BY: MONICA BYERS
NEW YORK, NY – I have a special affection for Thompson Street in the Village. My ZATAOT partner in crime, Gary, was lucky enough to live on this street for a while. Except I don’t think he counted himself quite so lucky – he found it annoyingly student-y (NYU is just around the corner) or, at least, too much so for actual grown-ups like us. Still, I find it incredibly charming.
Thompson Street actually starts just north of Canal Street in SoHo and runs north for 8 blocks, ending at the weird and wonderful Washington Square Park. The cuteness kicks in once you cross Broome Street and enter a relatively quiet residential area with fancy restaurants, beguiling cafes, tree-lined streets, a few high-end shops and even a playground. The uniquely Greenwich Village brand of funky quirk kicks in once you cross Houston Street where, whether you turn left or right, a whole array of bars await ranging from masters of mixology (Pegu Club is one excellent cocktail bar) to saucy saloons (check out Madame X for a particularly sexy experience) to divey pubs. Reach Bleecker Street and you’re now firmly in NYU Town and also my favorite part of Thompson Street.
Why? Because it’s one of the most eclectic areas around. The single block between Bleecker and W. 3rd Streets includes three (three!) chess shops, a wonderful Cuban restaurant (more on that here), vintage clothing stores, a record shop (vinyl!), a punfully-named chicken shack (Pluck U – see what they did there?) and a shop dedicated merchandise related to the movie The Big Lebowski. It just doesn’t get much odder, or more fabulous, than this. And you can enjoy all this character in a non-crowded setting – this area is not exactly a tourist Mecca (the slower-moving Empire State Building/Times Square sorts prefer to wander the main streets of SoHo).
What is the little thing that makes Thompson Street worth a stroll? Charming eccentricity. If you’re short on time, start at Houston and head north for the most interesting part of your stroll. If you’ve got oodles of time and are thirsty for an adult beverage, check out the watering holes on Houston and Bleecker Streets, then carry on to nearby Sullivan and MacDougal streets to the west.
Where is it? Thompson Street runs south to north, parallel to West Broadway one block west. It begins just north of Canal Street (easiest to take Grand Street west) and ends at Washington Square South.
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