BEST 4: DESSERT
Jacques Torres Chocolate (350 Hudson St., at King St.; 212-414-2462) is the closest you'll ever come to Wonkaland, and no pesky golden tickets required. In this 8,000-square-foot west SoHo choco-paradise, watch the god-food being made from start to finish, then ingest away at the onsite caf?.
When the West Village's Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker St., at W. 11th St.; 212-462-2572) opened in the mid-'90s it spawned the "cupcake craze," getting itself mentioned along the way in such gay iconography as "Sex & the City" and "The Devil Wears Prada."
For a more homestyle cupcake, try Chelsea's scrumptious J'Adore French Bakery (2 W. 23rd St., at Fifth Ave.; 212-620-0388), which also excels in chocolate croissants.
We dare you to say "blech" at the concept of tofu cheesecake after giving it a try at Kyotofu (705 Ninth Ave., btwn 48th & 49th Sts.; 212-974-6012), the Hell's Kitchen Japanese dessert bar where you'll learn to look at soy in a sweet new light.
BEST 4: COFFEE
For a perfect Village chillspot, check out 'sNice (45 Eighth Ave., at W. 4th St.; 212-645-0310). Great atmosphere, friendly staff, and cheap and tasty vegan/vegetarian sandwiches.
The nonchain java fave of many a West Village local, Joe, the Art of Coffee (141 Waverly Pl., btwn Gay St. & Sixth Ave.; 212-924-6750) is also where you can, if your timing is right, snag an Amy Sedaris-baked cupcake.
Chelseaites rave about Brown Cup (334 Eighth Ave., btwn 26th & 27th Sts.; 212-675-7765) for its good coffee, great ambience, and yummily affordable light menu options.
Taking the award for best franchise outlet most patrons probably don't realize is a franchise outlet, Kudo Beans (49-1/2 First Ave., at 3rd St.; 212-353-1477) is nevertheless one of the most reliably good, cool and pleasant (read: attitude-free) coffeehouses in the East Village.
BEST 4: CHELSEA
Recently pegged by New York magazine as one of the ten best new restaurants for 2007, Buddakan (75 Ninth Ave.; 212-989-6699, fax 212-989-6612; $17-44) is a Philadelphia transplant, blending old school Asian with incredible innovation (e.g., taro puff lollipops) served in a gorgeously trendy (and fairly massive) venue.
On the more intimate end of the spectrum, Klee Brasserie (200 Ninth Ave., btwn 22nd & 23rd Sts.; 212-633-8033; $21-27) is the newly opened Euro/American-cuisined first eatery from former Jean Gorges and Fresh chef Daniel Angerer. The Alsatian thin crust pizza with cr?me fra?che is to die for.
The aptly named East of Eighth (254 W. 23rd St., btwn Seventh & Eighth Aves.; 212-352-0075; $7-13) is a low-key, friendly Italian eatery with a largely gay clientele and attractively priced, reasonably well-executed pizzas and pastas. The downstairs lounge draws a quirky crowd of bears, trannies and suits.
Tour (see BEST 4: LATE NIGHT)
BEST 4: WEST VILLAGE
Babbo (see BEST 4: HARD TO GET)
At Mas (farmhouse) (39 Downing St., at Bedford St.; 212-255-1790; entrees $32-36, fixed price menus $68 and $95), slats of antique barn hang overhead as delighted diners tuck into culinary marvels from the Provence regions. The trout piscator and monkfish in black olive paste are particular standouts of this Greenwich Village gem.
Lupa (170 Thompson St; 212-982-5089; $15-20) is a casual bistro-style Italian restaurant in the Village offering perfect pasta and delectable, savory fare to a mixed (gay/straight) crowd. Celebrity chef and part owner Mario Batali (also of the aforementioned Babbo) puts plenty of interesting pork, fish and vegetable items on the menu, so there's something for everyone.
Another great local Italian bistro is Extra Virgin (259 W. 4th St., btwn Perry & Charles Sts.; 212-691-9359; $17-20), serving up creative Mediterrany on one of the neighborhood's lovelier tree-lined blocks.
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five
New York City: Introduction
New York City: Where to Stay
New York City: Where to Play/Meet
New York City: What to See and Do
New York City: Where to Shop
New York City: Neighborhoods
New York City: Resources