The day starts at one of the oldest public areas in the city. Jackson Square has defined the West Village from the early 1800’s onward. The park was named after former President Andrew Jackson and was originally used as a rallying point for political and civic gatherings. And though its triangular space is small, there are a lot eye-pleasing sites such as the rustic water fountain in its center. Cobblestones give the park an inviting character, and make it a perfect space to walk through to get your mind working.
Yeah, you may have had a hearty breakfast, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have time to stop at Dominque Ansel Bakery. The one thing you will realize in these parts is the abundance of the specialty spots such as Murray’s Cheese shop and Magnolia Bakery. Hands down, though, the best specialty spot is Dominique Ansel, and West Villagers know it. The lines could be overwhelming at times — especially super early in the day. So this may be the perfect time to experience the perfectly hand-crafted sweets such as the cronut (half donut, half croissant) and the Paris-NY (choux dough filled with chocolate, caramel and peanut butter). There’s so much more to savor here, from the outrageously original cakes to, naturally, macarons.
Not that you haven’t had enough food, but this is the West Village, so When in Rome… The best restaurants, both large and small, are everywhere. And it is lunch time after all. So you decide to make your way to Buvette. The first thing you notice in this small spot is its visual appeal. From tin ceilings to the wooden bar top to the overall rustic surroundings, Buvette is the perfect setting for some grub. The restaurant is a blend of French and Italian cuisines. The must-haves here are the Tartinettes the include the Pesto Di Parma (pearls of prosciutto, parmesan and sage) and Pesto Di Noci (walnut pesto with parmesan & thyme). There are also the poissons that include Moules a La Rouille (steamed mussels with garlic toasts). On a side note, if you take a left outside of Buvette, walk to the corner of Christopher and Bedford streets, you’ll find the exterior of the house used for the show “Friends.”
Now that you are in a shopping mood, visit the neighborhood’s many great shops. Start from the vast record shop Rebel Rebel, and move on to clothing havens of rag & bone, Brunello Cucinelli, and Meg. The highlighted stop along your route has to be Scotch & Soda, which offers top-of-the-line and trendy threads.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. This is going to be the toughest part of your first day in the West Village. There are so many fantastic restaurants to discover. And just when you thought you’ve been to them all, you find another gem you haven’t seen. There’s Fedora, Corner Bistro, Rosemary’s, Olio e Piu and Barbuta. Tonight, you have a seat at L’Artusi. The Italian eatery is a revelation. The food is consistently excellent, and includes incredible charred octopus (mixed with chiles, olives, and pancetta) and seared sweetbreads (white bean puree, escarole and chorizo). Even better, the service has earned this restaurant glowing recommendations. Skip desert, no matter how painful this may seem.
The major selling point for many in this grand NYC neighborhood is the abundance of Jazz clubs. The area has become famous for the launch of many successful jazz careers. You may get a glimpse of some of the future legends as you peruse the many great jazz haunts (probably the best north of New Orleans). The major standouts that you will have to visit are Village Vanguard, Smalls Jazz Club, Mezzrow, Arthur’s Tavern, and The 55 Bar. Live music is a constant at each of these spots, so on any given day you will have a chance to experience some beautiful sounds of the saxophone.
The night is just getting started in the West Village. At Fat Cat, nights last longer. The place is one part pool hall and one part jazz bar. But its biggest draw is that Fat Cat closes at 5 a.m. There aren’t many places in the five boroughs that continue to serve that late. The atmosphere is easily inviting. As soon as you go downstairs, you are greeted with a sea of pool tables that seem to travel back for miles. The drinks are simple and straightforward. So you’re thinking… time to take a draft of Budweiser and grab a pool stick.