My first inkling of Grace Street was a few years ago when I first fell in love with film photography. At this time I've become more aware of my surroundings in a creative sense. I'd look more carefully at the juxtaposition of certain objects to a scene, the way certain colors blended into a sunset or the architectural design of a building. It was then, while walking down this block for what seemed to be the hundredth time, that the huge crowd of people gathered in this gallery-like space caught my eye. There was no discernible sign, yet with the assumption that it must be worthwhile by looking at the number of people—I stepped through the door and became part of the crowd.
Fast forward to a few years later and I'm still coming back, time and time again I find myself settling into its cozy corners with my favorite latte and Korean doughnut. Sometimes I'm alone with my favorite book, but most of the time I'm here meeting friends whilst discussing the latest chapters in our lives. Grace Street has proven to be an oasis from the fast paced lifestyle we New Yorkers are most known for. Open from 12pm to 12:30am, it's a place that will soon feel like a second home after your first visit.
Grace Street is just not another run-of-the-mill cafe, it's a truly unique experience offering a variety of snacks and drinks. Their focus on local, fresh, and organic ingredients plays hand-in-hand with their mission: their proceeds go to charity whilst supporting local businesses; this is a dynamic that I haven't seen in other cafes. While there are a good amount of cafes in NYC that are also local and organic, to my knowledge there are not many that donate their proceeds to charity.
The sweet smell of hodduk fills the air as you sit down and the warm voice of Jay Park's serenading acts as the soundtrack to your stay. Hodduk, a soft, pillowy korean doughnut filled with melted brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts is one of the few things that Grace Street is known for. This popular Korean street food is a delicious series of contrasts: soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. Decadent with molten brown sugar running down your mouth, yet light and not heavy. It's served piping hot from the grill, and when combined with ice cold vanilla ice cream, it becomes the perfect mélange that entices your tastebuds to have another bite.
Another favorite is their shaved snow. Taiwanese shaved snow has been gaining in popularity all around New York, but Grace Street has been on the bandwagon way before the trend started. Shaved snow is melt in your mouth, barely there, ice cream that is as addicting as the hodduk; it's delicate and airy as it falls off your spoon. You can choose the set Shaved Snow options on their menu or customize your own, an option that my friends and I have fun with.
Listed below are my favorite go-tos at Grace Street.
Hodduk w/ vanilla icecream
Beignets w/ powdered sugar and green tea ice cream
Black Sesame snow w/ mochi, strawberries + chocolate drizzle (custom order)
Green tea snow w/ mochi, red bean, + strawberries (custom order)
The O.G.: Black Sesame snow w/ strawberries, mochi, red bean, misugaru + condensed milk
Elixir: Green tea snow w/ red bean, diced taro, honey boba + condensed milk
Depending on your mood, Grace Street has options to satisfy both your coffee and latte art cravings. They serve the standard coffee drinks: latte, cappuccino, cold brew, etc. But if you're in the mood for something different, they offer unique lattes that change with season and holiday. Their most popular lattes: honey matcha latte and the jasmine matcha latte, are lightly sweetened with honey. Both the jasmine latte and the jasmine matcha latte are a fragrant and elegant take on green tea's lush and earthy flavor.
They also serve a variety of bubble milk teas with customizable milk options that can be served hot or cold, and with their honey boba or red beans. Their milk is fresh from Battenkill Valley, NY but if you're not feeling dairy, then they offer nondairy options such as soy, almond, and macadamia milk. Sticking to organic and fresh, the cafe doesn't use any powders, artificial flavors, or high fructose corn syrup. The most unique of their bubble teas is their Yin Yang, which is a delicious mixture of black milk tea and cold brew coffee.
An example of their rotating menu is shown through their newest additions: the organic rose petal latte and strawberry latte. The strawberry latte was created specifically for Valentine's Day, and at the moment is no longer served. Though this drink is gone, the rose petal latte has quickly taken its place as a favorite on instagram and as one of my go-to orders. I'm not sure if it will stay a permanent item on the menu (here's to hoping), but I recommend giving it a try if you enjoy fragrant floral notes such as jasmine.
This was not my first rose latte, yet tasted like it was. Other rose lattes that I've tasted failed to have the rose flavor take center stage. While to some—sipping on a drink made of one of the world's most loved flowers "tastes like a bar of soap"—to me it's an experience to taste something that has evoked emotion in people around the world. From paintings to poetry, from perfume to the color—the rose conveys feelings and states of being across different mediums. In this case it happens to be a creamy, delicate drink that captures the essence of what it means to partake in a particular aesthetic.
Honey Matcha Latte
Jasmine Matcha Latte
Jasmine milk tea w/ bubbles
Rose Petal Latte
This post will be a continuation to my "Café Visits/Series" on the blog, with more to come in the future. If you visit Grace Street, I'd love to know your favorite drinks/snacks.
Grace Street can be found in Korea Town,
17 West 32nd street and 6th avenue