The Cafe at McNally Jackson


Any NYC-based book lover should know about McNally Jackson, an adorable and refreshing independent bookseller in Nolita/Soho.  They have a fantastic mix of classics and modern books, there are plenty of sections to wander through with a selection of tomes that you’ll have difficulty finding anywhere else.  You could easily spend an entire morning looking at their front tables before wandering toward cookbooks or travel writing.  Then there are the brilliant magazines on offer…

If you don’t pay a trip to the cafe, however, you’ll be missing quite the pleasant surprise.  Coffee and books; coffee and intellectual discussion, there’s a reason these two go hand-in-hand.  McNally Jackson’s cafe is tiny but manages to fit quite a few people.  Students, the self-employed and people holding informal meetings all cram together with their big white mugs of coffee, chatting and working for hours.  This means it can be difficult to find a spot during high time, but if you manage to, you’ll want to park yourself there for as long as possible.


I went on a beautiful, sunny and springy Thursday with my mother.  We were both looking to get a little work done, but found the coffee was the perfect fuel for a little quasi-intellectual mother/daughter discussion.  Italy, fashion, books and coffee.  The kind of conversation that makes your skype connection go berserk.

My mother called this “destination coffee,” a claim that I don’t quite agree with.  It’s good, but not brilliant, more comforting.  They brew stumptown, which certainly helps up the coffee.  The drinks aren’t perfectly crafted.  They aren’t beautiful, the cappuccino is a little milky, the macchiato is pretty foamy, but they are a step above your average cafe.  As you sit at your small wooden table, you feel like a classic intellectual sipping on your very rich, chocolatey and pleasantly-bitter brew.  You aren’t coming here for the coffee, you’re coming here for the book-y vibes.  The atmosphere is just as conducive to work as it is to pondering.  While McNally Jackson may not be a serious coffee mecca, it is a lovely meeting place for books and coffee, for brewing ideas and brewing beans.

If only more bookstores had cafes like this, perhaps people would be more willing to read than watch television.

Do you like going to cafes in bookstores?  Do you have a favorite bookstore cafe?


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