I have spent a good amount of my time in New York City so far cruising around the city’s cafes. I’ve done this partly because I wanted to write a post about free wifi places in New York, but mostly because sitting in my friend’s apartment doing work for too long causes me to go a little loopy. I love working in cafes so my quest to find the best free wifi enabled work spots in the city has been pretty fun.
In total I’ve visited about 20 cafes and will write a bigger post later as I plan to add more once I come back here in September. But, for the moment, here are my top 10 cafes in New York with free wifi, starting with my favourites.
Phoebe’s Cafe – Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This was a place I just stumbled onto and it’s probably the best I’ve been to in the whole city. It is spacious, there’s a lot of table and bar stool seating, and there’s even a patio in the back. They have pretty big menu for a cafe (I ordered the hummus dish and it was gigantic and good), they sell beer (and cider!), they have lemonade, and it’s got a nice, relaxed feel about it. The staff are friendly, there are other laptop people around so I don’t feel like a huge geek, the wifi signal is fast and reliable and there are plenty of power sockets. I would come back here again for sure.
Cafescape – Woodside, Queens
Located accross from the 61st and Woodside subway station, this place is close to my friends house and was a great place to escape to if I wanted to work in a cafe but didn’t feel like going all the way into Manhattan. The air-conditioning is pumping so take a light jumper if you don’t want to freeze. There are lots of tables and some are tucked in between two big posts which gives a bit of an illusion of privacy. Small round tables make it hard to work with food on there at the same time but otherwise a great setup. It wasn’t too busy at 11am on a weekday and there were plenty of tables to choose from. It seems to get very busy at night though. I sat in various places in the cafe and always had a power point right beside my table.
88 Orchard – Lower East Side, Manhattan
This place was crowded when I was there are about 4pm on a Friday afternoon. The round tables are super close together and I didn’t like the idea of practically sitting on someone’s lap while attempting to get some work done. But I ordered anyways and then noticed a sign that they had seating downstairs. The staircase isn’t visible from the front area but it leads down into a cozy room with a few tables, bench seating and some pillows to pad your ass or your back. It’s like a little unfinished basement. I really like it down there as it was quiet. The only distraction was the stream of people headng down to use the toilets and people coming in and out of the kitchen but that was no more distracting than the usual hustle bustle of a cafe. So if you get there and it looks busy, pop downstairs and see if there is room to stretch out a bit. There were plenty of power sockets too.
South 4th Bar and Cafe – Williamsburg, Brooklyn
South 4th is more of a bar than a cafe and the back room felt like a completely separate work area. It was a strange place but I liked it. The bartender/cafe chick was nice, the music was good and not too loud, the temperature was fine and the back room I was in almost seemed to be there specifically for people who wanted to work on their laptops. Each table is big, they all have individual power outlets beside them, it’s set apart from the main bar so is nice and quiet, and the only people in there were me and three other solo laptop-toters. The wifi was fast and didn’t disconnect and the cider I had was tasty but at $7, expensive. Beers and other drinks are cheaper but I felt like a cider and that was the only option. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of choice for food which is a bit of a downside if you want to plan a marathon session. They advertise that they have pastries but they only have a couple of things. So it’s great for atmosphere and if you would rather have a beer than a coffee, but if you want to eat as well, it’s probably not the place for you. I only spent about an hour there but I loved how the back room was set aside and, despite the lack of food, this place makes a great spot to come for a few hours, or until you get hungry.
Grizzi’s Coffee – Greenwich Village, Manhattan
(Sorry about the crappy photo) This place is located just north of Washington Park right near NYU and there were a bunch of young student types hard at work. I was here on a Saturday afternoon and there were plenty of seats available, including a bunch with plugs right beside them. The work spaces are good with wooden tables and chairs but there is also a couch if you prefer. The food is good and the iced mocha drink was pretty good. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with good lighting, lots of choice for food, a great wifi connection and I really enjoyed working here.
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe – SoHo, Manhattan
This is more of a bookstore than a cafe but it’s a fantastic place to go, if only because it’s a charity in aid of the homeless and is staffed entirely by friendly volunteers. The books are the main draw but there’s also a small cafe in the back with a small selection of bakery type things, coffee, tea and cold drinks. They didn’t have my usual frozen mocha drink (too fancy) but they served a nice lemonaide. It’s a bit of a distracting place to work unless you like a lot of people bustling around. The music was great… all nineties stuff (that’s pretty much where my musical tastes are stuck) and not too loud. I couldn’t find any plugs but I didn’t look too hard. Many of the tables were in the middle of the room though. It would be a great place to come if you need to do research at the same time since you’re surrounded by books. It has a great vibe and the fact that it’s for a good cause is just an added bonus.
Cafe Mocha – East Village, Manhattan
This is a great little place with a nice choice of pretty tempting looking, chocolate-covered desserts. I had an iced mocha and it was good and under $4 which, for Manhattan, seems about average. There are loads of tables crammed into a pretty small space but when I was there on a Thursday night it was pretty empty. The wifi is fast and reliable too. The only downside is the lack of powerpoints. I had a quick look around and didn’t find any. Overall I enjoyed working here although if it were full it would feel like people we sitting in my lap so maybe it’s best to avoid it when its packed.
Second Stop Cafe – Williamsburg, Brooklyn
I got to this place at 11am to find it packed. There are about ten tables of various sizes (some large enough to share) and people were at all of them, most with laptops and a couple with books spread out. Sharing tables seems to the be way to go though and five people were crammed onto one of the corner tables, all with laptops open. There are lots of power outlets and they’ve added power bars so that even more people can plug in. The wifi is fast and reliable, the iced mocha was tasty, the lemon cake I had was great, and the music is good and at a reasonable level. They didn’t have any air conditionig cranked and even though it was hot outside, inside it was a nice temperature. I get motivated for some reason when I’m surrounded by other people on laptops so I liked working here.
Supercore – Williamsburg, Brooklyn
It was a bit warm in here although that could have been due to the fact that I had been walking around in the hot sun for about 45 minutes before getting there. The lemonade is really good and hit the spot. There didn’t seem to be any plugs, at least none that I could see without having to get on all fours. They have a patio, a good selection of food and serve beer. A cool spot, I had a great table by the window and there was a plug near me but I would have had to climb inide the window display in order to use it and I wasn’t feeling particularely acrobatic at that moment.
Gotham Cafe – Upper East Side, Manhattan
I was in this place at 3:30pm on a Friday and it was pretty busy but there were plenty of tables so that was no problem. The music was barely audible over the chatting but I work well with a nice drone of conversation in the background. There was a powerpoint for every two tables that were against the wall. By this point I was incapable of having any more coffee or tea-related drinks so I opted for a water and a slice of key lime pie which was really great and cost $3.50. There seems to be a huge choice of the usual cafe type fare and lots of baked goods too including pretty decadent-looking cupcakes. There’s a toilet in the back and it is the sort of place I don’t mind leaving my laptop out at unattended. There were plenty of people around anyways if I wanted someone to watch my stuff. The circular tables were a bit small and it seemed like a place popular with moms and kids but overall I liked it.
I would love some recommendations for your favourite New York City cafes with free wifi so I can check them out next time I’m here.