Miss Lily's 7A Cafe

  • Restaurants
  • Dinner
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Paul Wagtouicz
MISS LILY'S 7A CAFE pepper shrimp
East Village
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If you squint, you can almost see the bones of 7A, the round-the-clock canteen that doled out comfort eats on Avenue A and East 7th Street for 30 years. The wraparound bar and raised seating is still there, but the old digs have been reborn as a reggaeton fun house, a jumble of pink-leopard tabletops, sea-foam checkered floors, and West Indian glamazons bedecked with big hair and tiny shorts. The Antillean makeover comes courtesy of Paul Salmon and Serge Becker, who do more than bring their Jamaican jerk hit east from the heart of the Village—they improve on the original.

ORDER THIS: The menu pays homage to the space’s diner past with a 7A cheeseburger and a “Jamaican patty melt”—namely, a Gruyère-glued melt lamely pierced with Jamaican-flag toothpicks—but you’re better off sticking to Miss Lily’s greatest hits (head-on hot-pepper shrimp, $14; juicy jerk-rubbed chicken, $15) or one of the island-inspired newbies. Pubby fish-and-chips gets a tropical reboot, served with zippy escovitch vegetables ($19), while the standout “buss-up shot” tops shredded Trinidadian roti with tender grilled shrimp, tongue-tingling curry vegetable casserole and tamarind chutney ($19).

GOOD FOR: A post-Scotch-bonnet cooldown. Unlike the Houston Street flagship, the Alphabet City outpost boasts a full bar, centered on the kind of sweet, dangerously easy-drinking cocktails usually found in beachside shacks.Along with rummy takes on the classics—Negroni ($12), Sazerac ($12)—there’s the tart, sorrel-spiked Champion Bubbla, with spiced Sailor Jerry rum and champagne ($12); the nutmeg-dusted Lily Colada, fragrant with vanilla bean ($12); and a frozen dark and stormy ($9), a perk of the slushie machine parked behind the stick.

THE CLINCHER: There’s a beautiful-people vibe, sure, with its runway-to-restaurant downtown patronage and dancehall babes serving Red Stripes, but don’t let that dissuade you. Rather than turn up a gorgeously sloped nose at questions, the attentive crew’s quick to explain what the hell festival and callaloo are (corn-bread fritters and stewed water spinach, respectively), and help you choose which rum variety’s for you (dry, dark, mango). That’s some island hospitality, mon.

By Christina Izzo

Venue name: Miss Lily's 7A Cafe
Address: 109 Ave A
New York
Cross street: at 7th St
Opening hours: Daily 5pm–2am
Transport: Subway: F to Lower East Side–Second Ave
Price: Average entree: $18. AmEx, MC, V

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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naveen r

I’d heard good things about this place, and I wasn’t misled. The atmosphere alone is enough to take you away. On a hot day, with the wrap around almost alfresco seating, you definitely won't feel like you’re in NYC. The food was delicious with a pretty relaxed menu that wasn’t overwhelming. Rum infused drinks added to the feeling of a Jamaican escape. Highly recommended if you’re after a laid back lunch with flavor!


If you've lived in the neighborhood a long time and care about "old New York," you might bemoan the existence of this place, having taken over for long-timer 7A. But it's a fun addition to the hood, with its lively decor, super friendly staff, flavorful Jamaican fare, Mr. Melvin's juices and Kelvin's absolutely delicious dark and stormy slushies. The cod fritters are fluffy deliciousness, and the mini tacos work as a nice snack. But it's the jerk dishes (chicken, fish, whatever) that are the way to go here. Sit at the bar with a friend, or tuck into a booth with a group.