As the red and festive holiday cups from Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts begin making their first appearances this upcoming winter season, coffee and hot chocolate do not necessarily have to be the drinks of choice. New York City is cold, but be strong because we have tea places to keep your warm. I, by nature, am a coffee drinker myself, but since coming back from my studies and travels in Europe, if there’s something I truly miss on a chilly autumn day, it’s afternoon tea time.
Has it actually become socially acceptable to sit, lounge around with friends and talk endlessly about nothingness all while sipping on some tea and munching on a scone? When it comes down to tea and an opportunity to not only catch up, but warm up, absolutely.
Fortunately for us here in New York City, tea time does not have to be an Atlantic Ocean away. In fact, there are a few spots around the city that have garnered a reputation for being equally as luxurious and classy as our friends over in the UK and the rest of Europe. However, having an afternoon high tea with a few mates does come at a cost with some high prices.
Nevertheless, it is the ambiance, the aesthetic and the endless flavors and brews that keep people coming back for more. Here are five of the best spots in the city for students with affordable and cozy afternoon tea experiences — just in time for the winter.
Alice’s has become a staple name for anyone looking for wide and flavorful tea selections–and a tasty scone to go with it. With an Alice in Wonderland theme going on within the restaurant’s walls, it is no surprise that seating is usually limited (particularly in their original first chapter restaurant on the Upper West Side). If you’re planning on going, reservations here are highly recommended; you can make reservations online or call.
Not only does the restaurant have an entire menu, by chapter (also listed online), dedicated to different flavors of tea in addition to a diverse food menu. They offer a wide assortment of sandwiches, scones, brunch options and other sweet tarts and treats.
The restaurant’s three-tiered tray option is quite popular, their ‘Mad Hatter’ plate (two pots of tea, three scones, two sandwiches and one dessert) among customer favorites. There are three different locations–Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter II–located all across the city (Upper West, Upper East, and Yorkville), Alice’s is no stranger to anyone looking for a “wonderful” tea.
Address: 102 W 73rd St, New York, NY 10023
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sun 8:00am to 8:00pm
If you ever try navigating the criss-cross streets of the West Village on a Saturday afternoon find yourself lost, don’t hesitate to make your way to the quaint essence of England right on the corner of Greenwich and Jane Streets.
Tea & Sympathy’s restaurant itself is quite small, and there is usually not much room to move around. Nevertheless, the place has a ton of character. Pictures of the Royal Family line the walls, along with other posters of British charm, including the infamous, “KEEP CALM & CARRY ON” slogan.
Like Alice’s Tea Cup there is a menu with menu choices including quintessential beef pies, Yorkshire puddings, ‘bangers and mash’ and the full Monty breakfast, among some favorites. Scones served with clotted cream and jam are also among the menu, served with a pot of tea to round up a typical afternoon meal–all for a little bit over $12.
Another perk to Tea and Sympathy’s West Village location the next door location to their shop and grocery store, which is home to the best of authentic and inexpensive, British goodies like: chocolates and biscuits to items like coffee mugs, tea pots, film posters and even customized Union Jack tees. If that isn’t enough reason to come down, then the range of accents of the shop and restaurant’s employees should be.
Address: 108 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 10:30pm, Sat-Sun 9:30am to 10:30pm
At this tea parlor down near Christopher Street is a price that matches a high quality experience. Afternoon tea-for-one options are available and makes just one time at Bosie extra special because of their dedication to sweets. Tea cakes, cookies, in-house pastries and macaroons ranging in every flavor (from green tea to lemon to passionfruit and rose) are a delectable and necessary part of your dining experience here.
The interior of the parlor is modeled after a classic French tearoom. They offer over 80 different types of tea by l’Âge de Thé–their very own tea line. And not only is the tea made to order, but so are the soups and sandwiches. Your time at Bosie may be a little pricey but experiencing such high quality, customers have said it is well worth the extra buck. Essentially, it is a spin on a classically British dining experience, but turned French and fantastic.
Address: 10 Morton St, New York, NY 10014
Hours of Operation: Mon-Wed 9am to 10pm, Thurs 9am to 11pm, Fri 9am to 12:00 am, Sat 10am to 12am, Sun 10am to 10pm
4. Ladurée Soho
The first and original Ladurée is situated on the lovely Rue Bonaparte in ol’ Paree. However, don’t think about booking a flight just yet: the Ladurée in Soho is pretty darn close. This quaint slice of Paris in the South Village has become well-known for its endless and flavorful array of colorful macaroons. Some customers even considering the little treats to be the most addicting and best in the market. A sole macaroon is a little over $2.50, however you can never buy just one. A box of twenty-four comes out to around $65–so maybe not too many either.
Despite the steep prices, the restaurant itself is beautifully decorated and an ideal spot for a brunch date to split those sixty-five dollars in half. Presentation and aesthetic are on-point at Ladurée, with exquisitely French staff waiting on your every need. From the tea pots to the saucers, even the napkins are beautiful. Ladurée Soho certainly lives up to the hype.
Address: 398 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs 9:00am to 10:00pm, Fri-Sat 9:00am to 11:00pm, Sun 9:00am to 9:00pm
The modern Continental cuisine with a Russian twist at The Russian Tea Room might be the number one option on this list of places your parents should take you when they come to visit. This tea room has an ideal location near Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus on the Upper West Side and it is great for either a classy lunch or an elegant high tea experience. Booking a table in advance is recommended. This tea room has extensive holiday and winter-specific menus — ranging from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s. In fact, the restaurant caters to special diets and has a vegetarian and gluten free food and tea menu.
Afternoon tea at the RTR is a renowned experience in NYC. The prices cap at $50 for a mix of sandwiches, desserts and teas. The teas can also be switched for champagne as well, for parents with legal aged college children, for another $25. While dining here is definitely looking toward the higher side of society, the anachronistic atmosphere, quality service and good company will be worth every bite, every sip and every penny.
Full menus, directions, prices and customer reviews can be found on each of the restaurant’s official websites and also on Yelp.
Address: 150 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 7:00 to 11:30pm, Sat 11:00am to 11:30pm, Sun 11:00am to 11:00pm