Vinyl records have died many deaths, but like zombies and Keith Richards, they keep resurfacing. New York City has recently experienced a great new trend – bars and cafes that feature real live old-fashioned LPs coming out of their speakers and the amazing cover art to prove it. Here are some places where records still rule:
1. Mono + Mono
This temple to the music of yesteryear is a hip Korean restaurant that serves a wide variety of soju – the national alcohol – and delicious twice-fried Korean style chicken. It also houses a floor-to-ceiling collection of vinyl and a cool moving clothesline of covers hovering above your head. In addition to DJ sets they also have live music.
Local Record Shop: Other Music is the definitive downtown record shop catering to fans of the obscure, indie releases and world beats.
2. Van Leeuwen (East Village)
One of two locations that started as a dessert truck serves up delicious coffee and ice cream along with vinyl classics from Neil Young to instrumental disco from the dark days of your parents’ past.
Local Record Shop: Cake Shop , in addition to being a live music venue, sweets shop and very comfortable afternoon lounge that feels like a throwback to the grimy old days of the Lower east Side, is a good place to thumb through new and used music.
3. Van Leeuwen (Boerum Hill)
A lovely little spot to escape the Smith Street hubbub, sip on an affogato (espresso with a scoop of ice cream floating inside) and listen to vintage Neil Young and the Clash as you rub shoulders with toddlers and bearded young hipsters carrying mandolins.
Local Record Shop: Nearby Black Gold Records is a Carroll Gardens record purveyor and coffee shop that’s a cozy place to browse curios of both the sonic and taxidermic variety.
4. Nights and Weekends
This descriptively-named Greenpoint bar restaurant is located on a triangular island of concrete that had been under-utilized for years. Amid the din of trendy conversations a DJ spins vinyl for the brunch-goers, Polish residents and Williamsburg refugees. Caters to those favoring rhythmic beats and fancy cocktails.
Local Record Shop: Co-op 87 is what record culture is all about. Small, intimate, personal and refreshingly un-corporate, a tiny little gem that’s a must stop for any vinyl lover.
5. Sweetleaf is a Queens café just over the bridge from Brooklyn that favors ’70s metal and features some of the city’s best coffee. Friendly coffee snobs will answer your questions about beans in the emerging Long Island City neighborhood that’s home to many galleries and Moma’s PS 1. Check out the impressive display of album covers in the back room.
Local Record Shop: Permanent Records is a short hop and a skip away on quietly burgeoning Franklin street. The staff have discerning tastes and a friendly attitude not often found among the city’s record clerks.