The cafe Doma, meaning ‘home’ in Czech, is certainly home for many freelance scribblers, actors, filmmakers, and other creative types who use this cafe as a more spacious alterative to their tiny apartments nearby. Although often as quiet as a library (albeit a see-and-be-seen library, where eyes swoop to the door when it opens), the cafe has an unspoken rule that sitting at the central table means you’re open to conversation – friendships, romances, and business deals have all sprouted here. Doma (pictured above) also serves light cafe fare (omelets, salads, and gourmet sandwiches), as well as wine and beer in the evenings.
Set in a former garage, Grounded is a more hipster alternative to Doma, priding itself on a post-hippie, lived-in feel with kitschy thrift-shop mugs, politically-correct coffee, and a soundtrack that alternates between ‘70s staples and current indie Brooklyn bands. Like Doma, Grounded has a social common area of wooden benches and a couch grouped around a coffee table, where it’s acceptable to chat with the person next to you.
Joe’s has won best cafe in the New York press because of the quality of the coffee, but the atmosphere isn’t quite as enticing as at Doma or Grounded. It’s smaller here, usually quite crowded, and the tables and chairs are less comfortable. However, getting a spot outside on one of two benches and watching activity on this pretty street is an ideal way to spend an hour or two on a warm day. There’s a second Joe’s by Union Square (9 E. 13th St), where it’s easier to get a table.