Can't Stop Won't Stop

Chandra Ram

I’m writing this over a late lunch of Arctic char tostada and a glass of agua fresca at Atla in New York City, where I’ve set up shop for a couple of hours to eat and work until my next appointment. It’s the perfect place to write about all-day cafés, since those are the places I seek out as my temporary base camps while I’m traveling. When you have to get work done, but the walls of your tiny hotel room are coming down on you, an all-day café will save you.

What makes a great all-day café? At the very least, a quiet space, a table big enough to balance a laptop and a plate, good Wi-Fi, plenty of outlets and something to eat. But that something to eat has to be more than a stale muffin or dried-out panini waiting to be half-toasted on a hot plate. The pastries have to be flaky, buttery perfection. The salads and sandwiches need to be creative and delicious, enough to sustain guests through spending the afternoon eating and catching up on emails. And if you can offer a beer or a glass of wine to help celebrate the end of the workday, even better. 

Chandra Ram Photo: Geoffrey Smith

Even when I’m not on the road, I’m a regular at all-day cafés. Some work can’t be done in an office; I need to get out and do the kind of thinking that a good plate of food and a glass of something special inspire. When the Plate team needs to break out of the office, we more often than not walk to Bebu, our local pizza place that doubles as our favorite location for photo meetings. Or we hit one of our other favorite all-day spots: Floriole for coffee and pastries with chefs in from out of town. Tortas and pozole at Quiote when we’re making plans for the website and sense the need for mezcal cocktails afterwards to celebrate. Or we might run over to Café Marie-Jeanne for steak tartare and lamb sausage sandwiches while figuring out what to write about in the next issue. 

We’re not the only people who work this way. With so many people working remotely—while half the economy runs on freelancers—there are a lot of people creating temporary offices in cafés, grateful for a place to work while they grab whatever meal you called it at 3 p.m. And for restaurateurs, offering even just a limited service menu while the dinner crew preps makes financial sense. It’s a brave new world out there, kids. Let’s make sure we’ve got something to eat while we figure things out. 

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