Caffe Reggio exterior

The practice of taking yourself to a cafe to enjoy a cup of coffee or a conversation with an old friend is not reserved for the common person. From Beat Generation writers to modernist authors, influential authors have frequented New York City cafes for more than a century. Rather than burrowing in your bed or stacking more coffee mugs at your desk, check out these 10 New York City cafes frequented by influential authors throughout history and the present. Maybe you will be the next inspirational author!

1. Hungarian Pastry Shop (1030 Amsterdam Ave.)

Influential authors and customers enjoy baked goods and coffee from Hungarian Pastry Shop.
On beautiful days, customers fill the tables of Hungarian Pastry Shop that spill onto Amsterdam Ave.

Nestled in Morningside Heights, the Hungarian Pastry Shop serves intellectuals of all forms. Within the wifi-free shop, customers can enjoy Hungarian Coffee or a slice of flourless chocolate cake. While students collaborate on homework assignments, others type away fiercely on their laptops.

As customers enter the quaint shop, the smells of freshly baked pastries and deep coffee fills their noses as their eyes scan the walls full of photos of books that have been written within the cafe. Influential authors, such as Julia Otsuka, Rachel Hadas, and William C. Rhoden have found inspiration in this spot minutes from Columbia University. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the influential author of Between the World and Me, frequents the shop as well.

2. Caffe Reggio (119 MacDougal St.)

Exterior of Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village
Since 1927, influential authors and cappuccino lovers have joined together to enjoy the quaint atmosphere at Caffe Reggio.

Caffe Reggio prides itself on being the first cafe in the United States to serve cappuccino. Founded in 1927, this joint located in Greenwich Village is only a block and a half away from Washington Square Park. The walls of the cafe are adorned with pieces of art, some of which can be traced back to the Italian Renaissance.

When original owner Domenico Parisi opened the cafe, he purchased an espresso machine that is allegedly the oldest espresso machine in New York City. Although it is unknown if that fact is true, the espresso machine still finds its home in the back of the coffeehouse. Not only has this flashback in history been featured in movies such as The Sun is Also a Star, The Godfather Part II, and The Kremlin Letter, but many authors have found creativity behind the bright green awning of Caffe Reggio. Influential authors and members of the Beat Generation, such as Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsburg frequented this spot in Greenwich Village. It was here that they tossed around ideas for their next pieces of writing.

3. McNally Jackson Books Cafe (4 Fulton Street)

Customers can enjoy beverages and foodstuffs as they read books or attend events at McNally Jackson Books Cafe

McNally Jackson Books, finding its home in Nolita, Williamsburg, Seaport, and Downtown Brooklyn, sells books ranging from Black American Literature to Modern Classics. While munching on baked goods from Ovenly, Balthazar, Murray’s, and Sarabeth’s, customers can enjoy an array of beverages including espresso and cappuccino.

After stopping at the cafe, writers of all levels can participate in writing workshops within the various McNally Jackson Books locations. Some of the influential authors who have held workshops or events in these locations include Gina Apostol author of Insurrecto, Ander Monson author of Other Electricities, and Yoko Tawada author of The Emissary.

4. Dear Mama Coffee (611 W 129th St.)

Dear Mama Morningside location has views of the subway for creative writers.
Dear Mama Coffee is sandwiched between views of the subway to the East and views of the Hudson to the West.

Dear Mama Coffee expanded past its original East Harlem location when it opened its second location in Manhattanville in 2020. Now the only operating location, the East Harlem location is a space where coffee lovers and art lovers can join together to enjoy a macchiato or iced latte as they take in the latest in-store art exhibit. The vessel of community in upper Manhattan sells vibrant matcha lattes among other caffeinated goods.

Past the wandering artists frequenting the cafe, authors can enjoy this community space to fuel their creative juices. In addition to the Columbia University professors who visit the cafe in between teaching classes and writing their next book, authors occasionally hold events at Dear Mama Coffee. An influential author who has held events at Dear Mama Coffee is Ken Foster, author of City of Dogs. Actress and producer Jenny Paul, known for her roles in Adulting with Jane and Jessica Jones has enjoyed their products as well.

5. Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 E 3rd St.)

The exterior of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Nuyorican Poets Cafe currently holds in-person, hybrid, and virtual events throughout the week.

Since beginning in Miguel Algarín’s apartment as a living room salon in 1973, Nuyorican Poets Cafe has hosted budding poets as well as established theatrical, jazz, and poetic stars as a creative haven in the East Village. Though events were temporarily held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, they are once again up and running in virtual, hybrid, and in-person forms.

Other than hosting the influential author, poet, and writer Allen Ginsberg, this space is a breeding ground for talent. The cafe’s book, Aloud: Voices of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, won the National Book Award in 1994. Artists of all shapes and sizes can share their work at open mic events and poetry slams throughout the week.

6. Café Con Libros (724 Prospect Pl.)

Book lovers and coffee lovers unite to enjoy influential authors at Café Con Libros.

Café Con Libros is the intersection of social justice, books, and coffee. Labeling itself as “An Intersectional Feminist Bookstore & Coffee Shop,” Café Con Libros strives to make every customer, especially female-identifying customers, feel comfortable. A lively community of book lovers characterizes this cafe as it is fostered through its Feminist Book Club and Womxn of Color Book Club.

Events often happen in this Brooklyn book haven, allowing book lovers to engage with budding and established influential authors. These book talks and author conversations abide by one of the store’s values: “We value the worth of all living organisms on earth.  We hold human relationships, the role of community, and living as closely to the type of equitable world we wish to create with high esteem.  We cherish the simplicity of genuine conversation, diversity, and love.”

7. The White Horse Tavern (567 Hudson St.)

For the past 141 years, the White Horse Tavern has served intellectual authors and musical giants.

The second oldest pub in New York City, the White Horse Tavern is an unconventional workspace for writers. However, it has been the hotspot for influential authors throughout history. Customers can venture to this spot in the West Village to enjoy a Double Smash Burger or New England Clam Chowder. After temporarily closing due to a violation of social distancing requirements, the White Horse Tavern reopened its door in September 2020.

Since opening in 1880, the White Horse Tavern has served intellectuals of all forms. From influential authors like Jack Kerouac to James Baldwin, the tavern cannot seem to free itself of the greatest minds in New York City. Welsh Poet Dylan Thomas famously died after leaving the White Horse Tavern after a heavy night of drinking.

8. Bluestockings (116 Suffolk St.)

Once society moves out of the COVID-19 era, customers will soon be able to mingle with influential authors amidst a diverse array of books.

Bluestockings is a spot where customers enjoy coffee and tea while searching for books on topics such as feminism, queer and gender studies, and police and prisons. The space in the Bowery is dedicated to empowering “all people to challenge oppression and participate in creating a society which is equitable, cooperative, and free.”

In addition to their Feminist Book Club and YA Book Club, Bluestockings succeeds in accomplishing this mission through their author events. Influential authors Tauno Biltsted author of The Anatomist’s Tale and Yao Xiao author of Everything Is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid have held Zoom events through Bluestockings. This center of books, coffee, and passion also provides spaces for discussion, such as their Off the Binary discussion space for nonbinary folks.

9. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (126 Crosby St.)

Customers can explore the bookstore that accompanies the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.

After a COVID-19-induced closure, the cafe section of the Housing Works Bookstore is currently open, so customers can still wander around the bookstore to purchase books donated by New York city residents with a coffee in hand. All business proceeds are donated to Housing Works, so they can continue their services, such as housing, health care response, and legal work.

Along with many events focused on activism at the Housing Works Bookstore, such as A Feast for the Books, an event that celebrates chefs in the bookstore atmosphere, there are also author events. Whether this event is a book release or a celebration of an influential author, customers can enjoy the presence of authors and other book lovers while sipping on the cafe’s tea, coffee, juice, soda, or seltzer. In the past, Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez discussed the release of their book Legendary Children, along with other authors. At the height of the pre-COVID era, the Housing Works Bookstore could hold 200 standing guests at events.

Next, check out NYC’s Hidden Coffee Shops and Inside Porto Rico Importing Co., One of NYC’s Oldest Coffee Stores