Not to be rude to those other streets out there, but I think Bleecker is hands down the best gourmet food street in New York City. A fantastic mix of old and new, the stretch of Bleecker Street between 6th and 7th Avenue is chock full of outrageously good snacks and meals (also known as extra large snacks). The cute little park, aka Father Demo Square, on the corner is lovely to sit in when it’s warmer out, and the human scale of this street is just right for a leisurely afternoon stroll. This is New York City at its friendliest and hungriest, and is one of the rare spots that is a draw for locals and tourists alike.
In the mood for some dessert? Grom and Cones are both solid choices, a notch above the competition. I have a good friend who professes a deep love for the corn flavor at Cones, though I feel like you can never go wrong with the classic hazelnut flavor at Grom. Murray’s Cheese is both a behemoth in the cheese world, and your friendly local cheese shop. With locations in Grand Central, random supermarkets across the country, and Bleecker Street (the original), Murray’s is heavenly for anyone into cheese, but has quite a few other tasty treats for cheese dislikers. (Who are you?? Explain yourself immediately!) The cheesemongers are helpful and patient, with ready samples if you find yourself waffling or want to try something new.
My current favorites are the Jasper Hill Farm Harbison, Etivaz (a super star Gruyere), the crumbly standby Humboldt Fog, and the Cambozola (Camembert – Gorgonzola, get it? I didn’t for a long time). The parents are extremely into their most popular cheese, the Fromager d’Affinois, which is quite similar to a Brie but all sorts of more – more silky, more fresh, more creamy. On the non-cheese end of things, I love that they stock Bays English muffins (life changing!), those Ines Rosales olive oil tortas, and a killer breakfast burrito from their little sandwich stand.
Right next door to Murray’s is Faicco’s Pork Store, an Italian stuff store established waaaay back in 1900. Fully stocked with all sorts of meats, monstrous sandwiches, famed rice balls, and some charming employees, the fresh pesto and mozzarella here will slay you. An new Italian lurker, Scali Caffe is solidly on the newer side, with a strangely cartoony interior and a really tricky front door. Once you get past those barriers, this new favorite of mine serves up some impeccably fresh pastas and sandwiches. Check out their toothsome and luscious trofie al pesto….mmm…need…
The Bleecker Street food scene would not be complete without Ottomanelli & Sons, a group of older gentlemen who would probably object to being in any kind of “scene.” Nonetheless, their little shop is stocked with all kind of delicious meat cuts (hellloooo steak of my dreams), stocks, duck bacon (?), game, all expertly and beautifully handed to you with meaty hands. The first time I went, the twinkly eyed butcher leaned over to hand me the best steaks I’ve ever eaten and said “Now you’re ready for the game.” I panicked (football??), but realized later that he probably meant the meat game. Batter up. Or whatever.
Need a drink? An extensive and well thought out selection is always available at the Blind Tiger Ale House. A crowded bar is also always present. Doesn’t anyone else have to go to work?? Every Wednesday, Murray’s delivers some free cheese for the snacking, at 6 on the nose. Don’t be tardy.
Two stellar pizza places from what I hear - John of Bleecker Street (old school) and Keste (new school), both from all accounts worth waiting in line for, but with all the other tasty non-line places on the street, I do get distracted.
Delicious California style burritos right around the corner: Dos Toros. Hearty, and fresh, they’ll thankfully ruin you for Chipotle forever.
Side story on the Harbison Cheese: The first time I bought it, the cheese guy warned me to watch out for the spruce rind. I sort laughed disbelievingly, to which he said, “It happens.” Fast forward to post-dinner party cleanup, and I notice part of said rind is missing. Fast forward again, to a friend asking very insistently what that small round of creamy cheese was, and then purchasing one for his own singular consumption. Two seemingly disparate incidences, but I have my suspicions.