The weekend is composed of three (if you're lucky) beautiful days in our neighborhood, but sometimes one grows weary of Morningside Heights' monkeyshines. So it's good to get on the train and see firsthand the areas of New York you came here to see. From coffee to tacos to boozy brunch, Alphabet City might make you feel like you're dreaming. Toto, you're not in MoHi anymore. (To get there: 1 to 14th Street, L to First Avenue.)
NINTH STREET ESPRESSO
If you go to Starbucks and order a half-caf, extra whip, easy ice coffee Frappucino, this coffee shop is not for you. If you like the stripped-down flavor of coffee and espresso, or prefer it with milk, then Ninth Street Espresso is your Mecca. Its menu is simple and divided into three sections: espresso, espresso with milk, and brewed coffee. The lack of frills (and a credit card machine) doesn’t translate to lack of quality. Pair a latte with a freshly baked croissant and sit on the bench out front, and you’ve got a perfect afternoon. They also have a decent selection of teas, just in case coffee isn’t your thing.
341 E. 10th St., between Avenues A and B, or 700 E. 9th St., between Avenues C and D
Sometimes you need brunch and you also need to get the hell out of this neighborhood. If you’re trying to brunch on a budget, you especially need to get out of this neighborhood. That’s where Casimir comes in. At $10 for a brunch plate and coffee or $19 for an entrée and endless Bloody Marys or mimosas, it’s hard to go wrong. Pair your mimosa with the eggs benedict and you’re doing brunch right. If you aren’t feeling brunch, then go for lunch or dinner, when a signature menu item is pork belly.
103 Avenue B, between 6th and 7th streets
So you’ve had a boozy brunch and/or tacos and/or a latte. You ask yourself, “What would a good New Yorker do now?” Like Thomas Edison with the light bulb (or that elephant he electrocuted), it hits you: Go shop for vinyl. A1 Records is the perfect place for vinyl lovers on a budget with eclectic tastes. From The Carpenters to Jimmy Cliff, whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find. Even if you aren’t looking, you’ll find it. Enter A1 Records knowing that Questlove recommends it, and maybe find your new favorite LP.
120 E. 7th St, between First Avenue and Avenue A
ZARGOZA MEXICAN DELI AND RESTAURANT
It’s entirely likely that when the phrase “hole in the wall” was coined, the writer had Zaragoza’s dimensions in mind. Hidden away on Avenue A, this taqueria has everything you want in Mexican food. The variety—from lengua tacos for the carnivore in most of us to pumpkin flower quesadillas—is unbeatable, and the price is even better. That pumpkin flower quesadilla costs $4. Yes, really. Even though the restaurant can get packed really quickly, the food is worth waiting for.
215 Avenue A, between 13th and 14th streets