While our move from the West Village to the East side has been a big change, we’ve felt right at home thanks to many of our friends who happen to own small businesses right at our door step.
Our friend Sandy owns the popular Orchard Street sandwich shop Black Tree, our friend Brian founded the Con Artist Collective, an artists’ workspace and gallery on Ludlow Street, and we have a whole group of friends behind Miller’s Near & Far, a seasonal new American restaurant on Rivington Street.
Most recently, our friend Sam opened El Rey, a hybrid coffee shop and bar on Stanton Street. We popped into the neighborhood’s newest caffeine-fueled addition this week to admire the space and the excellent coffee, beer, and baked goods being served.
Before we had even been in the shop, the space instantly caught our eye. The white beamed ceilings give off a California beach house vibe, complete with lots of succulents and other greenery. Adding to the beach house atmosphere, vinyl is played throughout. One of things you can’t miss when you’re walking by is the large turquoise-hued neon sign, beckoning you to come inside.
The menu is hand-painted on a large mirror, reflecting lots of light throughout the concrete-and-wood constructed space. Sam, who owns El Rey alongside Nick Morgenstern of the popular restaurant Goat Town, told us that they constructed the space almost completely on their own—right down to pouring concrete and hand-cutting the wainscoting—resulting in a beautiful shop with a lot of unique touches.
Outside of the excellent design, the shop brews Counter Culture espresso, but also has a few unique offerings as well: house-made single-origin cold brew, Vietnamese coffee and iced chai all served on tap, right alongside a selection of unique beers that are difficult to find on draft elsewhere.
(If caffeine and beer aren’t your thing, housemade soda and seltzer is also on the menu.)
To counter our caffeine buzz from the intensely strong Vietnamese coffee, we tried a few of the sweet and savory pastry offerings, made in-house.
Our personal (and unexpected) favorite was the salt & pepper pine nut sandy, a crumbly cookie with a spicy zing from the black pepper and a satisfying crunch from the pine nuts it was topped with. We also tried the decadently rich gluten-free chocolate buckwheat cake with apricot and the sesame banana bread. El Rey serves two focaccias and will be expanding their savory options in the coming weeks.
We already felt at home in our new neighborhood, but being surrounded by such great small businesses has made settling in even easier.
– Laura and Ryan
El Rey is open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. You can visit them at 100 Stanton Street.