There are some places in the city that feel like old friends. Where I find myself walking there without even thinking about addresses and where there’s not even a need to take a peek at their menu. This is definitely the case for Cafe Lalo.
Though it’s known for being in You’ve Got Mail, with Kathleen Kelly sitting at a table with only a book and a single rose, I know it more for it’s daily look. For it’s massive display case of desserts, its servers who tend to be pleasant yet somehow inattentive and it’s cappuccinos that always seem to be the perfect degree of frothy, whether you order them decaf or to provide that usual jolt of energy.
No matter the time of day I’m there I can’t resist the allure of my go to here – grilled cheese. As much as I love grilled cheese, I’m pretty sure theirs is the only I order when I am out. Yes, it is that good. It’s technically under their “grilled sandwiches” section but really, it’s grilled cheese.
You get your choice of fresh breads (sourdough, whole wheat, multigrain, provence, croissant or bagel) and choice of fillings (Gouda and spinach, cauliflower & fresh mozzarella, Swiss cheese & tomato, goat cheese & fresh mint, French brie with black pepper & herbs, or cheddar cheese, cremini, shiitake& champignon mushroom). For me it’s always their Gouda and spinach. They serve it with their rosemary roasted potatoes and choice of a side salad.
Cafe Lalo is also one of the rare places in the city where I never visit without ordering dessert. I’ve tried many of their options over the years, with my favorites being their red velvet cake, Oreo cake and their Parisian black and white cake, pictured below.
Come here on an evening and you may even happen to find someone singing tucked into the back corner of the restaurant. This is on my short list of favorite NYC restaurants – more than worth the trip uptown and potential wait for a seat.
Cafe Lalo – 201 West 83 Street – 212.496.6031