“No one questions New York’s jazz intensity,” my friend Patrick Jarenwattananon over at A Blog Supreme aptly stated in regards to this weekends attention-surplus-disordered New York Winter Jazz Fest: a two day event that showcases around 200 of the planet’s most creative jazz musicians. The same could be said about eating and drinking in New York. And the same could even be said about eating and drinking in the West Village, home to the five venues of Winter Jazz Fest, and a mecca for foodies and boozies.
As a music, food, and wine writer for Wine and Jazz Magazine, and as a former resident of the West Village, instead of listing my top music picks for Winter Jazz Fest, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite places to eat and drink in the area. Because you’ll likely at some point be standing in the back of a venue with an obstructed view, hungry, thirsty, sweating but having already shed all your layers, so let the temptation of countless West Village dinning and drinking spots win you over for a portion of the weekend.
Forget beers at the Blind Tiger (the last time I went no one was in sight to take my order, the only visible person appeared to be a maintenance employee changing a light bulb, and what was featured on the menu as being on cask was not available) or cocktails at Little Branch (the wait alone could be the length of an entire set), and head to Wilfie and Nell (228 West 4th Street) for stellar drafts, cocktails — designed by owner Simon Gibson — and a locavore menu.
The drafts can’t compete with the nearby Blind Tiger in numbers, but their selection is always stellar with, among others, Vicotry Prima Pilsner, Bitburger, Brooklyn seasonal, Chimay Rouge, and passionately poured Guinness. It fills up fast on the weekends but all it takes is a quick glance at a bar tender to get a drink.
The serious oeno-geek will want to make the trek to Anfora over at 34 8th Avenue. But for something closer to the action check out ‘ino (21 Bedford Street) for small Italian plates and bottles, carafes or glasses of Italian wines.
For those who want to try to fit in a serious, sit down dinner, Lupa (170 Thompson Street) is the little brother of Iron Chef Mario Batali’s Babbo. Lupa accepts walk-ins and I’ve always been able to sit and eat at the bar right away.
Open until 1:30 A.M., Rocco’s Pastry Shop (243 Bleeker Street) has lots of space with tables, and cases and cases of pastries. For coffee drinks to-go, walk in and head right to the Barista’s counter to order.
Late Night Pizza
John’s and Joe’s have the reputations but give the guys at Bleeker Street Pizza a chance (69 7th Avenue, on the corner of Bleeker and 7th). Try the Nonna Maria slice and thank me later.