Explore: Alphabet City (part 1 of 2)

Alphabet City—the sometimes-forgotten easternmost part of the Village, conspicuously tucked between First Ave and the East River, bordered by Stuy town at 14th to the north and Houston to the south—is home to various small restaurants, bars, cafes, as well as community gardens and squat houses. Less of a bohemian haunt than it used to be, Alphabet City has gentrified significantly over the course of the ‘90s and into 21st century. It’s a fun place to walk around, is less crowded and touristy than more frequented neighborhoods in lower Manhattan, such as St. Marks, Astor Place, and other parts of the East & West Village. 

This post is first in a series of two, recommending where to go and what to do in Alphabet city. The second can be found here.

Snack: Fresh doughnuts at Back Forty

So Farm-to-Table restaurant Back Forty has a whole menu, and it’s supposed to be great, but it’s not too cheap and I haven’t gotten around to eating there. However, I did walk in weary one day, took a seat at the bar, scraped my pockets for change in doughnut desperation, and sunk my teeth into a freshly fried doughnut for only $2. It’s one of the best purchases I have ever made directly from my measly piggy bank.

Hang Out: Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space

Pick up a zine on Anarchist Basics, a book on Guerilla Gardening, or another book called “You don’t have to fuck people over the survive” at this community center focused on grassroots organizing, supporting squatters, public gardening, and New York City’s population reclaiming its neighborhoods. Honestly: the museum isn’t much—it’s tiny, mostly in a basement, and has some cool tidbits but not a ton of information, I’m actually hesitant to call it a museum—but its employees are kind and knowledgeable. If you’re into zines, punk and/or DIY culture, street art, or making the city more beautiful through gardens and art—the people at this museum are lovely to talk to. They do tours of gardens and squats on Sundays for $20, but if you chat with them for a while they’ll tell you where to go.

Energize: B Cup Café

First off, if I ignore the name of this coffee shop—not offensive, more like inexcusably terrible—it’s a great place to kick around and exploit their free wifi. With a little bit of something for everyone—coffee, espresso beverages, baked goods (even gluten free), sandwiches, wraps, and salads—this is a great place to bring a group of friends with varying levels of hunger or dietary restrictions. There are even some roughed-up couches and cozy corners in the back.

Also check out: ABC Beer Co., Bikinis (Spanish sandwiches & tapas), B-side (dive bar) and expensive, handmade, natural/minimalist leather accessories by Jutta Neumann.

Adriana Lucci is an NYC wanderer, aspiring writer & gastronomer whose other interests include gender studies, street style, and everything Italia. She is currently reconciling her culinary and liberal arts educations through food writing. In addition to studying at Sarah Lawrence and editing Wanderlust for SLC Speaks, Adriana interns for Spenser Magazine. One of her life goals is to eat sushi suspended in a zero gravity chamber. Tweet her @0gravitysushi

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