Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay in Greenwich Village and the West Village in NYC
These photogenic sister neighborhoods boast some of the city’s best bars, restaurants, and nightlife.
There are few areas in NYC dreamier than Greenwich Village and the West Village (just ask Taylor Swift). In addition to charming, turn-of-the-century brownstones and cobblestone tree-lined streets, the Village is also home to some of the city’s most historic, buzziest, and tastiest restaurants. And, once you’re done with dinner, the nighttime options here are plentiful: subterranean beer bar? Check. Comedy clubs where major acts might pop in on a whim? Check. Old-school jazz spots or music venues where Bob Dylan once played? Check and check.
While these adjoining neighborhoods have a lot in common, as any resident of one or the other can tell you, they are far from the same. Greenwich Village, once home to many musicians, artists, and poets, has retained some of that bohemian vibe (the huge contingent of NYU students helps with that as well). While the stretch north of Washington Square Park is very elegant (and home to some of the city’s priciest real estate), especially near Fifth Avenue, south of the Park has a youthful vibe, particularly on student-heavy streets like Sullivan, Thompson, and MacDougal. The West Village can be divided into two halves as well: you have the quiet, curvy, off-grid streets like Commerce or Grove, and then the more lively avenues, especially Hudson, Seventh, and Greenwich. You may hear some people refer to the whole area as Greenwich or the West Village, but we put the dividing line at Seventh Avenue; anything west of that is proper West Village.
Regardless of boundaries, both are, to put it mildly, some of the most expensive parts of town in which to live. But even if you can’t afford your own brownstone on Perry Street, this stretch of downtown Manhattan is one of the best to visit for a full day of shopping, eating, drinking, and picture taking. Read on for the best things to do, plus places to eat, drink, and stay in the West Village and Greenwich Village.
Sample some of the city’s buzziest and most well-regarded restaurants
If you’re looking to spot celebrities, or flex your restaurant reservation skills, there are no neighborhoods better than these two for dining out. Many of the city’s most in-demand tables are located here; if you are lucky enough to snag an 8 pm dinner reservation, you’ll probably be rewarded with a star sighting or two, plus a taste of whatever (actually good) entree is making the rounds on Instagram. Some of the best spots for scouting A-listers that actually have delicious food include sister restaurants American Bar and newcomer Saint Theo’s, ultra-charming French cafe Buvette, Keith McNally’s burger haven Minetta Tavern, and venerated pasta spot Morandi.
Both neighborhoods have a huge number of superb Italian spots, in fact. Some of our favorites include I Sodi (don’t miss the lasagna), “gastroteca” Via Carota, and the perpetually packed Don Angie (which, yes, also has a lasagna you must try). For dessert, swing by the corner of University Place and 10th St., where gelaterias Amorino and Il Laboratorio del Gelato sit on opposing corners. The former specializes in more classic flavors like Piedmont hazelnut or Sicilian lemon sorbet, while the latter gets creative with options like cheddar cheese, avocado, or poppyseed.
Other destination-worthy meals here run the gamut from the stellar farm-to-table cuisine at Loring Place and newcomer The Mary Lane, to fast-casual African options at Berber Street Food and vegan Mexican at Jajaja. For fish lovers, don’t miss the seafood at Pearl Oyster Bar (especially the lobster roll), the popular new kid Dame, and Mary’s Fish Camp, plus sushi at the critically acclaimed Nakazawa and handrolls at Nami Nori. Noodle lovers: head to Jeju Noodle Bar for Korean ramyun and more, or Hao Noodle for everything from dan dan to cold soba.
And if you’re looking for food to grab before hanging in Washington Square Park or a wander down to Hudson River Park, there’s plenty to choose from. Start your morning with a coffee and cruller from the newest location of Daily Provisions, on Bedford Street. Or, wait in line at Murray’s Bagels; it’s worth it for their pillowy-soft versions. Murray’s Cheese (no relation, but both are delicious) is one of the city’s most well-regarded cheese shops with a staff that knows literally everything about dairy. For lunch, you can find incredible Japanese snacks and groceries at Yamadaya. And if you’re already in Washington Square Park, look for the NY Dosa truck, a favorite for years of college kids and Village residents alike. For sweet stuff, grab cheesecake and brownies at Mah Ze Dahr Bakery or banana pudding at Magnolia. And your best slice? The famed Joe’s Pizza.
Sip a fancy craft cocktail… or get geeky at a beer bar
The bars here range from classic dives to highbrow cocktail dens, and everything in between. The West Village in particular is known for its gay bars; we love lively Duplex and the piano bar Marie’s Crisis Cafe. Craft cocktail spots are also in abundance in these neighborhoods: Dante, a must-stop for Negroni lovers; Katana Kitten for Japanese-influenced drinks and bites; the intimate Up & Up, which is located inside a former haunt of the Beat Generation; the always popular and not-so-secret speakeasy The Garret; and new spot Bandits, which is located in the old Daddy-O space and serves everything from beer cocktails to tropical-inspired drinks. For a classic dive, hit up WXOU Radio Bar to fiddle with the jukebox and mingle with locals.
And beer snobs, we’ve got you: Blind Tiger Ale House is the must-hit spot, but we also love subterranean 124 Old Rabbit Club, the lively energy at Wilfie & Nell, the classic and historic White Horse Tavern, and the aptly named Beer Garage, a new spot with 24 craft beers on tap.
Spend a morning wandering picturesque streets, or stay out late at a comedy club
The West Village and Greenwich Village are fun basically any time of day. In the mornings, you can take a stroll or bike along the West Side Highway path, stopping to admire the water at Hudson River Park. Washington Square Park is always humming with activity, whether it’s street performers, a movie filming near the fountain, or students having class outside. For a quieter moment, however, make your way to Jefferson Market Garden, a virtual oasis in the middle of Sixth Avenue. And, of course, you can’t beat the boutique shopping here, especially along Bleecker Street, where many smaller, trendy labels have scooped up storefronts in the last few years.
And no discussion of Greenwich Village’s nightlife is complete without mentioning the many historic music venues. Cafe Wha? was a favorite haunt of Bob Dylan and remains a popular spot for up and coming musicians. Other legendary stages include The Bitter End, which is known as New York’s oldest rock club, and Le Poisson Rouge, where artists ranging from electronica to all types of world music play. Jazz clubs are also a staple here: the most popular include Village Vanguard, Blue Note, and sister venues SmallsLive and Mezzrow Jazz Clubs.
Bed down for the night at a charming boutique hotel
Midtown or SoHo this is not: neither neighborhood boasts very many hotels. But there are some smaller, cozy properties that can make you feel like a Village local. The Marlton Hotel, located on vibrant 8th Street, has a lush lobby that’s perfect for WFH (that’s work from hotel, of course), plus a great breakfast at on-site restaurant Margaux. At The Walker Hotel, ask for a room with a terrace: the views of the city’s skyscrapers are magnificent. And at the quirky Jane Hotel you can stay in anything from a bunk bed room with a shared bathroom, to a Captain’s Cabin, some of which have private balconies.