I first discovered New York City‘s Gasoline Alley in 2013, when I visited the original branch on Lafayette Street. This, the second branch, which opened in 2014, is just around the corner from one of my regular breakfast spots, the Landmark Coffee Shop (a very typical American diner). The original Gasoline Alley could actually be an alley and, while the same is true of this one with doors at either end, it’s more corridor than alley. Considerably smaller than the original, there’s space for two bar chairs at its solitary window-bar, with a pair of benches outside, one for each window.
I much prefer the atmosphere in this Gasoline Alley. However, where it wins hands down, just like the original, is that it serves Intelligentsia coffee and serves it extremely well. In fact, it might have served me the best shot of Intelligentsia’s seasonal Black Cat espresso blend that I’ve ever had!
May 2021: It’s come to my attention that Gasoline Alley has closed its Grand Street location, although the original is still going strong. There’s also a second location in the West Village which I hope to visit one day.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The original Gasoline Alley, connecting Lafayette and Mulberry Streets, is seven blocks north of the second branch. Also on Lafayette, it’s on the corner with Grand Street, at the convergence of Little Italy, Chinatown, Nolita and Soho. More corridor than alley, it’s as tall as it is wide and about twice as long. Although the long side is on Lafayette, the main door’s on Grand, hence the address.
Gasoline Alley actually occupies the corner of a building belonging to WeWork, a communal office space. To the right of Gasoline Alley’s door on Grand, WeWork has its main entrance, while Gasoline Alley’s other door opens onto WeWork’s members lobby on Lafayette. Technically you shouldn’t use this entrance, but plenty of people do; similarly, folk working in WeWork shouldn’t use Gasoline Alley as a shortcut to their desks, picking up their morning coffee on the way, but no-one complains when they do. No-one will complain either if you log onto WeWork’s open Wifi network should you be lucky enough to get one of two seats at the window-bar.
Talking of which, Gasoline Alley’s layout is remarkably simple. Two sturdy, brick pillars, one on the corner of Lafayette and Grand, the other by the WeWork lobby, frame two massive, pillar-to-pillar, floor-to-considerably-high-ceiling windows. This makes Gasoline Alley feel incredibly spacious, bright and airy, even on the snowy winter’s day I was there.
Entering from Grand Street, through the door on the left-hand side, the counter’s on your right, running Gasoline Alley’s full length. There’s a large display case, visible from the street, holding cookies and other goodies, then comes till, espresso machine, sample-flask of bulk-brewed coffee and, after a small gap, a shelf full of merchandising and retail bags of Intelligentsia coffee. And that’s it. You’ve now reached the end of Gasoline Alley and the (glass) door to WeWork’s lobby. To your left, opposite the counter, a lovely window-bar runs between the two brick pillars, the perfect spot for a bit of people/traffic watching while you sip your espresso.
Talking of which, I had the most amazing espresso, on the recommendation of the barista who suggested not sullying it with milk. I’ve always liked Intelligentsia’s seasonal Black Cat blend, but this was outstanding. Served with a glass of water, the crema looked amazing and it tasted even better, with a thick, viscous texture like honey, going down like a liquid kiss.
|154 GRAND STREET • NEW YORK CITY • NY 10032 • USA|
|www.gasolinealleycoffee.com||+1 212 933 0113|
|Monday||07:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Intelligentsia (espresso + batch-brew)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 19:00||Seating||Window-bar, benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 19:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 19:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 19:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Yes (see notes)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||5th March 2015|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of New York City’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to New York City.
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