from London remember!) like Bleecker or Bedford!
It’s always been a fairly bohemian part of the city, attracting writers, actors, artists and it’s also home to some of New York’s oldest LGBT bars, like the Stonewall Inn and Cubbyhole.
Fun fact, any Sex And The City fans may remember that Carrie lived on the Upper East Side and we often saw her outside of her apartment building. In reality the show was filmed in the West Village. Sarah Jessica Parker is a great person to follow on Instagram for NYC hidden gems and often posts cool spots in the West Village. In fact I took a picture of this restaurant, Sevilla, in passing because it looked cute and later that day, lo and behold, SJP was recommending it as a favourite of hers!
And of course, the West Village is also home to the infamous Friends apartment (read popular tourist spot)!
The West Village feels super civilized and tranquil – which is difficult to come across in a city as over populated and fast paced as New York. Leafy, tree-lined streets, gorgeous brownstone townhouses, boutique shopping, independent retailers, cute cafes, restaurants galore, cobblestone streets – you name it, the Village has got it in spades!
I had an extremely hard time trying to narrow down my favourite West Village restaurants and bars, so this is more of a longlist than a shortlist! But I can promise you won’t be disappointed by any of them!
An absolute gem of a place, tucked away on West 4th St. It’s a light, bright but somehow still cozy French bistro. When I hear French bistro, I usually think heavy plates and rich intense flavours but St Tropez nails delicious, light small plates of French fare using seasonal produce. It describes itself as ‘a touch of Provence with American accents’!
I’ve particularly enjoyed a number of their seafood plates as well as some of their divine cheeses! But if you’re not in the mood for food, my suggestion is to grab one of the window seats, order a coffee – or even better a glass of Provencal rose – and while away an hour or two people watching.
I bring all my out of towner friends here and it is fast becoming a crowd pleaser! Definitely a triple threat – consistently great food and wine complemented with friendly, warm service and in a fabulous location.
I’ve only been to Rosemary’s a couple of times but it’s definitely somewhere I’d go again (and with so many options in NYC and so little time to get everywhere, that’s a compliment indeed)!
On a nice day, the the restaurant flings open its doors so you feel like you’re dining right in the middle of the West Village itself. Here’s a shot of my brother J who came to visit last year perusing the menu…
Italian theme but like St Tropez, the menu is made up of small plates so you can indulge as little or as much as you want to! Seems as though they have recently opened a sister restaurant, Roeys NYC, described as an all day Italian cafe on Perry Street! I’m definitely adding this one to my list!
This is another cute place but one I’d recommend for a cold day/ a winter visit. In the summer there are so many other al fresco options but part of Bar Sardine’s charm is it’s coziness. It’s fairly small and I’m pretty sure you can’t make reservations but the service is friendly and they do try to get you seated as quickly as possible.
They describe themselves as an American gastropub and the menu is small but perfectly formed! One of my friends L, introduced me to this place and let me in on a little secret – her favourite burger in the whole of New York is the Fedora Burger served here. I have to admit, I’m not a huge burger fan but once I tried it, I was a convert! I love the quirky décor, the friendly vibes and I think it’s a perfect date spot!
Gosh – I only found out about and visited Waverly Inn this summer and boy, I’m glad I did! I feel slightly robbed having gone two years in NYC not knowing about this place – so I hope you appreciate me sharing with you! Occupying a quiet corner spot on Waverly Place and Bank Street, this place has outside space in the front for some epic people watching I’m sure.
But I’d suggest you take a table inside. Well –inside, to be led towards the back of the restaurant and out again to their beautiful conservatory garden room.
I think they try to create an aura of understated chic and privacy as their website has basically no information bar their address on it (no menu to look at beforehand sadly) and their printed menus tell you that ‘no photography is permitted’. I’m possibly already in their bad books as I didn’t see that and was happily oooh-ing and aaah-ing and snapping away like crazy before my table was seated!
I went for brunch and highly recommend the pancakes. My friend H’s banana and rum maple syrup French toast also looked heavenly. I’m keen to come back to see their full dinner menu and I’d also like to come again when it’s cold out, as the inside reminds me of a small, dark English pub! So I know where to come when I’m feeling homesick! Will just need to remember to lose the camera…..!
Speaking of small English things…! Tea & Sympathy is a teeny English tea room serving traditional afternoon tea and British comfort food on Greenwich Avenue.
It’s very quaint and the décor reminded me of an old English tea room from ’up North’ in the 1950s or 1960’s! It’s somewhat of a West Village institution and is very popular with Village residents, British expats and tourists alike! And it’s no stranger to a famous face or two, when I was last there, the British actor Rufus Sewell was in having his tea!
As well as the teahouse, next door is a British confectionary/ grocery store called Carry On Tea & Sympathy and on the other side is the hilariously named fish and chip shop, A Salt & Battery. I read recently that all three (owned by the same owners) may have to close down because of rising rents – so sad. So if you can, pay them a visit and give them your support!
I possibly saved the best for last! This is one of my all time favourite rooftops in NYC and my absolute favourite one in the West Village. Perched on top of the luxury, boutique Hotel Hugo, Azul is almost a hidden secret. Taking the elevator upto the Rooftop brings you to the beautiful, inside bar which is a treat in itself. But those in the know, turn left and push open the doors to the stairwell. Up two more flights of stairs, you get to the REAL rooftop! A Cuban oasis with spectacular 360 degree views.
Another confirmed crowd pleaser, everyone I take here is wowed! Especially lovely at sunset!
And as night falls…..
And Other Places I Love….
Special mentions also for RedFarm, (also one on the Upper West Side, and for you London folks, they recently opened one in Covent Garden) Perry Street (take a date and sit at the bar first for a cocktail or something bubbly!), Jack’s Wife Freda, one of the most popular and oft-spoken about Village brunch options, Dante another fab date option (and apparently number 9 on the World’s Best Bars list) and the small but oh so cute Upholstery Store Food and Wine.
And if you’re in the mood to stroll and shop, then I love Le Labo for heady fragrances (handily just around the corner from St Tropez Wine Bar), Aesop for the most delicious smelling skincare, Bleecker Street in general but specifically for clothes stores Maje, Sandro and Zadig & Voltaire and last but certainly not least Three Lives & Co, just one of the cutest little bookstores ever!
So what do you think of the West Village? Did I capture your favourite spot and if not, are willing to share?!
Stay tuned for more with the NYC Neighborhoods series. I’m curious, which neighborhoods do you love or want to know more about?