NYC does not really have a cafe culture, save for the Cafe Grumpys. (Sadly, it has a Starbucks culture). You’re more likely to hear an offer to meet for a drink or dinner than for a coffee. So it’s wonderful to see authentic Australian cafes popping up in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
But what is a true blue Aussie cafe? A simple menu of light meals – including something on toast (Vegemite; avocado) – pastries, good coffee (flat whites, mandatory), and a cheerful ambiance where you can linger with your book or MacBook for hours. They open early and feel cosy. They should also have cute waiters with broad accents.
My favorite, Two Hands in Nolita, ticks all the above boxes. I don’t know if the name is a reference to the brilliant 1999 Australian movie with Heath Ledger and Rose Byrne, but I really hope it is (update: it is!).
A list of Australian cafes in NYC:
- Toby’s Estate – my kingdom for a Toby’s flat white. Always an essential pitstop at the Sydney Fish Markets, now NYC has two of its very own Toby’s (the Flatiron location is inside the Club Monaco flagship store). 160 5th Ave and 125 North 6th St, Brooklyn.
- Two Hands – large bright space in Nolita with a friendly team and yummy savory and sweet treats. 164 Mott St.
- Little Collins – perpetually packed Midtown cafe. Limited seating, so why not enjoy your Aussie snacks in Central Park a few blocks away? 667 Lexington.
- Brunswick – another shout-out to the Melbourne champions of coffee. 240 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn and 144 Decatur St, Brooklyn.
- Milk Bar – cute corner spot in Prospect Heights with flat whites, smashed avocado toast and meat pies. 620 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn.
- Rosella Coffee Shop – sister cafe to Brunswick and Milk Bar on the LES. 23 Clinton St.
- Laughing Man – co-founded by Hugh Jackman, keeping FiDi and Tribeca happily caffeinated with flat whites. 184 Duane St and 1 North End Ave.
- Bluestone Lane – with three coffee shops, a coffee trike plus a new cafe open in the West Village (Anzac biscuit cookie ice cream sandwiches for dessert (!!!), Bluestone Lane is sweeping Manhattan. 805 3rd Ave, 30 Broad St and 1114 Ave. of the Americas. Cafe: 55 Greenwich Ave.