Finding your place in a new location can be difficult for anyone, especially students who have just left home for the first time. My first few weeks in NYC were filled with confusion as I tried to navigate this new world I had been thrust into. The key thing to moving to a new environment is finding your place within it. Once you incorporate yourself with the regular flow of people in and out of a specific coffee shop, a city in which you just go to school feels closer to home.
Here, I’ve compiled a list of coffee and bagel shops that have made NYC feel like home to me. Several of these are first-year staples and perfect for mindless small talk (a win for the introverts!) while others will end up seeing you walk through their doors for years to come.
Bagels are an NYC staple. You’ll find that several of the bagel shops near NYU are known around the city for having the best deals or even being frequented by celebrities. There are a few main bagel spots around our academic block and first-year residence halls that are great for grabbing a quick bite on a Saturday morning.
1. Brooklyn Bagels and Coffee
Location: 63 E 8th St, New York, NY 10003
Brooklyn Bagels and Coffee was my #1 spot for bagels during my first year. It’s located on E 8th Street, so a 2-3 minute walk from any of your classes in Washington Square Park, and incredibly close to Weinstein and Brittany Halls.
This location is very popular, especially around the middle of the day. If you want to beat the crowds, I’d recommend getting here between 9-10 AM, or after 1:30 PM. Still, they’re incredibly efficient and you generally shouldn’t find yourself standing in the building for longer than 15 minutes. The size of the bagels is great – you’re getting a lot, no matter what you get on it – and they start at around $3.
2. Bagel Bob’s
Location: 51 University Pl, New York, NY 10003
Bagel Bob’s is located on University Place between 9th and 10th Street, so they’re also incredibly close to Weinstein and Brittany Halls.
This location is also pretty popular for students not looking to venture too far away from their residence halls if they live nearby. The only catch with Bagel Bob’s is that they only take cash. They do have an ATM just inside, so customers can take out money if they don’t have cash on hand. It’s also a very small building, so it’s easy to establish yourself as a regular. These are the most affordable bagels on the list, with a lot of them starting at around $1.25.
3. The Bean
Locations: 771 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 AND 31 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10003
The Bean has three locations in the East Village area, though these are the two that are closest to NYU residence halls. The Broadway location is just one block away from Brittany Hall, while the 3rd Avenue location is just three blocks away from Third North and Founders Hall.
I would say that The Bean is a café that happens to sell bagels. The prices are a bit higher with a plain bagel with cream cheese starting around $5-6. They’re great if you’re in a pinch, but there are several other locations nearby that might give you a better value. The reason The Bean will always stay on my list, however, is because it’s one of the few locations on this list that is designed to keep its customers inside. While other establishments like Brooklyn Bagels might have sparse seating, The Bean is a space designed for students to stick around and study for hours. They also have bathrooms and wifi available for customers.
4. Tompkins Square Bagels
Location: 184 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Tompkins Square Bagels is probably the most famous location on this list, but also the farthest east. They have another location on Avenue A, but the 2nd Avenue location is closer to NYU residence halls. It’s about a block away from Third North and two blocks from Founders Hall, though when I lived on 14th near University Hall, going to Tompkins was a part of my Saturday morning routine.
Tompkins is also open later than a lot of these other locations (except for The Bean) because of its changing menu. They also have several other breakfast and lunch options available, too. The price point of Tompkins is around that of The Bean if not less depending on what you’re ordering.
5. Bagel Belly
Location: 114 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Bagel Belly is a spot that I don’t hear many students talking about, but is one that I tried for the first time this past summer. It’s right around the corner from University and Founders Halls, and a block away from Third North.
This location is a slightly bigger space than expected from most other bagel spots in the city, though there isn’t seating here. They have great thick bagels and several sandwich options to choose from. Regular bagels with just one spread (butter or cream cheese) start at around $5, while a sandwich with three toppings can cost up to $15. They’re also known for their rainbow-baked bagels!
All my life, I’ve considered myself to be a tea drinker. While this is still the case, college life has influenced me to add coffee to my roster as well. I definitely drink coffee or espresso-based drinks for the faster-acting caffeine fix, though I’m particular about the taste being consistently good. Essentially, I don’t want to order the same drink three days in a row and have a completely different drink three times over.
Here are some of my favorite coffee places in the area, though several of these are NYC chains that you can find all over Manhattan:
1. MATTO Espresso
Location: 293 Mercer St, New York, NY 10003
MATTO has several locations around the city, though this location is just a block away from campus. It’s incredibly close to Weinstein Hall and is three blocks away from Brittany.
The great thing about MATTO is that if you download the app, every food and drink item is $2.50. This cost includes different kinds of milk and flavor pumps, if you would like, and usually accounts for a 16 oz. drink. I can order a latte and almond croissant and my total will be $5, which is amazing to hear as a college student.
Location: 67 University Pl, New York, NY 10003
This location is very close to Brittany Hall, though it isn’t too far from Weinstein, either. This is a café that is also considered to be a restaurant, so you can either stop in for a drink or sit down for brunch with friends on the weekend.
Most drinks here straddle $5 depending on the size, with their signature drinks costing $6-7 each. I would recommend Maman for a true coffee-lover, as the style is definitely closer to traditional.
3. Think Coffee
Locations: 248 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012 AND 123 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003
Think is another NYC chain. The Mercer location is closest to Paulson Hall and our academic block, while the 4th Avenue location is just a block away from both Founders and University Halls.
Think is definitely on the more expensive side. Drinks will cost around $6 here, and the price varies depending on the modifications you’d like to make. Still, they often have seasonal specialty drinks that always attract a larger crowd. This is another location, similar to The Bean, that will have indoor seating, wifi, and a bathroom for customers. It’s a great meeting spot or study spot if you need a change of scenery.
Locations: 821 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 AND 1 Astor Pl, New York, NY 10003
The Broadway location is closest to Brittany Hall, as is its Astor Place location.
This is another chain, though its title speaks to its appeal to customers: ready-to-eat. This is a location that is designed to be fast, as they generally will have large express cases with different sandwiches and pastries for customers to pick up on the go. In other words, if you have ten minutes to pick something up and find yourself in front of a Prêt, you can trust that you’ll make it out with time to spare.
5. The Bean
Locations: See above.
Of course, The Bean is back on the list. I mentioned earlier that it’s a café that sells bagels, so of course their coffee is great for students as well. Again, prices will start just above $5, though this varies depending on the size and different modifications added to the order.
While each of these locations are great aspects of the first-year experience at NYU, these exist in addition to the coffee-shop options that are covered through your meal plan. We have a Dunkin Donuts (Meal Swipes and Dining Dollars) located on 14th Street, a Starbucks on W 4th Street (Dining Dollars), a Peet’s Coffee in our Kimmel Center for University Life (Meal Swipes and Dining Dollars), and our Cafe 181 in the Paulson Center (Meal Swipes and Dining Dollars).
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, these are great locations to explore in your free time to help make NYC feel less like your temporary location and more like a home.