Posts from the ‘diners’ Category
Hudson Street hides a gem, an amazingly cheap, casual, cash-only gem. La Bonbonniere is the size of my bedroom, a long narrow strip of dressed-down Americana. The name gives it some French penache, but La Bonbonniere is really nothing but an American diner with a fancy zipcode.
One room with floor-to-ceiling windows staring off onto Hudson Street where it becomes 8th Avenue, La Bonbonniere seats no more than 34 inside with a few tables on the sidewalk. The plain beige walls are peppered with newspaper clippings, tacked-on American flags, postcards, hand-written letters, old movie posters, and other such random Refrigerator front knick-knacks. Delivery orders come through the old Verizon pay phone stuck to the far wall. Slowly-circling ceiling fans, blue vinyl bar stools under the off-kilter Formica counter, mis-matched faux-wood tables, and plastic flowers stuck to windows complete the diner dive vibe that makes La Bonbonniere so unique in the otherwise snazzy West Village neighborhood.
Short-order cooks prepare classic American comfort food lightening fast. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and white toast come out in less than 5 minutes, piping hot and well-seasoned; oatmeal is thick, heavy and mealy, served in a salad bowl, loaded with brown sugar; omelets, of which there are many offered, come fluffy and stuffed with whatever you want, from the unusual (potato chips, cottage cheese) to the typical (peppers, sausage, onions, tomatoes); burgers and sausages cook in fat on the sizzling griddle, open for all to see behind the counter. The food at La Bonbonniere is greasy and simple, the ideal comfort food for hungover mornings and guilty TV dinners.
Impossibly cheap, La Bonbonniere is wallet-friendly and gut-busting. It’s comfortable, nostalgic for simpler days. As an attitude and pretention-free haven in a neighborhood known for its haute restaurants, La Bonbonniere attracts not only those looking to save a few bucks but also those hiding from sight, most notably celebrities the likes of Kate Winslet, local Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Stiles.
Perfect For: greasy breakfast, cheap eats, quick bites solo at the counter, hangover cures
The Bus Stop Cafe transports you out of the ever-chic West Village and into a small town anywhere in America. It’s a relic, in a charming way, of a slower lifestyle (a cheaper one too) where breakfast was enjoyed every morning and food was simple and tasty, without fancy adornments. The polar opposite of ‘relaxed’ and ‘casual’ hot spots like Braeburn, Cafe Cluny, dell’anima, and Bistro de la Gare, the diner-like Bus Stop Cafe remains a go-to favorite of the neighborhood.
Wonder why it’s called the Bus Stop Cafe? I’ll give you one guess.
Bingo, it’s prime location is just outside a bus stop, at the busy and bustling intersection of Bleecker, 8th Ave, and Hudson. The restaurant is small and crowded with boothes and tables helter-skelter and squished into unusual spaces; in clement weather, limited outside seating is available for a few lucky diners. The theme? Diner mashed with truck stop mashed with coffee shop. The look is simple, unadorned, and cozy, slightly kitschy in a charming way, and just plain comfortable – familiar to those from small towns across America.
The food? Simple as simple can be and varied American. Expect classics like eggs benedict, pastrami sandwiches, burgers, spaghetti bolognese, and a BLT along with more Mediterranean-focused fare like chicken souvlaky, prosciutto & mozzarella wrap, and eggplant parmesan. My basic favorite when I’m too lazy to make my own is a tuna fish bacon sandwich with a side of crispy fries. The grub isn’t fancy or made from locally-sourced pricey ingredients, but it’s hearty, hot, and generally satisfying. The best bet is brunch, complete with fluffy pancakes, hulking french toast, fresh bagels with lox, steak & eggs, and a variety of omelettes.
The Bus Stop Cafe is oftentimes a welcome relief from the sky-high prices, overly-complicated cuisine, and snob factor so popular in New York restaurants. It’s basic, efficient, friendly, and utterly devoid of all pretentions. Expect a more laidback clientele than you’d typically find in the West Village, though by no means shabby – heck, you might even spy some good ole Reebok/New Balance sneakers.
Perfect for: hangover brunch, coffee infusion, cheap & fast delivery/takeout, and a simple dinner solo or with buds