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New Yorkers tell us their favorite mom-and-pop stores in the city

A love letter to the independent small businesses that give NYC its lifeblood.

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Photograph: Jacob Pritchard

Real New Yorkers know that the businesses that give New York its personality and character are its quintessential mom-and-pop shops—from homey NYC restaurants to quirky NYC boutiques and supply shops. So as the never-ending parade of bland luxury condo towers spring up across the city, and every other corner gets a brand-new Chase, we decided to highlight some of the independent businesses that keep New York great. Here are some recs from a few of our favorite New Yorkers.

New Yorkers on their favorite mom-and-pop shops

Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Having grown up in New York and then lived elsewhere for most of my adult life, I have had a lifelong appetite for the egg cream. For reasons I have never been able to discern, this is a decidedly regional specialty, restricted pretty exclusively to the five boroughs. Think of it as an ice cream soda without the ice cream or, for those of a certain age, a homemade Yoo-hoo. The best I have ever had—and now have frequently—is just a few blocks from the Met at Lexington Candy Shop, an old-fashioned New York luncheonette of the sort that once dotted the city landscape.”

Courtesy Yelp/Aeeza L.

Bao Ong, Time Out food and drink editor

“I overlook the communal tables and sticky menus at Bo Ky because this Chinatown favorite serves a lengthy menu of dishes from a southern region of China, Chaoshan, whose food you don’t often find these days. If I decide to pass on the roast duck, I’ll be working my way through the extensive noodle-soup options.”

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Courtesy Shaun Irons

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray

Bar Toto is a perfect extension of our living room and dining room. It’s on our block in Park Slope, so we feel at one with our neighborhood here. Cozy and homey and down to earth, it’s a place for family occasions, big and small.”

Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Benjamin Dreyer, author of Dreyer’s English

“Years ago, when I was on lengthy jury duty—a murder trial—I got into the habit of wandering around Chinatown on our extended lunch breaks, and that’s when I stumbled upon Fried Dumpling (212-693-1060) on tiny little Mosco Street. The dumplings are extraordinarily tasty and extraordinarily inexpensive. Now, whenever I’m in the area, I always get a half dozen and then hunker down on a nearby stoop and try not to inhale them.”

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Courtesy Mansion Restaurant

Cynthia von Buhler, artist, author and playwright

“My favorite diner is The Mansion, and I go there all the time. The owner is this awesome guy, and he’s been doing this for a really, really long time. He always chats with me, and everybody sits outside. It’s like the hub of this neighborhood [Yorkville]. It’s always a really warm, comfortable scene going on.”

Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Will Gleason, Time Out deputy features editor

“As soon as you walk into Casey Rubber Stamps in the East Village, you know you’re in the presence of a master. It has a wide range of unique stamps to buy, or you can have custom stamps made. A personalized book stamp is the perfect gift for any bibliophile in your life.”

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Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Dominique Ansel, pastry chef at Dominique Ansel Bakery

“Just a few blocks away from our bakery in Soho is Raffetto’s, which has been making pasta and sauce since the early 1900s. It feels like a real Italian nonna made your dinner.”

Courtesy Domus

Celia Keenan-Bolger, actor in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway

Domus is one of my favorite home-goods stores in the city. Store owners Luisa and Nicki make trips to different countries every year, forge relationships with artisans and bring back items that are not only beautiful but also have a personal story attached to them. They pay what the artisans ask, instead of imposing a low price that would devalue their work. So, whether it’s a handwoven blanket or an inlaid wooden box, the products are of good quality and made with integrity.”

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Courtesy Yelp/anthony r.

Carmen Sognonvi, creator of Top Flight Family

“Whenever we need to buy a birthday present, my daughters and I inevitably end up at Pizzazzz Toyz (718-596-4744) in Cobble Hill. It’s a very old-school store, jam-packed from floor to ceiling with toys of all kinds. We love getting lost in there, discovering both new and old toys.”

Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Emma Orlow, Time Out associate food and drink editor

“Vintage in Bed-Stuy is slim pickings, so I’m grateful to have Harold and Maude Vintage in my neighborhood. The shoebox-size shop off the G train is run by a wonderful dad with impeccable style and the cutest baby he dresses to the nines. Named after the morally questionable film, this store has the same off-beat vibe and ’70s style as its namesake: varsity jackets, bell-bottoms and an incredibly well-curated selection of children’s clothing.”

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Courtesy Krista Schlueter

Alex Timbers, director of Beetlejuice and Moulin Rouge!
on Broadway

“As an almost-two-decade resident of Hell’s Kitchen, Delphinium Home is an essential local store that offers witty and suprising gifts. Whether it’s an R-rated birthday card, politically charged bath bombs or a scented candle tame enough for a mother-in-law, this shop has saved me multiple times when I’ve found myself in need of a last-minute present.”

Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Tova Diamond, Time Out art director

“Ah, Loveday 31. It always provides me with a temporary escape to another decade. This beloved store is like a breath of fresh air­—from the colorful collection of vintage dresses and eccentric baubles to the chic selection of belts and bags. An afternoon spent playing dress-up in this Queens shop makes any leisurely day in Astoria, well, lovely.”

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Courtesy Yelp/Kelly P.

Aashna Shah, Time Out senior designer

“My favorite local mom-and-pop is Fortunato Brothers Café, an Italian place in the heart of Williamsburg that opened in 1976. Its cannoli-flavored gelato is, hands down, my favorite dessert in Brooklyn. Come early for the tiramisu—it’s already sold out by the afternoon.”

Courtesy Coogan's Restaurant

Karissa Broderick-Beck, Time Out HR generalist

"One of the last Irish bars left uptown, and a staple near Columbia since 1969. I helped advocate for Coogan's to stay after Columbia hiked up their rent last year and they were facing permanent closure. The real hero of that story though is Lin-Manuel Miranda who helped saved the homey neighborhood gem."

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Courtesy Yelp/Ruwan J.

Emma Orlow, Time Out associate food and drink editor

"My tried-and-true test for dating is taking someone I’m not a 100 percent sold-on to B&H Dairy in the East Village. If they don’t love the warm, gregarious staff or the tuna melts, it probably won’t work out! The tiny, cramped kosher lunch counter spot serves up borscht, pierogies, and kasha varnishkes. While being smushed is not usually something I seek out, at B&H it feels like a treat. Here, you’re forced to talk to people from all walks of life: Your neighbor, the mailman and Michael Shannon (He’s randomly there a lot.) Real regulars know to look out for the heaping portions of complimentary challah bread. And yeah, I even have one of their signature bubblegum pink t-shirts which read 'Challah, por favor' in slime green bubble letters. It's one of the last remaining old New York spots in the East Village."

Photograph: Jake Cohen

Pat Kiernan, anchor for Spectrum News

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop is not to be confused with those fancy new doughnut shops that try to figure out how to make a doughnut cost a hefty $5. This is old school—fresh, good ingredients and cheap. Peter Pan is in the heart of Greenpoint and is staffed mostly by the Polish people who live nearby. If you appreciate a great doughnut, you’ll find one here.”

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Courtesy McNulty's Tea & Coffee Co./William Eng

Adam Feldman, Time Out national theater and dance editor

“I sometimes like to pretend that I am the kind of person who has superb taste in tea and coffee and a highly discerning palate for both. In fact, I am merely the kind of person who enjoys walking among the gorgeous glass jars at McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, ‘purveyor of choice coffees and rare teas’ since 1895. Owned and operated by the Wong family since 1980, McNulty’s has been in its current Christopher Street location since 1920, and you can feel—and smell—the history every time you visit.”

Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Howard Halle, Time Out editor-at-large

Cobble Hill Cinemas is a neighborhood five-screen treasure that offers a mix of blockbusters, indies and Oscar-bait fare. It also has some great wacky murals of movie stars.”

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Courtesy Boerum Hill Chemist

Cole Escola, comedian, actor and singer

“CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid can feel like hell’s waiting room, especially if I’m sick. Boerum Hill Chemist is cozy and comforting. It has lots of necessities, a big selection of homeopathic remedies and an excellent pharmacy.”

Photograph: Kyle Dorosz

Delia Barth, Time Out global video producer

“My dad grew up in the Bronx and loves Mike’s Deli on Arthur Avenue. When I was a kid, we’d stop by Mike’s for lunch before going to the Bronx Zoo. I usually order the Michelangelo: If you’re going to Arthur Avenue and not ordering prosciutto and mozzarella, you’re doing it wrong.”

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Courtesy Barney Greengrass

Bao Ong, Time Out food and drink editor

"I imagine the blissful funk of smoked fish that greets me every time I step into Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side is exactly how this uptown institution smelled when it opened over 100 years ago. There's so much to choose from, but I've probably ordered 'The Scramble' (scrambled eggs with Nova, sturgeon and brown onions) enough times to pay my monthly rent a few times over."

Photograph: Keith McDermott

Danielle Valente, Associate Editor, Time Out New York Kids

"Part gallery, part performance venue and wholly charming, the homey An Beal Bocht Café is a must-visit for anyone passing through Riverdale. Patrons are beckoned inside thanks to its cozy atmosphere and celebration of local arts. When the warm weather hits, enjoy your drinks on the benches out front—238th Street might be a bit cramped, but the inviting, small-town ambience makes it worth it."

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Photograph: Jacob Pritchard

Emma Orlow, Time Out associate food and drink editor

"After seeing Longos Pharmacy sit shuttered for years, brother-sister duo, Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman, opened a old-fashioned soda fountain shop, using many of the space’s original details in 2010. Today, the Carroll Gardens favorite Farmacy is more than a place for hard-to-find treats like a Lime Rickey poured with homemade syrups with locally sourced ingredients or their famous Mr. Potato Head Sundae (which we listed as one our best desserts in NYC). It’s a social gathering space, where adults can come by for non-alcoholic beverages, kids do their homework, and where I feel like I'm an American Girl Doll."

Courtesy Yelp/Yuchen Z.

Tova Diamond, Time Out art director

"The walk-in closet-sized modest bakery Two Little Red Hens on the Upper East Side is a cake-lover's dream (referring to myself here). Yes, their cupcakes are noteworthy. Yes, their red velvet cake is incomparable. But ultimately, it's that oh-so-fluffy, light-and-foamy classic cheesecake that has me salivate the most."

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Courtesy: Faith Lee

Hannah Streck, Time Out senior digital producer

"I would like to point you in the direction of Bird and Branch Coffee Shop. The shop opened up last year (It's a newbie!) in Hells Kitchen and is a great new neighborhood staple. The aesthetic is amazing and the owners Brandon and Faith are the absolute best. This place is my unofficial coffee house on my way to work."

Photograph: Michael Chin

Danielle Valente, Time Out New York Kids associate editor 

"Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill is as lovely as the name suggests. I never leave Emma Straub's shop without at least one paperback, and the monthly events lineups are always top-notch."

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Courtesy Carrie Nichols

Karissa Broderick-Beck, Time Out HR Coordinator

"Move over Starbucks! Buunni opened its Washington Heights location in 2011. It is well loved. Last year they expanded to Riverdale, and a few months ago they opened a third location in Inwood. Its uptown's best kept coffee secret!"

Courtesy Yelp/Kim H.

Howard Halle, Time Out editor-at-large

"I like Court Street Bagels in Cobble Hill because they never seem to run out of pumpernickel bagels, like most other bagel places seem to do. Also, the proprietor always addresses you a 'my friend.'"

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Courtesy Doctor's Cave Cafe

Emma Orlow, Time Out associate food and drink editor

"You know you've got a real gem when you're ordering a slice of zucchini bread, and the owner asks if you'd prefer a corner piece or the center (center, obviously!) That level of care extends to all areas of Doctor's Cave Café, located in the owners' brownstone basement in Bed-Stuy. Though this casual to-go spot only opened in 2009, it has become a mainstay for locals because you're really made to feel like you're in the owners' home (and you are). In a neighborhood experiencing some of the fastest gentrification in the country, it's one of a handful of spots keeping the soul of Bed-Stuy alive."

Courtesy Yelp/Kennedy ..

Natalie Ackerman, Time Out Sales Executive

"Fish Market in the Seaport has amazing food. Dumplings, fried rice, clams, fried chicken and it's all very cheap. The 'Ma' is always in, and cooking the yummy food and sometimes comes out to say hi to everyone. There are two sons that are usually bartending and passing around Jameson shots. They have some extremely dedicated regulars who would rather die than have Fish Market close."

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Courtesy Fishs Eddy

Nancy Bass Wyden, owner of Strand Book Store

I shop at Fishs Eddy on Broadway. I'm friends with [co-owner] Julie Gaines, and she founded it in 1986. They have eclectic flatware dishes. It was originally close-out stuff that she got from the Bowery, and then she started to do her own line of quirky, minimal, vintage, funky modern pieces. My favorite thing there is a mug that says 'Cawfee' on it. She has Hamilton shot glasses called Dueling Shots—one shot glass is for Hamilton, the other shot glass is for Burr. We're working on a book mug together. She does a lot of things that are funky and also a lot of New York vintage.”

Courtesy Yelp/Gael S.

Rebecca Naomi Jones, actor in Oklahoma! on Broadway

"One of my favorite NYC spots is the bodega/health-food joint/soft-serve dispensary formerly known as Village Yogurt, on 6th Ave between 14th and 15th. Until recently, it looked like a hole-in-the-wall bodega that, upon entering, surprised you with its offering of delicious steamed vegetable dumplings accompanied by salad or cooked veggies or rice. It recently merged with theater district staple Green Symphony, and the Village Yogurt name is no more. Now, you can find Green Fusion in its place, with a facelift to the facilities but the same delicious dumplings. You’re welcome!"

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Courtesy Yelp/Taffany H.

Mauricio Vargas, designer

"I love Meme's Healthy Nibbles in Bed-Stuy. It has a real positive community feel to it. The food is great, and it has menu items with mood-boosting names like the 'I am magnificent!' That's a simple chipotle chicken wrap that comes with curry spice. It's delicious. Also, their juices are amazing. Get one called the Adina's Cocktail Juice with ginger. The vibe is kinda earthy and homegrown."

Courtesy Dichter Pharmacy

Karissa Broderick-Beck, Time Out HR Coordinator

"Dichter Pharmacy isn't only a pharmacy or breakfast joint, it's also a centralized hub for community action! Manny, the owner, is known to help uptowners with their health concerns, coffee fix, and meeting organization. They've been in Inwood for over 90 years, and Manny reopened the Pharmacy after the original structure was burnt down by a devastating fire."

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Courtesy Yelp/Bark Avenue Grooming

Bridget Everett, actor, comedian and performer

"I love Bark Avenue Groomers on the Upper West Side. I take [my dog] Poppy there every couple weeks for a baby soft blow out. She leaves smelling great and she knows it. Lisa is the owner/operator and Renee is her right-hand woman. They’re super friendly and accommodating, and they treat Poppy like family. Check it out!"

Courtesy Yelp/Ashley D.

Lauren Tobin, Time Out Business Development Manager

"I immediately think of Piccolo Angolo in the West Village when I think of mom and pop. Their meatballs are absolutely incredible, the owners come by and take your orders... It's amazing!"

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Courtesy Dana Foley

Julia Cumming, lead singer of Sunflower Bean

Dana Foley NYC on the Lower East Side is one of my favorite shops for vintage and new clothes. Dana really understands the New York woman’s style. Glamorous, edgy, unexplainable—and why would you want to explain it? I visit Dana’s store to look for new pieces to wear on stage, too.”

Courtesy Yelp/douglas g.

Danielle Valente, Time Out New York Kids associate editor 

"I'm always up for a quick pit stop at Something Else on Smith (or Something Else on Fifth when I'm in Park Slope). The trendy clothing store for men and women is a celebration of all-things Brooklyn with fun t-shirts, cool home items and sweet knick-knacks and antiques. Plus the prices are reasonable."

 

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Courtesy Yelp/Jennifer D.

Will Gleason, Time Out deputy features editor

"I honestly think Sunny & Annie's, a bodega in the East Village, has the best sandwiches in New York. The same team is always working in the store, and they're able to whip up your sandwich fast. I like the Pho #1 which is very spicy and really does taste like you're eating a bowl of pho. It's some kind of magic."

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Tova Diamond, Time Out art director

"Tom's Restaurant in Prospect Heights is one of the few places that I'm still willing to stand in a block-long line for. This classic Brooklyn breakfast spot founded in the '30s has one of the most impressive pancake menus I've ever encountered. The sweet potato pancakes are a stand-out favorite. Don't think you can handle the hour -lus line for a shortstack? Never fear, you'll often find the host making rounds with french fry hand outs for the patient, hangry customers."

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