Exploring much of Manhattan can feel like stepping onto a film set. But of all the movies to star in, you’d probably pick the one that takes place in the West Village. With a street map that looks like a haphazard pile of matchsticks, getting lost is easy—and actually, the most fruitful way to discover the charms of this European-style neighborhood. Anchor yourself on Hudson Street, then thread your way along the charming side streets to stumble upon some of NYC’S best cafes, boutiques and, of course, photo opps. Below are a few you simply can’t miss.
Few could deny that The Marlton is rich in character, which applies to both the visual variety (New York City at the turn of the 20th century was built—pun intended—upon lofty architectural ambitions) and the coterie of artistic personalities who stayed there when it was affordable enough for struggling creatives, like Jack Kerouac. The nine-story hotel is still imbued with the mahogany-inflected warmth of a downtown Golden Era speakeasy, from its cozy rooms to the Margaux bistro.
Located at the cusp of Chelsea to the north, the Walker Hotel Greenwich Village succeeds where many downtown hotels do not. Like The Marlton, this boutique is neither overly hip nor exceedingly sybaritic—and doesn’t try to be. European-style charm is kicked up a few notches above any other spot below 14th Street, starting at the elegant Georgian facade, and continuing through the fireplace-warmed entrance and Andres Escobar-designed guest rooms.
Chefs and life partners Jody Williams (of Buvette) and Rita Soda (of I Sodi) teamed up to create a convivial Grove Street trattoria Via Carota in 2014—and tables there have been notoriously impossible to snag ever since. Limited reservations are now available on Resy, but you’ll still have to book well in advance at this James Beard-award winner to sample the city’s best cacio e pepe, among other Tuscan delights.
Few West Village restaurants are born to be neighborhood institutions, but Emmett’s on Grove, a barely 12-months-old Midwest-inspired tavern that specializes in Chicago-style thin crust pizza, is determined to get there. If you can’t land a table, sidling up to the wooden bar is more than satisfactory—it’s even better. That is, if you appreciate having your martinis shaken close enough that the frosty shaker triggers a shiver.
Shaker-inspired cuisine is neither universal nor particularly appealing, but at Commerce Inn, you never want the experience to end. Like the other picks, the cocktail game is really strong—an ironic observation considering the sober and celibate lifestyle of the Shakers. But the emphasis is really on rib-sticking early American comfort food that comes polished enough to wow even the most stubborn aristocrat, such as veal meatballs, marrow with roasted garlic and mushrooms, and okra topped with a fried egg.
Topping World’s 50 Best Bars’ North America list for 2022, it’s no surprise that Katana Kitten is where New York’s bartenders go when they want a cocktail. Founded by bartending virtuoso Masahiro Urushido, who has a stellar reputation in Japan, and now, in America, this izakaya-cum-speakeasy on Hudson Street is always a delicious, thirst-quenching escape.
Across the street from Via Carota is Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s latest venture: a mostly alfresco Roman-style cafe and aperitivo joint that sits on one of the West Village’s most coveted street corners. With a grand library of amari and vermouth, be sure to order a cocktail that features either as an ingredient.
Some of the city’s finest cocktails are made at this compact jewel box of a bar on Grove. With the recent addition of outdoor dining out front, more people will be able to sip some of the best cocktails in the neighborhood, which pair brilliantly with authentic Korean bites shi jang chicken wings and kimchi pancakes.
This large Japanese grocer will transport you straight to Tokyo. With an incredible stock of edible treats, gadgets, and knick-knacks from Japan, Yamadaya is a one-stop shop for imported goods from mochi sweets to gel pens to noodles.
Don’t miss an evening at this legendary basement jazz club, where jam sessions are known to run into the early hours of the morning. The vibe at Smalls is nothing like an uptown supper club where caviar bumps and Dom Perignon make regular appearances. The vibes in this hole-in-the-wall are authentically buzzy—if not a wee bit retro—which keeps die-hard jazzheads coming around.
McNulty’s Tea & Coffee—one of the country’s leading purveyors of rare tea leaves and coffees—captures new customers the same way it has since 1895. Besides the storefront’s legacy, it’s the energizing scent of fresh-roasted coffee beans that does most of the work luring passersby into the inconspicuous Christopher Street address.
The hybrid concept behind Rosecrans pairs flowers and plants with coffee drinks (and a decent wine list), making it a popular local spot for lounging throughout the day. Grab a seat outside if people-watching is your thing, or plop down on one of the plush couches inside, among the eclectic selection of antiques, ceramics, and greenery.