Crosby between Houston and Prince

A Small Downtown City Block With Big Personality

Perhaps my reaction to The Village Voice ending its print edition inspired the idea behind this article: when I read the news, I felt a mix between nostalgia and grief. The Village Voice seemed to be one of those New York City institutions that would always be around. Its copies were on almost every street corner, stacked inside bright red plastic boxes. (Note: I never took the top copy which seemed a bit rustled and picked over like it might be missing a few pages). 

For a while, it was my go-to guide for what was happening in the five boroughs — plus there were apartment listings and mostly snarky articles about New York. One of the most memorable tips I kept over the years concerned a tiny deli for South Asian food on Crosby Street. I recall clipping that small paragraph from its page and holding onto it. From that moment on and whenever I could, I would visit this stretch of Crosby for a warm, comforting beverage, and peek my head into the two stores just south of this small nook.

Crosby Street is by no means the prettiest area of downtown Manhattan—wedged in between the grand boulevards of Broadway and Lafayette Street—but I’ll give you three good reasons to visit it the next time you get a chance. And hopefully by the time you get there, these places will still be around (not like the demise of The Village Voice print edition).

Lahore Deli
When I lived in New York and when I was anywhere near 132 Crosby Street, I would drop by this cramped deli and order only one thing: the chai tea with one sugar. It comes piping hot without any extra protection on the outside of the cup, and it’s ideal on a crisp fall day, a blistery cold winter afternoon or even in the spring or summer. It never disappoints, and the taste seems to stay the same no matter what season. When I returned to New York for a very short visit last year, my savvy 20-something cousin tried to impress me by taking me to a place where they had the best chai. She was fairly certain I didn’t know about it. “Do you mean that tiny deli on Crosby between Houston and Prince?” I said. “Oh yeah,” she said, surprised and a bit deflated. But all of that didn’t matter; we enjoyed our cups of chai and shared our mutual appreciation of insider info.  

Housing Works Thrift Shop
While it may not be a bargain basement type of thrift shop, the selection is wide and varied from vintage to designer vintage. I once purchased a vintage silk Celine dress that I treat with the utmost care. There are other items to purchase besides fashion like knickknacks and home accessories. It also helps knowing that your money is going to help this non-profit fighting AIDS and homelessness. There are other locations in the city, but this one is conveniently located because of its adjacency to…

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
I cannot sing the praises of this place highly enough. So even if chai tea isn’t your thing (see above), this cafe will have your coffee, tea and an assortment of snacks. And of course, there’s the book component. They have a great variety of donated books, and they are staffed almost entirely by volunteers. And 100% of their profits go to Housing Works. There are regular cultural events scheduled, and the space itself can be rented for events. Oh, and the actual interior of this bookstore is warm, inviting, and cozy. The dollar carts are also decent, and if you’re seeking a restroom in the city—yes, they can be difficult to find—there are two available here, and no one will hassle you. -sc

Sabrina Cooper