Recess opened up in August 2009, in the space that formerly held the Thai restaurant Spice. The crowd is understandably dominated by NYU students, but a surprisingly high number of local residents frequent the cafe, giving it a nice, less university-oriented vibe. Order at the counter, something to drink to start. There is a whole coffee menu, but I'm partial to the Chai Zing, which we have Sugar Rushed in the past. An iced blur of chai and espresso, a sweet shock and guaranteed wake-me-up.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are their smoothies, which seem to have a cult following among the regulars. The secret is simple—fresh fruit and little sugar. In the mornings, the Jumpy Monkey, with its blend of bananas, milk, honey, and espresso, is an ideal kick start to the day; at other times the Mean Green is my go-to, "amazing greens" with pear, apples, and apple cider. Another one my to-try list is the Yummy Yogi (if only they would do away with the silly names!) a smoothie of soymilk, flaxseed, almond butter, date, coconut and bananas.
Feeling particularly virtuous the other week, I headed for the Beet It sandwich. Thick slices of multigrain bread, hummus slathered on either end, with thin sliced raw beets, sprouts, marinated cucumbers and avocado in between. Your choice of sweet potato chips or a refreshing cucumber salad on the side. At $6.25, it's a good deal for this neighborhood.
Sandwiches are sized ideally, enough to tide you over, not leaving you stuffed or hungry. The Say Cheese ($8.95) is another creation to try—a quartet of cheeses: fresh mozzarella, pecorino, fontina, and romano cheese with cherry tomatoes and pesto, panini'ed to melty satisfaction.
Stick with the sandwiches. Soups, served with Grandaisy bread, are somewhat lackluster, including the TnT Tomato Soup (pictured at top). It sounded delicious enough, made with plum and sundried tomatoes, but came off as too sweet and watered down.
For dessert? Frozen yogurt is the most popular sweet here, though I prefer the cookies by the Downtown Cookie Co.(note: these cookies are cheaper at Joe the Art of Coffee, three blocks north), or bundts, loaves, and muffins from Grandaisy Bakery. Added bonuses: free WiFi, no seating time limit, and a daily assortment of newspapers for your reading pleasure.
60 University Place, New York NY 10003 map)