Though barely over 500 square feet, Cubbyhole occupies a much greater space in New York’s nightlife. It is one of the city’s only remaining lesbian bars and serves as a “cozy safe haven” for queer women and the LGBTQ+ community at large, according to its current owner, Lisa Menichino.
Cubbyhole was started by Tonya Saunders, who fled Nazi Germany with her mother and took refuge in the States. She came out as a lesbian in the 1960s and nursed a dream of starting an inclusive bar despite spending years working in advertising. A week after being laid off from her job, she stumbled across a “bar for sale” sign in the West Village and promptly claimed the spot to open the DT Fat Cat with a partner. In 1994, Tonya took over as the sole owner, renamed it, and transformed it into the much-adored Cubbyhole that stands today.
After a trip to New Orleans’ splashy bar scene, Tonya was inspired to hang a colorful hodgepodge of trinkets from Cubbyhole’s ceiling and commission an artist to paint a mural on the walls. Much of the decor is gifted by regulars who bring back souvenirs from their own travels, while other themed objects are displayed seasonally to celebrate holidays.
With the change in aesthetic came a shift in the bar’s perception to something warmer and more accessible. “To Tonya, exclusivity was boring. She wanted a bar that would invite everyone in — gay, straight, men, and women.”
Lisa, who had always bartended in between other jobs, was feeling burnt out after working as a probation officer. Searching for a new vocation, she was introduced to Tonya, and the women immediately hit it off. “Tonya became like a second mother to me.” And as for Cubbyhole itself, Lisa soon fell in love — “It is such a special place. The customers, the vibe, everything.”
Tonya sadly passed away in 2018 and left the bar to Lisa, who has dedicated herself to preserving its spirit. “Cubbyhole is the icon. I’m just the person making sure the operational parts are there.”
The Corner Bistro is a beloved neighborhood bar in New York City's West Village that has endured for over 60 years. Though lacking the storied literary pedigree of other downtown haunts, it has cultivated a loyal following thanks to its unpretentious charm, congenial atmosphere and its signature flame-broiled burgers — declared among the city's best by New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton in 1978. We certainly enjoyed ours (with a side of tater tots) when we visited. We got chatting to Jim, who was managing and bartending on the Wednesday lunchtime we popped by — he shared his longtime love of the fabled bar. "We're open late. So even when I was living uptown in my young twenties, I would come downtown, drink with my friends and then stumble in here to have a burger at two in the morning, " he said. His enthusiasm and memories are matched by the customers too. Jim recalls: "Every day people come in saying 'I used to come here in the seventies' or "I met my wife here'. So every day we have people coming back to New York and say this is a memory of their past. "Longtime Corner Bistro owner Bill O'Donnell, who turned the unassuming West Village burger joint into an iconic New York City destination during his 45 year tenure, died in 2016 at age 80 after a battle with cancer. ""The owner passed away before the pandemic. And his daughter just seamlessly took over, " said Jim. Corner Bistro retains its consummate neighborhood bar character, giving locals and visitors alike a taste of an ever-rarer old New York — and it's the western gateway to 4th Street!
“We are one of the oldest gay bars in the city, ” said Helen Burford. The owner of Julius’ considers it an honor to be a part of this history and to allow others to share in it. Many who stop by are keen to dip their toes into an earlier, more troublesome period. “We are a good reminder of the struggles people went through for those of us today. ”What better way for young men and women to learn about landmark events like the renowned “Sip-In, ” where gay activists challenged New York’s prohibitions on gay bars? The patrons who have been frequenting Julius’ for decades are happy to provide a history lesson. Every day around 4 p. m., they sit in a corner and share stories of what it was like back in the day. “This is their home. To them, Julius’ is not a bar — rain or shine, they need to be here. ” The old group, now in their seventies and eighties, enjoy having a drink and chatting with one another, but they also invite “guests” into the conversation — passing the baton, as this is their legacy. “They are always trying to bring young people into the fold, ” Helen commented.
Having lived in England for a year and a half, and always delighted for an excuse to return, I was perfectly thrilled to walk into Wilfie & Nell. At times it is filled with Brits and you will feel like you have been transported back across the Atlantic as you dine on Shepherds Pie, or a Ploughman's Cheese Plate, or just browse through their extended list of beers and enjoy the pub atmosphere with a Manhattan twist.
Select a region and there will most likely be a glass of wine to sample from the extensive list in this French wine bar. The ambience, even during the daylight hour, is alluring. The rotating wine list is impressive, offering over fifty bottles, paired with a short and simple menu of regional French bistro-style cuisine.
The only genre of music missing in Academy Records is classical.... but not to worry, that is completely covered in their shop on 18th. Otherwise, this shop, here on 12th Street, has an impressive selection of rock, jazz, soul, funk, country, and folk. In chatting with one of the owners, he told us that they are always actively looking for "new" records and are constantly receiving inventory. In addition, they host DJ events.
I guess it would be quite obvious to those who have been reading my site since the beginning, that my particular passion, besides Manhattan itself, is books. I have been a frequent customer of the Strand since I was a little girl and my mom made this a destination on a New York City outing. Their stock has certainly increased from the few book shelves that they began with in 1927 on Fourth Avenue - to the 4, 000 square feet that they moved to here on 12th Street, in 1956 - to today's space of 55, 000 square feet. The "18 miles of books" consisting of old, new and rare books covers several floors. For years I just treated this shop like it a was museum, especially the Rare Book Room upstairs. I would step in and browse for hours, wanting everything, but not being able to justify purchasing it all. Then I opened my own book shop, inspired by the Strand. Despite their avenue address, the Strand has carts of books lining 12th Street rain or shine and a side street entrance. They also boast a Central Park kiosk open when weather permits and a pop-up location in the Club Monaco on 5th Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets.
Considering the multitude of rave reviews that Hearth has received since it opened in 2003, we were pleasantly surprised at the unpretentious and warm greeting we received. Although reservations for the dining room are recommended, especially during peak times, some of the best seats in the house are first come, first served. Pull up a stool at the bar and sample one of the artisanal cocktails made with New York produced spirits, or walk straight through the softly lit, exposed brick and red-walled dining room to the open kitchen and grab one of the four chairs right at the counter where the food is being cooked. During our visit, one of the sous chefs was cutting apart ribs right in front of us. When we visited, we learned that the menu changes slightly each day, always highlighting the freshest ingredients and trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible. However, a few favorites have remained on the menu since they opened over nine years ago, including the Grilled Quail and the Beef and Ricotta Meatballs. Many of the dishes are meant for sharing, like the Whole Roasted Fish of the Day. In 2016, chef Marco Canora upgraded the menu to focus on fewer processed flours, sugars, and oils. There are also many more dishes featuring offal, such as heart and liver. The purpose of the shift is to highlight food that is high in nutrients and does not contain growth hormones. If the resulting cuisine is anything like what we tasted when we visited, diners are in for a treat. Hearth’s extensive and well thought out beverage program is also intriguing, with a wine list focusing on certain grape regions, plus off the beaten path beers. With such an inviting and comfortable dining room, an exciting and ever-changing menu, and an impressively curated beverage list, Hearth presents the total package for a perfect night of dining.
Coppy Holzman moved to New York in 1976, and in the years since has undertaken multiple entrepreneurial projects. Most recently, alongside his daughter-slash-business-partner Logan Mikhly (who used to manage an animal rescue in New Orleans), Coppy opened Boris and Horton, a dog friendly café off of 12th street in the East Village. During our conversation, Coppy said, “I’ve moved away from New York here and there, but New York’s the best city on the planet, so why live any place else? ” (Relatable! ) But he and Logan had one issue: while walking around the city together, they found that there was nowhere they could stop in to eat or even grab a coffee with their dogs, Boris and Horton. They decided to solve this problem, and Boris and Horton opened its doors in February of 2018, offering great food and coffee, wine and beer in the evenings, and, of course, the opportunity for customers to spend quality time with their dogs, others’ dogs, and fellow dog-lovers. The vegetarian café sources its products from more than 20 local suppliers, including products from NYC staples such as pastries by Balthazar, cheese from Murray’s, Tea Pigs teas, and homemade syrups. The menu boasts both comfort foods and lighter options, and the wine and beer list rotates monthly - so there is always something new to try. But it’s not just humans who can get treats at Boris and Horton. For the pups, there are pupcakes, doggie doughnuts, french fries, beefcheek and other delicious delicacies made fresh by Maison de Paul. And when your furry friend is tired out from all the socializing and snacking, there are Casper dog beds available to fulfill all his napping-dreams. Logan and Coppy realized very quickly that Boris and Horton had become a community space. While half of their visitors are tourists, many of whom learn of Boris and Horton through social media or other news coverage, half of the customers at the café are neighbors of the business who have made Boris and Horton a “stop on their daily routine. ” In response to the café’s important role in locals’ daily lives, the father-daughter duo decided to expand their space, doubling it in size. In October of 2018 they opened the renovated extension, which includes an expanded seating area in the front, a colorful bespoke mural on the wall, and, notably, a party room in the back which is perfect for corporate events, human-birthday parties, dog-birthday parties, or any other kind of event you can imagine. Though the small fraction of the café’s space that includes the kitchen and main serving counter is not open to dogs due to health code requirements, the other 75% of Boris and Horton, including the entirety of the new extension, is completely dog friendly. Coppy assured me that New York is “a wonderful place for a dog, ” though before Boris and Horton New Yorkers might have struggled to find somewhere they could take their dogs along for Friday-night drinks. In fact, if you’re considering bringing a dog into your own routine, you can attend a weekend rescue event at Boris and Horton, where — just maybe — you’ll meet your new best friend. In collaboration with Muddy Paws Rescue, Boris and Horton has helped to find forever homes for up to twenty dogs in a weekend: pretty doggone amazing. If it’s human relationships that you seek, Boris and Horton may still be the place to go. With weekly events like trivia and bingo, Coppy and Logan are helping to “build up the community DNA. ” As Coppy told me, “Dogs are a great way to engage. . . it’s a catalyst for easy conversation. ” If customers meet at Boris and Hortonand end up dating, “then that’s even better! ” Coppy said. He even admitted that sometimes he’ll do a little matchmaking in the shop. And yes, there have been success stories. Then, of course, any weddings following such successes can be booked for the event space, and can even be ordained by Coppy himself, who is not only a matchmaker but also a minister. “I think people are wonderful, and they’re even better when they have a dog by their side, ” Coppy said, smiling. At Boris and Horton you’ll find the best of the best, from comfort food to good company — human or otherwise. On this little corner of 12th street, at least, Manhattan Sideways is happy to report that New York has officially gone to the dogs