Best RomCom Cafes In New York City
New York City has often been heralded as a character in itself when discussed in the context of being the setting of a movie. This is especially true when the movie is of the Romantic Comedy, or RomCom, variety. When the likes of Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Steve Martin, or Tom Hanks (again...and again...and again) prepare to meet the likes of Meg Ryan, Michelle Pheiffer, Catherine Zeta Jones, or Meg Ryan (again...and again...again), a prominent New York "landmark" always becomes integral to the story and the city as a whole carries the film through a variety of scenarios from the beginning to the end. Without New York, half of the films we know, love, or even loathe, would not exist today. Toronto, a popular stand in for NYC for budget conscious film makers, can attempt to fill its shoes time and time again but to no avail, no matter the inserted pan out shots of an Empire State Building that isn't actually there.
Many of the aforementioned landmarks come in the form of quintessentially quaint cafes as opposed to monolithic cemented structures surrounded by flash camera carrying tourists and tour guides. Instead, most of our fleeting feelings of optimism for the mismatched couple on the screen before us come while we witness their witty banter at some dim lit, close quartered cafe hidden in the quiet shadows of New York City. This is when we truly feel that we can relate to the protagonists. We don't get the opportunity to bypass homeland security (without serious repercussion) to chase down our destiny at the gate before they board a plane from JFK to Paris. But we do know what it feels like to get to know someone, perhaps discovering that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person, while conversating over lattes at your favorite caffienating spot. These hubs of human interaction are also where "love at first sight" is born while bumping elbows at the mixing table, thus the genesis of the rest of your life may take place at that very place.
This list suggests our picks for New York City cafes where that magic "spark" can happen for you, be it for a one time eye contact encounter, a first date, a place to work things out with a potential loved one, an anniversary after dinner nightcap, or even if you just want to sit solo and sip a great cup of coffee while soaking up the fun and romantic vibe of New York City.
Cafe Lalo - Upper West Side, Manhattan
201 West 83rd Street (between Amsterdam and Broadway)
Enter the word "quaint" or "charming" into your favorite thesaurus dot com search box and proceed to read the list of results. What you have is every adjective needed to describe Cafe Lalo. They don't find a cafe like this to serve as a set on a movie, they base movies around the existence of a cafe such as this.
Located on the "Upper West Side of Manhattan", a phrase people love to say when describing a location within the district, Cafe Lalo catches the eye of evening passerbyers as the dim glowing windows with blurred silhouettes inside beckon you to come in and join them. Walking along Cafe Lalo's front sidewalk, under the fire fly light adorned trees and up the stairs and through the creaking door you can't help but feel romance in the air. The producers of 1998's You've Got Mail agreed and based an important turning point between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan's strained yet quirky relationship around an "impromptu" meet at this cafe. To this day, hoards of camera clad fans of the film can be seen snapping away at one another with Cafe Lalo close in the background.
Movie anecdotes aside, Cafe Lalo with its exterior/interior decor, amazing cake & pastry menu, superior espresso and spirit selection, and topped off with late night hours (4am on weekends!), makes it a perfect setting for spending hours lost in conversation with someone you know, or are getting to know better.
225 East 60th Street (between 2nd & 3rd avenues)
"Serendipity" by definition is a propensity for making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated. However, the chances that you came upon "Serendipity 3" by cosmic accident are highly unlikely as this cozy little cafe on the Upper East Side of Manhattan has become an attraction proportionate to Times Square for New Yorkers, tourists, and even a bevy of celebrities who get their photos snapped here almost as much as they do in line for mug shots. In the above listing we stated "They don't find a cafe like this to serve as a setting in a movie, they make movies based upon the fact that such a cafe exists". Well, we can almost guarantee that the namesaked 2001 film starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale would not have existed if it wasn't for Serendipity 3's birth back in 1954 between 2nd and 3rd Avenues of NYC. At the very least, the film would not have worked for many if it wasn't for this whimsical little location bringing the two main characters together over dessert. Serendipity 3 however, would continue on just fine without being recognized on screen.
Word of mouth is one thing, but a cafe doesn't garner a 3 hour line up, nor take reservations, without being superior for one thing; serving some of the most delectable sweets and beverages in Manhattan. Whether sharing a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate and Humble Pie with a significant other or by yourself against the backdrop of Tiffany lampshades, you are sure to fall in love, even if it is with an inanimate food item. Serotonin is off the charts at Serendipity 3!
The Theater Cafe
106-03 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills, Queens, NY (next to Cinemart Cinemas)
What could be more appropriate for a list about RomCom Cafes than a cafe owned and operated by a historical landmark recognized theater which is located next door? Throw in walls decorated with some of the great on screen matches of our time, dim lit corners and a warm fireplace bookended by two chocolate leather loveseats and you have the perfect setting to enjoy conversation about the film you just watched over a Cafe Mocha or Dessert Wine.
119 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village, New York
Apparently Caffe Reggio served America's very first Cappuccino back in 1927. Perhaps Starbuck's would never have existed if it wasn't for them, and thus Caffe Reggio may have single handedly thwarted the end of the world, or instigated it, depending on how you look at things.
Anyhow, in regards to this list, Caffe Reggio is so much more than great cappuccinos (which is a fact). The interior warms the body and soul on even the coldest of New York winter days. Everything about this place, from the authentic Italian Renaissance art on the walls to the seating with wired heart shaped designs on their backs, whispers the word "romance" softly into the ears of anyone that enters the establishment. "Romance" in this sense not only refers to affairs of the heart, but it regards a time long passed, a time that has not been forgotten by Caffe Reggio.
Spend your morning, afternoon, evening, or a night spilling into the wee hours of the morning (open until 4:30am on weekends) in witty colloquy with a companion at Caffe Reggio and you'll be sure to know them better than when you entered together through the green and gold trimmed door.
La Lanterna Caffe
129 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village, New York
Located 10 digits away from Caffe Reggio above and a stones throw away from Washington Square Park, La Lanterna Caffe makes for a great place to make a date, and go for stroll before, after, or both, while exchanging pleasantries and making googly eyes at each other against the perfect New York City backdrop.
La Lanterna Caffe must have been made with romance and conversation in mind as intimate corners confine dialogue from the rest of the room while the dim lighting accented by fireplace flickers highlights everyone's best features, transforming you both into a photographic snippet worthy of Hollywood lore.