I remember Philz in SF well. I remember being very confused my first time in there – waiting on a very long line, because there is always a very long line at Philz, only to find out they do not make any espresso drinks. No cappuccinos. What were all of these crazy people on line for anyway? Couldn’t be just regular coffee…? I tried the Mint Mojito and where I can certainly appreciate the tastiness, it was a bit sweet for me. I enjoyed their regular blended coffees much more but I am pretty simple when it comes to drinks in general. The less fancy the better.
Which brings me to my favorite, no frills coffee shop in NYC. Cafe Dante is a traditional Italian cafe in the heart of Greenwich Village that has been around since 1915. I don’t think they have changed the decor since 1915 either, which makes it even more amazing. In typical NY fashion the walls are haphazardly covered with photographs of NY Italian celebrities on their visits to the cafe – like Al Pacino, James Gandolfini and Paulie Walnuts to name a few – along with poster sized vintage photographs of Florence.
Besides the poorly framed photographs, there is nothing fancy here at all. Just good imported Italian coffee, some appetizers, alcoholic beverages, gelato, tables and chairs. The website’s simplicity and lack of any real design makes me smile. I can almost hear it say in an Italian accent, “we have coffee, tables and chairs. what else do you need?” And you’re only response to that should be, You’re right. I will be right there.
Cafe Dante is also one of the only coffee shops open until 2am on any given night. Which, for someone like me who could spend my entire life in a cafe, is the best thing about Cafe Dante. It’s busy, but never too busy that you can’t relax and enjoy yourself. And that is what this place is about. The service might not be the friendliest, but it’s all part of the charm. They leave you alone to sit, relax, meet friends for hours as though you were in a piazza in Italy. Which is a nice change of pace from the crazy NYC right outside it’s doors. It is no wonder this place has been open now for almost a century.
ps photographs taken from ontheinside.info