Grey Dog Coffee (at night)
33 Carmine Street, West Village
Rating: 4 out of 5 L's
By day, the original Grey Dog location is no secret. Cozily decorated with strings of Christmas lights and dog-themed bric-a-brac, the vibe is countrified but the hustle and bustle is classic Manhattan. Its coffee menu is standard enough, but you wouldn't find service this efficient or seating this tight in another town – or even in another borough. It's one of those places where you can hide out with your New Yorker in a completely crowded room. Even celebrities can get a little peace in this place. Rumors once swirled that Monica Lewinsky would sip coffee here, unbothered by her fellow regulars, in the wake of President Clinton's impeachment.
What you might not know about Grey Dog is that it stays open until 11:30pm on school nights and 12:30am on Fridays and Saturdays. As a bar, it's pretty much a hidden gem. After a weekend dinner date in the West Village, followed by a little ice cream at Cones or gelato at Grom, it would be nice to grab a cheap and peaceful drink, no? Sure, there are chic and pricey cocktails haven nearby, or you could battle the drunken masses for a brew at the Blind Tiger or the Village Tavern, but how about a quiet cappuccino or Sierra Nevada at Grey Dog instead?
Lit by votive candles, the coffee shop looks so dark from the sidewalk that you might not notice it's open – but late-night happy hour kicks in at 9pm, offering draft beers for about 3 bucks. Couples and hushed groups of girls may gather around the tables, but you're pretty much guaranteed a seat. And if you haven't had dinner yet, the chalkboard sandwich menu doesn't disappoint – try the #7 turkey sandwich, piled with creamy brie and tart Granny Smith apple slices, smeared with sweet and spicy raspberry mustard. It tastes even better when you realize you've stumbled into a secret hideout.