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May 16, 2011

Third Rail first stop in the Village?

by Geoff Grant

With Caffetteria now shuttered — and I’m still mourning that development — the best bet for a cappuccino in the Village or Soho is Third Rail Coffee on Sullivan Street, just a few short steps from Washington Square Park.

There’s a lot to be said for Third Rail. It uses Intelligentsia and Stumptown beans for its coffee and espresso. The baristas are a nice group, even though they’re often slammed. And the store has just six tiny tables and ledges where maybe 10-12 can sit. But if you score a seat, it feels like a personal triumph and it’s a cozy place to drink a quick cup.

The downside is the cappuccinos are good, not great. They’re consistently too milky, almost like they’ve using a 7-ounce cup instead of the traditional 5- or 6-ouncer. So you never get a truly rich or smoky cappuccino, which is too bad. Instead, you might be better off ordering a cortado, which you don’t see on the menu in every espresso bar, or their macchiatos.

Still, without the presence of Caffetteria to compete, Third Rail remains the best option in the neighboring hoods.

New York’s Top 10 Espresso Bars (subject to change!)

1. Ninth Street Espresso (Chelsea Market) – recommended

2. Gimme! Coffee (Soho and Brooklyn) – recommended

3. Stumptown in Ace Hotel (Herald Square area) – recommended

4. Caffetteria (Soho standout now shuttered, but props nonetheless)

5. Kava Cafe (Chelsea) – recommended

6. Abraco (East Village) – recommended

7. Third Rail Coffee (West Village)

8. Ost (East Village) – recommended

9. Culture Espresso Bar (Midtown)

10. Dora (East Village)

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